Campground Crowding: “A loss of community” among RVers

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crowded campgrounds

Updated weekly

More people than ever are taking up RVing. These newbies have determined that RVing is the safest way to travel in our pandemic times. The result is campground crowding like never before. In this weekly blog, RV Travel readers discuss their experiences. Maybe we can make some sense of this and find ways to work around the problem.

Here are a few observations from our readers.


WHO IS MORE IMPORTANT, DAILY OR MONTHLY “RENTERS”?

Last week reader Mike Robertson brought up monthly campers, saying that more people are renting monthly (or yearly) than ever before, which is adding to the crowded campground issue. We asked if you were noticing the same thing in RV parks, and here are a few of your responses:

Jennifer Willner commented, saying, “The RV parks we have wanted to stay at are easily 75-80% monthly renters.”

Don Lee writes, “Just this past week I spoke with the owner of a campground in Clyde, Ohio. He refused to allow anyone other than seasonal renters in. He says he’s had enough of the damage and trouble that transient campers caused him.”

From Boise, Idaho, Ellen writes, “Yes! Just found out they’re taking fewer monthly rentals in 2021 so they can move in more yearly rentals!”

And lastly, Kiera B. wonders if one-night stays hold more weight, or are more important, than long-term campers. Here’s what she has to say: “There are a lot of full-time RVers out there. Some of us like to stay in one place for a month, or the whole winter. I guess that makes us monthly renters and makes us guilty of taking up spaces that overnight campers could use. Are one-night stays more important than long-term campers? If so, why? The campground staff spends time checking in a one-night stay. They spend the same amount of time checking in a one-month stay. I am pretty sure they would rather not have one-night stands every day of the week.”

LARGER COMPANIES, LARGER PARKS, LARGER BILL

Are small, family-run RV parks coming to an end? Are more and more RV parks being bought out by larger companies or chains? Reader Garrett Gauthier thinks so. Here’s what he says: “Another RV camping issue is large companies buying the RV parks, making them part of their network and raising rates. For example, Sun RV Resorts bought a little place in Chula Vista, and rates went from $70 to $98 for the cheapest. They are building a new place and shutting the old one down and the minimum rate there is $105 per night. A few other resorts in California have gone the same fate.” We don’t doubt we’ll see more of this, especially as RVing continues to increase in popularity.

USE YOUTUBE TO HELP PLAN

Here’s an interesting idea we haven’t thought of before: Use YouTube to help find off-the-grid (or secret) camping spots. Bob Heacock tells us about it: “Yes, more campgrounds are fully booked. We need to reserve average 2 months in advance. No, we won’t spend less time RVing. We have 300-watts of solar, so we go off-grid more often now. I look on YouTube for camping in the state we’re going to. There’s usually someone’s “10 best list.” There are a lot of channels of people who post videos of where they’re at. Videos let you see what you’re getting into. Campendium, etc, are helpful too.” Bob also writes, “Shameless plug: There’s a great 55+ RV park in Tucson, AZ, where we go every winter called ‘Desert Trails RV Park.’ It’s very affordable, $750.00 a month including free electric and free ice. The owners run it more like a ‘community.’ He brings in food trucks, bands, does potlucks, and tells you what’s going on in town.” We don’t always feature “shameless plugs,” Bob, but when we do it’s because someone mentions food trucks and potlucks. Sold!

MORE RVERS SHOULDN’T MEAN LESS COMMUNITY, BUT…

Rhonda Thorn makes a sad, but true, point. She wrote in to say: “My husband retired on November 4, 2014, and two days later we bought our first RV together: a low-mileage gently used 26′ Class C. Although I grew up RVing, as an adult it was a whole new ball game. At every park we went to everyone was helpful and friendly to us ‘newbies.’ It didn’t seem to matter that we were new at the hobby, or that we had a small motorhome. We were happy to have found a warm and welcoming community of fellow RVers. Over the next few years, we noticed a change in the RV parks. It wasn’t just the popularity and RVing, or the over-crowding, it was a loss of that sense of community. While the over-crowding has become annoying, I rejoiced for all of those kiddos who were out and about in nature and didn’t have their faces buried in a cell phone or video games. We seem to have lost our sense of community. To me, that is more tragic than the over-crowding and price-gouging because those campground communities are a reflection of who we have become as a country.”

Now, some questions for you:

• Are you finding more and more campgrounds booked up? Or are you having no problem finding places to stay?

• If campgrounds continue to be crowded and RVing continues to become more popular, will it affect how or when you RV?

• Do you have any tips or secrets you’d like to share about finding campgrounds that aren’t as crowded?

Please use the form below to answer one or more of these questions, or tell us what you’ve experienced with campground crowding in general.

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PennyPA
13 days ago

I would’t even consider staying at any park that calls itself a “resort”….and there are so many out there that don’t even come close to being a resort. I’m not too sure why the “resort” nomenclature even came about but EVERYONE’S a “resort” nowadays. No, give me a good old “campground” or “park” any day and I’ll be happy to be their customer.

Andres Cano
14 days ago

What is not mentioned is the value of rv park chains. I pay about $600/year which gives me free stays for up to 42 days of less than two weeks. It pays for itself in one week. Mom and pop rv places can discriminate against owners of older rvs. Chains have consistent rules for the most part and I think are better staffed and maintained. In the age of covid rving is a socially distant, safe way for older people to have fun. The bemoaned loss of community is impossible for those of who want to live a long time. Others who are self destructive are free to embrace community. I myself just say good morning from at least 10 meters.

MrDisaster
15 days ago

We are still trying to figure out our 2021 plans. What we do know is that we will have to be flexible in planning. You can’t blame the park owners for having long term campers. The income might be a little less but lowers the operating costs. Look for County and local fair grounds and even small motels in the smaller towns. We found several in 2019 during our trip through Montana, North Dakota and Minnesota.