Campground Crowding: “RVs are built to be self-sustaining”

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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.

WEEKENDS ARE A DEFINITE “NO-NO”

Thinking of booking a weekend campsite? Think again. It seems that the days of the week to get a reservation do matter in this time of crowded campgrounds. Reader Jennifer W. has found a silver lining. She bought a used Class C and has “had so much fun!” but has also found that “it’s been super challenging to actually find a spot to camp! Many many people had the same idea. So we camp mid-week since our remote work and job schedules allow for it. We can always find a spot on a Wednesday and Thursday night.”

Since it can be so hard to rely on a weekend spot, having a number of options help. Lynn D. says, “I found getting reservations surprisingly challenging! For me, the way to go has been a combination of boondocking on the weekends, and staying at state, county, municipal city, and private parks. For weekdays, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and sometimes Wednesday are easier to book. I also have been using city visitor centers and some apps to help me figure out what’s close to where I’m going. Sometimes I’ve been lucky to find a cancellation!”

Sometimes your whole group just needs to be flexible and change up their plans. “Yes, weekend openings in the NJ-NY-PA area have been hard to find. Our group recently camped from Mon.-Fri. because that was the only accommodation we could find at a particular campground in PA,” wrote Paul S. 

IS BOONDOCKING IN YOUR FUTURE?

Boondocking without any hookups can provide an easier way to find a spot. Richard H. found that “Many popular National Park campgrounds are often booked up, but learned long ago that we have many other options. RVs are built to be self-sustaining – hookups are not required for at least a few boondocking nights.

Vanessa S. is making a change so she can boondock comfortably, and we suspect many other RVers are making this same change. “My RV is about to change. I’m heading to Quartzsite in a week to have solar installed, then I won’t have to worry about needing electricity when I park.”

Have crowded campgrounds inspired you to install solar on your RV too? 
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SOME PEOPLE ARE HANGIN’ UP THE KEYS

Sadly, there are quite a few of our loyal readers that have decided to hang up their keys now, even before the pandemic ends. They are tired of the difficulty in finding a campground. And even if they do find a spot, the crowding just ain’t so fun. One reader, JD, is “Tired of all the upkeep, money and RV campground issues. Sold our almost new diesel pusher. I’m done after 50 years of RVing!

Hoss B. hasn’t given up just yet, but is on the verge after this year’s experiences with campgrounds. “We finished 3.5 years full-time RVing this season. This past season we encountered the same nightmare as discussed here. We spent days looking for campgrounds. We blew up our plan and moved halfway across the nation in hopes of finding relief – didn’t happen. So we cut our season off early and got set up for the winter stay. We even encountered campgrounds where we had reservations made 6 months out for a week to find out the CG management would not honor the agreed weekly rate, but rather 1-2 nights at the old price, then the remaining time at the increased current rate. We are considering giving up the RV lifestyle, buy a retirement home, then do day, long weekends, and week trips the old conventional way. We are saddened since we love RVing full-time until this painful 2020 season. We understand the unique and abnormal conditions that occurred during this season, but with this a possible new normal? No way!”

To them, we hope it is merely a lull in their RVing plans and that they find the joy of unlimited travel again.

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.

Click or drag a file to this area to upload.

Read last week’s crowded campgrounds column here.

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Roger
8 days ago

We’ve had it in storage for most of the COVID mess. Only out for monthly maintenance runs and generator exercise sessions. Plan to get back at it in the Spring, but if things are as bad as you say, it may be for just one more year. We’ve got plenty of solar and lithium batteries though so will probably do more boondocking than in the past. We’ve enjoyed RV’ing, but we enjoy lots of other pursuits too. Even more so now that we’ve spent a lot more time at home. We’re getting to old to put up with avoidable hassles.

Diane Mc
8 days ago

All booked for our trip mid January from CA to FL. Florida reservations made last year when we left, as we have done every year…because it’s Florida. Made reservations for stops to get to Florida 2 months ago because of all the talk about CG’s being full. We wing it on the way home in March, so we may have start looking sooner than normal, which is a week or so before we leave FL. Did book one stop on the panhandle for on way home. Last two years, before Covid, we saw them turning away people who were just stopping by to get a site. So I started getting nervous long before the virus. At 71 & 76 we are nearing the end of long trips, most likely. So will just see what happens. Only issue for upcoming trip is will the states we have reservations in have rules that shut down CG’s. We have reservations in CA (2) AZ (1) TX (3) LA (1) to make it to Florida. Could alway use truck stops. Biggest worry is our own state of CA.

Bob P
7 days ago
Reply to  Diane Mc

If you use truck stops please don’t use the truck parking area, those guys and gals need those spaces to take their mandatory sleeping break, they can’t go to Walmart or other stores with their heavy trucks like you can in your RV.

wanderer
8 days ago

Traveling across New Mexico this year has been a ‘special hell’ as they say. It’s not enough that the state parks are closed to out of staters. The local district of the US Forest campgrounds closed their campgrounds also. The City of Gallup thought it would be helpful to take its 300 Red Rock Park sites out of the pool too. Casinos: closed during this current ‘lockdown’. Thankfully there were a few spots left in private parks though. Got a couple nights in a costly one, and one more in an afffordable one.

Cannot wait to get to the wide open spaces of BLM land.

Thomas D
8 days ago

It’s not fun anymore: Too hard to get reservations because no one is there to answer the phone. When you get somewhere you might want to stop at, its full or no one around to help. ( recently had that happen in a state park in northern Wi.) They blame it all on Corona. Maybe next year or so it will be back to normal. For now we’ve got a truck camper,go anywhere,park anywhere. So we end up basically anywhere i can park thats not illegal. Last time out, a truck stop and a city park. Not close to where we wanted,but 20 min from the park we wanted to be at.

Loren
8 days ago
Have crowded campgrounds inspired you to install solar on your RV too? " Read more »

Have had solar on our RV for 20 years, we boondock much more often than “camp” in a campground.

Tommy Molnar
8 days ago
Have crowded campgrounds inspired you to install solar on your RV too? " Read more »

We installed a mild solar array (225 watts) on our first TT back in the 90’s. Got us started in boondocking. On our latest trailer, we now have 700 watts on the roof. That way, even on cloudy days we have plenty of power. Almost exclusively boondocking, this has eliminated our need to make reservations almost anytime.