Campground Crowding: Should some reservations be reserved for state residents?

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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.

MAKE NEW FRIENDS

There is an upside to the hordes of newbies out there – an opportunity to be helpful and, by doing so, make new friends. With all the newcomers it does behoove us “old-timers” to help train them, particularly if the camping bug sticks.

Joe W. wrote, “On our recent trip out west (Sept. & Oct.) we ran into quite a few newbies, which made life interesting as some hadn’t gotten a very good orientation by dealers. Made a lot of new friends by helping out with issues like no gas flow, tripped breakers, etc. Overall an enjoyable trip.”

PLEASE BE CONSIDERATE

In a recent Crowded Campgrounds column, reader Richard Salmon wrote that because he has a small class B, some campgrounds will put him in a tent site. Alan A. responded, “On one hand, I applaud his ingenuity. However, those of us who choose to tent camp with minimal facilities do not necessarily appreciate RVs rolling into primitive areas with their generators, TVs, and Festoon lighting. RV-only parks that restrict access by tenters are by far the norm. If you’re going to join the tenting crowd on the peaceful side of the campground, please be mindful that most of us on that side of the campground treasure the quiet evening and simple campfire. We are more than willing to share the space if you honor the primitive lifestyle too.”

Thanks, Alan. We think this is good advice for everyone, no matter which section of the campground they are in. Be considerate.

TROUBLE IN IMPROMPTU-PARADISE

Again, many people are feeling the pinch of trying to schedule a trip at the spur of the moment. Campsites are crowded! Crowding, combined with high reservation fees for one night, resulted in this RVer no longer going to their favorite spots.

Cheri M likes to travel at the spur of the moment but noted that impromptu camping is near to impossible now. “We enjoy just traveling and not being held to a certain time schedule. Maybe we especially like a spot and want to stay longer. We used to never have trouble finding an impromptu spot because most sites were unreservable. Now, the opposite is true because most sites are reserve-only. We always have trouble if going impromptu. So, we don’t go impromptu anymore to many of our fav camping spots. Lastly, a $10 reserve fee, as is Reserve America, is way too much. If you are reserving for one night and the reservation fee is $10 each time, that adds up quickly if you’re only staying one night at each place. Also, if a better spot opens up while you are in a campground, you can no longer just move to that spot – the reservation system gets in the way, big time.”

On the other hand, Albert L. puts a positive spin on things: “It’s hard to get a site unless you book 4-6 weeks ahead. This will all pass when things get back to the new normal. School kids will get back to usual activities and newbies will have to stay home and make camper payments.”

SAVE SPACE FOR RESIDENTS

Russell D. has an interesting idea about making camping in your home state more available. Rather than leaving a number of sites non-reservable, save a percentage for state residents. “My wife and I are FL residents and love the state parks here, but the only time we can begin to get a campsite for more than two days is in the summer, it seems that the snowbirds are able to make reservations so far in advance that they have all the state parks booked in prime time Oct. thru April. If you’re lucky, you can find one, maybe two, days open during this time. We believe the state should hold at least 15 percent of the sites open for FL residents.

Now that’s an idea! Do you agree with Russell?
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NEXT WEEK – RESERVATION SYSTEMS

There have been so many (mostly negative) comments about reservation systems that next week we want to share some of them. If you have comments, tricks or tips for reservation systems, particularly Reserve America, please send them along with any other comments in the form below.

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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Bob M
17 days ago

I agree with your comments on the news media. I feel sorry about the death of the Air Force Veteran, Capital police officer and those who got hurt. It’s a shame our political parties, news and social media has got Americans so divided. I’m not sure if those with the pipes and the person who hit the capital police officer with the fire extinguisher are Trump supporters. I think they are professional agitators. This incident also shows how vulnerable America is when amateurs can break into our nations capital. Could you imagine how easy professional terrorist or enemy special forces could have broken in and held our President hostage or worst, took his life. Everyone in charge of protecting the white house should be fired and possibly serve prison time. As a Air Force Veteran and retired Army civilian. I find it hard to comprehend what happened. God Bless America

Laura
30 days ago
Now that's an idea! Do you agree with Russell?" Read more »

Yes – good idea.

Goldie
1 month ago
Now that's an idea! Do you agree with Russell?" Read more »

Yes!

Ron
1 month ago
Now that's an idea! Do you agree with Russell?" Read more »

Even if you saved 15% of the sites residents, the popular parks would still be reserved 11months in advance by locals. Florida must make millions in interest by having sites paid for 11months in advance. Guess that’s there is no state income tax LOL. Just my two cents worth

Ron
1 month ago
Now that's an idea! Do you agree with Russell?" Read more »

I agree but how would you decide which campsites #s are in the 15 percent Not an easy answer

Walt
1 month ago
Now that's an idea! Do you agree with Russell?" Read more »

Absolutely! Another Florida resident here and we can’t even begin to get a site at most parks, and some you can’t even get 11 months in advance!!!!

Tammie
1 month ago
Now that's an idea! Do you agree with Russell?" Read more »

Agreed – I am also a resident of Florida and have difficulty finding state parks to reserve especially on weekends. Other industries give some perks to residents such as Disney so why can’t the parks. I end up booking during the week then leave on Friday.

robert austin
1 month ago
Now that's an idea! Do you agree with Russell?" Read more »

yes I agree as its like every park is full so you can not camp only in the summer

Will
1 month ago
Now that's an idea! Do you agree with Russell?" Read more »

No. There is nothing special about being a resident and not showing up vs out of state. Just another way of classifying people and I’m sick to death of being categorized by people I don’t know.

Bobby
1 month ago
Now that's an idea! Do you agree with Russell?" Read more »

Who pays taxes in our state for the campgrounds and upkeep. Yes, it is the residents. I suggest more sites are reserved for state residents, but understand, I don’t dislike out of state, but as residents, we deserve more reservations because we have paid for those state campgrounds.

Roger B
1 month ago
Reply to  Bobby

It’s a good idea but not at the price of unused sites that some visitor would like to use. Maybe the unreserved sites could be used for drive ups.

Cheryl Bacon
1 month ago
Now that's an idea! Do you agree with Russell?" Read more »

Absolutely! I think this is a fantastic idea.

Mark B
1 month ago
Now that's an idea! Do you agree with Russell?" Read more »

The out-of-state visitors bring money to FL and visitors are a reason your taxes are low. Currently, Floridians have the same opportunity to reserve, they just need to plan ahead like everybody else.

Maybe focus on increasing the availability of spaces in State Parks. Build more campsites. Maybe primitive sites, because they are less investment and aren’t coveted quite as much.

Evelyn Arenella
1 month ago
Now that's an idea! Do you agree with Russell?" Read more »

For sure. I think the taxpayers of that state should have the advantage for the state you are a resident in and pay taxes to. Florida state parks are impossible for residents to get a reservation.

Leonard Rempel
1 month ago
Now that's an idea! Do you agree with Russell?" Read more »

Nope. As a Canadian I hope to be one of those Snowbirds next year when travel restrictions ease between our two great countries! I would certainly not want our Provinces to restrict reservations for our out of province RV’ers either. Tribalism just doesn’t work.

Colin Grant
1 month ago

Unfortunately there are people who abuse the system no matter where you are. Rules for parks need to get tighter so they can’t be abused by end runs around the system. Limit the number of reservations you can make and hold for state and federal parks.

Diane Tricomi
1 month ago
Now that's an idea! Do you agree with Russell?" Read more »

YES<YES YES !!!! We have the same problem in Arizona .

Fred
1 month ago

We just are not experiencing the crowding problems others talk about. 11 years fulltiming in a 5th wheel, properly set up for boondocking, which we do a fair amount of. We spend 4 months in a spot in Michigan visiting family & 4 months in one or 2 spots south for the winter. We then wander during the 4 months of “shoulder seasons”. That’s when we are more apt to use short term or weekend campgrounds. we use places like Passport America, Campendium, etc. to find spots & rarely have a problem finding spots for that day or just a couple of days ahead. Ideally, we look for campgrounds that allow us to extend our stay if we want to explore the area more. And of course we always have dry camping to fall back on for those rare occasions of no sites available. Dry camping spots are usually available within 10 minutes of any place you happen to be in this country; sometimes you just need to ask politely.

Chuck
1 month ago
Now that's an idea! Do you agree with Russell?" Read more »

No, I dint agree. Russell seems to say non Floridians have some advantage over Floridians in making reservations. This us not true, all have the same reservation window. With TGE numbers if campers these days everybody just has to make reservation in advance, as far as windows allow.

Brenda G
1 month ago
Now that's an idea! Do you agree with Russell?" Read more »

Wholeheartedly AGREE!

Sue
1 month ago
Now that's an idea! Do you agree with Russell?" Read more »

They need to do something….prior to Covid, I listened to a group of Canadians cackling about how proud they were to jam up the reservation systems 11months out..they each had an assignment of what to do and where to make the reservations for the ‘group’..there were 5 units traveling together. Had all it could do not to go over and tell them how they screw it up for not just residents, but US citizens!