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.
We were surprised to read the comments from readers that do not reserve campsites and are having no problems getting a site. Actually, it was a relief to read that they are not having problems! We don’t hear that much around here! Below are some of those comments. Hopefully they inspire you as much as they inspired us.
DO YOU REALLY NEED A RESERVATION?
Mary A. is not having an issue finding a last-minute reservation due to campground crowding, at least this winter/spring season. “We left Oregon on Jan 21 and traveled to Sacramento. Found a great spot in an RV Park without using a reservation. Got the special rate because we were returning guests. Plenty of sites open. A couple of days later we drove to Bakersfield without a reservation. Many spaces open. Sat for two days waiting for Tehachapi and the Grapevine to open due to snow. Arrived in Palm Springs. Very few Canadians. But we had friends secure our spot. Four days later pulled into Yuma, AZ. Plenty of empty sites. Very few Canadians. But some from Washington, Minnesota, Oregon and even Alaska. So far, so good. Keep the faith.”
Paul G. had a similar experience and almost always found a site, except one time. He noted that during COVID, some RV parks are actually having a hard time getting enough campers. “We travel in off-season times. We traveled East last May and found plenty of open camping on our route for one and two night stays. Often there was open space in the campground. West bound in November and December we never felt crowded, except in one park we are very familiar with that hasn’t changed in 20 years. We could not get into our favorite park in Marfa, TX – on US 90 – but we found plenty of room nearby. Several places begged (us) to stay longer. Clearly they were hurting in this time of COVID.”
RARE PROBLEMS MAKING RESERVATIONS
Kilo B. didn’t find crowded campgrounds during their 8,000-mile coast-to-coast trip and wonders if they were just lucky. “We traveled from coast to coast over the past few months logging 8k+ miles. One night we used a Walmart during our travels and full hook up 99% of the time without reservation. We never experienced a problem with booking a site, even when calling less than 24 hrs. in advance. Furthermore, we had no problems obtaining pull-through sites for a majority of those bookings for our 40’ MH towing the Jeep. We haven’t experienced this hype of crowded campgrounds…yet. Maybe we are just that lucky!”
Paul R. has rarely been turned away from finding a site. “In 20 years of RVing, we have rarely made advance reservations (other than calling ahead on the same day), and have rarely been turned away on arrival at a park. We avoid “resorts,” destination parks, and KOAs. Mom & pop parks, city parks & county parks have worked well for us. COE parks are about the only reservations we make.”
Lastly, Beverly B. does things differently. She writes, “We don’t reserve ever. A campground is never our destination. We travel to see whatever is along our way. Our stops are often to visit family and friends, but other stops can be boondocking for a night, visit sites in that area then move on.”
PARKS ARE EMPTY – WHERE’S THE “CAMPGROUND CROWDING”?
Diane M. travels in the winter with reservations. “Just came 3,000 miles from CA to FL. Had reservations the entire way, including Florida, which we made when we left last year, as we have always done. Every park we stayed at, two in CA, one in AZ, three in TX, one in LA, and two in FL, were pretty much empty, many more empty than previous years. That is with the exception of the current one in Daytona Beach, which is not surprising. Has always been this way. However, there are still spots available and that is even with the Rolex 24 hrs. of Daytona going on thru the weekend. Again, except for Florida, my thoughts are kids in school & it’s winter.”
CANCELLATION FEES FROM THE VIEWPOINT OF A SITE OWNER
Over the last several weeks, we’ve been discussing cancellation fees in this space. Drew M. points something out that we don’t always consider: campground site owners take financial hits too. Drew writes, “There are good reasons for cancellation policies and non-refundable fees. As a site owner in a popular desert resort, you can lose lots of money with no guarantee of recovering it. People make reservations many months ahead. If they cancel and you have to return their money, and it’s already in snowbird season, good luck re-renting your lot(s) again.”
SECRETS TO FINDING A SITE WITH CAMPGROUND CROWDING
Michael G. shares a secret that may be helpful for a lot of other RVers who are concerned about campground crowding: “We have good luck with all the apps, but our secret is Elks Lodge RV parks: Over 600 in the U.S. with hookups and another 1,400 which often let you dry camp. Haven’t been turned away in 5 years. They are happy if you join just for the RV benefit.”
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.
Read last week’s Crowded Campgrounds column here.