Friday, December 9, 2022


Letters: No campgrounds to stay at except lousy ones


letters to the editorFor months now, I have been reading your editorials about how there are more RVs than places to stay with them. In the eight years I’ve crisscrossed the United States and many Canadian Provinces, rarely did I have issues finding a place to stay, until two years ago.

Much of that was due to our overall length with a 34′ motorhome and a 24′ trailer and my reluctance to unhook the trailer for fear of it being stolen or burglarized.

Now, as of last April, we are full-timers with a 43′ diesel pusher and the same 24′ trailer, but much of our worldly possessions are in that trailer. At 70′ long, we are finding it increasingly difficult to quickly find a suitable RV park. We don’t mind driving our van (fits in the trailer) an hour or so to get to a popular attraction that we could not possibly get closer to, but this week’s efforts are simply mind bogglingly difficult.

We want to travel from our home base in Florida to Yosemite National Park this summer and despite days of research, we can not find any place to stay that is less than an hour-and-a-half to two hours away. Our length isn’t even an issue as, at this point, I’m willing to throw in the towel and unhook.

Anything inside the park itself is simply not possible unless you’re a tenter or own a 24-foot motor home or trailer and willing to do without pretty much any hookups. I understand that. The National Parks system was never designed for today’s RVs.

What I simply can not understand is that not one park or “Resort” that we have looked at had anything better than average review, with most obtaining a dismal to horrible rating. Small, antiquated parks with moldy bathrooms, malfunctioning electrical pedestals (with 30A being the norm), impossibly uneven sites, rude or even hostile employees and generally in a state of disrepair. Yet, despite the maladies, most are booked since there is, essentially, no place left to go.

What I’m getting at here is that in addition to the lack of available spaces for traveling RVers, there seems to be very few and far between campgrounds that are actually decent. I was wondering how the RV park industry was going to rectify this abysmal situation. Frankly, I’m flabbergasted at what I’ve seen.

I’m not giving up on a trip to Yosemite yet. But considering it is one of the world’s most popular tourist areas, the lack of quality parks leaves me confused and dismayed. —Rick R.

“We have an orphan 2010 Carriage Cameo that is in great condition even after all the extended and full time travel we’ve done. We got so frustrated with finding decent campsites the last couple years due to the explosion of RVing that we bought a house again and will keep the 5th wheel in storage until we get the urge to travel again. We plan to keep our comfortable, well-built rig until it falls apart rather than purchase a new piece of junk.”

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Eric Eltinge
5 years ago

I’m drifting from camping to NASCAR tailgating for all of the above reasons

Dave Davis
5 years ago

I just have to shake my head at the folks whining about the lack of suitable RV parks. Most of these people just can’t face up to the facts that during the busy Season EVERYTHING is crowded.
Trying to get into a campground in the Northeast in the summer is increasingly difficult, because everyone wants to do it. Limited space, and a growing population. It doesn’t take a Rocket Scientist to see the problem.
We have full-time for over 4 years. Our rig is 40 ft, towing a Ford Focus. We have nothing stored anywhere, yet somehow we survive. We stay at a great Campground in Ohio for 3 months in the summer, the rest of the year we are moving. In 4 years we have never once encountered problems finding a place to stay for several days. We move all over the country 40 times or more per year in the 9 months we aren’t camped in Ohio.
Towing a big trailer with possessions is just unreasonable. Campgrounds are for camping, not bringing in your mobile circus or flea market.
We have never encountered these problems, and as of today we still aren’t. I do winter in California and Arizona.. there is ALWAYS a place to stay, for a day, week or month.

5 years ago

I am not sure what the ratio is in regards to site demensions, I know in Ontario Canada a lot of the Provincial parks won’t accomadate trailers above 35′ very well. Maybe would be full timers will need to downsize there rigs to fit in so to speak. The thought of dragging around 70′ of trailer and rig seems to much to me. We have a 26′ 5er and can fit just about anywhere, We spend most of our time outside of the trailer when we travel so the inside is mostly to sleep and cook, watch a movie at night if the wheather is crappy and we can’t have a campfire. Governments don’t like RV parks I am thinking becuase of lost tax revenue compared to housing or commercial being put on that land. I beleive Chuck’s idea of pushing the RV industry and Government to up the supply of parks or give tax incentives to built them might help. We as RV owners just need to figure out how to get the attention of the politicians.

john stahl
5 years ago

Most of the RV parks we have stayed at were OK. Some were over priced for what we got and some were expensive because they were close to a ‘high traffic tourist area.’ But to get a good RV park you have to reserve way in advance. I am sure this part will get worse as more people RV. Here is how I rate this past summers RV parks: Greenville, Tx OK; Tulsa OK; Dodge City OK; Colorado Springs OK; Cheyenne OK; Rock Springs Fair; Grand Teton National Park NICE; Butte fair; Glacier NICE but over priced; Dillon, Mt. OK; Salt Lake City OK; Las Vegas OK; Zion area OK; Grand Canyon NP Trailer Village NICE; Albuquerque Good; Ruidoso OK; San Angelo State Park NICE; Lockhart SP Texas NICE; Palmetto SP Tx Nice. Texas State Parks are usually nice and do not cost much ($20-$25).

P Moore
5 years ago

I am also a full-timer who has noticed how difficult it is becoming to find a nice RV park. Businesses like Encore, Sun; and Carefree are busily buying up any parks they can and turning them into residential parks full of park models and squeezing out the RV trade. I understand why, it makes economic sense to have a unit that pays 365 days a year vs one that only stays a week or so but that leaves us with fewer and fewer options. I did stumble across an anomaly recently in Anniston AL, it seems Camping World inherited an RV park when they bought a dealership there. They actually have been improving it and it is a wonderful place for overnights and short visits. Really no amenities except a small laundry but level gravel pads, good electric, cable and clean water go a long way to make me happy. Perhaps CW or its parent company can offer a series of parks like this for us to use as we travel. No pool, playgrounds or dog parks but nice clean long pull thrus. Just what we really need as we travel. I hope the corporate folk get onboard, they can make good money if they set up a path of these cross country..

Michael McCracken
5 years ago

Liz, you are so correct about everything. One of my concerns, is with such a massive amount of rv’s being purchased yearly, what happens when people become frustrated with the lack of places to park them? Who wants to continue to pay for an expensive rv no longer of use? It seems to me that the rv market will soon be flooded with used rv’s. When there are too many to sell, then what? I personally do not want to make monthly payments on a stick and mortar home and a rv no longer of use. I foresee a lot of repossession on the horizon.

5 years ago

The RV industry has faced many boom and bust cycles, and we’ve watched some of the most well-built, reliable RV manufacturers collapse and disappear with each wave. What remains are the firms producing the poorest-quality (most profitable) products while throwing warranty work onto the shoulders of dealers they know cannot meet the demand who have no motivation to bother with labor-intensive repairs when they otherwise could be moving more merchandise. Each boom-bust cycle has hit RV parks, as well. It requires years of planning and millions of dollars to upgrade parks. Too often a campground starts the improvements only to watch the market crash or energy prices skyrocket, and the CG is left with few customers while it faces immense new investment/upgrade costs. They’ve learned it isn’t worth taking the risk. And, be honest, most RVers won’t pay $80/night fees or higher (though motel fees have greatly risen). Add to that the country is filling up with people, and what once were campgrounds far out in low-priced rural areas, are now on coveted land sought by developers for high density housing or big box stores/malls. The quality RV manufacturers and well-run campgrounds dwindle in the face of these realities despite a larger customer base with irrational expectations of what things were like back in the 1970s. That easy era of few RVers, superb, low-priced campgrounds with always extra space is gone. Eventually, BLM and other free sites will roll up the welcome mat because the overuse by irresponsible humans is ruining these places, with illegal dumping of waste tanks, illegal activities, and the dumping of trash.
If you want easier RVing, convert your travels to be off-cycle: stay in the hottest, humid places in summer, and the coldest, snowiest, wettest in winter. Otherwise, plan on the losers game of musical chairs with fewer seats every year until even a two year reservation is no guarantee you’ll arrive to a waiting space.

Ron B
5 years ago

We were camp hosts in a BLM campground in Idaho this summer, close to Hot Springs off HW 30 on a reservoir, which even had electric sites, long pull throughs and most of the summer we were mostly empty. Don’t tell me there is no place to camp.

Michael McCracken
5 years ago
Reply to  Ron B

Ron, my motorhome has all the comforts of a regular home. Electric, Water and Sewer hookups. I am a full-timer. I enjoy these comforts. One of my concerns about BLM land is what they charge and how long they allow you to stay. Most state and federal parks, as well as BLM, have limited facilities and only allow 14 day stays. Also they only offer partial hook-ups and the nightly costs are getting closer to what a full-hookup park charges. As a host, you no doubt are offered full-hook-ups. Another factor is seasonal parks. I need to stay in an area that remains open year round. Factor out those parks that close in the winter, and the parks that are left are limited.

5 years ago

Has anyone noticed the cost of a clean motel room recently? $40 for a campsite is still a bargain.

M. McCracken
5 years ago
Reply to  Merikay

Not if you can’t find one. Not enough parks for long term stay. Anything over a day or two requires at least a month in- advance reservation. Thousands of rv travelers on the roads these days. M. McCracken

P.S. $40 is not unreasonable if they have good amenities but I prefer to stay in the $30-$35 range. I do expect things to change in the future as the park owners learn they can charge according to demand.

Terry Duffy
5 years ago

The fact is that Walmarts are better to park at than most RV parks. Located near freeways, hard surface, supplies within walking distance etc. I would gladly pay $10.00 a night if I could stay at any Walmart.
The trend to make it illegal to park at Walmart to me is unconstitutional but no one has the money to challenge the law.
Most camp grounds are out of the way and expensive place to park for the night.
You are right on about the future. The only place to camp in the future will be BLM sites in the desert.

Tommy Molnar
5 years ago
Reply to  Terry Duffy

I think many of the Walmarts (and other stores) who post “No RV Parking” signs are pressured by nearby RV parks who think they are losing money because of it. There are also the RV’ers who take advantage of a good thing and ruin it for others.

Jim Bennett
5 years ago

Previous comments are spot on..I see a lot of people using a large land yacht as a home and pulling long cargo trailers behind them…in my opinion they either have a lot of money to burn or are impervious to reality. America is fast becoming the land of greed and the RV industry is lockstep with that problem.I too am considering giving up on full time RV’ing because of the overwhelming amount of young people on the road and crowded RV parks..if you can find one that is not worn out.Couple that with America’s worn out road system,cheap built RV’s nowadays and you have a ticking bomb in your lap.

Jay French
5 years ago

I have no doubt it is impossible to find adequate camping areas given your configuration & stated demand of not unhooking the 24′ trailer.
In fact most pull-thrus we encounter are 65 to 70 feet with the extremely rare 75. The reason of course is profitability vs available space & rightly so.
My brother-in-law is (was) worse. His dieselpusher is also 43′ & he routinely pulls either a jeep, 20′ box trailer or 18′ flatbed trailer with both 4×4’s on it. Once he had exploded a front tire 2 hours distant & was calling for help. When I arrived with my Toyota truck, discovered he was pulling both the jeep & flatbed trailer in tandem behind to 43′ motorhome with a total length of 78′ with Louisiana limit of 65′ without an extended length permit which is $10 per day permitted roads only or a $500 fine.
Fortunately for him, I unhooked his flatbed & pulled it home before a State Trooper gave him a road tax ticket.

Firefighter Tom
5 years ago

A pull-thru that can accommodate a total length of 70 feet to remain hooked up is a rare thing to find.

Gary G
5 years ago

RE: Crowded/Lousy RV parks.
No argument with description of difficulties faced in finding RV parks which you feel suitable for your use, BUT would strongly suggest that you do a check of towing regulations in every state/province thru which you wish to travel. Not in all, but in most, a combined over all length of all units connected together (i.e. truck/tractor/MH/trailer(s)/autos/boat/etc is limited to 65 feet (you stated yours as 70ft) and any combination creating a longer length is illegal and therefore risking a citation or worse.