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Memorial Day numbers from KOA and Jellystone; new records reached

Memorial Day Weekend camping last year was largely a lost cause throughout North America, as the COVID-19 pandemic limited campgrounds’ ability to welcome guests.

The good news (if you’re a campground owner) is that things looked much brighter last weekend at parks throughout the U.S.

Kampgrounds of America Inc. reported that check-ins at its 520 locations were up 80% over last year, and (even more impressive) up 14% over the company’s record Memorial Day weekend pre-pandemic performance in 2019.

“To say that campers both new and returning are eager to get back out to camp is an understatement,” said KOA President and CEO Toby O’Rourke. “Last year, we had our best fall on record as restrictions were lifted and people started to explore and travel. That trend is not only continuing but growing as we look at Memorial Day and the summer.”

The rest of the 2021 camping season

Looking toward the rest of the 2021 camping season, KOA said advanced deposits are up 95% from 2020 figures. That’s nearly 61% better than its record year in 2019.

O’Rourke said while KOA campgrounds are filling up fast on weekends and holidays, campers can still find open sites in all regions of North America. In fact, KOA recently launched a new search feature on its KOA.com website that allows campers to search by region for open campsites.

“Our research and system numbers make it clear that camping is surging,” said O’Rourke. “It’s critical that KOA.com provides campers the tools and ease of use they need to find a quality site easily across our campgrounds.”

Thus far for the year, KOA’s short-term camper nights are up 80% over 2020. When compared to 2019, a record year after nine consecutive years of growth, the KOA system reports an 18.5% growth in short-term camper nights.

Jellystone Park Campgrounds also way ahead

Detailed Memorial Day weekend results at the 70+ Jellystone Park Campgrounds in the U.S. haven’t yet been released. It takes a while for their corporate office to receive official reports from individual campgrounds.

But Trent Hershenson, vice president of Marketing for Leisure Systems, Inc. (owners of the Jellystone Park franchise system) said that advanced reservation figures for year-to-date reservations as of May 30 were up 77% compared to Leisure System’s Jellystone Park numbers in 2019.

These numbers from the two largest campground systems in the U.S. illustrate that camping’s popularity is continuing to skyrocket in 2021.

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