Wednesday, February 1, 2023


Would you pay $80 for a $40 hookup campsite if it were the only available site for 50 miles?

There’s been some talk lately about RV parks charging more based on the supply and demand of available campsites in their area. Hotels do it. Gas stations do it. Airlines do it. So why not RV parks?

When demand was low, the park would charge its base price. But when campgrounds in the vicinity started to fill up on a Friday afternoon, the price of a campsite would increase. So perhaps the regular fee for a full-hookup site is $40 a night, but on a super busy summer weekend the park would charge $60, or $80, or even more, and campers who really wanted to stay would pay it.

How do you feel about it? Here’s an example: You’ve put in a long day at the wheel, it’s late in the afternoon, and you’re tired. It doesn’t help that it’s 90 degrees outside with high humidity. Your co-pilot is on the phone trying to find a place to stay an hour or two ahead of you. You really do need a site with a 50-amp hookup, to keep your all-electric residential fridge running, not to mention your two air conditioners.

Yes, you knew that you were asking for trouble when you didn’t make a reservation a month or even week ahead. But, then, you really didn’t want to be a slave to a fixed schedule.

AFTER MAKING A DOZEN CALLS, your co-pilot announces that the area ahead is booked up, but she did find one spot which normally costs $40 a night that she could get for $80 if she reserved and paid for it right there and then.

What would you do? Would you pay it? Or would you pull into a Walmart and sweat it out and hope the food in your fridge didn’t spoil? Or would you keep on driving and hope you’d find a place to stay before you were too tired to go on?

We know this is a loaded question and there are many variables, including your financial position. But, what do you think? We hope you will leave a comment.

The fact is, this type of reservation system, based on supply and demand, will very likely come into play one day soon as demand for campsites increases.


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1 year ago

No way! $65 on a very special situation is my absolute luxury top end
We boondocks quite a bit & we like to use campgrounds to refresh and laundry
our preferred camping is in cool temps so that gets us in campgrounds during their off season or shoulder seasons. if its over 75degrees the bugs are out and we do our best to stay out of buggy areas

D Carlson
1 year ago

I realize campgrounds have costs like anyone else. The idea of taking advantage of people who are on a budget is sad. Campgrounds advertising a family experience should keep it equal to all.

Sam Crabtree
1 year ago

“if it’s the only site available within 50 miles.” But when we have planned the trip (and that we don’t always do) we would make reservations as much as a month in advance. But the question is somewhat unreal. How does it happen that a campground is called a “$40 campground if it charges $80? The owner/operator values the campground at a certain price, taking into account what it costs to maintain AND what surrounding campgrounds are near and the demand for camping sites, etc. I evaluate what I will pay depending upon my time on the road, the amenities the campground offers, what the competing campgrounds charge and such. If my evaluation is equal to or more than the campground charges I will be willing to stay. If not, I won’t.

1 year ago

I will not drive tired. I also will not be swayed to pay a lot more or any more than normal rate for a day or two spot. If I was in this situation, I would head to the nearest rest area, take a nap then move on. That is what Rest areas are for.. to take a break if needed.

1 year ago

I am driving portable sleeping quarters. The next rest area looks good. Not a chance. Bribery is not in my DNA.

1 year ago

Not no, but heck no!!! Will not be ripped off!

1 year ago
Reply to  Hank

As mentioned in previous comments: given the scenario presented, I would pay. That $80.00 price is cheap compared to falling asleep at the wheel or other situation due to lack of attention from being too tired, and the possible damage incurred as a result.

Bruce McDonald
1 year ago

I answered yes assuming that we were traveling with our 5th wheel. If we were in our new Class B, the answer would all most certainly be no. That flexibility is one of the reasons for getting a Class B.

1 year ago

Based on poor planning yes I would pay it. More and more people like to be that free spirit in their RV and hate the thought of making a reservation but we always have a reservation in place 250-300 miles out…..

1 year ago

What is $80 a night? That’s pretty much the going rate in the northeast.

Ray Zimmermann
1 year ago

Under the conditions you mentioned, yes I would, but one reason I always try to make reservations is to avoid situations like that.

Grant Graves
1 year ago

Prices for RV parks in much of the west coast are already at or above that price. Given the scenario I would pay the price. If you have ever flown or stayed in a hotel or AirBnB without planning ahead then you’ve already been subject to demand pricing. I suspect we will just need to get used to it. As computer reservations systems become more common we will see more of this, especially as the big corporations continue to manage more of the parks.

Sam Crabtree
1 year ago
Reply to  Grant Graves

Grant – maybe the EAST coast has prices of $80 and more a night. My wife and I have been travelling, on this trip, for about 3 years, mainly in the area between the Pacific Coast and the Mississippi River, between the Mexican border and the Canadian border. We have yet to encounter an RV park over $60 a night, and that was only one – a beach front site in the Los Angeles area almost three years ago. That price MAY have risen since then. And, upon reflection, the news says that more and more are travelling by RV because of covid. So I expect that the law of supply and demand probably does exert pressure to raise prices.

Jon Bridges
1 year ago

Based on the scenario as described, I’d pay. But it would be the last time I didn’t make a reservation ahead of time.

As for demand pricing, it’s the law of supply and demand…capitalism at its best. Leave the market alone and it will work itself out.

Judy S
1 year ago

I so rarely pay for a campsite because of abundant and beautiful boondocking areas in the western parts of the US. When I travel east where it’s more of a challenge, I plan ahead and have backup plans too. This is where memberships like Boondockers Welcome and Harvest Hosts pay for themselves.

Bob Weinfurt
1 year ago

Only if there was no place to safely park or boondock.

J Castle
1 year ago

Before we had our current motor home, we traveled across country by car. We headed into Mt Rushmore at the edge of dark and found everything full due to the motorcycle convention. One room left would be $350 and were told that there wasn’t another room for 300 miles. My husband said he only wanted to sleep in it, not buy it. We slept in the car that night at the next rest area!

Neal Davis
1 year ago

I said “yes,” but I still might not do it. We have an on-board generator that will run everything except the clothes dryer when we are unplugged. Would not overnight at Walmart, but might at Cracker Barrel. Would pay if had to do laundry.

1 year ago

And then I’d obsess about it and complain for years.

Judy S
1 year ago
Reply to  Kiki

Kiki, too funny!

1 year ago

There are always Wal-marts, empty parking lots, rest areas, or even dead end streets to overnight at.

Paul S Goldberg
1 year ago

I’d pay. I wouldn’t be happy, but then I have paid more to be where I chose to be when I chose to be there. For example Liberty Harbor Marina and RV Park in Jersey City on the Hudson River with relatively cheap and easy connections into Manhattan. $90/night Just parking a car in Manhattan for a day costs as much and hotel rooms that one might stay in are more than $200 a night. RV park owners are business people and they have a perishable product to sell. An unoccupied site is revenue lost that cannot be recovered, a single site open with more than one caller has greater value to someone who must have it than the nominal price. By 6 PM the value of that site may start to approach zero.

Last edited 1 year ago by Paul S Goldberg
1 year ago

I said yes, but in general I am booking our stays weeks in advance. I don’t understand the comments related to “this would give RV Park owners permission to charge more”. Isn’t that what supply and demand is all about? I would be annoyed to find I was rented a ‘deluxe’ slot when in the AM there were cheaper slots that hadn’t been used. I would put that information in my review of the park. We are the consumers and how we choose to consume the limited (eventually VERY limited) resource by making choices such as making reservations, choosing to park on the black top at some commercial establishment, or on BLM land will ultimately impact the prices charged for the opportunity to stay in a park with amenities that we might want. Think about the park owners that may have been struggling thru the lean years. Now they see people with big expensive coaches that grouse about paying more when they wait till the last minute to find a place to park for the night. Think about both sides.

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