Wednesday, September 27, 2023


RV PARKS NOT WELCOME HERE: The fight to build more campgrounds

With the huge growth in RV sales and a booming number of new campers, everyone must see the need for more RV parks, right?

Well, not if that proposed campground is in your backyard…

Local county commission and zoning board fighting over new RV park construction certainly isn’t a new thing. But what is new is the sudden growth in a number of these disputes around the country.

Just as I write this, there were no less than five news stories about local citizens up in arms about a planned RV park development somewhere in the U.S.

The “disinformation” campaigns surrounding these efforts to kill new RV park projects would rival the best efforts of the political “fake news” campaigns we all endured from all sides last year. Opponents to new RV parks roll out the traditional boogeyman fears of higher crime, increased road traffic, and the large numbers of “undesirable” transients in their rolling ghetto-mobiles invading their peaceful streets.

Planning boards and commissions are being inundated with complaints every time a new park is proposed. And thanks to the popularity of RVing, there are a growing number of proposals out there.

Most opposition movements eventually fail, since RV park developers usually do their homework and know what local zoning ordinances allow before they start down the application trail. But sometimes the delaying tactics work, and developers walk away when they decide it just isn’t worth the protracted fight.

If you think I’m overreacting, take a look at these recent examples:

From Berkshire County, MA: Hinsdale officials quiz RV park proponents

From Santa Rosa Beach, FL: ‘Big win for residents’: Walton County commissioners reject proposed Moll Drive RV resort

From Detroit Lakes, MN: Elbow Lake uproar over proposed 49-unit RV Park

From Spartanburg, SC: Fight against proposed RV park continues for Campobello landowners

From Woodland, WA: Contentious RV park moves forward after City Council vote

From Hayes, KS: C2T Ranch campground, venue moves forward as agritourism business

From Gainesville, FL: Proposed RV park near Ginnie Springs draws opposition

From Milton, FL: Neighborhood against proposed RV park

You want more RVing options? Get involved.

Increasing the number of RV parks in the right locations in the U.S. is going to be a long, arduous battle. As an active RVer, you should do what you can to stay informed about planned parks in your area and be ready to help dispel the disinformation efforts that crop up (and they surely will).

Here are a few real facts about the positive impacts RVing have on local communities and the overall U.S. economy:

  • The total impact of the RV/camping industry on the U.S. economy is $114 billion*
  • The RV industry supports 30,000+ businesses with 600,000 employees and a payroll of $32.2 billion*
  • The RVing and camping industries pay about $12.2 billion in taxes each year*
  • 25 million Americans go RVing each year, also hike, boat and fish – all bringing new dollars to local economies*
  • Outdoor recreation accounts for 2.2% of the U.S. gross national product*

* RV Industry Association “RVs Move America Report”

Plan to get involved by sharing the real facts on social media, local TV, radio, and newspapers and be willing to testify at planning board or county commission meetings regarding planned RV parks.

Activism is the only way to increase the number of RV parks we will have to enjoy in the future. This is one time when it’s OK for RVers to make some noise.


Building an RV Park from scratch


Mike Gast
Mike Gast
Mike Gast was the vice president of Communications for Kampgrounds of America Inc. for 20 years before retiring in 2021. He also enjoyed a long newspaper career, working as a writer and editor at newspapers in North Dakota, South Dakota, Oregon, and Montana. He and his wife, Lori Lyon, now own and operate the Imi Ola Group marketing company, focusing on the outdoor industry.


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2 years ago

I recently stayed at a Thousand Trails park for the first time. I’m not a member of TT and won’t be after that experience. It was a true trailer park. Most of the spaces taken up by full timers. Some have very nice landscaped sites but the majority were trash heaps. None of the rules were being enforced, unless your dog barked after quiet hours which started at 9pm! I am retired military and can’t believe the number of Famcamps that have become full time homes for not only retirees but active duty.

If they don’t have rules about noise and trash that are ENFORCED and limits on stays, 28 days is good, I wouldn’t want it in my neighborhood either.

Sharon Nelson
2 years ago

I just stayed this past weekend at AJs Getaway RV Park in Heber, AZ, the park that Machelle James has been writing about constructing over the past couple of years on this website. Their philosophy is that no one will be able to stay there more than 28 days… it is truly an RV Park for people who vacation and TRAVEL in their RVs. There are several other what I would call trailer parks in the area where you can tell people are living full-time with all of their accumulated “stuff” strewn all around the trailers. These types of parks generally look trashy and many have sketchy people living there because it’s comparatively cheap. It is these types of parks that I think residents are concerned about having in their backyards. Perhaps there should be two types of zoning for RV parks… one that allows full-time living and one that doesn’t.

By the way, we really enjoyed our stay at AJs Getaway… Machelle and AJ are wonderful people!

Tom Horn
2 years ago

More campgrounds means more Independence for US citizens, that a bad thing in some circles.

Paul Cecil
2 years ago

What is a “RV Park”? Is it a ” RV Park” if 75% of the spots are taken by “full time” residents who live there and call it their permanent home? Why is the “RV Park” being built? What happens to it if the RV’ing craze ends? Does it become a cheap place for homeless to live at?
These are the questions that have locals worried. Try to look at it from their view point. How are RV parks going to provide better paying jobs? The majority of work at the park is lower paying jobs. The money we RV’ers spend goes to lower wage workers. Yes, the money we spend goes to the local economy, but is it really helping them?
Just my 5 cents.

2 years ago

I live in a town of approximately 32,000 people and we have four (!) RV parks. Two of them are right on Main St, one is just a bit out of town and the other is on the outskirts. Since we are central to five National Parks, they are full all summer. The owners of these parks keep them well maintained and they enforce quiet times and their other rules. No one in town ever complains about them. I know the businesses like them as they keep a lot of tourist dollars in town.
On the other hand, I recently camped at a County Regional Park campground in Southern California. There was blatant drug use, 20+ people per site even though the limit was six people per site, trash EVERYWHERE, extra cars parked everywhere, loud partying until 1:00AM, thieves roaming the campground and all sorts of debauchery. Did the camp hosts or the rangers do anything? NOPE! I would HATE to live near that park. But, I blame it on the rangers and the camp hosts for not enforcing any rules.

2 years ago
Reply to  Suru

So sorry to hear that, that’s really bad. Where was that? I’m curious, am currently staying in SoCal.

We’re in a park that has camp hosts and rangers. They want us to report infractions to the management because the camp hosts aren’t actually allowed to ‘enforce’ rules. Luckily the place I’m at seems to have wonderful people camping. Ironically, even short term campers on Friday and Saturday nights seem to be very quiet.

2 years ago

It seems that RV owners lack a regional or national voice to assist getting new campgrounds approved and fighting the often voiced misconceptions. Good Sam used to be that voice for RV parking (before they were defunded). AAA provides info on campgrounds but doesn’t seem interested in advocating for the RV segment. Maybe it’s time to find an organization to advocate for us.

2 years ago

In 2014 the County voted against the development of the campground. It was several years ago but it appears the issues are similar, mainly traffic.

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