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RV Travel Newsletter for Sunday, August 13, 2023

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Page Contents

August 13, 2023
Issue 1117
Free, abbreviated edition

 Cover story 

When camping was free and RV parks didn’t exist

By Chuck Woodbury

Once upon a time, camping was free or close to it. I speak from my own experience as a well-aged human and RVer. I began RV camping as a child with my parents and then as a 20-something adult on my own. By campgrounds, I am referring to public campgrounds, operated by the government. There were few RV parks early on as we know them now. Those that existed were called trailer parks or mobile home parks.

KOA was the first big player. Its first RV park debuted in 1962 along the route west to the Seattle World’s Fair. Campers paid $1.75 a night. The concept was soon franchised and grew fast. But most other parks were still in the future. As long as the government provided free stays or very cheap stays in its campgrounds, how could a private operation compete, at least in a popular tourist area?

Congress had debated since the 1940s about charging for recreational use of national park and other federal lands (the Forest Service included). Some legislators believed access to federal lands including national parks should be free — a benefit to citizens for their tax dollars. Others favored modest fees, especially for the use of developed facilities like campgrounds.

Camping in 1965 at Mt Baker, WA campground
Camping in 1965 at the Silver Fir Campground near Mt. Baker in Washington state.

In 1973, a total of 122 campgrounds in the National Park System charged a fee: Seven charged $4 a night per site, 38 charged $3, 36 charged $2, and 41 charged $1. The remaining 311 were free.

Congress’ bad decision

That same year, Congress legislated when a federal campground could charge. Oklahoma Senator Dewey Bartlett wrote: “No fee may be charged for access to or use of any campground not having the following — flush restrooms, showers reasonably available, sanitary disposal stations reasonably available, visitor protection control, designated tent or trailer spaces, refuse containers and potable water.”

Alas, it was a bad decision. Few campgrounds could qualify. The National Park Service and the other agencies were thus forced to drop their campground fees. For awhile.

About this same time, I was working summers as a firefighter for the U.S. Forest Service. We also did chores. I remember installing small collection boxes at individual campsites in a popular campground. Campers would need to pay $1 a night. No more “free.” My pals and I thought charging to stay was horrible.

Then something happened

I am not sure exactly when public campgrounds started raising their rates. But as they did, entrepreneurs realized that they could now build an RV park near a national park or other popular area and “do one better” than the government. They could offer nice restrooms with showers, phones, electric and water hookups, dump stations, swimming pools, game rooms, playgrounds and laundry facilities, and charge enough to earn a profit.

In the late 1980s, I began traveling in an RV as a roving journalist. RV industry trade publications increasingly celebrated the government’s higher camping fees. All of a sudden, building a private campground — an RV park — made financial sense. Before, how could a would-be park compete with “free or nearly free”?

Now, decades later, as public parks raise their rates in order to put more burden of support on park users, not just taxpayers, RV parks, too, can raise their rates and remain competitive. And they do it as often as they can. Why not? It’s a business for them.

I don’t know where camping fees are headed, but I do know that for many Americans, the cost of camping with an RV has already become unaffordable. But that’s another story, a big one, that we will continue to pursue.

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Today’s RV review…

HE’S BAAACK! Tony (Barthel) is back with all-new RV reviews. His reviews will appear in the Monday and Wednesday editions of our RV Daily Tips Newsletter, and the Sunday edition of this newsletter. Make sure you’re signed up to read them. 

2024 Jayco Greyhawk 29MV—More than a Class C?

I have been accused of dissuading a lot of people from Class C RVs and, you know what? It’s for a reason. Class C RVs often are built so close to the GVWR (gross weight rating) of the chassis manufacturer that they often can barely hold a driver and passenger. But today’s review is of the Jayco Greyhawk 29MV Class C RV, which is one Class C I like. And almost 1,500 pounds of cargo carrying capacity is just one of the reasons.

Read more

RV Service Centers and Repairs Report

“Camping World didn’t do anything until we threatened them with court. They ‘fixed’ it; it broke again within a month”

In this column, we summarize some of your emails and comments regarding RV service centers and repairs. This week Nanci Dixon shares our readers’ reports on more reasons RVers are avoiding service centers, and the poor quality of RVs. Gary H. has spent, and continues to spend, so much on repairs that, if he could afford it, he would just give the RV away. (We bet some other RVers can relate to that sentiment.) But there are some rave reviews for service centers, as well. And Don T. has some advice for first-year RV owners.

Click here to read

Replacing your RV skylight

By Russ and Tiña De Maris
Need to replace your RV skylight? “Why would I ever need to do that?” you ask. … [P]erhaps it’s cracked, faded or just plain ugly from the elements. Regardless of the cause, replacing an RV skylight isn’t a difficult task, nor particularly time-consuming. It just needs to be done right. Here’s the skinny on skylights.

How to prevent being electrocuted while swimming

In this segment from The RV Show USA, Mike Sokol explains how someone can easily be electrocuted while swimming near a dock where a boat’s electrical hookup is miswired. And it’s not just the fact that someone can be “shocked” to death, but the way they die that’s the scariest. Watch the video—it could save your life or someone else’s.

Dumpster diving across America: How one full-time RVer turns trash into treasures

Reader Fred B. isn’t ashamed to admit that he’s a dedicated dumpster diver. And not for things like moldy fruit or half-eaten steaks. Nope, he finds much more than just food in apartment complexes and campground dumpsters. In fact, he’s saved himself and his wife thousands of dollars over the years—and he hardly ever has to buy anything new! Read about some of the “treasures” Fred has found and some great money-saving tips from this very frugal RVer.

RV Fact or Fiction?

RV tires tend to lose pressure at high altitudes

RV blogs, social media groups and YouTube videos have exploded over the past few years. Some provide great information, others questionable information and some downright bad information. Can you tell the difference? In this regular column, we will post a question based on information we find online. You can then test your RV prowess by seeing how your answer compares with our experts.

Today’s Question:

When traveling at high altitudes, RV tires tend to lose pressure in the thin air.

Well, is it fact or fiction? Respond and find the answer here.

Around the Campfire

RVer “fixed” the campground’s high sewer connection with a hacksaw! What?!

By Gail Marsh
“I couldn’t believe my eyes!” Janet exclaimed. “Yes, the campground’s sewer connection was high, but that’s no excuse to take a hacksaw to someone else’s property!” Janet was talking about an RVer who arrived at the campground this afternoon. Upon arrival, “Mr. Hacksaw” discovered that the sewer connection on his RV site was too high. Because of this, the RVer’s sewer hose would not connect properly and stay in place. Seems “Mr. Hacksaw” took things into his own hands—literally!

Continue reading, then please vote in the poll

RVing with Dogs

By Cheri Sicard

unintended consequences of dog bites - dog in quarantine

Innocent puppy’s playful nip sparks bizarre legal battle. What to do if traveling?

I write this as a cautionary tale. If you are a dog owner, being aware of the situation when you report dog bites of ANY kind may save you some grief and major aggravation. Or it might make you rethink reporting a dog bite at all. Here’s what happened. [This is almost unbelievable!]

How to store dog food in an RV

Melissa S. recently posted a question about how to store dog food in an RV in our RVing with Dogs Facebook group. She got a lot of useful responses, so I wanted to share them here as well, as I know that Melissa is not the only RVer to struggle with the dilemma of where to store all that dog food in the RV. Read Melissa’s question and all of these great ideas.

Travel Destinations

These incredible castles are right here in the U.S.—no passport required!

By Gail Marsh
Forget your passport and expensive airline ticket. If you want to tour a real castle you can stay much closer to home! Just put these four castles on your “must-see” list and you’ll see what I’m talking about. You won’t even know you’re in the United States!

These are amazing!

Highlights from this week’s RV Daily Tips Newsletter

DID YOU KNOW our RV Daily Tips Newsletter is our readers’ favorite newsletter? And for good reason—it’s filled with so much great information! Read any issue here, and then make sure to sign up here. You won’t regret it!

Reader Poll

Is it okay to play Taps in the evening at an RV park?

Please let us know. After you click your response, you’ll see how others have responded. Feel free to leave a comment.

Tell us here

We asked: How satisfied are you with your life today compared to 10 years ago? See how more than 1,600 other RVers answered, then cast a vote yourself!

Ask Dave

Dave Solberg is a leading expert in the RV industry and author of the “RV Handbook”.

This past week’s questions that Dave answered:

Click here to see more questions for Dave.

It IS a really weird thing, isn’t it? We still can’t believe it! How did this happen? It’s just TOO WEIRD! See how weird it is for yourself!

In the RV shop with Dustin

RV slide out locks prevent damage to your slide outs during travel

By Dustin Simpson
Join me in the video below as I explain how to use a slide out lock made by American Technology. These locks are typically used to secure a slide in a fixed position. It’s a mechanism designed to prevent the sliding portion of an RV from moving, providing an additional level of stability.

Click here to watch the short video

RV Gadgets and Gizmos

Jackery Explorer 1500 portable power station/solar generator review

By Cheri Sicard
Let me begin by stating that the term “solar generator” may not be technically correct, as these devices capture energy from the sun, they don’t technically generate power. However, a lot of people refer to and search for portable power stations such as the Jackery Explorer 1500 with the term “solar generator.” So, for the purposes of this article, we will use both terms, solar generator and portable power station, interchangeably.

Click here to read about this very handy piece of equipment

RV Tire Safety

Tires without traditional rubber? A tire expert’s opinion

The concept of tires made without rubber from “rubber trees” has been around for many decades. World War II and the potential of no “natural rubber” aka latex from rubber trees became a concern for the Allies. Plantations in Asia were under threat of attack and so were the plantations in West Africa. This spurred the development of “synthetic rubber” made from petroleum products…. Roger Marble reports on the newest type of tires made from natural rubber derived from the guayule desert shrub, grown in America’s Desert Southwest. Does he think RV tires will be made from this material?

Read more

Ask Roger anything about RV tires on his RV Tires Forum.

RV Prospector

Adventures in prospecting and boondocking, Part 5

By Randall Brink
In less time than it takes to build a good fire, Bebe and I moved our camp the short distance from the boondocking site to the prospecting location, where we had staked the new mining claim. Here we would remain for the rest of the season—until the nightly low temperature drops into the thirties. Though the day had been allocated to the camp move, we were finished early—before the sun had crested the high ridges. There was plenty of day left for work.

Read more to learn if they found gold

Did you miss yesterday’s Latest News for RVers?

If so, stories you missed:
New 2022 travel trailers going to auction houses. What’s going on here?
Federal judge dismisses deadly “overnight RV parking” lawsuit against Walmart
Campground Crowding: Raising prices will lower demand. ‘I would happily pay $800 a night to camp to keep the ‘casual interest’ campers out!’
NEW  Disadvantaged RVers on “the Street”: Are there really homeless RVers?
Notorious house-crasher “Hank the Tank” exposed as hungry female mastermind in Tahoe
Zion and Bryce Canyon national parks may boost campground fees
Texas woman attacked by falling snake, assaulted by hawk in unbelievable sequence of events
and much more

Read it here | Back issues

Recipe of the Day

S’more Pudding

by Melinda Wolowicz from Springfield, TN

You will be requested to take this easy s’more no-bake dessert to all summer parties. The rich and creamy pudding is sweet and full of chocolate flavor. Stirring in graham cracker crumbs adds a touch of texture. We loved the mini marshmallows throughout the pudding, too. We guarantee you’ll be wanting s’more after your first bite.

Get the recipe here

Readers’ Pet of the Day

“Franc is our 16-year-old Dachshund. He travels everywhere we go in the motorhome. When we are driving, he has his bed in between the captain’s chairs on our Class C motorhome. When we are stopped, he prefers to use the captain’s chair as ‘his spot.’ He can look out the side windows from the seats.” —Daniel Merkovsky

RVing with Dogs group on Facebook. You’ll love it.


Current Wildfire Report. (Includes map and details of fires.)
Current smoke and fire report for where you live or where you’re traveling.
Canadian Wildland Fire Information.


If you’re planning a surgery, avoid having it done on the surgeon’s birthday. According to the British Medical Journal, there’s an increase in patient deaths after surgeons perform an operation on their birthday. Scientists tracked how many Medicare beneficiaries died within 30 days of an emergency surgery. When the surgery was performed on a surgeon’s birthday, 6.9 percent of the patients died. On other days, it was 5.6 percent.

Sunday funny

We just came across this old post of ours and it made us laugh all over again! Sit in the grandstands and watch race cars towing travel trailers compete on a Figure 8 race course.

Click here to watch.

Did you miss last week’s RV Travel?

Read it here | Back issues

RVtravel.com All Star Team

rv travel logo

Publisher: Chuck Woodbury. Editor: Emily Woodbury. Associate editor: Diane McGovern. Senior editors: Russ and Tiña De Maris. Senior writers: Nanci Dixon, Gail Marsh, Dave Solberg and Cheri Sicard. Contributors: Roger Marble, Dave Helgeson, Janet Groene, J.R. Montigel, Randall Brink, Dustin Simpson, Dale Wade and Tony Barthel. Moderator: Gary Gilmore. Financial affairs director: Gail Meyring. IT wrangler: Kim Christiansen. Artificial Intelligence (AI) contributors: Johnny Robot and Milly MacWilly. Canine Mascots: Archie and Astor “the Disaster”

Everything in this newsletter is true to the best of our knowledge. But we occasionally get something wrong. We’re just human! So don’t go spending $10,000 on something we said was good simply because we said so, or fixing something according to what we suggested (check with your own technician first). Maybe we made a mistake. Tips and/or comments in this newsletter are those of the authors and may not reflect the views of RVtravel.com or this newsletter.

RVtravel.com is a participant in many affiliate programs, including the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases. Regardless of the potential revenue, unless stated otherwise, we only recommend products or services we believe provide value to our readers.

Editorial (all but news)
: editor@rvtravel.com
Editorial (news)
: chuck@rvtravel.com
Advertising. Information here.
Help desk: Contact us.

Mail us at 9792 Edmonds Way, #265, Edmonds, WA 98020.

This newsletter is copyright 2023 by RV Travel LLC.


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1 month ago

That picture reminded me of the Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz episode of when they went camping. I loved that episode. Need to rewatch it. As for comment section. Seriously I have to scroll all the way to the bottom just to comment? Seriously. But whatever.

1 month ago
Reply to  jillie

I do not like that I can no longer sort by date ascending.

Brian Burry
1 month ago

Franc is so precious!!!! Thank you

1 month ago

Regarding the playing of taps at the campground. Just so we are straight, taps isn’t the tune that is played at the lowering of the national ensign at sunset. The tune that is played is retreat.

1 month ago

Glad you have Franc to go with you on all your adventures. He appears to enjoy camping, and likes his preferred spots to watch all the action.

Larry Lagerberg
1 month ago

Camping may have been free to the end user but it was never free. TANSTAAFL!

1 month ago

Cheaper to buy 2 of the trigger clamps from home depot, turn one side around and make a spreader out of it for locking your slideout. $36 vs $52.

1 month ago
Reply to  gene

Right on!

1 month ago


I wearing that tee shirt right now!

1 month ago

Camping is ancient history. Glamping is the trend. Small family type is out, experiences is in. Money talks.

1 month ago
Reply to  Tom

And that’s the reason we have decided NOT to buy an RV. I can stay in hotels cheaper.

1 month ago
Reply to  TexasScout

Priced hotels recently? I thought that as well but learned the opposite. Prices are way up and services are way down. Some large chains won’t even replace bath towels each day unless you put in a request at the desk.

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