RV News for March 10–16, 2018

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    breaking-newsReturn to RV Travel Issue 837.

    Auto enthusiasts group AAA says pump prices for gas will shoot up to an average of $2.70 in May or June. At present, national averages are $2.54, up from $2.31 this time last year. If gas does hit the predicted high, it will be the highest point seen since the summer of 2015, but far less than the $4.11 sweltered out in July 2008. 

    Moving into the new year, towable RV manufacturers should have been happy as January 2018 sales were up better than 8 percent compared to January 2017. In a switch, the rise was greater for fifth wheels at more than 9 percent, with travel trailers dropping into second slot with a bit better than 8 percent rise in sales. “Pop-ups” continued to slide, down 8 percent. Park models didn’t sell many, but did rise 47 percent. Source: Statistical Surveys Inc. 

    January sales of motorhomes were better than January 2017 – but probably not as much as the industry hoped for. Overall, motorhome sales were up more than 5 percent, despite the best efforts of Class A units to torpedo the marketplace. Class A sales sank close to 6 percent, while a 17 percent rise in sales of Class C motorhomes kept the market afloat. Source: Statistical Surveys Inc.  RVIA reports that sales of Class B motorhomes dropped 7.4 percent in January compared to January 2017.


    Elkhart County, Ind., business leaders are holding a collective breath to see what long-term effects the new aluminum and steel tariffs put in place by the Trump administration will yield. Levon Johnson, the area Chamber of Commerce president, fears rising materials costs could “put a freeze on the tremendous economic growth the area has seen in the last few years,” says a report on abc57.com. 

    L.A. Times did a major article last week on the increasing problem of dilapidated RVs squatting on Southern California streets. “Facing complaints about trash, clogged roads and other hazards, the city has banned them from remaining overnight on street after street, but has often ended up merely moving the problem,” the paper wrote. “Lawmakers have voted to ban ‘oversize vehicles’ from parking overnight on more than 300 street segments from Chatsworth to San Pedro. Some of the banned areas only span a short block, while others extend as long as three miles.” Read the story.

    A stock trader writing on forbes.com says now is a “favorable entry point” for investing in Thor and Winnebago. Ken Burman points to fuel prices, consumer spending, interest rates and “further sales gains that are also forecast by the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association.” Interestingly, at the end of January, a major investment firm dropped its “buy” recommendation for the same two stocks, concerned that dealer inventories of RVs are too big to be sustained this year. Winnebago stock saw a one-year high of $57.95 on December 18, dropped to $44.90 on January 26, and on March 12 was at $44.10. 

    Sales of motorhomes in Canada are flying along in a fashion opposite of U.S. sales. While statistics from both countries show an increase in sales, comparing January 2018 to January 2017, things “go south” from there. In Canada, sales were up nearly 6 percent – with Class A units taking the lead. Registrations of the big rigs were up better than 84 percent, while in the U.S., sales of Class A units sank. Up North, Class C unit sales took a beating, down more than 20 percent. Source: Statistical Surveys Inc. 

    Blasting winds at Northeast Texas’ Brushy Creek Campground at Lake O’ the Pines were responsible for the death of one camper when a tree blew down on her tent. Several others were injured, and vehicles including RVs were damaged. Army Corps of Engineers authorities say so many trees were hurled to the ground that many areas can’t even be assessed. It could take months before the campground is restored. 


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    Oregon State Parks officials say 2017 was a banner year for its campgrounds. In the third straight record-breaking year, 2.78 million overnight visits were made to the 57 park campgrounds in the system. Officials felt wildfire smoke cut back some visitation; on the other hand, the August solar eclipse brought others in.

    Buffalo National River (Ark.) officials are upgrading utilities at the Buffalo Point Campground. One of the five campground loops is closed, but the rest were scheduled to have showers, flush toilets and dump station availability restored on March 15

    Wanting to take in the Masters Tournament at Augusta, Ga.? An area regional park has just opened up 26 RV sites with hookups just down the road in Hephzibah. The Diamond Lakes sites are $30 per night, and can only be reserved through reserveamerica.com.

    The fight over a rise in seasonal camping fees in Middletown, R.I., is “all over but the shoutin’.” On March 5, the town council in a 6-1 vote ordered fees jump up $1,000 a year for four years. The vote was cast after a number of campground users pleaded for common sense and fairness in the fee hikes, many pointing out drastic increases might kill their future camping plans in the town. The vote comes after a deadlock 3-3 vote in February. 

    FMCA‘s 97th annual international convention is underway through Sunday at the Georgia National Fairgrounds and Agricenter in Perry. About 6,000 attendees are on hand, some of them newbies in towable RVs as official members of the club. The once motorhome-owners only organization recently expanded to include all self-contained RVs. Day passes are available if you’re in the area. Learn more.

    Kentucky’s state parks opened March 15 across the state. Officials say 21 new sites are available at Greenbo Lake State Resort Park. And look for “camper appreciation weekend” April 27 through 29, where campers get two nights for the price of one. 

    Camping World is counting more coup as it takes over two more independent RV dealerships in South Dakota. Spader’s RV Center in Sioux Falls and New Prairie RV Southtown in Worthing are the latest two dealerships to fall before the Camping World empire. 

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    Indiana state parks are now offering year-round reservations at all parks with camping available. Previously reservations were not available November through April, but at least “a handful” of sites are available everywhere now. Reservations can only be made up to six months in advance, and many sites are available during the off-season on a first-come, first-served basis. Information and reservations here.

    National Park Service

    Check ahead if you’re planning a visit to Florida’s Big Cypress National Preserve. A 3,000-acre brush fire earlier this week had closed down parts of the preserve, including campgrounds.

    Monroe County, Florida’s sheriff, Rick Ramsey is pleading with state officials to drop the speed limit on a stretch of U.S. Highway 1 in his jurisdiction. The pitch comes after four tourists from Spain were recently killed when their SUV was hit by a truck, then pushed into a motorhome, and from there into a tree. The crash was described as “horrific,” as first responders initially thought they had three – not four – victims in the SUV. Ramsey describes that stretch of highway as “The deadliest two-mile stretch in the Keys,” and wants the posted limit dropped from 55 to 45 mph. 

    National Park Service

    Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park in Colorado has increased entry fees by $5 per carload to $20, and annual passes jumped by $10 to $40. Campground fees remain unaffected.

    Heavy rainfall and flooding by the Ohio River have pushed back the seasonal opening of Leith Run Recreation Area in Wayne National Forest (Ohio). The Forest Service said the area was “under several feet of water” and silt. The campground will not reopen until May 26, and those who held reservations for prior dates will receive a refund.

    Michigan’s Rifle River has blasted a shot leaving plenty of damage in its wake. Big Bend Campground in Standish was nearly “wiped out” by flood waters topped with ice that damaged camp infrastructure and privately owned RVs. It’s possible as many as 60 RVs parked at the campground were damaged or destroyed. 


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    Nevada’s newest state park, Walker River State Recreation Area near Mason Valley, is a million dollars closer to having a campground and other amenities. The National Park Service has granted the state $1 million for use in development of the first phase of the area, Pitchfork Ranch, to include a full-hookup campground. The state says that phase should open this fall. 

    For a while, flooding turned the Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area (Ky.) into the “land in the lakes.” Camping was shut down February 28 because of the unwelcome water, but should now be reopened. Park managers say some areas are still inundated and remind visitors not to drive in standing water.

    IndyCar racers are just like us: Even they get their RVs run into by pooper-pumping trucks. Chip Ganassi, of Chip Ganassi Racing (CGR), had parked CGR’s hospitality motorhome at the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg (Fla.) when a honey-wagon driver got his own ride stuck in reverse, smacking into the motorhome. The damage was minor to the motorhome, but more for the truck driver. He was hauled off to the hospital with rib and facial injuries. 

    If the Caped Crusader and his sidekick, Robin, are planning a camping trip to Iowa, they’d best have an alternative in mind: Maquoketa Caves State Park won’t be open for most of the travel season. Park officials say the park will be closed for campground electrical and road renovation. Every year some 300,000 cave enthusiasts flap into the Jackson County attraction.

    A month after an RV lived in by a Portland, Ore., man went up in flames, signs in the area went up. “U park, U burn” was the ominous inscription on the signs. The victim, a homeless man, said his rig was deliberately torched. Police say they haven’t made any direct connections between the signs and the arson case, but have stepped up patrols in the area. An arson team has taken the signs down and is testing them for fingerprints. At least one local says he hasn’t seen RVs parked in the area where the signs went up since it happened. 


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    Return to RV Travel Issue 837.