Wednesday, November 29, 2023


Why you can’t ever find a space at some RV parks

By Chuck Woodbury
A friend of mine owns an RV park. There are about 100 sites and some cabins. The park, like most others, has a busy season and a slow season. He has owned the park for a dozen years and has many loyal customers — many families — that return time and time again, often for summer vacations.

One day, a man showed up at his park. He represented a company that would soon be laying a pipeline in the area. Hundreds of workers were required, and as is often the case, many travel from place to place, job to job, with RVs, most often fifth wheel trailers.

He asked my friend if he would like to rent out his entire campground for a year. He said “Tell me what you would earn if every campsite in your park was filled every day of the year. How much money would you take in?”

And then he said, “Whatever that amount is, add 20% and that is what I will pay you to rent your park for a year.”

When you see a big propane tank next to an RV, you know its inhabitant is there to stay for awhile — seasonally, even year round.

Let’s face it, that would add up to a whole lot more money than my friend would ever earn in a year — I bet it would be at least triple what he normally takes in. And there would be no worries about reservations or checking customers in and out every day. He’d receive a check every month, and life would be pretty darn simple.

Well, my friend turned the man down. Sure, it was tempting to take the big money, but my friend knew that if he booked his place with pipeline workers, he’d lose his regular customers. In the long run, that might cost him a whole lot more than what he’d realize renting the place to the pipeline company. And it would be a slap in the face to his long-term customers, spoiling some family traditions.

Some park owners don’t say no. They take the easy money. And then, when you or I are passing through their area and need a place to stay, they turn us down: No vacancy!

At a time when more RVs are on the road than ever, this sort of thing is not helping those of us who use our RVs primarily for recreational purposes and not as a dwelling that we pull or drive from place to place to work our jobs.


Chuck Woodbury
Chuck Woodbury
I'm the founder and publisher of I've been a writer and publisher for most of my adult life, and spent a total of at least a half-dozen years of that time traveling the USA and Canada in a motorhome.



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Montgomery Bonner (@guest_128052)
2 years ago

This will only last till the “Green New Deal” kills all the energy production in this nation. If you think for one second, solar and wind energy can take the place of our existing power grid, I have two different bridges to sell you. One spans the SFO bay, the other is in NYC, you pick which one. I know, I worked in the high voltage electrical industry for 30 years. Until, we can duplicate the sun, on a smaller scale with NO radiation, everything else has loses, and will never equal the current technologies we use today. Wake Up America, the ******* are in charge.

volnavy007 (@guest_128046)
2 years ago

Rent it for double or triple, to cover 2 or 3 years respectively. Let the regulars know you will be closed “for renovations” (which just might be necessary after the workers leave). Use the income to improve the CG for the regulars.

Drew (@guest_128033)
2 years ago

We rent our lot in the southwest. If someone contacts me and says they want to rent for the year- we’ll do it. The phone and my email stay busy with inquiries regardless.

Bob P (@guest_128007)
2 years ago

This had to do with construction workers over the course of a year. What about campground owners who take the easy way out and convert their park to a mobile home park? We stayed at a private park in St.Augustine, FL advertised as 97 sites, when we got there we found they had 2 sites available, less than ideal I might add, and 95 permanent residents in RVs to double wide mobile homes. No amenities except a private fishing lake. The pool had been closed for repairs for 2 years. That was the only thing available on short notice. My wife’s grandson and his family went to St.Augustine for a weeks vacation so naturally we had to go see them. We had to rent the site for a month to rent it at all. When we left I told the wife to form her memories because we won’t be back. I dislike the east coast of FL anyway, the Atlantic just looks dirty compared to the Gulf of Mexico.

Steve (@guest_58604)
3 years ago

Tempting and I can see both sides. I would have a compromise. I will rent you 1/2 of the campground and if you tell me when and how many by week, I will offer these unused sites to others. We get the best of both.

Jeb (@guest_128034)
2 years ago
Reply to  Steve

It may not be desirable to bring your family to vacation beside pipeline workers.

Silas Longshot (@guest_58603)
3 years ago

Seems a personal business decision which could be an advantage to the owner and the customers as well. This particular scenario hints the CG owner makes enough in season to survive (barely?) thru the off season. If he used 100% of his CG for the pipe crew’s ‘man camp’, certainly he risks alienating his long term users. But if he allowed 50% for the pipe crew, then he’s got winter expenses covered and still has room for a lot of his regular visitors. The regulars could then make their reservations ahead of time, so if he managed that well, then it should work out pretty well for everyone. Lots of small independent CG owners already have a majority of their spots effectively ‘permanently’ going to long term residents (can’t call ’em travelers, right?) to solve the off season lack of income.

Denny Wagaman (@guest_58375)
3 years ago

In this day and age I most likely would have rented it to the oil workers.

It’s not about principle (whose principles yours, theirs, mine) it’s about income that could (maybe) help improve this campground, (be able to perform any needed upgrades to make jt more competitive in the market place ) put money in the bank if there wasn’t much for that rainy day, I would want more information though about his finances, about the CG income/loss, CG condition, current and past return on investment. I guess that the owner made the decision that he wanted to make. Trust his judgement but that doesn’t mean that other CG owners should or could make that same decision.

Wm Macdermod (@guest_58374)
3 years ago

I can see the benefits of this either way.
If you befriend the people who are visiting or seasonal you may want to stay loyal to that crowdas they tend to form a community.
On the other side if you contract it out for a year, the following year will be like starting a new business all over again. I don’t think many of your former customers would be returning to help out.

Alvin (@guest_58358)
3 years ago

Anyone, even casually RV’ing has seen this. And the campground owners who succumb to the temptation, end up with a camp that looks like and oil field dwelling site too. Greed will almost always trump sensibilities. I’m very pleased to know there’s at least one Park owner with a sense of community, and moral business acumen.

Tommy Molnar (@guest_58530)
3 years ago
Reply to  Alvin

I think we need to guard against automatically calling a business person greedy because he wants to lock in some income. It’s too easy to call someone greedy when all they want to do is keep their heads above water. Being a business owner is tough stuff.

Renee (@guest_128014)
2 years ago
Reply to  Tommy Molnar


Jeb (@guest_128037)
2 years ago
Reply to  Tommy Molnar

Agreed. Greed is a matter of perspective. It may be a boon to an owner struggling, viewed as a sellout to those that showed up in fair weather.

Belinda Lopez (@guest_58335)
3 years ago

It’s rather common in the oilfield and large construction areas for many RVers to pay to keep their site even if they are not there for a few months. They risk not being to have a spot if they don’t. Great for the owners but can be deceiving to folks looking for spaces.

Sharon Boehmer (@guest_58253)
3 years ago

We stay in a park that is in this very situation in Mansfield,LA. This is our “home” park for 2-4weeks a couple of times a year. Our owners rented out 2/3 of their park for the pipeline work, but they kept some
15- 20 spaces or so for overnight guests as they are trying to build up their PA business. Probably will take some of the profit to make some improvements to the park. They are good people and will do the right thing by us travelers.

Liz (@guest_58087)
3 years ago will have a sight for you vacationers. Located in Door County Wisconsin

Cheryl Bacon (@guest_58048)
3 years ago

I hope you don’t mind when companies (insurance, utility contractors, etc) rent out whole campgrounds during a natural disaster also. This happens frequently during hurricane season.

WEB (@guest_58300)
3 years ago
Reply to  Cheryl Bacon

I know I would not do my traveling through a disaster area (or the immediate 200 miles), I think they would not appreciate a rubber-necked gawk-er, but maybe stop and lend a hand if they can spare the resources.

Stay cool

Carson Axtell (@guest_58038)
3 years ago

The wholesale selling out of campgrounds is an example of what happens when short-term profit wins out over concern for the business’s long-term reputation, a common practice these days. This behavior seems less common in Europe where there is a long history of carefully guarding reputation over immediate profit, probably as a result of the tradition of businesses and craftsmen receiving the recognition and patronage of the aristocracy, and therefore others, for the quality of their workmanship and service. “Yankee ingenuity” on the other hand often just goes straight for the maximum cash as quickly as possible…

Gene Bjerke (@guest_57996)
3 years ago

When I was sailing (waterborne RV) most marinas kept a few transient slips. It seems like campgrounds could follow the same idea. I imagine they would tend to be rented frequently (at least during the high season).

John R Crawford (@guest_58037)
3 years ago
Reply to  Gene Bjerke

State Parks keep a few sites off the national reservation websites just for walk ups. The web sites will show “no vacancies” but if you show up they usually have a spot for the night may be not for a long stay.

Mark (@guest_57992)
3 years ago

There’s a campground in the eastern sierras outside of Bridgeport Ca. that my family has been going to annually for 56 years typically for 2-3 weeks at a time. It’s a beautiful place that is mostly dry camping. The hookup spots are always occupied by employees and the seasonal visitors, and they don’t take reservations. In the past several years, we’ve noticed more and more people are arriving as the campground opens at the beginning of the season and leave their rigs there for the entire season visiting occasionally. (We have been there several times and never seen anyone at some of these rigs.) We’ve also noticed a larger number of rental trailers from a local rental co. in town that spot the trailer for you. They are also sitting vacant for long periods. We have since stopped going due to it getting more difficult to get a decent spot. It’s a shame, we’re in our fourth generation going there and we are really disappointed. This has been our “second home” our entire lives.
Here’s a perfect example of the owner just being concerned about the mighty dollar. All he’s concerned about is filling the spots whether the rigs are occupied or not.

Jenn (@guest_58049)
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark

People are in business to make money. No money, no business no rv park. Just sayin

John T (@guest_58288)
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark

So it’s fine when you make money, but when anyone else wants to make money, it’s greed or the evil word “profit”.

WEB (@guest_58297)
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark

There is no indication that you actually talked to the owner… did you? Being a long time customer and you seemingly know when you travel there every year, did they actually not allow your continued dedicated patronage by reserving you a preferred spot?
Going for three or four years in a row will almost always command a first name basis privilege. If not, that limb of the “family tree” is diseased and needs to be lopped.

Stay cool

J anne (@guest_57986)
3 years ago

I pay 50 month open storage locked lot which also has storage heated and unheated for teg stuff.all the sun exposure did a number on my B on white chevy express 3500 ext. Notorious for peeling. I do not travel in summer and realize the storage building seasonal storage might be choice for me when everyone takes out boats and RVs from may to Oct. Sure enough owner agreed so pay 80 month in covered and 50 least I avoid worst of sun and horrific high wind thunderstorms etc

mdstudey (@guest_57978)
3 years ago

The RV places that contain workers are “man” camps. Here in Texas they will set up their own man camps out in the oil fields. Maybe a few women and/or family in them.

Drew (@guest_57960)
3 years ago

I guess the saving grace here is that most of the rv parks located near big projects are probably in areas that lack natural beauty. We traveled through an area like that a few years ago near the shale areas of S. Dakota (or maybe it was N. Dakota). The place was as bleak as could be. Every so often we’d pass a pipe that had a flame shooting out of the top. But wow, the rv parks, motels, etc. were all full (not that we were trying to find a place to stay). If you were a kid you could set up a lemonade stand right next to the flame shooting out of the ground.

Sink Jaxon (@guest_57935)
3 years ago

good article!

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