Campgrounds in popular locations have long used campsite waitlists to handle backlogs of RVers waiting for an open spot.
While many park owners still work to maintain their ever-growing waiting lists to give those at the top first dibs on sites when cancellations occur, more than a few are forgoing the waitlists and relying instead on a first-come, first-served process.
Kampgrounds of America’s recent North American Camping Report said 56 million families camped at least once in 2021. The report also said 93.8 million households in the U.S. identify themselves as active camping households.
That rapid rise in the number of campers has led to intense competition for elusive available campsites. It has also led to campers searching far and wide at multiple parks for an open site.
Many campground owners are reporting their tried-and-true site waiting lists weren’t working as well as they used to. By the time a site opened and the owner tracked down the camper, it’s likely the camper had either found an alternate location, changed their route, or canceled the trip entirely.
We decided to check with a few campground owners and see what they are doing about camper waitlists. The information is anecdotal and is intended to give RVers an insight into the current state of mind of owners. If you’re wondering how waitlists are being handled at your favorite park location, contact them directly.
Owners’ comments on campsite waitlists
“There is no waitlist here. Just keep calling to check. I tried a waitlist and when I’d call them they’d already found another site, which is great for them. I got tired of the hassle since no problem filling cancelled sites.” —Marla S.
“We don’t do waiting lists at all. Typically, by the time we get to someone on a list, they have found somewhere else. It is first-come, first-served.” —Mary G.
“We always have a waitlist. The longer, the better.” —Katy B.
“We do not do seasonal stays, so no list for that. If we are full for a holiday or regular weekend and if someone asks to go on a list, I tell them no. I don’t care if they call every day to check, but no list.” —Lea T.
“We had a big list, but most on the list found other places. We are full since I added more sewer sites and they are filling up fast. Everyone wants full hookups, even for one night. It’s crazy.” —Jeff C.
“We have 150 people on the campsite waitlist. We go by date and size of the site. I called #98 today for a site because he will fit into the one site I have available. Everybody before him had over 30-foot-long campers.” —Jen L.
“I booked three canceled sites for Memorial Day weekend from our waitlist today. I think people really appreciate that you will call them.” —Karen P.
“We don’t do a waitlist for campers. We are mostly an overnight park for those heading to another destination. By mid-June I would have 30+ people for every night on the list. We’ll do a short list for cabins on busy weekends. We only have seven cabins, so after the first 10 on the waitlist we quit adding them.” —Richard T.
“We have a 90-day max stay, and we are still full with a waiting list since September 2019.” —Terry T.
How do YOU feel about campsite waitlists to access canceled campsites? Let us know in the comments below.