Tuesday, September 27, 2022

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Make your voice heard: Ways you can take action against RV and camping industry

An email came in this week from reader Will K. Will wrote, “I read your article about advocating for more places to RV/camp. I just paid $86 for ONE night up the hill from Denver! One night! $86! I am really feeling this in Colorado. Don’t get me started lol. But anyhoo, how do we save this piece of Americana? I hate getting old and seeing things that mean so much just fade away. What do we do?”

Will, camping as we have known it IS fading away. I am old enough to remember just driving to Custer State Park in South Dakota and getting a campsite for a few days, no reservations needed. Last year we were in South Dakota and passed many South Dakota State Parks. “Campground Full” was the sign out front and online on every single one.

Prices skyrocketed

There are too many campers and too few campsites. When a campsite is available, the cost may well be out of reach. Prices are already beyond belief in some areas. I spent $128 a night for a KOA in California last year and when we had to cancel due to a death in the family, there was no refund. I feel the pinch and the pocketbook squeeze too.

How do we stop greedy campground owners from capitalizing on the current explosion of RVers? Well, isn’t that what capitalism is built on, supply and demand? One reader suggested in our weekly Campground Crowding column that we band together and refuse to go to the campgrounds that are price gouging. I love that idea, but desperation to find a campsite for the night could easily override people’s best intentions.

Street and permanent “campers”

There are too many dilapidated RVs on city streets, housing those that can’t afford a decent place to live or a high-priced campground. More and more campgrounds are taking in permanent RVs, to the dissatisfaction of a number of traveling RVers. That is limiting the number of campsites for overnight campers. Our readers comment frequently on how junky those campgrounds have become.

Other options

Many people have already turned to boondocking without hookups on federal lands, or pavement camping in parking lots of Walmarts, Cabela’s, rest stops, truck stops. Some have even turned to stealth camping. Is that the answer? Maybe, maybe not. Some BLM (Bureau of Land Management) and National Forest Lands have been shut down because of overcrowding and people trashing the areas. Can Quartzsite, Arizona, even support the sheer numbers of RVers that descend on that desert oasis anymore?

We plan to boondock as much as possible on our fall migration this year, but we have been fortunate enough to be able to invest in solar, significant battery capacity, and have large fresh water and holding tanks. For others, it is not that easy to transition to no-hookup camping. There are a number of reasons: Their RV is not equipped for it, concerns about safety and just not liking it.

We have found Harvest Hosts and Boondockers Welcome a good source for places to stay a night or two when traveling, as well as being a fascinating place to visit. Just a few nights and it pays for itself, even when there is a suggested donation or purchase. Those places, however, are also booking up earlier than ever before.

What can we do?

Make our voices heard. Here are a few suggestions to keep camping alive:

  • Petition state and local governments for more campsites and to take care of current recreation areas.
  • Write or email state and national senators and congress legislators.
  • The website, Outdoor Recreation, covers fifteen states that have government offices to contact and are dedicated to Outdoor Recreation.
  • Attend public, local meetings when new campgrounds are being discussed. They need people in favor to attend… not just those opposed.
  • Call, email, write and pressure the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) to address the death of campsites they helped create. Contact your RV manufacturer directly and ask what they are doing.
  • Contact National Association of Campgrounds, for private campground owners.
  • Support mom-and-pop campgrounds. They are under tremendous pressure to sell to corporations. As difficult as it is to be an RVer in this crunch time, it is equally hard on the small campground owners. A lot of people, seasoned and new, are angry, feel entitled and don’t follow the rules.

Campfire saving campfire

Enjoy what is left

Unfortunately, it will never go back to the “good ol’ days” of spacious, always-open camping spots. Just like dial telephones, typewriters, VCR tapes, or the Howdy Doody Show will never be making a comeback. (Well, never say never, I suppose.)

But (and this is a big BUT) it is still possible to find a campsite in the woods, sit around a campfire and make s’mores. Enjoy it while you can, for tomorrow is not promised to us or to the campgrounds.

##RVT1068

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Dill
22 days ago

My heart hurts when I read comments about “permanent” campers. My son and his wife are ER medical professionals and during Covid many like them moved around and stayed in campgrounds. My husband is a mechanical contractor and has many workers stationed around the SE staying in campgrounds. They are all fine people and some of them take their families along.

Lonewolf
22 days ago

Good suggestions on some of the organizations to call or write to so the RV’ing community voice is heard.

During our 7000-mile cross-country trip, NY to CA, two months spanning May, June, and July we had no problems coast to coast finding CGs last minute.

Capitalism, avoid using high-priced CGs such as Encore, Sun, and perhaps the worst KOAs. As the current rage subsides and many new to camping RV’ers realize they don’t have the time or money for the lifestyle, the national chain CGs will sell off non-profitable locations and have to adjust their marketing plans to more reasonable expectations. I’ll park on the side of the road before using a KOA.

Carl S.
23 days ago

The NIMBY argument has some validity. A boondocking RV started a forest fire less than 3 miles from my house earlier this year. (During a burn ban) Luckily the firefighters controlled it so it only burned 750 acres. Why would we add more places for RVs to camp when the ones we already have are being used irresponsibility?

Lou
23 days ago

I think this article misses the point. Capitalism means that supply will eventually increase to meet demand. How is it NOT profitable to build more campsites if they’ll be full? Do homebuilders ever stop building homes if puerile are buying them? Does Apple stop making iPhone just because they’re are millions of them out there?

Tammie
23 days ago
Reply to  Lou

What I have seen, it’s the regulation that is keeping campgrounds from both being built and being improved.

Problem is, the area homeowners don’t want the RVers, too many NIMBY folks these days, everyone wants to live in bedroom communities.

Although I’m not sure I blame them for not wanting some of the entitled people we see on/off the road 😉 I will say for the most part, it’s still filled with better people than other forms of travel!!

David
24 days ago

I understand the problem of too few campsites and too many campers. However, I am adamantly and unalterably opposed to have “government” at any level being considered the solution. With few exceptions, it has never been the solution, it is not currently the solution, and I see nothing in the future that would compel me to believe it will be the solution going forward.

Tammie
23 days ago
Reply to  David

👍same.

bull
24 days ago

Chuck and Emily,

This article is the BIGGEST BUNCH OF CRAP I have seen on this weekly newsletter in all my years of subscribing!

I can’t believe you publish a bunch CRAP like this.

This isn’t journalism on any level. Just another person’s OPINION with that all too familiar “It’s All About Me” attitude that purveys society today.

Shame on you!

Last edited 24 days ago by bull
Admin
RV Staff(@rvstaff)
24 days ago
Reply to  bull

Please… don’t hold back, bull. 🙄 –Diane

bull
24 days ago
Reply to  RV Staff

I didn’t!

Ken
23 days ago
Reply to  bull

Bull, is that not just YOUR opinion and all about YOU? I think I can guess your full name, lol.

bull
23 days ago
Reply to  Ken

I never said it was “All about Me” but the Nanci the author of this article sure did say it was “All About Her”!

Your turn to go ahead and GUESS!

Kay
23 days ago
Reply to  bull

I agree article misleading. We just came home from traveling for three months with our 33′ camper to 21 NW, Midwest states. Only once did we pay $50 for a last minute campsite and it was junky. We have a senior disabled VA America the beautiful pass. Most sites with full hookups are $7- $14 a night. We traveled in many national, Gov, state, community and county parks. They ran from free to $28 full hook ups. We never had a problem finding a spot. The high end resorts and KOAs we stayed away from as they were outrageous. We ran across a Cracker Barrell that had an area for about 4/5 campers and they had picnic tables and water available. Free. Could not stay but 24 hours. The worst problems we had was finding a restaurant parking lot to fit us. We had to stay twice at rest areas. Reservation systems a problem. They would say full and we’d get there and ranger would say 5 to 15 spots open. We got so we’d go to campground and always an open space available.

Steve H
24 days ago

A note for Will K: I live in metro Denver, have camped locally over a weekend more than once, and have never paid anywhere close to $86/night. But I prefer our local state- and city-owned parks, several of which have many FHU sites. Although CO state park camping fees have increased, they are still half of what you paid.

Personally, I’ll just keep going to NM state parks and paying $14/night for W/E or $18/night for FHU sites, with the daily vehicle pass included. And BTW, that rate also includes picnic tables, fire pits (except when a fire ban is in effect), flush toilets, free hot showers, and often a lake with a boat ramp and excellent fishing!

We took a month-long RV trip in June through KS, MO, KY, TN, MS, AL AR, OK, and TX without staying a single night in a private RV park, big box parking lot, truck stop, or rest area. We stayed in COE cgs except for 4 nights in an AL state park and one night at my sister’s house. So, not one even $50/night cg!

Betsy
24 days ago

If you want to stay in the back of a Mobile Home park along the RR tracks maybe you can find a cheap campsite. I want the beautiful, paved, good wifi, well cared for parks that cost the owner millions to put in. Example, Mountain Valley in Heber City, UT. Does the owner have the right to charge in the $80s per night. Absolutely. We also boondock occasionally.

Steve H
24 days ago
Reply to  Betsy

I have stayed in plenty of camprounds with all of those characteristics and never paid more than $25/night. They are called Corps of Engineers campgrounds!

Sally Harnish
24 days ago

Come on, Chuck. “Can Quartzite even support the sheer numbers”? “Q” isn’t even close what it was as far as occupancy goes. There used to be god knows how many aluminum roasters sitting in the desert. And it has nothing to do with Covid!

Steve H
24 days ago
Reply to  Sally Harnish

Chuck didn’t write this editorial; Nanci Dixon wrote it.

Brian Burry
24 days ago

Zoning laws are so restrictive and permit and planning processes completely limit Recreational and RV Parks! Blame the nanny state mentality Politicians! Over taxed, over regulated kills any ability to create more of what citizens who want more RV Parks across the nation. Permanent Politicians are the problem, never the solution!

Tina
24 days ago

I spent the summer working at a campground just outside Missoula, MT which was recently bought by out of state investors. They have now implemented “dynamic pricing” there were nights the last campsite was listed for $160.00 for a night. Insane but people with no where to go that need hook ups would pay it.
The owners concept was if he doesn’t have one site left the price could have been higher. I didn’t agree with that type of pricing but we are all subjected to it with hotels and flights already.
It does seem unfair that the permenant campers get a much lower rate than the last few spots in the park go for.
I agree that supporting the small family owned campgrounds is the best thing to try to do!

Sue
23 days ago
Reply to  Tina

Spent the summer at a campground that was recently purchased by a large corporation….unfortunately dynamic pricing is the wave of the future. Pricing was all over the place depending where, when and how I much they could squeeze out of you. Sad this is becoming so prominent. Mom & pop see $$$ and are willing to sell….

Carl
23 days ago
Reply to  Sue

Exactly! And its not just campgrounds. You can call it what you like but it is plain and simple GREED. There was a time in this country where a reasonable profit on a product or service was standard.
10 % profit was an exceptional business and most were 5 % or less. profit. No more, businesses now want the absolute most they can get for there product/ service. Because no such thing as character or integrity in a business anymore no matter what they may say. And since covid its the go to excuse for high prices, poor quality, poor service. The business owner knows he can blame it on covid, supply chain, lack of help etc. And the gullible will beleive it. Plain greed!!

Sheri
24 days ago

I would also submit to take notice of the RV “RESORTS” who have 10-yr Rule. Prices are almost more expensive. Compare to Hotel & Motel chains, Motel 6 vs Hilton.
I would rather try to find a Mom & Pop RV Park to support them if at all possible especially for a 1 or 2 night stay.
RV places to stay have changed over just the past 10 years. We’ve did purchase a Private “Resort” RV “membership” with 10 different parks exclusively and growing in different areas in the West. We stay & enjoy, then go BOONDOCKING our most favorite camping! We figure with our savings this type of RV enjoyment, we then plan our across our 2-3 State Trips and go through the Frustrating Booking RVs parks.

friz
24 days ago

This is capitalism at work. A basic exercise of supply and demand. Would you like to see price controls by the gov’t? Camping is no longer a blue collar recreation. We are also a nation of 330 million people.The 1950 census was around 150 million. Same number of square miles, twice the number of people. Are there twice + the number of campsites as in 1950? Also as pointed out campgrounds have become refuge for those who cannot afford permanent housing. They have as much right to campground access as any one else. I would slso suggest that they provide a guaranteed revenue flow for campgrounds, all year. Camping will/has become the recreation of the well heeled. $100/night “Resorts”. No longer a place to camp but a destination. $200K rigs. Pop up campers which used to be a “step up” are now disdained. Tent camping is regulated to a few sites near the dumpsters. I have the 5th wheel up for sale. I have bought a 28′, live aboard trailer trawler. Infinitely more places to drop anchor.

Tom
24 days ago

I bought a piece of land in mtns. Of murphy n.c. am currently looking for a piece in fl. Tenacity/research can land you a piece of land for a reasonable price. I have a boondock camper, but am slowly prepping land ie. Water, power, septic. So i have mtns. And seasons and eventually ocean. Planning is the key. I seen where industry slowly turning into a dumpster fire, so I regrouped and changed my future plans because I wanted rving, camping to still be a part. I sold my house and bought another with a small rental apt. Attached. It’s generating income that I use to prep land and when I retire will use apt. As my home base and rent house for larger amt. Of income. In a perfect world it would be nice to have a group of people with same setup all over the country where land sharing would be possible. You use mine for a couple weeks, I use yours etc. Anyways, my little dream…..thanks for listening.

Leonard Rempel
24 days ago

Stop with the “greedy campground owners” rhetoric! If you were selling your RV, house, boat or other item would you sell it for below market value, or less than someone offered you for it? Of course not! If you don’t like the high prices, you should find an alternative or buy a campground and rent the sites out for less than what you could. I don’t like the high prices either, but this is capitalism at its finest.

Jerry Attrix
24 days ago
Reply to  Leonard Rempel

Ditto

Donald N Wright
24 days ago

i do not own a campground. There are a lot of campgrounds that close during the winter, they still pay taxes and maintain the facilities. I spoke with the owner of a small campground in NM, his lower level was open for campers, the upper level was for large RV’s, and folks who leased a space by the year. That $300.00 a month all winter long kept him in business. All those features that you need *wifi, hot tub, pull throughs, cable connections” eat money.
Cleaning restrooms and clothes washer area four times a day ? Leaving bags of trash at your campsite when you leave, because you cannot waddle down to the dumpster ? Remember all those taxes, fees and bribes the campground owner has to pay to stay in business.

Sweden\'Texas
24 days ago

So what is the average price of daily camping, I’m up in the Midwest states and have found daily camp sites from $10 COE to $48 near MN Zoo. If you go to state parks costs are $35, up from last year of $30. Still small town parks are $15-$20 for weekly rates. COE (Corp of Engineering) campgrounds if you are 55 yrs and older and have an “America the Beautiful” pass card, are half price $12-$14 day.

Steve H
24 days ago
Reply to  Sweden\'Texas

The cleanest, most beautifully landscaped, well-maintained, lakeside campground, complete with paved pads, hookups, picnic tables, firepits, and restrooms with flush toilets and hot showers, we have ever stayed in was a COE campground in northern Georgia. It is called Bolding Mill and it has a 9.4 rating on RV Life Campgrounds. We paid $11/night for our site with our lifetime Federal senior pass.

No, it doesn’t have a pool, jacuzzi, or splash park (just a gorgeous lake), a restaurant (just great fishing and a picnic table with an incredible view of sunset over the lake), or cartoon characters (just a friendly host). We have RV’d in 39 states and provinces and I challenge any RVer to spend a night at Bolding Mill and deny that it is as nice as any private RV “resort” they have ever visited.

Brad
24 days ago

In a free market economy, the law of supply and demand determine pricing. It’s that simple. If you don’t want to pay the asking price, take your business elsewhere. If you think you can offer a superior product or experience at a lower price, build your own campground resort. Of course doing so requires you to be willing to risk everything financially and work 12-14 hour days for months, often years on end in hopes of making a profit. It’s not a for sure thing. Risk. Reward. The good news is a free market economy has ups and downs. Where there is a glut of supply or low demand, prices drop. When supply is short or demand is high, prices increase. It’s a cycle. In the current environment, supply is low and demand is high. That eventually will change and flip the other way.

friz
24 days ago
Reply to  Brad

Finally the truth of the situation. Thanks.

bull
24 days ago
Reply to  friz

AGREE!

Bob M
24 days ago

While I don’t want to pay exorbitant camp site prices. In some instances it could also be other issues beyond their control. For instance our politicians keep raising property taxes, charging amusement taxes. Insurance companies keep charging higher rates. Utilities oil companies keep raising the price of electric and gas. Materials for maintenance keep rising. None of our politicians want to do anything about price gouging. State park campgrounds may be cheaper because taxpayers are subsidizing their cost to operate. Which some may not realize.

David Needham
24 days ago
Reply to  Bob M

I volunteer at a state campground in AZ.
The misconception that tax dollars subsidize State campgrounds is wrong.
AZ does not subsidize State campgrounds. The only money that operates a park are through the gate and camp store.
There is funding for repairs through Federal grants.
They have started with a multi- day reservation and volunteer’s to off set costs.

Rosalie Magistro
24 days ago
Reply to  David Needham

As do my husband and I. I must hear “we pay for this park with our tax dollars” 20 times during the winter season, my return is..
So if that WAS TRUE.. that allows you to leave a mess,make all the noise you want all night ??

Tommy Molnar
24 days ago

“Enjoy what is left”! Well put, Nanci. That pretty much sums it all up. In fact, sadly it is starting to describe the country as a whole.

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