Friday, February 3, 2023


Town’s RV parks are booked solid with pipeline workers

By Chuck Woodbury, editor
Below is a letter I received from reader Randy Peterson that illustrates once again the problem with crowding in RV parks. In this case it’s not just about vacationers and full-timers taking up campsites but workers on temporary assignments occupying entire parks, sometimes every site in the local area (try to get a space in the tourist season around the oil fields of North Dakota).

RV parks can end up as homes for workers for months on end.

The owner of a KOA recently told me about how a representative of a pipeline company came to him and offered to rent every space in his campground for one year for his workers — paying him 20 percent more than his going rate. “I turned him down,” said the KOA owner. “I’d lose all my regular customers once the project was finished.”

Here is the letter I received from Mr. Peterson:

Dear Chuck,
We currently live in Carlsbad, New Mexico. Carlsbad is not a tourist hot spot. There’s Carlsbad Caverns and the Lincoln National Forest, but the area is mostly a transition point along the southern U.S. RV migration route. So there’s a lot of movement of RVers in and out of town. 

There are about 10 RV parks in the greater Carlsbad area – one, a KOA, is labeled as the “Best in the Chain.” Most have at least 100 spaces. So that’s roughly 1,000 RV sites in the area. 

Here’s the issue: Carlsbad is experiencing a boom in oil field operations. All of these RV parks currently accept only weekly reservations — no nightly or monthly rentals. They can earn far more from weekly rates than anything else. The going rate is around $400

Now, before you say “that can’t be,” it is, in fact, true. The big oil companies are renting blocs of RV sites, 10 to 20 at a shot, so their labor force has somewhere to stay. Most of these workers have older fifth wheels and travel trailers that they pull behind their work trucks. Bottom line is if you are a traveling RVer coming through Carlsbad you will likely find no “room at the inn.”

This would go back to what you were saying about “good for the RV park owner but bad for the RV population in general.” Just saying that even in “backwater USA” the RV lifestyle is taking a hit.


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Keira RVer
5 years ago

Campgrounds have had transient workers living in them for at least 33 years. That is the length of my personal RV experience. When there is a large road construction project, dam being built, or other large project you will get hotels and campgrounds filled up with temporary workers.

Dennis Johnson
5 years ago

We seen the same thing on trip just ended this Fall. It has been at least 3 years since we did Mississippi Road area, so we went back to where we stayed many times. Clarksdale, MS home to Ground Zero and Blues area, Fairground campground always had RV spots open – not this year. We could not get a spot and while there notice a school bus picking up children at the campground. We walked around it was apparent this was home to people in the park. Many were older RV’s & Trailers, some with no wheels and up on blocks – they were a home. We seen this again down in Louisiana in the Intra-Coastal Waterway bridge area – they have major refinery or something going on. Morning and afternoon white private buses running – counted 72 in one morning all going South on the Bridge. We found a spot but when we left found a multitude of freshly recreated (new) campground with no facilities, but polls with like 50-70 mailboxes located between the polls. This was a common them on the trip. You are dead on with your comments.
Dennis Johnson
Knoxville, Iowa

KC Piton
5 years ago

I feel this is happening more and more all over the US. It is cheaper for companies to house their employees in RVs/RV parks than housing them in hotels. We are currently work-camping at Kiva RV Park and Horse Motel near Bernardo, NM. There is construction going on in the nearby area, to include a new FaceBook installation. This is a nice, small RV park with about 35 sites. However, most are taken by permanent residents and workers. There are only about 7 spaces left for transient folks (this does not include the dry camping area). This is a nice enough park, but make sure you make a reservation in advance!

Steve Boggs
5 years ago

Our experience in Carlsbad was different. We stayed in Carlsbad RV Park Sept 21-25, 2017. There was no problem obtaining reservations. During our time at Carlsbad RV Park, one spot adjacent to ours had three different RVs and the other adjacent spot had two.

C. B. Sheward
5 years ago
Reply to  Steve Boggs

when i was in the campground business that was what we needed full spots, so now I just make reservations bur we buy self contained units for what?
I am retired now!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

5 years ago

The recent hurricanes and flooding in the Houston area have created a lack of RV sites in northern Texas.

5 years ago

Living in tornado alley, anytime thunderstorms come through, especially in the spring (major RV season opener) we are inundated with construction workers, insurance adjusters, auto dent and windshield repair workers. They gobble up spots by the dozens. We call them storm chasers. Fortunately our park and many in central l Texas allows just so many perm residents (monthly), seasonal long term temp residents (weekly to a couple of months) and leaves quite a few spaces for nightly guests. This area with the exception of a few, have very high standards. They are allowed one pull behind trailer. They have to store any work trailer off premises. This area is also good about not price gouging. We pay more than average ($600)/ mo) for the offered amenities and a large, beautiful spot. Any way, I also see that reservations must be made in advance and anything a week or longer really needs to be made further in advance. We waited 6 months to get in here and then moved around a bit to get the spot we wanted.

Personally, as the price of RVs continue to rise, the workmanship declines, warranty work becomes a bigger beast, this lifestyle will become unappealing. The cost of repairs, high park costs, future hikes in gas prices and lack of spot availability will make it more of headache for some. If you’re in it to save money, those reasons won’t justify the jump. If you’re in it to satisfy your wanderlust, simplify your life and have the desire to see the continent, none of these things will deter you.

Hopefully that’s the future. While I love seeing more people “get it” and jump ship from the crazy rat race, the future of available spots is bleak. Maybe the vendors, like oil companies, need to build an on-site park. They would probably save a fortune.

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