Thursday, December 9, 2021

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No problem with reservations here. Is overcrowding a regional problem?

Well, we did it! It took a little less than 15 minutes to make reservations at two RV campgrounds along our annual route to Florida. Granted, we won’t be traveling until January 2022, which is still months away. Still, we worried about securing reservations. With so many “newbies” getting into the RV life, the ongoing COVID pandemic, more and more folks working “on the road,” and the rising costs of camping, we really didn’t know what to expect. What we discovered was a happy surprise! The very first campground we contacted gladly took our reservations, as did the second, and now we’re all set!

We asked one of the campground owners about his business this past year. He said, “It’s been steady, that’s for sure.” His wife added, “We haven’t had much time off! But it’s helped our bottom line.” I imagine they’ve had a good year, profit-wise. Good for them! And good for us, too, because they haven’t raised their rates. (It’s hard to beat $18 for full hook-ups!)

The second RV campground reported that they’ve upped their rates to $45. “It’s mainly due to revenue lost because of ‘no shows’,” the owner told us. “We now require credit card information to register and 24 hours’ notice for cancellations, if you want any fees refunded. We could have been full every night this past year, but lots of people just didn’t show up.” How aggravating! For both the CGs and for RVers who needed a place but couldn’t get one.

I should mention that both of the aforementioned RV parks are typical “mom-and-pop” or privately owned. Not large business ventures or name-brand franchises. While they do offer full hook-ups, there are few other amenities within their campground. The owners are open and friendly. Pretty typical of the South and their wonderful hospitality.

Our experience in making reservations made me wonder: Are only certain areas of the country experiencing overcrowding in their campgrounds, or were we just lucky? Either way, taking 15 minutes to make two “winter escapees’” overnight reservations is my kind of happy surprise! Florida, here we come!

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Carson Axtell
15 days ago

To avoid crowds it’s best to avoid the “must see” places during the peak travel season that the newbie crowds are drawn to for their typical 2-week vacations. Old timers and full timers have probably already seen most of such places and are therefore free to head to the less popular destinations ignored by the hurried crowds. Once the summer rush has gone back to work or school, popular destinations tend to be less crowded and more enjoyable, and more likely to have available sites. I’ve always considered “Septober” to be the best time for traveling, after the crowds have thinned and the weather has cooled down a bit…

Last edited 15 days ago by Carson Axtell
Paul S Goldberg
17 days ago

I’ve written about this before. We are full time and have been on the move since early October heading south and west. The only time we could not get a site we wanted was trying to extend in a county park in Charlotte NC over a weekend due to an emergency. Found a site at a commercial park down the road. We try to stay “out of the way” on weekends and we have not tried to get into prime tourist spots in high season ever. 10 years FT!

Martha Tassi
18 days ago

My husband and I have been full-timing since April and we really haven’t had any problems finding parks in ID, WY, AZ, NM or TX. We did have a challenge in CA, but that was over the summer and we wanted a specific park but we got in and stayed 2 weeks. Many parks along the way were only half full. We’re in Galveston TX right now and the resort has lots of spaces empty. Frankly, I don’t know where people are having problems getting reservations.

Mike Albert
18 days ago

Travelled from S/W Florida to San Diego along I-10 and I-20 (hurricane avoidance) and made reservations for the next night the night before. Did not encounter any issues. Our return trip was along I-10 at different campgrounds, no issues there either. All camp grounds were private. Typically left a message the night before and the next morning we had a confirmation call. We did encounter a severe storm with high winds while going through Texas and called right before closing to ask if possible to stay another night. The next day, the office called and said to stay where we were and to be safe. Southern hospitality at it’s best? Encountered friendly people at all sites and states. Maybe just a camper thing???

Jim Barry
18 days ago

We prefer to use our state parks in California, but as is the case in many other states, there is a real problem with “no shows”. We recently were able to secure a reservation at one of our more desirable state park locations for four nights, (mid-week). It was the last site available for the time period we wanted. All other sites were reserved. We were taken aback by the number of empty sites in the park (about a third of the sites) the whole time we were there, but according to the rangers, all of them were reserved. Unbelievable! We used to be able to just drive up to the kiosk and get a site, (fcfs) but now the park is by reservation only. I think by making it reservation only, the state is losing a lot of money, since you only need to deposit the first night. Any nights after the first go unpaid, but the rangers can’t release them to anyone else. Terrible system in my opinion.

Carson Axtell
15 days ago
Reply to  Jim Barry

Agreed! At the very least, no shows who don’t communicate about travel delays should forfeit their first day’s fee and the rest of their reservation, thereby releasing the site to arrivals without reservations on a first-come-first-served basis. Prepayment for the full amount of the reservation period is another thing that could be implemented to discourage abuse by these reservation bot campsite thieves.

Bruce
18 days ago

Been full timing last 7 months and been in the Carolinas north to NY and west to SD and back through Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, and now in Arkansas. Summer is tough on weekends and holiday weekend as that’s when I saw parks fill up obviously. Even then some parks would show full on their sites and still lots of no shows. After Labor Day crowds started thinning out and gotten a lot easier. I try for COE parks and have not had a problem except one COE park in Kansas one weekend and that I found was because the college was close and full for football game. Been in 2 COE parks last 2 weeks and one during week around 10 campers during week, weekend around 20. One in today during week 4 of us, today on weekend up to 6. Park ranger said it gets quiet during late fall and winter, but summer is full most every week and this has 215 sites and large marina. Think I may alter some travels to stay put through the summer if I can.

wanderer
18 days ago

Yes, I have been finding vacancies easier to find as we get farther and farther away from Labor Day, which is the worst weekend of the year I think. Talking about Midwest, Deep South, OK/TX/NM, on the secondary roads. Can anyone say “off-season”? I wonder if the rising gas prices are taking a toll on the number of fall trips people are willing to make this year.

But, I’m not trying to go to National Parks, or beaches, or anything in great demand. And I do still find it hard to make reservations at public campgrounds on weekends anywhere near a major population center or weekend football game.

Now I’ve hit snowbird country, where there are spots available. But so many of the most affordable parks have already filled up with 6-month snowbirds eager to lock in monthly/seasonal low rents.

Kathy Niemeyer
18 days ago

We no longer go to Florida due to campground situation. Lots of no shows and cancellations plus very crowded campgrounds. We discovered south Texas and the rate is half of what Florida charges!

Karen Grace
17 days ago
Reply to  Kathy Niemeyer

Same with us…booking FL state parks is ridiculous, even trying 11months out which is the earliest possible booking timeframe. We’re in TX hill country for the winter this year and I’ve had NO problem booking state parks here.

Steve
18 days ago

We seldom use private RV parks in the West. We made a reservation one August week and camped at the Colorado USFS campground the following week. In September, we stayed at two Corps of Engineers campgrounds in Kansas by making reservations the previous week. We needed that reservation in eastern Kansas, but could have driven in, picked a site, then called for a reservation at any of three 20% full COE cgs at a lake in western Kansas.

In June, we made a reservation at a Mississippi COE campground on the same day we stayed there. The same was true at a COE cg in eastern Oklahoma. So, there is availability during the summer camping season, even in the East, if the RVer is willing to reserve a public campsite with electric, and maybe water hookups, instead of a FHU site in a private RV park. Plus the sites are generally larger and more private. Personally, I think COE campgrounds are the best in the country and just wish there were more of them out here in the West!

Karen Grace
17 days ago
Reply to  Steve

Ditto…staying at a COE park in OK right now!

Ellen L
18 days ago

I work camp at an RV resort in north central Florida. We have been booked solid for February for a month and just hit full on January. If you are willing to move a couple of times you can stay for the “season” but a reservation for a 3 month stay on the same site is out. We are a privately owned park and have been collecting a full month rent as a deposit since early this year. Our deposits are non-refundable but if you call ahead to cancel, the deposit stays in your name for a future visit. We allow cancellations up to the last minute. Things happen like flat tires, traffic tie ups and illness. We have spots for over-nighters and shorter term like a week or two. We’ve been busy all year.

Gail
18 days ago
Reply to  Ellen L

Ellen, glad to hear things are going well! Also happy you are taking steps to hopefully address the “no shows.” I wish you continued success!

John Hicks
18 days ago

We had no trouble getting reservations at four COE parks for two months from eastern Mississippi to western Georgia. The parks were never full even on weekends.

Susan Banks
18 days ago

I did not have any trouble this year, as we travel a somewhat set yearly trip for vacation and for work related camping, all near major cities. We are gone nearly 2 months and use maybe 12 Campgrounds. We also boondock on venues whenever possible.. We have not had any trouble. I would say though we are not out West near any of the beautiful National Parks.

Bob p
18 days ago

As I have written before we live in south central TN and have taken 3 trips this summer and fall with no problems. One was to the Smokey Mountains in July, we did travel during the week and I noticed the campground (Riveredge) did fill up for the weekend and emptied out on Sunday afternoon. We did have to call 3 campgrounds in Pensacola, FL because the first 2 were on the beach. So I believe the overcrowding is either regional or it primarily happens on the weekends. Maybe it’s primarily in the high tourist areas which we rarely go to.

Micheal Whelan
18 days ago

I must agree with the author. We also had no problem making our reservations for our trek south this year. Admittedly we plan ahead on our trip from northern Michigan to the Texas gulf but all were glad to have us and only one had a modest price increase. That was understandable as they too were experiencing inflation cost increases. I am beginning to think the problem is regional.

mark d generales
18 days ago

No names of the RV parks and where they are? Why? What are you protecting or covering up? Again, why speak of parks and not name them or where they are? Not even the region?
What am I missing????

DANI
18 days ago

Mr. Generales, you ask what you’re missing? You are missing the point. Nothing to do with naming a particular campground, & she did mention the South, & their true Southern hospitality. Names of the CG need not even be mentioned in order to get the point, I agree it’s likely a regional thing, & of course planning ahead. Has nothing to do with covering up or protecting.

G13
18 days ago

Believe you have a problem. Protecting, cover up, Area 51 comes to mind. A small tidbit and your making a controversy over nothing. Missing? Common sense.

John
18 days ago

I’ve seen increased numbers of sites being utilized, deeper into the post-season but I’ve had no problems reserving spaces when I wanted a spot here on the East coast.

Tom
18 days ago

Traveling along the interstate I have never had a problem getting a site for the night. Most have gotten to the point of being more into annual campers. Now getting a site in a resort type campground is a different story. I did make a reservation last week at a KOA in Ocala to have Thanksgiving with some fellow campers and I had no issue getting a site, but being a holiday their rates are a ripoff.

ROY V BERTALOTTO
18 days ago

Interesting…I traveled from Massachusetts to Montana with my grandson this past summer. We reserved campsite every day at 3pm for that night and always got a site on the first campground we called. I was concerned about finding sites but we never had an issue. Was the whole issue overblown? I’m sure, weekends would have been more of an issue, but we got a site in South Dakota at 3pm on a Saturday at the first CG we contacted.

Gail
18 days ago

Sounds like a great trip, Roy. And what memories to make with your grandson!