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The Second Wave of Overcrowded RV Parks

The Second Wave of Overcrowded RV Parks

It’s an exciting time for owners of RV parks and campgrounds. However, not so much for those looking to book campsites.

The odds of snagging a campsite in locations across the country are about as good as hitting the jackpot in Vegas. If you’re hoping that this summer will be any different, we’ve got some bad news for you.

It’s not looking like a good summer for reservations at RV parks. Let’s get started!

Are All RV Parks Overcrowded?

Not all RV parks are overcrowded. However, there’s a good chance that any RV parks you want to stay in are very crowded. The recent trends have caused most quality RV parks to overrun with RVs. 

If you’re having a hard time finding a campsite and come across an RV park with lots of availability, it’s a good idea to pause and question why there’s availability. They’re either costly, have bad customer service, or you’re fortunate and found a diamond in the rough.

Why Is It So Hard to Find a Campground? 

The RV industry is booming. Quarter after quarter, practically every RV manufacturer is reporting record numbers. Dealerships are struggling to keep up with the demand for those looking to purchase RVs to make memories with their families.

Manufacturers have made over 500,000 new RVs in the last two years, and it’s struggling to be enough.

Those new RVs are flying off the dealership lot as fast as they can get them. The people buying those RVs are looking for a place to park their RVs on weekends and extended trips. Manufacturers can create RVs faster than campgrounds can expand their infrastructures and add campsites. 

With more RVs hitting the roads and campgrounds unable to add sites as quickly, it’s a simple game of supply and demand. The demand for campsites has skyrocketed, but the supply of quality campsites hasn’t shifted much.

So many more people are looking to camp, especially during the prime summer months.

Woman standing in camper van holding a summer sign.
RVing is more popular than ever! Be prepared for big crowds this summer!

Will This Summer Be Harder to Make Reservations?

If you’re planning to spend any time in popular camping locations, it’s not looking good. We see no indications that securing reservations will be getting any easier. Some campgrounds in Yellowstone and other popular areas are expanding their reservation windows to keep up with demand. 

How Far in Advance Can You Book RV Parks?

Reservation windows vary from one RV park to another. However, you’re typically able to make reservations six months to a year in advance. Some of the most popular tourist locations will open reservations 13 months ahead of time. They may require a non-refundable deposit to reserve a site to ensure that sites don’t get snatched up and not get used.

You must look at the reservation window for each campground you’re considering. Scout out your site and set reminders to alert you to make reservations. Failure to do this will have you looking for alternatives.

What Are Alternatives to Private RV Parks?

Many RVers don’t like the idea of having to battle others to make reservations only to camp in a crowded park. Luckily there are a handful of excellent alternatives for you to consider.

Boondocking

Depending on where you’re looking to camp, boondocking can be a great option. There are many boondocking options across the country, especially out west. Taking advantage of the public-use lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the United States Forest Service (USFS) is a great camping option.

If you’re planning to boondock, you’ll likely need to make sure you can be self-sufficient. You’ll need a power source and plenty of water. Have a plan to deal with your trash. As you grow your boondocking skills, you can spend weeks, months, or even an indefinite amount of time boondocking. 

Pro Tip: Are you a first time boondocker? Check out these 22 RV Boondocking Tips for 2022.

Harvest Hosts and Boondockers Welcome

These are two great options that are easy to overlook. However, there are often locations across the country and even some near the most popular tourist locations. While Harvest Hosts are typically farms or businesses, Boondockers Welcome locations are often individuals who open their properties to guests looking for a place to stay.

Unlike RV parks, there’s typically no consistency in amenities, so it’s best to be as self-sufficient as possible. Costs will also vary at different locations. Some Boondockers Welcome will offer water, electricity, or even full hookups. They’ll also often ask for a small donation to cover the expenses. However, we’ve seen some incredibly generous locations that offer to host guests for multiple days with full hookups at no charge.

Pro Tip: Before you shell out the cash to join an RV club, discover Is Harvest Hosts RV Club Worth the Money?

Hipcamp

Hipcamp is like Airbnb for camping. Property owners can rent out their campsites to those looking for a place to stay. Amenities will vary from one location to the next, and costs vary greatly. You can find everything from fields for tent camping to luxurious full hookup RV sites. If you’re struggling to find a spot in a popular tourist area, this is a great place to check.

You may just find a hidden gem that’s better than any campsite you could have booked at an RV park or campground.

Pro Tip: We took a closer look to discover Is Hipcamp The New AirBnB? Check it out!

Campground Memberships

Some popular campground memberships like Thousand Trails are great to join. These not only help save you money if you’re regularly spending time in campgrounds, but they can serve as a great backup option too. Because they often require a membership, you’ll have a better shot at snagging a reservation.

You’ll still need to plan, especially if you’re planning to camp during peak season, but it can provide an additional option if you’re in a pinch.

Pro Tip: Check out these video tours of these 7 Luxury Thousand Trails Campgrounds.

Are RV Parks Worth It This Summer? 

This summer will be chaotic when it comes to booking a campsite. Many new RV owners are itching to use their RVs to travel and make some memories. Get ready to battle crowds at the campgrounds and the area attractions. National parks, theme parks, and other attractions are sure to experience record numbers. 

We’d highly encourage you to invest in doing some off-grid camping so you have more options and can have more space and privacy. However, RV parks are better than nothing if you have no other choice. 

Are you having trouble making reservations for this summer? Tell us in the comments!

Discover the Best Free Camping Across the USA

To be honest with you, we hate paying for camping. There are so many free campsites in America (with complete privacy).

You should give it a try!

As a matter of fact, these free campsites are yours. Every time you pay federal taxes, you’re contributing to these lands.

Become a FREE CAMPING INSIDER and join the 100,000 campers that love to score the best site! 

We’ll send you the 50 Best Free Campsites in the USA (one per state). Access the list by submitting your email below:

Marcie

Saturday 12th of March 2022

I own knife island campground in esko Minnesota the sites are wooded and private in the main loop of the campground 3 sites on the st. Louis river are in the open with about 150 feet between campers same with the bayside. Its 42 sites on 38 acres the average year I only use 30 sites in fact all the freeway property that runs parallel to I-35 to the river and has 10 sites has been closed off for 7 years now. I put that portion up for lease in its entirety and no one has jumped on it. Definitely not overfilled campground we prefer seasonal and monthly guests so guests also dont have r.v.s coming and going.

Eric

Friday 4th of March 2022

Where I think every publication misses the real life situation, is the amount of people that are living in their TV's. I'm one of those people. I live in eastern TN. now and know of about 10 RV parks within 50 miles. They are all filled with full timers, for one reason or another. The big names in the best locations are always booked during peak seasons, but it's the secondary parks that are packed full all year round.

Coty

Friday 4th of March 2022

The article just skipped over the part where the housing market and property rent has gone through the roof so full time RV living makes more financial sense for a lot of us that make less than 6 figures a year.

Douglas T Johnson

Thursday 3rd of March 2022

I stopped going to RV Parks. When they cost more than a cheap motel and the people you end up next to usually suk I bought my own 10 acre lot to park on. Much more peaceful and I always have a place to go.

Erik & Jeanne Anderson

Thursday 3rd of March 2022

Jeanne and I have been traveling fulltime for early two years in our Class A towing our Honda CR-V. This article is pretty accurate. Our preference is State, County, Local and ACOE parks, but popular State Parks are also a challenge to get good sites, if any, depending on when and where. You definitely have to be right on top of all the different reservation windows! We also are very self-sufficient (solar), so boondocking and dry-camping work to our advantage. We’re booked and planned out to April 2023, but it’s taken much diligence and hard work. The more flexible you can be, the better off, and it eases the stress.

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