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Author Topic: Crowded Campgrounds and Parks  (Read 963 times)

Ricebug

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Crowded Campgrounds and Parks
« on: January 23, 2018, 06:36:00 PM »
We are coming up on the time to purchase our first RV. (Yay!) However, from watching a lot of YouTube videos, and visiting local RV parks (Boise, Idaho), they are jam-packed year-round! (Boo!) I spoke to the manager of the largest RV park, and she told me that there was a one-year waiting list. Trouble is, they don't seem to have any restrictions on how long you can stay there. One Airstream had a white picket fence around it, telling me that they've been there awhile. Also, disenfranchised Californians who have lost jobs have moved into RVs to survive, many dry-camping in whatever parking lots they can find.

So, now we're kind of indisposed. We have the income to stay in RV parks, but it's like Sardines Ville. And we don't mind "dry camping," but not as a permanent way of life. Someone out there tell us that there's still hope for full-timing.

SeilerBird

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Re: Crowded Campgrounds and Parks
« Reply #1 on: January 23, 2018, 06:39:04 PM »
I full timed for 10 years and love every minute. Finding empty spots in campgrounds is very easy. Any campground that does not accept reservations will have many open spaces that can be claimed in the morning. RV parks are harder but not impossible. I only had reservations once in ten years.
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Kevin Means

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Re: Crowded Campgrounds and Parks
« Reply #2 on: January 23, 2018, 07:13:19 PM »
There's no doubt that there are campgrounds in nice areas, near popular attractions that are often crowded. Some are are always crowded, and you have to be quick on the reservation button to reserve a site. There are many, many others, however, that will often have vacancies. A lot depends on the size of your rig, the amenities you want (50 amp, sewage etc.) and the time of year you want to camp. It usually, just takes a bit of planning to find a site that'll make you happy.

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JudyJB

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Re: Crowded Campgrounds and Parks
« Reply #3 on: January 23, 2018, 10:47:15 PM »
It depends on location and what your requirements are.  Do you absolutely need full hookups and 50 amps? 

The RV parks you have looked at are apparently commercial campgrounds with a lot of permanent residents.  They are no doubt in busy (high tourist) locations, hence they are packed and the owners stuff you in like sardines, as you pointed out.

I stay almost entirely in federal, state, and regional parks, and I have no problems choosing places that have electric and often water hookups.  Sites tend to be well-spread apart, with no permanent residents with little white picket fences because you can stay only two weeks at a time.

There are tons of campgrounds that are slightly off the beaten track that are lovely and much less crowded.  In fact, 10 days ago, I thought I was going to be the only person camping in one state park in Nevada until another rig pulled in late at night.  We had the whole, amazingly quiet place to ourselves! 

So, you need to get out and do some driving around to state and regional campgrounds before you make your decision.   
« Last Edit: January 24, 2018, 12:50:45 PM by JudyJB »
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UTTransplant

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Re: Crowded Campgrounds and Parks
« Reply #4 on: January 24, 2018, 07:21:21 AM »
Idaho is full of wonderful places to stay. Boise itself probably isnít a great choice. We have looked at places around there and saw lots of lower income full timers too. Head toward the mountains within a 2 hour drive and life will look better. Do you require full hookups or will you be going off grid? Boondockingin Idaho, Utah, Wyoming, and Montana, and Oregon is a great way to go. Lots of less crowded locations, but it does depend on what you are looking for.
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Greg Barker

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Re: Crowded Campgrounds and Parks
« Reply #5 on: January 24, 2018, 07:46:40 AM »
 Also, disenfranchised Californians who have lost jobs have moved into RVs to survive, many dry-camping in whatever parking lots they can find.

We get blamed for everything

Greg & Kristina
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blw2

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Re: Crowded Campgrounds and Parks
« Reply #6 on: January 24, 2018, 08:53:55 AM »
To the OP, are you weekend recreational RVing or full/part timing?
I think that makes a bit of a difference in what you might be looking for.

I've noticed that just about all the private RV parks I've looked at or visited have some full time residents.  Sometimes they are off in their own area, sometimes not.  Sometimes nice, sometimes not so much.  When we were looking for places to stop in these type of parks en route though, we've not had too much trouble finding a spot.

We are weekend warriors and frequent state parks which are different.

I'm East Coast, Florida, so I can't comment on your neck of the woods so much....but I have noticed that things are much more full than they used to be.  10 years ago or more when we were in the popup trailer, and before that tenting....it seemed that only the parks out along the beach would be hard to get in season.  Inland parks would be no problem.  Now, even the inland parks are hard to get into last minute sometimes.  With a little planning though we usually manage.

Admittedly, it could just be my perspective has shifted.....we probably try to do more last minute stuff than we used to so maybe I'm all wrong.... It is frustrating though to want to go, and look on reserve america only to find nothing available in the whole area.....
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kdbgoat

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Re: Crowded Campgrounds and Parks
« Reply #7 on: January 24, 2018, 08:58:31 AM »
I would like to see more campgrounds also. I think there is such a great cost to start from scratch, that it hinders more being developed. Trying to get Planning and Zoning is most likely a really big headache right off the bat. Another problem is folks need to have everything right off the bat IE: full hook-ups, really great Wi-Fi, etc. that most wouldn't be able to make the initial outlay to even make a go at it.
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Utclmjmpr

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Re: Crowded Campgrounds and Parks
« Reply #8 on: January 24, 2018, 09:05:24 AM »
 You answered your question with the last word of your last sentence.>>>D
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NY_Dutch

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Re: Crowded Campgrounds and Parks
« Reply #9 on: January 24, 2018, 09:11:20 AM »
January in Florida, and we're currently in one of the less well known state parks, Gold Head Branch, a little north of the Ocala National Forest (our next stop). At a guess, I would say the park is at best 60% occupied right now. I don't know if the cold weather has scared people away or not, but when folks talk about how crowded things get down here in "snowbird season", I just think of parks like this one and wonder...
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garyb1st

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Re: Crowded Campgrounds and Parks
« Reply #10 on: January 24, 2018, 09:23:51 AM »
 
Also, disenfranchised Californians who have lost jobs have moved into RVs to survive, many dry-camping in whatever parking lots they can find.

We get blamed for everything

Don't know about you but I'm moving to Idaho if I lose my job.  Oh wait, I'm retired and I have lots of money.   
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blw2

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Re: Crowded Campgrounds and Parks
« Reply #11 on: January 24, 2018, 10:01:20 AM »
January in Florida, and we're currently in one of the less well known state parks, Gold Head Branch, a little north of the Ocala National Forest (our next stop). At a guess, I would say the park is at best 60% occupied right now. I don't know if the cold weather has scared people away or not, but when folks talk about how crowded things get down here in "snowbird season", I just think of parks like this one and wonder...

yeah, even that one has been booked a few of the weekends we've checked (maybe December time frame, I can't remember exactly when it was now...)
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jagnweiner

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Re: Crowded Campgrounds and Parks
« Reply #12 on: January 24, 2018, 10:17:05 AM »
January in Florida, and we're currently in one of the less well known state parks, Gold Head Branch, a little north of the Ocala National Forest (our next stop). At a guess, I would say the park is at best 60% occupied right now. I don't know if the cold weather has scared people away or not, but when folks talk about how crowded things get down here in "snowbird season", I just think of parks like this one and wonder...

Interesting.  We are going to that area at the end of March and I tried to book a week at Silver Springs SP just east of Ocala and could only get 3 nights in the middle of the week.  I guess maybe because it's a little closer to "attractions."

To the OP, as others suggest, it's just a matter of where you want to go and when.  I've only been RVing for about six years, but here's what I've noticed:

1)  In our home state of IL, parks have become more crowded in the last 5 years.  My theory is that in 2012, the country was still recovering from the housing crash and recession and people just weren't spending money on RVs.  That seems to be no longer the case.  (BTW, for whatever reason, we're just not into commercial CGs; in six years, we've only actually stayed in national, state or county parks (and the occasional Walmart overnight))
2)  Unless we're near a tourist attraction, those crowds are primarily limited to weekends and holidays; still plenty of room in parks in mid-week.
3)  More parks are moving more campsites to reservation only, with fewer available on a first-come, first-served basis.  That said, for parks that do still set aside some space available sites, I think most full timers will tell you that if you arrive on a Sunday or early in the week, you can usually get one of those sites without much trouble and then stay there for a week or more.  On the other hand, if you show up at a popular campground on a Thursday or Friday night and expect to get a site without a reservation, you may be disappointed.
4)  National Park campgrounds (and state park campgrounds near major National Parks) often fill their reservable sites for peak periods within a few days, hours, or even minutes of the opening of the reservation window.  Therefore, if you want to reserve a site in those high-demand places, you need to plan well in advance.  For instance, when I planned a trip to the Utah national parks that included stays at popular state parks, I made myself calendar reminders of the days that the reservation windows opened (either 4 or 6 months in advance), and was online the moment the reservations opened.  Some, like Dead Horse Point SP (spectacular), were full within minutes.

Thanks for indulging my ramblings.  Bottom line, it depends where and when you want to go.  Although I think that RVing is becoming more popular and campgrounds more crowded at peak times, it's still very enjoyable.  Because I still work full time and don't have as much flexibility, we always make reservations.  However, many folks like Tom (SeilerBird) are still able to mostly travel where they want to without reservations.
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Oldgator73

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Re: Crowded Campgrounds and Parks
« Reply #13 on: January 24, 2018, 10:48:27 AM »
During off peak times, usually when school is still in session, we find that reservations are fairly easy to obtain in State and National parks. During the summer or holidays it is much more difficult. Like some have mentioned here, if you can, try reserving Sunday-Thursday. That's what we do. For those of us that are eligible to use military FamCamps, we have noticed many famcamps are allowing folks to stay permanently. We have also noticed some FamCamps are allowing contractors working on the base/post to utilize the CG. We have seen those spots that have the picket fences and 100 gallon propane tanks in the FamCamps. Doesn't seem right.
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NY_Dutch

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Re: Crowded Campgrounds and Parks
« Reply #14 on: January 24, 2018, 08:36:38 PM »
Interesting.  We are going to that area at the end of March and I tried to book a week at Silver Springs SP just east of Ocala and could only get 3 nights in the middle of the week.  I guess maybe because it's a little closer to "attractions."

A better guess in part would be that Silver Springs itself IS an attraction. The home of the famous glass bottom boat tours. We were there for a week last winter, and it's a really nice park and campground.
Dutch
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Seon

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Re: Crowded Campgrounds and Parks
« Reply #15 on: January 24, 2018, 08:45:14 PM »
... One Airstream had a white picket fence around it, telling me that they've been there awhile...

I personally would look elsewhere if I checked on a site that had full timer, nothing against them but there's lots of campsites here in CA  ;) .  Most I've visited had 14 days max camping.
« Last Edit: January 24, 2018, 08:48:03 PM by Seon »
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NY_Dutch

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Re: Crowded Campgrounds and Parks
« Reply #16 on: January 24, 2018, 08:48:05 PM »
I personally would look elsewhere if I checked on a site that had full timer.  Most I've visited had 14 days max camping.

And of course there's no chance that might be a work camper or volunteer.
Dutch
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jagnweiner

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Re: Crowded Campgrounds and Parks
« Reply #17 on: January 25, 2018, 06:55:54 AM »
A better guess in part would be that Silver Springs itself IS an attraction. The home of the famous glass bottom boat tours. We were there for a week last winter, and it's a really nice park and campground.

This is true.  Glad to hear the report; we are looking forward to it.
-Scott
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docj

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Re: Crowded Campgrounds and Parks
« Reply #18 on: January 25, 2018, 07:37:52 AM »
I personally would look elsewhere if I checked on a site that had full timer, nothing against them but there's lots of campsites here in CA  ;) .  Most I've visited had 14 days max camping.

As an administrator of RVParkReviews.com I can tell you that if you don't want to stay at any park or CG that has long-term residents you are pretty much limiting yourself to federal, state and local facilities that have mandated maximum stays.   Many (most?) privately owned parks throughout the country have decided that long term residents provide much appreciated steady revenue.  This is true of both "mom and pop" parks as well as major franchise chains such as KOA, Jellystone and others.
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NY_Dutch

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Re: Crowded Campgrounds and Parks
« Reply #19 on: January 25, 2018, 08:15:16 AM »
I don't know about all state and local park stay limits, but I do know of at least one national park campground where you're apt to find long term residents other than work campers and volunteers. Salt Springs Campground in the Ocala National Forest has a maximum 180 day stay limit. We'll be there for the first time next week, and it'll be interesting to see how "settled in" some of the guests are. We're only staying 5 nights though...
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SeilerBird

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Re: Crowded Campgrounds and Parks
« Reply #20 on: January 25, 2018, 08:17:28 AM »
I personally would look elsewhere if I checked on a site that had full timer, nothing against them but there's lots of campsites here in CA  ;) .  Most I've visited had 14 days max camping.
I live in an RV park full of full timers. Hundreds of them like myself. Very few overnighters because the park is usually full. Many live in RVs that would cause some forum members to throw up. And you know what? I love it here. The other people in the park never bother me. I feel like I am living in paradise. Every time I leave the park I have to drive past a few dozen older RVs and park models and it reminds me I am not really in paradise. I would much prefer to be in a park full of full timers so I know my neighbors rather than living in a park with dozens of transient people coming through the park every day.
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Gary RV_Wizard

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Re: Crowded Campgrounds and Parks
« Reply #21 on: January 25, 2018, 08:23:08 AM »
I'll agree with docj.  Except for public parks and high-traffic tourist areas, most parks these days have at least some semi-permanent campers.  There are, of course, some campgrounds that cater to long term renters as a more-or-less permanent site, but there are also a lot of seasonal renters as well as campground staff (workampers, park manager, permanent maintenance workers, etc.).

We were long-term campers ourselves for the last several years of our RV career. We spent 4-6 months per year in the RV over a 20 year period, but after touring North American for a dozen or so years, daily travel lost its luster and we began to book a site in a pleasant area for 2-4 months at a time. I won't apologize if our presence offended some people who like to drop in for a few days at a time.  Different strokes for different folks...
« Last Edit: January 25, 2018, 08:31:06 AM by Gary RV_Wizard »
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Oldgator73

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Re: Crowded Campgrounds and Parks
« Reply #22 on: January 25, 2018, 08:31:33 AM »
I could probably count on one hand the times we have stayed in a private campground. The only one we truly enjoyed staying at was Ft Wilderness at Disney World. We don't need the amenities such as a pool, recreation room, etc.  We like State and National Parks. But is getting more difficult to obtain reservations at these parks. We do not like to plan six months to a year in advance. We are more last minute folks. We did find that we can dry camp pretty easily when we stayed at a State Park in NY last year. It was pretty inexpensive at about $20 per day. Not crowded at all.
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John From Detroit

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Re: Crowded Campgrounds and Parks
« Reply #23 on: January 25, 2018, 08:33:46 AM »
IN both MI and SC I stay in both 2-week limit parks (though one makes occasional exxceptions in the winter) and mixed 2 week/long term parks..Now it was not always that way and frankly the parks are much the same. The only difference I noticed over the years is the park I am at now I have a favorite site (I'm on it now) and I have a 2nd choice as well. One year. both were Long Term Occupied so I had to pick less attrative to me sites. 
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Re: Crowded Campgrounds and Parks
« Reply #24 on: January 25, 2018, 08:50:15 AM »
Also, disenfranchised Californians who have lost jobs have moved into RVs to survive, many dry-camping in whatever parking lots they can find.

We get blamed for everything
Facts is facts...................lol
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jackiemac

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Re: Crowded Campgrounds and Parks
« Reply #25 on: January 25, 2018, 11:33:52 AM »
Lots of cheap camping in and around Stanley.  Some of the state parks have walk ins if you are there early enough. I would recommend checking out Campendium, it is pretty good for boondocking spots.
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