Getting harder to find an RV park to stop for the night?

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Well-known member
Mar 24, 2013
I've only been using a travel trailer for a few years now, but I am finding that more and more frequently I am challenged in finding a decent RV park to stop for the night. Not being sure how far I will get on the road each day I hesitate to try to make a reservation in advance, wanting to wait until mid afternoon to then use RV Park Reviews to find a high rated place in the area I expect to be by about 7 PM or so. Several years ago this was an easy task unless I was traveling on a holiday weekend, but lately it seems that more and more often the first place, or first few places I call are saying that they are full. Traveling in the summer, I want to be able to use my a/c, and that means going somewhere with electric as well as water hook-up, so stopping at a Walmart or a state park without hook-ups doesn't work for me. Are others finding the same problem in finding places to stay for the night? I have a big trip coming up for the month of September, about 6,000 miles total. And while we have a reservation for our stay at the final destination before starting home, the rest of the trip is going to be just day by day. I almost dread going on this trip completely due to concern that we will be stuck without a place to stay some nights and might have to just stop and swelter in our camper in some parking lot.
I always plan my trip by using a 300-350 mile day (this depends on how long you feel comfortable driving). I then find campgrounds in that general area and make my overnight reservations.
A lot of campgrounds near major highways have spots designated just for over night camping and they fill up fast.
Waiting until you are ready to stop before looking for a campground is going to be iffy.
Your observation is right - campgrounds are crowded nowadays. But why not stop earlier in the day, say 4 pm?  We have always noticed that stopping later, 6 or 7, was a lot more chancy.  Get in the park earlier and relax.
As Gary indicates, stop much earlier. We usually try to be in camp by 4 PM, preferably a little earlier, or at least CALL prior to 3 PM to find availability where we plan to stop. It's not uncommon to find many rigs coming in much later and the place being near full before 7 PM -- weekends are worse, of course.
We drive only about 250 miles a day.  Using this information, we make reservations the day before or in the morning of the same day. As Gary said the earlier the better to find a space. I feel sorry for people who arrive at 8-9 pm to try to settle for the night.  I did it one day when I drove 500 miles, and that was the last time.  I am in no hurry.
We also do the same plan 300 miles a day and usually make our reservations 1 to 2 days ahead of time and have no problem finding a spot. I like to get off the road early and rest for the next days journey.
yes.  and being mostly weekend warriors, we are having a harder time booking weekends even several weeks out....used to be hard to get into the obvious places like near the beach...but more inland and off the beaten path state parks and such would always have openings to reserve at least a few weeks ahead...  now even those are filling up.

I'm looking forward to retirement.... I figure traveling week days will make the situations like you describe maybe a bit better...and just stay put someplace for the weekends if you can book it.
It always amazed me how many people stopped looking for a site.  They would usually start by noon and go on until 9 in the evening.  Sadly parks now days are always full. Its a sign of the times.  The economy is good, people have disposble income, buy more RVs, fill up the available camping spots.  Drive ups are left out.
I would add that it seems like more and more parks are catering almost exclusively to seasonal or long term tenants. Snowbirds, full timers and folks trying to live cheaper than in an apartment or mobile home park can fill up a park pretty quickly. I don?t blame them for taking advantage of cheaper long term rates, or the park owners who have to meet a bottom line, but it does tend to make it difficult for those folks actually traveling with their Rv?s.
We have not had a problem, yet; getting a spot by calling by noon the day we want it.  I make a list of 3 campgrounds that are at out intended milage for the day and call at our first rest stop of the day - 10 or 11AM.  I think, once, we had to call the second place on the list.
We have been running mostly well off the beaten path, and try to arrange sites the day ahead.

So far, so good. some of the parks have been a little less than stellar, but as long as the electricity and plumbing work, I'm not that picky.
We've ended up at a Cracker Barrel or Walmart a couple of times, and nobody has yet to complain about us running our genny to keep it cool.
This is a lot better than traveling in a car and looking for a good hotel at the last minute.
I'll be in Florida in February and started calling around for reservations thinking I was getting an early start, they're all booked!!!
So much depends on where and when you travel. We travel mostly in the Midwest and West, more rural than urban.  The rest of the time, we look for a site on the day or one day in advance when we are traveling. We know how many miles we intend on driving in a day, and we look at options by noon or so. Then we can and make a reservation. There have been a few times we haven?t be successful at our first choice, but we either find a second choice or parking lot ?camp?. However that approach doesn?t work at the popular destinations and tourist areas. We make reservations well in advance for those. That includes places like Arizona in winter, or at least popular locations by Phoenix and Tucson.
I have yet to have a problem with this, though we do not travel much in the summer months.  Our last trip was a 2 week trip returning home on Memorial day (my wife had to be at work Tuesday morning).  Even driving on Sunday and Monday of Memorial day weekend across much of east Texas we saw numerous roadside RV parks with obvious vacancies, including one newer RV park with outdoor swimming pool and paved RV sites by the side of the highway outside College Station which must have been 2/3 empty when we drove by.

2 years ago we took a trip to Wyoming to see Yellowstone and the big solar eclipse, traffic cameras on the interstate were used to estimated that there were more vehicles in Wyoming for the eclipse than there were vehicles registered in the state.  Even with this level of tourist in the area, and then heading home onward I had no problems finding roadside RV camping options without reservations for the entire drive back from central Wyoming to Louisiana (by way of Nebraska, Kansas, the corner of Missouri, and Arkansas).  Though I will say the places I stopped on nights 1 and 2 post eclipse did fill up before sunset.  I also did have trouble finding an RV site along the path of the eclipse 7 months out.
RVMommaTo6 said:
I'll be in Florida in February and started calling around for reservations thinking I was getting an early start, they're all booked!!!

We've found that many private parks in Florida are booked for the following snowbird season before we get there for the current season. The Florida state parks have an 11 month reservation window, and if you don't have you finger on the button the moment window opens, there's a good chance you won't get into the more popular parks unless you get lucky and hit on a cancellation. Even with your finger ready to click, the odds are still not good for state parks like Myakka River, Alafia River, Silver Springs, etc, and forget about the Keys...
RVMommaTo6 said:
I'll be in Florida in February and started calling around for reservations thinking I was getting an early start, they're all booked!!!

What part of Florida are you wanting to stay in?
I just got back from a 4100 mile trip North East. I had a place reserved at every stop before I left home.
I am leaving in about a week to go to Minot and West. I have 9 places booked on this next trip so far.
With today's tools it is simple to be prepared. I haven't had a problem finding spots.
Isaac-1 said:
What part of Florida are you wanting to stay in?
The two places in Florida that I still have left to book are Ft Lauderdale and St Augustine. I wanted to stay in Clearwater but we're in Dade City instead, so we're compromising to find solutions lol
Since we full time, we always want to know where we are staying. We like staying for a week, and want some of the creature comforts. A decent site, a place to walk the dog,  and not be next to a dairy farm (just to name a few). But the DW is great at research, and we always have a place to go, even the heavy summer travel months.  It's not for everyone, but it works for us.
As we are traveling my wife will look up SP?s, State and National Forests, NP?s or military FamCamps, close to where we want to stop. Rarely have a problem but when we can?t find a site I have no problem staying in a hotel for the night.

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