Long time RVers are going to be in for a shocker this summer when they go book their favorite campsites. Prices have skyrocketed! Apparently the retail RV campgrounds have jumped onto the increasingly popular RV bandwagon and are jacking up the prices while raking in the profits. That’s great news if you own a campground. Not so great news if you need to rent a site for a few days or a few weeks.
I always had a rule of thumb: my nightly budget for a site rental has always been in the $40s. I could always get a decent full RV hookup, in either a KOA resort-like campground or a Good Sam’s multiple listings without much fanfare. Today, I’m looking at nightly fees of $135 (near a beach or with lake access) to $85 inland near a popular attraction. Disney’s Wilderness RV resort has nightly prices starting at $115, plus tax.
Granted if you have a membership with KOA (Kampgrounds Of America) or Good Sam’s Club (which I have both) you’ll get a 10% discount. Doesn’t matter. Many of the site prices are just too high this year. Ditto for Encore, Thousand Islands and many more RV membership clubs. The discounts just aren’t matching the overall total expense to justify the prices. The newest item I’ve notice lately on the invoice is a per diem fee. RV parks are actually tacking on a day use fee (between $4 to $5 dollars additionally per night) to their already higher site prices.
What’s a diehard RVer to do?
Is it any wonder that RVers have been flocking to National, State and Local parks in droves? You can book a government funded campsite for anywhere between $17 to $34 a night! Most of these reservations can be made on line or by calling Reserve America but there is a caveat to this system. Many of these government campsites are for dry docking only. That means you will get no services such as water, electricity or sewer. To many prospective campers out there, this is a big inconvenience bordering almost on sheer sacrifice. If you’re driving or towing a big rig over 30 feet you may be out of luck as many government campgrounds can not accommodate RVs that big.
That’s why my little Jayco Hummingbird travel trailer is only 17 feet. I knew many popular government run campgrounds, for example The Grand Canyon, only have room for rigs up to and under 20 feet! The government, however, is also catching on and up to providing a few amenities to its camping customers. You can find National and State run campgrounds that have electricity hook ups (20, 30 and even 50 amps), water hook ups and if you are really lucky, sewer hook ups (but those are few and far between.
There are no amenities at government run campgrounds: no pools, no hot tubs, no WiFi, no cable TV. Some have limited playgrounds for the kids. Some offer water access good for fishing, kayaking and some swimming. Most have hiking and/or biking trails. Almost all provide picnic tables and grills. It’s called ‘camping’.
Be advised, however, if you want to book a government run campground, you have to book between 11 to 9 months in advance, you have to contact the agency by 8AM and by 8:01AM almost all of the popular campground sites will be booked. Trust me. I know. Next winter DH and I will be camping for the first time in Florida State campgrounds ($24 a night). It took me weeks and weeks and weeks to get the bookings. You can only reserve a site for 14 days at a time. That means DH and I will be moving to a new site every two weeks. All the sites we were able to book only have water and electricity hook ups. We’ll have to use the public showers and bathrooms. And DH will have to manually dump the black and gray water tanks and lug them to the dump himself vs re-hooking the whole trailer and towing it to the dump station.
In addition to our Florida travels, DH and I always go camping before Memorial Day and after Labor Day (when prices supposedly come down). This year we will be camping at National Parks, which thanks to my Senior Government Pass, I’m getting 50% off the regular pricing ($17.50 a day!) Some sites only provide electricity and other sites include water hookups too. In other words, we’ll be roughing it.
My RVing friends, Travels With Delaney, put together this very instructive video on how to manually dump your black and gray water tanks, plus how to keep your water tank filled. Wish us luck!