RVers avoid state campgrounds where prices have been jacked up

(February 22, 2011) As state budget deficits grow, one way to add a few additional dollars to the coffers is to jack up charges for the most basic campsites. Or so it seems. But according to the following commentary in RVBusiness, higher rates are driving away most recreational vehicles.

Most RVers are unwilling to pay high fees for primitive campsites at public campgrounds, according to more than 2,800 RVers who responded to a survey in a recent RVtravel.com newsletter.

According to the RV News Service, the survey was prompted by RVtravel.com Editor Chuck Woodbury’s recent experience of coming upon two California state parks where the fee for primitive campsites — those with no utility hookups — were $35 a night. “My reaction was that it was too much,” he wrote. “The park system, of course, is trying to raise more money to keep its parks open. But I wonder if they have priced themselves out of the market.”

More than 95 percent of the recreational vehicle enthusiasts who responded to the survey said they would never pay — or probably never pay — that much to stay in a public campground. “Look at it from this perspective — $35 per night equals $1,050 per month,” one reader commented. “Would you pay that to rent a house with no walls, no water, no electricity, no toilets?”

Another reader commented, “It would make more sense to have a full campground at a lesser fee than a mostly empty one at the higher rates, and this goes not only for California but all states.”

“It’s a real shame that the going rate to camp in a public campground these days is often what you’d pay for a room in an economy motel,” said Woodbury. “There are a lot of people out there, individuals and families, where camping is becoming financially out of reach. I think the big losers are the children, who miss out on the opportunity to be with their families in the outdoors.”

Woodbury said he does not know the solution to the problem of escalating camping fees. “I just know that there comes a point where you charge too much, and in that case you end up with less.”