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Are Campgrounds Price Gouging?

Are Campgrounds Price Gouging?

If you’re an avid outdoor explorer, you might have noticed that your favorite pastime is getting a little more expensive. We can expect a slight increase in any field over time. But we’ve seen a particularly steep hike as of late in the realm of campground prices. 

If you find yourself concerned about the rising expenses, a little insight may help ease your mind. Dig into the issue, and check out some of the questions below. 

Have Campground Prices Gone Up?

Campground prices have most certainly gone up in the past two years. When the pandemic struck, the drive toward RV life and camping skyrocketed. More people saw a nice camping holiday with their families as a safer way to travel. 

Campground Costs on the Rise???

You can partially blame the old law of supply and demand for rising prices, but there’s a lot more to it. Campground owners (just like everyone else) have felt the pain of inflation and the demand for rising wages. 

Just like any other business owner, campground owners have to balance the books. This often results in higher prices for campers. 

Energy demands have also gone up due to the increasingly electric-powered design of today’s top RV makers. Some campgrounds have to upgrade their electric provisions, which costs money. 

We can also blame some more nefarious motives. Some campgrounds have seen a lucrative opportunity in the rising demand for space. However, some have simply gotten a bit greedy with their charges. 

Some campgrounds have begun charging a per-person camping fee for anything more than two campers. Rates for spots that cost $75 a night may now rent for over $200. Is something going awry in the industry? 

Campground amenities
Campsite costs include much more than just the physical spot, which has led to an increase in prices.

Are Campgrounds Price Gouging?

Price gouging is a very specific and well-defined term. This happens when a seller increases prices dramatically after an event or shock. Unfortunately, it doesn’t really apply to the camping industry. You can independently speculate and call it price gouging if you want. But legally, you can’t label high campground prices as price gouging. 

Price gouging laws typically go into effect after a natural disaster or a state of emergency. It also often applies to goods and services that people need to survive, like food, fuel, housing, etc. Contrary to what some avid campers think, you don’t need camping to survive.

How Much Do Most Campsites Cost?

Just like any other rentable accommodations, the price of a campsite has a lot to do with things like amenities, location, and even lot type. So the price of a campsite can vary widely. On average, you might pay $40-$50 for an RV site in the off-season and between $60-$100 in the busy season. However, you can sometimes find primitive campsites with little or no amenities for much less.

RVs parked in spots at campsite.
Expect to shell out between $60-$100 in peak season for a standard campsite.

What Is the Profit Margin on an RV Park? 

If you look at an RV park from an investor’s standpoint, you might feel excited about the possible profit margins. After the steep influx of campers in 2020, an RV park’s average profit or ROI (return on investment) sits around 10% to 20%

Because they have little infrastructure to maintain, campgrounds and RV parks can keep a lot more of the profit. Additionally, with the rise of remote working, more people stay longer at parks during their travels, instead of just one weekend. This means RV parks can make more money while still having minimal bills or maintenance. 

Pro Tip: Use these tips on How to Find Campgrounds with WiFi to make your next RVing adventure a success.

How Can I Make Camping Cheaper? 

Though camping prices are on a steep incline, you don’t have to feel like a victim every time you want to go on an outdoor excursion. You can find ways to get around the rising campground prices if you know how to navigate the system. Check out these helpful camping tips. 

Mortons on the Move fifth wheel RV parked at campsite in forest.
Keep costs low by booking in advance or camping in the off season at campsites.

Book in Advance

Book your camping trip as soon as you know the dates. Booking your space well ahead of time will give you a much better shot at a lower price. Learn to treat your campground booking experiences like a hotel reservation situation. With more campers out there, you have more competition for space. Be the early bird. 

Search for Deals

Take the time to do a little research before you start booking. Some RV campgrounds offer special deals for longer or weekday stays. You may also find that your favorite in-state campground provides special deals to locals. You can also find some discounts for military, senior citizens, or other categories.

Camp in the Off-Season

You can save a few bucks by camping when no one else wants to. An RV campground will typically lower prices to attract more business. Try camping in the off-season and during the weekdays. You don’t have to camp in the dead of winter, but fall can be a beautiful time. Kids go back to school, families stay home, and the fall colors make magical photo ops. 

Mortons on the Move truck and fifth wheel parked while boondocking at sunset.
Avoid campground prices by giving boondocking a try!

Boondock

Boondocking is a great way to save money on camping. Boondocking means you don’t need all the fancy amenities of official campgrounds. You can camp on BLM land or private property with permission as long as you are self-contained. You’ll need to provide your own water, power, and waste management. So it might take more work if traveling with kids. 

Pro Tip: Don’t stress about boondocking! Use these 40 RV Boondocking Tips To Make Your Off-Grid Camping Better.

Campground Memberships

If you know you’ll camp in a certain campground often, you could invest in a campground membership. A campground membership will give you a more reasonable price. And the cost of each trip can get lower the more often you camp. You can also look for campground network memberships like Boondockers Welcome or Harvest Hosts.

Is Staying in Campgrounds Worth It?

There’s a time and a place for everything in life, including staying in an official campground. You don’t always have to choose an organized campground. If you want to save money while enjoying the outdoors, consider all of your options. 

How Much Do Campgrounds Cost?

More people getting outside is great news, but it comes with many unexpected downsides, from crowds to higher prices at campgrounds. Are the amenities and established campsites worth the high fees? That’s really a question for the traveler to answer. Mull it over with the family, and you decide. 

Trying to save money? Avoid visiting the 5 Most Expensive Places to Travel With Your RV.

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About Mortons on the Move

Tom & Caitlin Morton of Mortons on the Move gave up the stationary life for one where they are constantly on the move. They are full-time travelers, television hosts, and digital media producers.
They left their jobs, sold their house and possessions, and hit the road in September 2015 in their full-time “home on wheels”. Since then they have traveled the US, Canada, and even internationally by RV.
Now, they are Discovery Channel & PBS TV Co-stars of The RVers, producers of “Go North” on Amazon Prime, co-founders and instructors of RV Masterclass, and contributing authors for Hwy.co and an Arizona travel guide.

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Ron

Monday 6th of June 2022

Recently, The most popular campground In New Hampshire's White mountains, was bought by Jelly stone. Last summer, at peak, they we're charging $150 a night for a tent site with water. The corporate take over of the entire Industry, From manufacturers dealers and campgrounds is nearly complete up here. I guess they're just following the lead of the rest of America. But it sucks.

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