What is Seasonal Camping? Is It for You?

Are you looking for a way to enjoy RVing without the hassles of packing, towing, and setting up? If so, seasonal camping just might be for you.

Do you search for a convenient weekend retreat to spend quality time outdoors? Consider a seasonal getaway or yearly vacation tradition at a campground or RV resort near you. Seasonal camping is a great way to enjoy your favourite destination and activities time and time again.

What is seasonal camping?

A seasonal campsite is just like a regular campsite rather, rented for a long term. As the name suggests a seasonal is generally over the whole camping season which typically runs from the months of April to October in many northern campgrounds. Head south, and you’ll find campgrounds and RV resorts offering seasonal sites on a three-month, six-month, or year-round basis.

Ultimately at any location, seasonal RVers tend to leave their camper right on-site for the extended duration versus routine travel. This gives couples, solo travelers, or camping families an amazing place to retreat to, similar to a second home, getaway cottage, or vacation rental but with their own RV parked on their own piece of paradise.

Some seasonal campers choose a campground close to home while others snag a spot at a favorite destination even if it is a bit of a drive. Your trailer or motorhome will be parked for the season and you can come and go as you please.

Ambassador RV Resort is a popular seasonal park in Caldwell, Idaho © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Is seasonal camping for you?

Seasonal camping might appeal to you if:

  • You like to head to the campground at the last minute: If you find yourself deciding to camp on short notice, you may have trouble finding open campsites. Having a seasonal spot means no more making reservations.
  • You dislike the weekend camping hustle: By the time you get off work on Friday, get home, and get hooked up and packed up, you are exhausted when you arrive at the campground. You face the same struggle when you get home on Sunday. Having a seasonal spot means you can load up the essentials and head to the campground with much less hassle.
  • You are paying for off-site storage: If you have a HOA or other reasons for not storing your RV at home, you might find a seasonal campsite that costs only slightly more than paying for storage.
  • You would like to be part of a community: Some campgrounds have a lot of seasonal campers and you may enjoy socializing at the campground (of course, you may discover you don’t like this aspect!).
  • You’d like an affordable vacation home: If you’ve considered getting a vacation home near one of your favorite destinations, a seasonal campsite would give you a similar experience while also allowing the flexibility to take your RV offsite for trips.
Monte Vista RV Resort is a popular seasonal park in Mesa, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Why choose seasonal camping? There are many advantages.

  • Camp more often: Seasonal camping allows you to camp more often because you don’t have to worry about searching for and booking a different campsite every time you want an adventure. If your seasonal spot is close to home weekend getaways are even easier.
  • Less stress over packing: With a seasonal campsite your RV and belongings are already set up for you when you arrive after a long workweek. You can spend less time packing and more time enjoying your weekend.
  • Make last minute decisions: If you find yourself deciding to camp on short notice, you may have trouble finding open campsites. Having a seasonal spot means no more making reservations.
  • Meet other campers: You are able to easily meet and make new friends with the other campers at the site. Seasonal camping allows you to be a part of the community at your specific campsite.
  • Save money: This value can vary greatly due to family size, location, and other personal preferences. So, if you plan on camping often, becoming a seasonal camper can save you money.
Sun Outdoors Pigeon Forge is a popular seasonal park in Sevierville, Tennessee © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Sounds good? Before you decide seasonal camping is for you, here are some things to consider:

  • Find a place that you love: Consider your favorite campgrounds and decide if you’d be happy to stay there for an entire season.
  • Do your research before committing: Talk to other campers in the park and see if they are having a good experience. If you decide to stay for more than a few days at a time, can you get the supplies you need easily? What is the storage situation? What is the campground’s policy on guests? Are there activities and attractions close by? What about shopping? Location is important!
  • Give it a try first: Rent a spot for a couple of weeks. Leave your RV and see how you like the experience of coming and going. Ask yourself if the drive is too long. Be sure to include a holiday camping weekend to see how much the atmosphere changes.
  • Calculate your costs: Does the cost of a seasonal spot fit your budget? Will it be worth your while in the long run? Understand what is and what is not included (for example, some campgrounds charge extra based on usage for electricity or water on seasonal sites). Find out the exact dates that are included. Some seasonal sites can be rented for the whole year while other parks offer shorter seasons. Find out whether you have to pay the fee upfront or is it there a pay-by-month option. Ask about cancellation fees if you decide the park isn’t for you.
Settlers Point RV Resort is a popular seasonal park in Washington, Utah © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Tips for finding the perfect seasonal campground

Here are five tips for finding the perfect seasonal campground.

1. Find a place that you love going back to again and again

Lots of campgrounds are just fine for a night or two but how enjoyable is the campground for repeat visits? Think about the location, the amenities, the campsites, and the overall atmosphere as you consider how often you’d like to camp in a particular park.

2. Do your research and ask the right questions

There are a lot of elements to consider when you are looking at a long-term spot. Are other seasonal campers happy with their experience at this park? Will you be surrounded by other seasonal campers or overnighters? Can you get Amazon deliveries? Can you store stuff outside of your RV? Try to think about all of the items that contribute to a great experience and think of things that make the long-term experience different from a short-term stay.

3. Check out the surrounding area

If you are returning to the same campground again and again, chances are you will also be exploring the local area. Does it offer the kinds of activities, restaurants, shops, and amenities you will need and enjoy? As with buying a home, think location, location, location.

4. Do a trial run of weekends

Try out the seasonal camping experience by renting a spot for a couple of weeks. Leave your RV and see how you like the experience of coming and going. You’ll soon figure out how far of a drive works for your situation. Be sure to include a holiday camping weekend to see how much the atmosphere changes.

5. Calculate your costs

Does the cost of a seasonal spot make sense for your budget? Sure, it will cost more but if you get out camping more, the cost could be well worth the experience.  A seasonal sites may cost anywhere between $2,000 to $10,000 per year. Make sure you understand what is and what is not included (for example, some campgrounds charge extra based on usage for electricity or water on seasonal sites).

Find out the exact dates that are included. Some seasonal sites can be rented for the whole year, while other parks offer shorter seasons. Ask whether you have to pay the fee upfront, or is it there a pay-by-month option. Also, you may want to check into any cancellation fees if you decide the park isn’t for you.

Worth Pondering…

This is not another place.

It is THE place.

—Charles Bowden

25 Questions to Ask When Booking a Campsite

Know before you go!

The wonderful web is so informative for campers. In fact, RV park websites carry an abundance of information—even offering ways to reserve sites online.

However, many of us simply prefer to call and SPEAK to a human! (You’ll see a few reasons why here: Don’t Book a Campsite Online. Call the Reservation Desk!).

Perhaps you’re new to RVing or require specific amenities for your stay. Overall, sometimes it’s easier just to call rather than go through a computer and stumble over the reservation process. Asking detailed questions and speaking to an RV Park representative can better help you get a site that comfortably accommodates your rig and personal preferences.

Hacienda RV Resort, Las Cruces, New Mexico © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Check out the list of questions below. Some may not apply to you, however, a few listed below may help spark your memory to ask for your next traveling endeavor.

Call the reservation desk and ask these questions to get your ideal site, savings, and campground information for an exceptional experience. 

(Ask all that apply to you. Simply fill in the blanks with your information or preferences.)

1. Do you have site availability for the dates ___ (your preferred date of arrival and departure) that can accommodate a ___  (pop up, travel trailer, 5th wheel, Class A, Class B, Class C, Big Rig towing, etc.)?  My rig requires a site with  ___ (30, 50 amp power, sewer, water).

It may be useful to have your rig requirements and information written down especially for those new to RVing. (After all, that’s a lot of specifications to remember,) That way, the reservation desk can assess all the information given and determine site availability and specific RV accommodations. 

2. Can I select a site? (Some campgrounds allow you to book a specific site upon making the reservation, whereas others assign sites.) 

 3. Can the site comfortably fit my rig and tow vehicle? (Otherwise, you may have to park your tow/toad vehicle in the overflow parking.)

Clinton-Knoxville North KOA, Clinton, Tennessee © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

4. Do you have pull-through sites/back-in sites/pull-in sites? (Some travelers prefer pull-through for quick and easy departure in the morning. Others may prefer back-in sites given the layout or how their windows face the rig. Pull-in sites generally are for motorhomes; for example, pulling in a site right on the waterfront.)  

5. What are your rates? Do you have season specials, weekly/long-term rate plans, RV club membership discounts, or military discounts that would apply to my stay?

6. What is your cancellation policy? (This is always good to know before booking a site so that you’re not left with an unknown cancellation fee if unable to make the trip.)  

7. Does your campground have pet restrictions? Are certain breeds excluded? (If you’re traveling with pets, you must make sure they’re allowed on the property.)

SeaWind RV Resort, Riviera Beach, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

8. Do you have wheelchair accessible sites and amenities?

9. Do you have cable TV?

10. Do you have Wi-Fi? How well does it work? Do you offer a VIP Wi-Fi service/access for those working remotely?

11. Is your pool/spa open?

12. Can we receive mail or packages?

13. Are the GPS directions correct?

14. What time is check-in/check-out? Can you accommodate early arrival, late checkout, or after-hours check-in?

15. Do you have a “10-Year Rule”? Can you accommodate older RVs? (This rule is often enforced at upscale RV parks and implies that units older than 10 years are too weathered, worn, or could be a potential liability on the premises. However, some campgrounds are more lax towards this regulation and accept older RVs as long as they are in good working order.)

Columbia Riverfront RV Park, Woodland, Washington © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

16. Can we have visitors? Do you charge for visitors?

17. Do you have overflow parking for additional vehicles/boat trailers/car haulers?

18. Do you allow tents on RV sites? (Some campgrounds will cater to tent campers on RV sites whereas other parks specifically state that there are no tents allowed.)

19. Is propane available onsite? If not, is there propane nearby?

20. Do you have any activities scheduled during our stay?

21. Do you offer rentals? (Cabins, trailers, yurts, golf carts, canoes, kayaks, bikes)

22. Do you allow campfires? Do you sell firewood? (Some state or county regulations may prohibit fires and/or bringing your firewood to the property.)

CT RV Resort, Benson, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

23. Do you have sports equipment, games, books, and/or movies to check out? (Many campgrounds with tennis courts, clubhouses, basketball hoops, etc. offer free equipment for their guests to use.)

24. Where is the nearest hospital, emergency care, veterinary clinic, or dog boarding nearby?

Knowing where to go in the event of a health crisis will spare you from having to deal with a crisis while trying to find emergency care. It just makes sense to ask ahead of time.  

25. Do you have a camp store or is there a grocery store nearby?

RVING IS BEING adventurous.

Worth Pondering…

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.

—Lewis Carrol

Campground Owners Expanding and Raising Rates

Demand for campsites has soared since 2020, far outpacing supply

As the world navigated through the pandemic, the popularity of camping continued to grow and people turned to the outdoors to find solace and reprieve. Over 66 million people went camping in the U.S. last year and over 8.3 million tried camping for the first time. Amid this growth in camping, a camper visited The Dyrt every second. With overbooked campgrounds, new expectations from campers, and continually emerging technologies, the camping industry is shifting.

Las Vegas RV Resort, Las Vegas, Nevada © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

A survey by The Dyrt, an app designed to help campers find camping information and book campsites have found private campgrounds are expanding, according to a press release.

Demand for campsites has soared since 2020, far outpacing supply. The survey indicates that in 2022 a significant portion of private campgrounds added campsites and other amenities, extended their season, and raised rates.

Columbia Sun RV Resort, Kennewick, Washington © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

“America doesn’t have enough campsites,” said The Dyrt CEO Kevin Long. “National and state parks are booked up months in advance and aren’t able to add capacity. It’s three times harder to find an available site to book than it was pre-pandemic. This environment provides campground owners an opportunity to develop their businesses in exciting ways.”

>> Related article: Campspot Outdoor Almanac: Outlook on 2023 Road Travel and Camping Trends

The survey included properties in all 50 U.S. states ranging in size from as few as one campsite to hundreds and spanning all types of camping such as RV, tent, and glamping. Over 89 percent of respondents indicated they want to grow their camping business in 2023.

12 Tribes Casino RV Park, Omak, Washington © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Adding capacity—and glamping

Of the properties surveyed, more than a third (35.7 percent) indicated they added camping capacity in 2022. To add capacity, campgrounds either installed additional campsites for a type of camping they already offered, introduced a new camping type on their property, or both.

Nearly a third of campgrounds surveyed (31 percent) added campsites in 2022 for an existing type of camping on the property including tent sites (35.6 percent), RV sites (30.5 percent), glampsites (13.6 percent), and cabins (11.9 percent).

Eagles Landing RV Park, Auburn, Alabama © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Of campgrounds surveyed, 17.5 percent said they added sites for a new type of camping in 2022. Glamping (44 percent) was by far the most common new camping type for properties to add followed by tent sites (28 percent), RV sites (16 percent), and cabins (12 percent).

>> Related article: The Expanding Camping Community

The survey also found that 79.2 percent of campgrounds that added a new camping type expanded an existing camping type as well.

The Motorcoach Resort, Chandler, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Demand sparks creativity

Dave Ridgeway and his wife purchased Summersville Lake Retreat & Lighthouse in West Virginia in 2021. “In our first season, we had full hook-up sites, primitive camping, tent sites, and deluxe cabins and we got a lot of requests for smaller cabins or glamping accommodations,” he said

In 2022, Ridgeway added five tiny cabins that offer a queen bed, fridge, microwave, ceiling fan, and unique themed decorations. He says they performed well, particularly on rainy days when tent camping is less appealing. He’s already building a sixth tiny cabin for the 2023 season as well as four vintage ’60s and ’70s glamping campers and a glamping cabin built on the back of a 1969 flatbed truck.

Dyrt president John Hayden says Ridgeway’s property which also includes a hammock hangout, working lighthouse, and other amenities represents an overall trend. “A lot of creative stuff is happening,” says Hayden. “Campgrounds are providing outdoor experiences. The most successful campgrounds have a unique story—and leave guests with stories to tell their friends.”

Orange Groove RV Park, Bakersfield, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Raising rates, expanding calendars

According to CamperReport, RV campsites cost between $25 and $80 per night depending on the location, the size of the space, and what connections are offered.

With the recent influx of RV sales, RV parks are raising their rates to keep in line of the high demand of campsite rentals. They can get away with it because it’s all about supply and demand. With more RVs being pushed out by the RV manufacturing industry, the demand for campgrounds and RV parks has exploded and park owners are striking gold.

>> Related article: Are New Campers Really Interested in Camping?

Harvest Moon RV Park, Adairsville, Georgia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Dyrt’s survey of campground owners also found that nearly half of the campgrounds (48.6 percent) say they raised their rates in 2022 and a similar portion (46.4 percent) say they plan to raise rates again in 2023. Over a quarter (27.0 percent) raised rates in 2022 and say they also plan to raise rates again in 2023.

“In a year where the price of nearly everything increased, it’s not surprising to see private campgrounds increase their rates,” Hayden says. “But inflation is only part of the story. With a trend toward offering high-end glamping accommodations, activities and immersive environments like farmstays, the rates charged by state parks are no longer a benchmark. Private campgrounds are increasingly offering a different product.”

Columbia River RV Park, Portland, Oregon © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

In addition to increasing capacity and rates, private campgrounds are also broadening their calendars. The Dyrt’s survey found that 18.6 percent of hosts extended their camping season in 2022. Winter and fall were the most popular seasons to add dates.

Worth Pondering…

Everyone is trying to accomplish something big, not realizing that life is made up of little things.

—Frank A. Clark