Why Are RV Park Rates So High?

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Updated April 9, 2024

Why are RV Park Rates So High? The answer is the number of RVers. More people than ever purchase or rent RVs, and there aren’t enough campsites to accommodate everyone.

The increase in the number of RVers has also increased campground costs, such as for employees, maintenance, security, water, sewer, electricity, and trash removal.

If you’ve camped with any regularity, you understand one of the top costs of RVing, aside from fuel, are campsites.  We notice prices have gone up on just about everything over the past 5 years. See our price comparison charts below to see a comparison of campground prices from 2019 to 2024.

But RV parks are pricier, and we all need to book our reservations well in advance to ensure we can actually camp when and where we want to. Those living life on the fly often find themselves out on their luck if they attempt to camp without a reservation.

So read on to learn why RV Park rates are so high and what you can do to lower your RV Campsite costs.

What are the Average RV Rates for Private Campgrounds?

Of course, average is a notable word whenever trying to budget or plan ahead.  Prices, taxes, and amenities vary from state to state.  Private campgrounds generally include full hookups (electric, water, and sewer). 

They range between $40 and $70 per night, depending upon location and amenities such as a pool, WiFi, cable, mini-golf or a water view. A luxury RV resort, such as Disney’s Ft. Wilderness, will cost from $115 to $203 per night. Families traveling with children often look for amenities, including entertainment.

Comparison of Private Campsite Fees: 2019 and 2024

CampgroundLocation2019 Prices2024 Prices
Wekiva Falls RV ResortOrlando, FL $50-$60/night$70-$80/night
Hadley’s Point CampgroundBar Harbor, ME$46-$50/night$48-$70/night
Giant Redwoods RV Meyers Flat, CA$45-$55/night$70-$85/night
Loons Point RV ParkCedarville, MI$32-$41/night$40-$48/night
Hillbilly CampgroundMaggie Valley, NC$30-$36/night$45-$50/night
Sun Rocks RV ParkPrineville, OR$28-$33/night$45/night
Prices have increased over the past 5 years and we don’t see them coming down anytime soon.

Usually, renting by the week or month allows you a discounted rate. Considering the numerous private campgrounds throughout the United States, the average rate most likely is $45-$70/night, before taxes.

What Average RV Rates for Public Campgrounds?

Public campgrounds are generally less expensive than privately owned campgrounds. Naturally, a municipality running a campground must set aside funds to do so. Public campgrounds commonly offer more private, buffered sites, as well as natural scenery and the opportunity to view its natural wildlife inhabitants. 

However, public campgrounds usually have fewer amenities or none at all. Some offer full hookups, while others only have electric and water (with a dump station on site) or dry camping.  

Comparison of Public Campsite Fees: 2019 and 2024

CampgroundLocation2019 Prices2024 Prices
Morefield CampgroundMesa Verde N P, CO$45/night $45/night
North Rim CampgroundsGrand Canyon NP, AZ$18/night $18/night
Nolin Lake State ParkMammoth Cave, KY$29/night$36/night
Tomoka State ParkOrmond Beach, FL $28/night$31/night
California State ParksCA$35/night$35/night
Lake Park CampgroundLewisville, TX $17/night$20/night
Some Public Campground Fees have increased, but not much

Be it federal lands, national, state, or county parks, there is a multitude of choices throughout the United States.  Restrictions on when you are allowed to make a reservation will also apply. 

For instance, national parks and federal lands generally allow reservations six months in advance of your arrival date. State parks and county parks can also be reserved one year to three months in advance, depending on the policy of the particular municipality. 

It’s best to plan ahead when making reservations at public campgrounds. Depending on the location and time of year, they can book up quickly.

What Factors Determine RV Park Fees?

Popular areas of the country receive thousands of visitors per year. Park and campground financial needs grow exponentially due to increased costs of ongoing maintenance and/or the occasional natural disaster. All of this equates to money.

The average visitor may not take into account certain items when they make an off-hand remark to a ranger asking why the park should charge an entry fee—after all, we pay taxes, right? 

For any park, be it a public municipality, federal or private, there is a mountain of items for which time and money must be allocated.  Perhaps you are aware of what goes into keeping a park running safe and sound, but just in case, we’ve listed a few below.

• Campground stores
• Emergency preparedness
• General maintenance to campsites and buildings in the park
• Hiking trails, bike paths, canoe rentals, and related maintenance
• Landscaping, downed trees, prescribed burns
• Liability insurance
• Motor vehicles and other equipment used by park employees
• Park roads and campground improvements
• Parking lots
• Playgrounds
• Picnic areas
• Repair and maintenance of historical buildings or monuments
• Restrooms and bathhouses
• Sewage and water treatment facilities
• Security
• Signage
• Special programs provided throughout the year
• Swimming pools
• Taxes
• Trash and recycling collection
• Water and electricity within the park or possibly solar panels
• And most important, paid employees and rangers

Public campgrounds must have an annual budget and the funds to maintain their campgrounds and parks safely and securely for all visitors.

Private campgrounds also adhere to many of the same regulations as public campgrounds while ensuring they make a profit and possibly pay a mortgage they hold on their land or equipment. Of course, private campgrounds are not subsidized with federal, state or county dollars.

Visitor rates are not merely an average of those who visit a park occasionally but also of those who use the campground and park amenities, rent a kayak or visit for special events. Depending on a park’s location, it must budget and plan knowing when it will be at full capacity during the year.

Are Discounts Available at RV Campgrounds?

Yes!  If there’s an upside to campsite prices, it’s the numerous clubs, volunteer opportunities, and military or senior discounts that abound.

It’s simple to check with state parks by phone or by stopping in along your route. Some parks only provide a discount to seniors who reside in the state, while others allow all seniors a discount or the chance to purchase a pass, which allows a discount for a year. 

Your age will vary from state to state as to what is considered a “senior.”  If you plan to stay within a state for any length of time or travel there often, it could be worthwhile to purchase the pass.

Active military and veterans’ discounts differ from state to state.  The majority of state parks offer anywhere from 10% to 25% off campsites. Several states waive the day-use fee.

When it comes to national parks, BLM lands and national forests, seniors and active military are nicely rewarded with discounted camping and entrance fees. 

The Lifetime Senior Access Pass, available for $80 at age 62, gives you free entrance to the national parks and half-priced campsite fees.

Please note that you may still be charged an extra fee for using electricity and water or a registration fee. However, the price of the campsite is half-price. 

This campsite’s pricing varies depending on location, type of federal land, and amenities offered.  Federal sites may only offer dry camping; others will offer electricity/water, and some even full hookups.  Go to www.recreation.gov for a list of lands.

Active military may obtain an America The Beautiful Pass absolutely free!  This pass is not available to military veterans. However, veterans may qualify for the Senior Access Pass at age 62.  Disabled veterans qualify for a free Access Pass.  For more information, go to https://www.nps.gov/planyourvisit/passes.htm

Becoming a camp host can provide you a free campsite.  Jobs vary from place to place as well as your time at a particular location.  Check out http://www.camphost.org/ for more information.

A host of RV clubs is available to take the bite out of your nightly rate while staying at private campgrounds.  These are renewed annually, giving you the opportunity to discover which ones work best for you.

In addition to the discounts listed below, check out our article called The 6 Best RV Campground Memberships, where we discuss the 5 Best memberships and a couple of runners up in great detail.

Is There A Shortage of RV Campgrounds?

What kind of crazy question is this, you ask? In our private Facebook Group, RV Camping for Newbies, many people complain about getting reservations.

According to IBIS World, there are 15,466 campgrounds throughout the United States, an increase of 1.2% from 2022 to 2023. But why do we hear that RVers are unable to get reservations? 

We find that making reservations a year in advance is the best way to secure a reservation in the campground of your choice. We usually book 70% of our camping reservations by December 31st of the preceding year.

Naturally, some folks have the planning gene, while others do not.  The idea of taking off for the wild blue yonder definitely has its appeal. However, in the real world, some sort of plan generally has to come into play.

When you are dead set on camping on any public land, planning ahead for your date of arrival and departure is usually the best option.  Check ahead to inquire how far out you can book a reservation, and be prepared the day of to do so.  Private campgrounds, such as KOAs, are generally able to accommodate RVers.

I agree, though. When you have your heart set on a particular campground, it can feel like the shortage is real. You know the saying, “Location, location, location.” 

To help keep you in the green with a campsite, be sure to check ahead for your next stopping point then google campgrounds in that area.  If you need to make a reservation last minute, call ahead to ask about accommodations. 

If you must call two or three campgrounds, so be it.  Most RVers I know have always located a site, whether it be their second or third choice.


RVing provides newfound freedom and escape from the everyday stresses of life. More people than ever have learned that RVing can be an economical form of travel and one that keeps the family together and playing together.

Whether you enjoy primitive camping or need the amenities provided by an RV resort, you’ll find your way to the campsites that best suit your needs and those of your family. Keep livin’ the dream.

Do you have a comment about the best ways to lower the price of RV campgrounds? Please share in the comments below!

Learn More:

When Do Campgrounds Open and Close For The Season?
CampersCard Review: Campground Discounts and Perks
Everything You Need to Know About KOA Campgrounds
RV Campgrounds vs Boondocking: Pros and Cons
10 Reasons to Avoid RV Campgrounds

To check out all of our articles, please visit our Blog Archive!

Mike Scarpignato – Bio

Mike Scarpignato created RVBlogger.com over five years ago in 2018 to share all we have learned about RV camping.

Mike is an avid outdoorsman with decades of experience tent camping and traveling in his 2008 Gulf Stream Conquest Class C RV and 2021 Thor Challenger Class A motorhome.

We attend RV Shows and visit RV dealerships all across the country to tour and review drivable motorhomes and towable trailers to provide the best evaluations of these RVs in our blog articles and YouTube videos.

We are 3/4-time RVers who created RVBlogger.com to provide helpful information about all kinds of RVs and related products, gear, camping memberships, tips, hacks and advice.

Mike and Susan from RVBlogger at an RV Show touring reviewing and rating RVs

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7 thoughts on “Why Are RV Park Rates So High?”

  1. We found in our experience that making reservations at Recreation.gov has been nothing short of exasperating, and that was over a month in advance. Those campgrounds using this avenue seem to have no phone contact to even ask questions that would be necessary to know before booking. So the idea of calling several campgrounds in a shorter notice situation and hoping to actually obtain one under these types of conditions could be negligible at best. Maybe others have had a better outcome than we have.

  2. I think you’re a bit off on average prices since the Pandemic set in, at least on CA coast.
    Example, Mission Bay Park in San Diego, not upscale at all, $105.00 standard spot, and that’s if you can find an open spot for more than 1 day at any coastal parks private or state.
    Mid state is the same Morro Bay, Pismo all booked out till Fall.

  3. My wife and I are fairly new to RVing, we have stayed at both State Parks and private parks. We’ve noticed State Parks are cleaner and less expensive price wise. Availability at State Parks are greater than Private Parks.
    2020 – will be our first time we are going traveling longer distances, viewing many historical site’s.

    Plan on doing a Light ? tour.

    • State Parks are clean and less expensive but they sometimes don’t have any hookups. However, they usually have a dump station and fresh water and that works for us.
      We stay in State Parks quite a bit too. I love the idea of taking a Lighthouse Tour! Please keep us posted and email us and send pics. You can use our contact page and it goes right to our email.
      Safe Travels!
      Mike and Susan

  4. Thanks for the article. I am in Canada and would like to know if Canadians can get discounts in the US if they are seniors. Thanks.

    • Hi Linda,
      Great Question…
      In State Parks or US National Parks, you will need to be a US Citizen to receive the senior discounts. Private RV Campgrounds make their own rules so just ask and I bet you get the discount more often than not.
      Thanks for reading the article!

  5. Do you know if any of the above discounts are only for American citizens, or is open to the Canadian’s camping in the US as well?
    Do you know of any good sites for Canadian’s camping in the US?


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