Right now, the camping season looks a little uncertain (as I’m sure many other things in your life look). One of the groups we are thinking about is the many small business owners who are operating private campgrounds. You might not ever think about the faces behind those campsites and swimming pools, but they are there. So, as we look for silver linings during difficult times, we wanted to ask the question: Will fall be the new summer in 2020? Would extending the camping season be helpful for these small business owners?
With travel limitations due to the COVID-19 crisis, private campground owners may lose business and revenue this spring. This may particularly hurt parts of the country like the Northeast or Midwest, which have camping seasons running from April 1st to October 31st or May 1st to October 1st, like so many of these campgrounds do.
For these campgrounds, the start of spring is a big boon after a long winter where the campgrounds are totally closed or very quiet. Travelers start moving around as the threat of freezing weather passes, with many booking their first trips in March, April, or May. The campgrounds stay steadily busy through October, but many shut down in November and December.
This leads us to ask whether extending the camping season through late fall and early in in 2020 would help our “mom and pop” campgrounds recoup some of the losses. Perhaps, if they open their campsites, we will all look forward to recouping our camping excursions.
Make Fall the New Summer
We want to toss out the idea that private campgrounds that lose business this spring (if they do) should EXTEND their seasons into November and December. We have been saying for years that campgrounds in our area of the country could easily be sold out every weekend in November and December, if they were open.
Perhaps, this is the year! Part of what got us thinking about this was Lori Rackl’s great Chicago Tribune article: “Fall is the New Summer: How the Coronavirus is Changing the Way we Travel–and When.” Since spring and summer are looking iffy, we are thinking many campers will camp later in the fall this year.
To hear more about extending the camping season, click play on the media player above or look for the RV Atlas wherever you find your favorite podcasts.
Extending the camping season is certainly possible for many of us to, despite the weather. Today’s RVs are often built to handle more extreme temperatures, meaning they are useable even when the weather is cold. We know water is a special concern, with the threat of frozen pipes, but plenty of us can camp without water hookups for a weekend or can bring water in our own tanks (if warm enough).
There are plenty of campgrounds that are open year-round. Cherry Hill Park near Washington D.C. comes to mind (check out our review here), as does the Delaware Water Gap KOA and the Otter Lake Camp Resort).
These year-round campgrounds offer heated restrooms that stay open for those who do not have water. Some campgrounds don’t open all of the campsites, and instead just keep open a loop close to the bathhouses. Some also have heated water spigots, which really helps extend their water access. And, of course, you have your electricity access, which is unaffected by the weather.
We think there could be serious pent-up demand next fall! But, what if you can’t get out of town during those cooler months due to a busy schedule? Some campgrounds are already offering mini-seasonal “park-and-stay” sites, which allow you to park your RV there to leave it through the fall and early winter season.
A “park-and-stay” option allows campers to head to the campground at the drop of a hat. Maybe the weather looks unseasonably warm. Maybe you suddenly have an open spot on the schedule. If your RV were already set up, you could hop in the car for a weekend warrior trip.
We really encourage you to ask your local campgrounds if they offer something like this if this option sounds good to you. If they don’t, let them know you are interested! You might be the spark that gets them to start.
Response from the RV Atlas Community
We asked our RV Atlas community on Facebook and on Instagram their thoughts on extending the camping season through November and December. Of course, we heard the feedback about weather and scheduling making it too difficult, but we also heard from lots of people who think they would love to camp!
Here is an overview of some of the feedback we received:
- Many regions of the country do not have freezing weather until late in December.
- Campgrounds could offer a special winter rate to account for fewer amenities.
- Thanksgiving is a great time to camp for those who have extended breaks (we’ve done it!).
- We can still enjoy the great outdoors, even when it is cold outside. Just add some layers!
- Snow makes the campground even more magical.
- Extend the booking season, so we can book campgrounds further out to show our support.
How many of you would book a November or December weekend if campgrounds were open!? Of course, we know we are very early in this COVID-19 event, so we don’t know what things will *actually* look like by then. But, we can all dream, right?
See You at the Campground,
Jeremy + Stephanie