Camping Fees?? Really...!!

Discussion in 'Camping, Hiking, Cooking' started by dryflylarry, Aug 11, 2013.

  1. Russ T. Streamers New Member

    Posts: 9
    Ratings: +5 / 0
    The Forest Service may run the show, but it sure did seem like prices made a pretty significant jump when they made the switch from Forest Service maintenance to private concessionaires like HooDoo and others.
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  2. sweetlou Member

    Posts: 100
    La Quinta, California
    Ratings: +11 / 0
    I can see the increase in fees if there actually were new things at the campground. Most of these parks were designed years ago and not a drop of new improvements ever made. In other words, it's like staying at a 1950's hotel with nothing but paint ever put on the place and fixing what may be broke. No new carpet, furniture,landscape, and the same old mattresses. Then they ask for more money. Would you stay there or not? It doesn't really cost them to much to service a few toilets, and make sure a tree that fell is not a danger. Heck, some campgrounds are so bare like at the beach the guy has nothing to do. It is a rip off, but you get all the benefits of camping which if you are reading this you already know about. I will pay it still, but there will be a day I won't any longer.
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  3. wannafish In search of Blinky...

    Posts: 186
    Puyallup, WA
    Ratings: +4 / 0
    We bought a travel trailer a couple years ago and have been subject to the high state park fees since. I kind of have mixed feelings being an RV camper. I do enjoy full hookups when they are available (and I use the heck out of them). I use my electric heater (which saves gobs of propane in the colder months) and enjoy frequent showers when on sewer and water hookups. The tent sites are a total rip-off in my opinion. You need nothing but a toilet that flushes and a piece of ground for your tent and they go for 2/3 or more the price of my RV spot where I've got everything but cable TV (do have an antennae though :)). I don't necessarily count this as "camping" though...

    Some of the parks, such as Belfair, offer very nice developed waterfront sites. If the location had a hotel, we probably wouldn't be able to afford it. I don't necessarily feel like it's unfair to pay what you pay for those amenities - most RV parks cost that or more for full hookups and usually don't have a major attraction like waterfront or nice views.

    That said, the price is getting out of reach for most families (mine included). The main attraction to camping has always been that it's cheap, the poor-man's vacation. Next summer, we will have our trailer outfitted with solar, generator, and better batteries so we can go off grid. There are many places for cheap or free if you don't need hookups. I figure no camping fee covers my gas money to get there, so we can explore a little more. Plus, no dealing with State Parks Reservations which is another story... Anyone interested in some of these opportunities should check out Vladmir Steblina's blog - great info on there!
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  4. freestoneangler Not to be confused with Freestone

    Posts: 3,958
    Edgewood, WA
    Ratings: +704 / 1
    Camping fees have indeed gotten high...certainly outpacing the annual ~2% inflation index by a fair bit. I think some of this may be due to the bow wave of baby-boomers retiring. As a whole, we have done pretty well on the financial front and those who operate resort parks, private camping and contracted state park management groups are leveraging the supply and demand model very well. It's particularly bad during prime season...if you can travel during off seasons it's not too bad. Still, when a stay in a decent hotel will put you back $90-110, a $30-40 bill at a park isn't too bad. If you stay in these resorts for extended periods, you can really get decent rates...$15-20/nite. Take advantage of Wal-Mart's and the likes and one can travel pretty cheaply.
  5. ambassadeur10000 Member

    Posts: 115
    Ratings: +6 / 0
    Yeah camping fees are expensive. In some Florida State Park campgrounds they can get into the low $40's. It is robbery. I mean the campground is always rated in the top 10 but its expensive and I can literally get a motel room for $35. I remember camping with my family when I was younger and it was an inexpensive good time but not now.
  6. Richard Olmstead BigDog

    Posts: 2,479
    Seattle, WA
    Ratings: +782 / 0
    I think Freestoneangler is right that the State (ours and others) decided some time ago that the point of comparison for camping fees in state parks (with their paved drives, hot water, and flush toilets) should be motels, not primitive campgrounds, so they charge what they can get away with. I don't camp in state parks, but whenever I drive by one in peak season, I see that the CGs are always full. So, they are able to get away with it.

    The privatization of National Forest campgrounds has been a pet peeve of mine for a long time, going back to when I was a grad student traveling around the west doing field work on a shoestring budget. I was accustomed to free or very inexpensive camping costs, but when, during the Reagan administration, they started privatizing some government functions, the Forest Service campgrounds in CA were first to go and the jump in cost was amazing. One of the other consequences of the privatizing of NF campgrounds was that they were only profitable if the campgrounds were large enough, so many of the most remote, intimate campgrounds, with just 2-3 sites, that I used to frequent, were closed down. Those were always my favorites.

    Vladimir's point that the USFS sets the standards for maintenance is correct, but that's not the whole story. In the years before privatization, the USFS employees who were responsible for campground maintenance took pride in maintaining a clean comfortable camp, which often meant a campground that went well beyond the contractual standards the subsequent contractors need to maintain. With a profit incentive in mind, the contractors are going to push the lower limits of those standards every time in order to minimize their labor costs and maximize their profit.

    I do most of my camping in Idaho and Montana, where many of the USFS campgrounds are still maintained by the FS. I'm unhappy about the cost of campgrounds closer to home (e.g., Mt. Baker Snoqualmie NF), where the prices often are three times as high and the standards are substantially lower.

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