Campgrounds Expand in Attempt to Meet Camping Demand
A survey by The Dyrt, the No. 1 app for camping information and booking, found that more than a third of private campgrounds expanded in 2022. Demand for camping has soared since 2020, far outpacing supply.
"America doesn't have enough campsites," says 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 a site to book than it was pre-pandemic."
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.
More than a third of campgrounds (35.7%) indicated they added camping capacity in 2022. Of campgrounds that expanded to offer a new type of camping in 2022, 44 percent added glamping, by far the most common camping type to add.
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 says.
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.
The 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."
In response to the record demand for campsites, private campgrounds are not just expanding their capacity, but also their calendars. The Dyrt's survey of campgrounds found that 18.6 percent of hosts broadened their camping season deeper into spring, fall and winter in 2022. The Dyrt's survey of campers, conducted earlier this year, found increased interest in winter camping as well.