SYRACUSE, NY (WRVO) – Last year, at a time of social distancing and minimal recreation, many families and friends found solace in camping. Now, from state parks to independently owned, campgrounds across New York State are seeing record numbers of advance reservations for this upcoming camping season.
This camping trend comes even as traveling becomes popular once again in the United States. In fact, a survey from research company, Toluna, found that roughly 40% of Americans will be comfortable traveling by July.
So why are people choosing local camping trips instead? President and CEO of Campground Owners of New York, Don Bennett Jr., said in April that last year gave New Yorkers the opportunity to rediscover their home.
“I think they really got to see New York again and their home state,” he said. “I think they realized what great assets and what a beautiful state that we have.”
Bennett Jr. said some of his members, who are independent campground owners, were seeing three times as many advance reservations this year than last year, as of April.
“That’s a pretty good number–a pretty good indication that camping is becoming more and more widespread,” he said.
He referenced RV sales as a key indicator of the growing popularity of camping.
“This will be the first year that over 500,000 RVs will be manufactured in the United States,” said Bennett Jr.
On the state parks side, the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation said as of April there had been over 116,000 camping reservations made this year, compared to the first quarter of last year when there were only 66,445. That’s a 75% increase in reservations just within state parks.
“The demand for State Parks campsites is well ahead of last year,” representatives of the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation said in a statement. “Booking early is suggested.”
Last June, when the state allowed campgrounds to reopen, it also lifted the usual 9-month limit on advance reservations so people could start booking for this year as soon as last year. While state officials said this was a contributing factor, they agree with Bennett Jr. that there is an increasing trend so far this year.
So if you’re trying to book a trip for this year’s major holiday weekends: Memorial Day, Fourth of July, and Labor Day–you may already be out of luck.
At central New York’s popular Green Lakes State Park, campsites for those popular weekends, in fact almost all weekends May through September, have been booked up for months.
Bennett Jr.’s solution? Try going during the week if you can.
“Midweek stays, I would suggest, are probably a great way to get different dates and times than you want,” he said.