This industry classification includes establishments primarily engaged in providing overnight or short-term camping sites for recreational vehicles, trailers, campers, or tents.
RV (Recreational Vehicle) Parks and Campgrounds
In the mid-2000s, 30 million recreational vehicle (RV) enthusiasts were in possession of 7.2 million recreational vehicles (a general designation for motorized or towable vehicles that provide temporary living quarters). According to the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA), nearly 1 in 12, or about 7 million, vehicle-owning households in the United States owned at least one RV. By the year 2010, the number of RV-owning households was expected to reach 8 million. The average RV owner was 49 years old, married, with a household income of $56,000. As baby boomers aged, RV camping was becoming more popular, which led many campgrounds to make adjustments to accommodate larger RVs with higher electrical demands.
Commercial recreational vehicle parks and campsite establishments (i.e., campgrounds) typically provide RV owners and campers with inexpensive outdoor, recreation-oriented accommodations located near scenic and water recreation areas, national parks and forests, historic sites, theme parks, or major travel routes. The basic features of campgrounds are RV sites (ranging from rustic clearings to "pull-thru" concrete pads with utility hookups for water, sewage, electricity, and propane gas), tent sites, rest rooms, and shower facilities. Other typical amenities include rental cabins, convenience stores or snack bars, picnic areas and grills, coin-operated laundry facilities, garbage and sewage disposal stations, swimming pools or natural swimming areas, fishing and boating facilities, recreation halls, playgrounds, sports facilities, nature and biking trails, movies, cable TV hookups, telephones, and motorcycle accommodations. Moderately expensive resort and membership establishments also feature such "country club" amenities as 18-hole golf courses, tennis courts, and spa facilities.
Recreational vehicle parks and campsites are frequented by a wide range of the population, including middle-aged or senior citizen couples, often on prolonged trips with wide-ranging travel itineraries; families with young children; and young people or couples. Establishments may cater exclusively to such demographic groups.
Individual campgrounds may contain anywhere from one dozen to several hundred RV pads and/or tent sites. Establishments may be open seasonally or year-round, depending on the climate and the nature of the surrounding tourist attractions. Rates may vary by season. Senior citizen, RV club member, and other discounts are typically available, and longer-stay rates may also be discounted.
By the mid-2000s, the RV and campgrounds industries had given rise to a wide array of affiliated businesses and services. Cruise America, which furnished motor homes and travel trailers on a rental basis to both domestic and international tourists, was largest RV rental company in the United States. Various international, national, regional, and state directories (including computerized databases) were being marketed, along with such "lifestyle" magazines as RV Times and Trailer Life. Specialty RV storage facilities, RV equipment and accessories retailers, and RV emergency road services were also available.
By the mid-2000s, there were approximately 16,000 campgrounds and RV parks in the United States, of which approximately two-thirds were commercially owned. Public camping facilities were also operated by the National Park Service (388 campgrounds), the USDA National Forest Service (4,000 campgrounds), the Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (53,000 campsites), the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (504 National Wildlife Refuges), state park and forest systems, and county and city governmental bodies. These public campgrounds typically offered few amenities and some did not accept reservations, or did so only on a limited basis. Public campgrounds were free of charge or very economical with typical rates ranging from free-of-charge to $15 per night for tent sites and $15 to $25 per night for RV sites with hookups.
In comparison to public campgrounds, commercial campgrounds were more easily accessible, more predominantly oriented to RV camping, and more concentrated in the East and the upper Midwest. These commercial campgrounds, numbering approximately 8,500 in the mid-2000s, typically offered more amenities (including reservation services) and were slightly less economical...