Last Updated on December 20, 2021 by Christina
As the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic shuttered schools, stores, offices and restaurants, Michigan’s parks were among the few RV spots that remained open. They welcomed more RVs and campers than ever before, as Michiganders grasped for a safe way to recreate and soothe the stress of living through a pandemic. That trend doesn’t appear to be letting up, with RV reservations in 2022 expected to reach record highs. With more than a million new RV units produced in just the past two years and 600,000-plus more on the way, count on a continuation of crowding at your favorite campgrounds.
RV Campsite demand reaches all-time high
“We have seen an absolute explosion of campground reservations and use at our state parks, our campgrounds, day-use areas, anywhere,” Jeremy Spell says, central reservations system analyst for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. “Anything to do with the outdoors is huge right now. People want to be outside. So we’ve seen that translate into our numbers as far as camping.”
DNR staff recently looked over RV reservation numbers for the last 40-years and discovered 2021 was a record year for camp nights. More than 1.3 million camp nights were recorded this year, a 23-percent increase from 2019. Use of non-reservable State Forest Campgrounds, consisting of 1,200 rustic and primitive campsites, also saw significant growth. General RV highlights some of these rustic sites in the Project Rustic travel blog.
Book your RV campsite reservation now before it’s too late
Campsites in the state park system can be reserved six-months in advance of a planned arrival. Michigan Department of Natural Resources Revenue Specialist Debbie Leisner says that six-month reservation window is booking up fast.
“With a rolling 6-month booking window for campsites, fiscal year 2022, which right now is booking through the Memorial Day weekend and slightly into early June, we are continuing to see growth in booked nights,” says Leisner.
Cost of camping increases as RV campsite reservations skyrocket
Michigan campers can also expect to pay more for campsites and lodging at state parks and recreation areas going forward.
According to the Michigan DNR, fees for state park reservations will increase between $2 and $8 per night, depending on the location and day of the week. Rustic campsites will increase by no more than $5 per night. Overnight lodging will increase by $10 per night.
The new fees will apply to camping reservations and walk-in registrations made Nov. 1, 2021 and after; for overnight lodging, the increase will apply to reservations for stays beginning Nov. 1, 2022. Existing reservations for camp nights between now and April 30, 2022 will not be subject to the increased fees.
Ron Olson, chief of the Parks and Recreation Division, said the DNR increases these fees roughly every five years. This latest change was brought on by a combination of reasons. That includes addressing increased attendance and user demand, meeting the rising cost of goods due to global supply chain issues, and offering more competitive wages in the face of staffing shortages.
According to the DNR, 51 percent of Michigan’s state park revenue comes from camping and overnight lodging fees. Those fees help pay for daily operational costs as well as facility maintenance, repairs, and other needs. The Michigan DNR manages an online database of all state parks and campgrounds, as well as information on how to reserve a campsite, including winter camping options.