This year, National Park Week will take place April 17-25 as a celebration of the United States’ 400+ national parks. Each of the nine days have their own theme, and April 20th is Transformation Tuesday in recognition of the constant change and evolution within national parks and communities. One transformation that is very important to the RV industry is the modernization and expansion of campgrounds to better meet the needs of today’s RVers.
The RV Industry Association’s federal affairs team has worked extensively with the Department of the Interior to ensure the improvement of National Park Service campgrounds. The recently passed Great American Outdoors Act is integral to these efforts. The Great American Outdoors Act, which was signed into law on August 4, 2020, provides $9.5 billion over the next five years to address infrastructure within the National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, and other federal agencies. The funds will address campground modernization and deferred maintenance on public lands.
The National Park Service has already identified several projects at high-use campgrounds and have committed to investing heavily in the critical infrastructure RVers rely on, such as roads, bridges, parking lots, trails, water, and electrical systems, and more. For example, nearly $80 million will invested in the Tuolumne Meadows, Bridalveil Creek, and Crane Flat campgrounds in Yosemite National Park. This project will improve the overall RV camper experience by expanding sites, rehabilitating, and replacing dilapidated roads, replacing an aged water and sewer collection system, making RV accessibility improvements, and enhancing the amenities at many campsites.
The federal affairs team has also worked closely with the National Park Service’s Second Century Campground strategy, a plan to invest in the nation’s campgrounds and develop a standardized strategy for expanding and maintaining them. Plans for improved amenities include increasing RV accessible sites, electric hookups, water and dump stations, and Wi-Fi connectively at camping sites across the country. The program will also include system-wide campground inventory assessment, accurate campground data, and a campground design guide and pilot programs. This is the first time the National Park Service has undertaken a campground initiative of this magnitude.
“We look forward to continuing our work with the National Park Service, the Forest Service, and the Department of the Interior to create and maintain updated campgrounds and RV sites,” said RV Industry Association Director of Government Affairs Chris Bornemann. “Amenities are being improved and we’re working on standardization guidelines to make sure all campsites are properly maintained. This is a huge project, and we’re confident the results will mean improved experiences for RVers and national park visitors.”
The recent Go RVing RV Owner Demographic Profile showed 22% of RV owners are under 35. With the changing demographics of the next generation of campers, which includes this younger, more diverse population, there is also a shift in expectations and uses of RV campgrounds. The 61 million Americans planning on RVing this year not only enjoy outdoor recreation, but also want modern, full-service amenities and the ability to share resources. They prefer to use digital means to access reservations, schedule activities, obtain equipment, as well as share their experiences with friends and loved ones. The RV industry’s efforts to make these expectations a reality will truly transform the experiences of visitors to our iconic national parks, while also maintaining their natural splendor and protecting the lands for future generations.