Top national forests for RVs
Despite the general difficulties of the travel industry over the last two years, one segment that has been resilient throughout the pandemic is outdoor recreation like camping and RVing.
AS these activities take place outside with natural social distancing, the risks of Covid exposure are low, which makes them an appealing alternative. The Outdoor Industry Association estimated that 7.1 million more people participated in outdoor recreation in 2020 than in the year prior.
New interest in outdoor recreation has forced related businesses to quickly scale up to meet demand. One example comes from the RV market.
In February 2020—just before the pandemic began—the RV industry shipped a total of 37,113 units, according to data from the RV Industry Association. That number dropped to just 7,197 amid Covid shutdowns in April 2020, but ever since, demand for RVs has exploded.
In October 2021, monthly RV shipments totalled 57,971, an increase of 56% from immediately before the pandemic.
Unlike the segments of the travel industry that have faced low demand, outdoor destinations like those popular with RV drivers are seeing more visitors than ever.
Many national parks saw record visitation in the summer of 2021, introducing new systems to manage overcrowding and in some cases turning away visitors.
But Covid accelerated a trend of increased visitation to public lands that has been taking place for several years. A recent report from the Center for Western Priorities found a 39% increase in the occupancy of reservable campsites on public lands during peak seasons between 2014 and 2020.
States in the western U.S. are seeing the boom and its effects most directly.
States like Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho are home to some of the US’s most famous national parks and forests. These features make those states top destinations for camping, RVing, and other forms of outdoor recreation, with visitors and residents alike seeking to take advantage of the states’ natural attractions.
While western states experience some of the highest levels of visitation, the effects of stronger interest in camping and RVing can be felt in every state with public lands.
For example, some of the top national forest destinations for RV travelers are found in locations like Florida, Minnesota, and North Carolina in addition to western states like California and Colorado.
The data used in this analysis is from Recreation.gov. To identify the most popular national forests for RV campers, researchers at Outdoorsy calculated the total number of RV nights booked in 2020.
These statistics only reflect reservations made on campgrounds managed by federal agencies, such as the National Forest Service.
Some of the most popular national forests for RVing include top-ranked Sequoia National Forest with 10,482 RV nights booked in 2020, San Bernardino National Forest, and National Forests in North Carolina.
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Editor for TravelMole North America and Asia pacific regions. Ray is a highly experienced (15+ years) skilled journalist and editor predominantly in travel, hospitality and lifestyle working with a huge number of major market-leading brands. He has also cover in-depth news, interviews and features in general business, finance, tech and geopolitical issues for a select few major news outlets and publishers.