Speculations vary concerning an exact count on the total number of U.S. parks and campsites, as the industry does not have a uniform gauge for tracking growth or contraction.
“I suspect there are 12,000 to 15,000,” said Ken Hamill, who produces the Big Rigs Best Bets campground directory, regarding the total number of U.S. public and private parks.
“There are roughly 14,000 (public and private) campgrounds in North America, but I don’t know the total inventory of campsites as they all vary so greatly,” said John McDonald, senior manager of marketing and communications for ReserveAmerica, which handles reservations for state and national parks across North America.
“I have always heard the estimate of 8,000 commercial parks and 7,000 public (campgrounds),” observed Linda Profaizer, president and CEO of the National Association of RV Parks & Campgrounds (ARVC). “Our members average 133 sites. So, if you take that times 8,000, you get 1,064,000 commercial campsites.”
Mike Gast, KOA’s director of communications, said the 8,000 figure for commercial campsites has been used by the campground sector for many years. “I couldn’t hazard a guess as to how many sites there would be,” he noted, “and this does not include the state and national park facilities.”
The 2005 edition of Woodall’s North American Campground Directory lists 6,942 private campgrounds and 4,249 public parks in the U.S. for a grand total of 11,191 parks. By Woodall’s count, which is not all-inclusive, these parks provided 890,749 commercial campsites and 376,157 public campsites.
Last year’s Woodall’s directory listed an additional 2,347 parks in Canada – 899 public and 1,448 private – with a combined total of 271,151 campsites in addition to 395 public and private parks in Mexico consisting of 18,383 sites.
Curiously, the number of campgrounds appears to be declining by most accounts, particularly in states like Florida, South Carolina and British Columbia, where real estate values are prompting RV park owners to sell off their parks to developers.