New Kampgrounds of America (KOA) data is showing a “healthy outlook” for the summer camping season’s kickoff, with more than 17.8 million households planning a trip over Memorial and Victoria Day weekends.
Following KOA’s annual North American Camping Report released last month, new monthly data will continue to track camping behavior within North American travelers. The network’s May edition projects camping frequency will surpass 2020’s record year.
“As the travel industry continues to rebound from the pandemic, we believe it is important to closely monitor campers’ behavior and sentiment toward camping and travel in general,” KOA President and CEO Toby O’Rourke said.
The report found 6.75 million households camped in March, with a 7.1% increase in April to 7.24 million households. KOA projects the number to skyrocket to 21 million households in May, driven by the Memorial and Victoria Day weekends.
In April, 25% of surveyed campers used an RV during their trips – the same number as 2020, and up from 22% in March. Campers most often used travel trailers, with 8% of RVers reporting travel trailer trips.
Campers indicated Memorial/Victoria Day weekend plans, showing most interest in state park campgrounds and backcountry/wilderness or national forests. The third most popular choice was national park campgrounds. Private sites and private land ran close behind.
KOA highlighted the top 10 states and provinces campers are eyeing for the holiday weekend, with New York, California and Pennsylvania taking the top three spots. Following behind were Colorado, Texas, Wisconsin, Florida, Missouri, North Carolina and Ohio.
The monthly report estimated more than 52.5 million households will camp this year, with 4.3 million new households to try camping for the first time. Regarding the top three camping locations this summer, 74% of surveyed travelers will head to national parks, while 73% will visit state parks and 68% will trek to private campgrounds.
“Campers continue to indicate that they feel camping is safer than other forms of travel,” O’Rourke said. “This, coupled with lower rates of COVID-19 impacting summer camping plans, gives us a positive outlook for a strong camping season ahead.”
Regarding the pandemic, 63% of campers said they are not planning trips over the holiday weekend. Of the group, nearly one-third expressed COVID-19 concerns. However, the survey reported 58% of respondents feel camping is the safer alternative to other forms of travel. KOA noted 67% of surveyed campers are vaccinated or plan to be before taking a trip.
The network noted May’s survey was conducted with a randomly selected cross-section of U.S. and Canadian households. Some Canadian provinces remain under COVID-19 travel restrictions, KOA stated, which may inhibit camping.