Kampgrounds of America’s (KOA) January 2023 Monthly Research Report revealed preliminary findings that more U.S. households camped in 2022 than ever before.
The report said the amount of 2022 camping households increased 1.5 million over the previous 2021 record numbers. KOA’s 2022 North American Camping Report found 56.9 million households camped in 2021.
Of the estimated 58.4 million households camping in 2022, the January 2023 report found 1.8 million households joined the activity in 2021 or 2022.
“Over the past several years, we have seen dramatic increases in new campers,” said Whitney Scott, senior vice president of strategy at KOA. “People are looking for modes of travel that fit their lifestyle and improve their daily lives. Camping provides that for a growing number of travelers, and we don’t see that slowing down.”
The monthly report found three-quarters of households that camped over the last year (74%) plan to include camping in future travel. Of those, nearly half (45%) have booked their camping trips or are in the planning stages for 2023.
Shifting economic factors played a role in how people camped. Nearly two-thirds (64%) of campers camped more or replaced other types of travel with camping during the last year. Similarly, 64% said camping was a more viable travel option during economic uncertainty.
Gas prices and inflation caused campers to adjust – whether staying closer to home or spending less while on their trips – but they still camped, the report said. For many, camping offered a respite from the impacts of all these concerns (i.e., stress), as well as helping manage travel costs and improve their mental health status.
“Camping is proving to be a top choice for travel amidst uncertainty,” Scott said. “People have faced a multitude of stressors in 2022 and camping trips proved to be a solution for many. We are seeing the perseverance of campers as they make camping a continual priority as a leisure activity.”
The report said the outdoor hospitality industry weathered disruptions the past two years, success which bodes well for the 2023 camping outlook, the report said.
“ Newer campers realize that even during the most challenging situations, camping provides a viable travel option,” the report said, “offering the benefits of spending time outdoors and a less stressful planning and travel experience.”
RVs accounted for 26% of camping in 2022, the monthly report said. Travel trailers were the primary RV used, followed by motorhomes, Type B motorhomes, pop-up trailers, fifth wheels and truck campers.
State parks became the primary camping destination in 2022, with 45% of campers citing trips to state park campgrounds. National park campgrounds were a close second at 44% with private-owned campgrounds (31%) and land (29%) following.