Reservations Rise at Vermont Campgrounds
A gate blocks the road and there's still plenty of snow piled on the ground, but that's not stopping hundreds of people from claiming their summer camping sites within Little River State Park near Waterbury, Vt.
"There's hot showers, so it's not that primitive. It's a good balance between primitive camping and staying at home or in a hotel or something like that," Vermont State Parks Director Craig Whipple told WCAX TV, Burlington.
Reservations at Vermont state campgrounds are up 7% this year. State parks typically see an annual increase of 3% to 5%. Parks officials credit the slumping economy.
"It's such a regular pattern that when the economy takes a bit of a dip, camping takes a bit of an increase and I have to believe that's the cause for that," said Whipple.
Most of those campers are Vermonters. Whipple believes rising fuel prices, an online reservations system and campground improvements are also enticing Vermonters to vacation close to home.
"About 45% of our campers are Vermonters and that's gone up probably 5% over the last 10 years or so," he said.
Despite record fuel prices, private RV campgrounds are also seeing a spike in reservations. Reservations are up about 6% this year at Lone Pine Campground near Malletts Bay. The campground normally sees 2% to 3% annual growth.
"The local marketplace is so strong here that they're not traveling out of state, which is unique. Typically they'll go to Maine or Massachusetts and when I'm taking reservations I hear they're staying here now," said Brad Rubman, owner of Lone Pine Campsites in Colchester.
Rubman anticipates a sharp decline in business come fall, when the campground traditionally sees more out of state visitors.
"The reality is people are still working and still enjoying life. They have to do their family vacations," said Rubman.