Illinois Campers Staying Closer to Home
Add Cabin Fever, a campground near Galesburg, Ill., to the list of campgrounds feeling the impact of higher fuel, according to the Galesburg Register-Mail.
The campground has seen a decline in visitors making long-distance trips, with local campers replacing many of the long-distance travelers, owner Rick McFail said. “My permanent sites are filled up because they want to camp, but they don’t want to travel,” McFail said.
Seen as a destination campground, Cabin Fever has yet to see a huge impact from gas prices. Many of the visitors to Cabin Fever stay for weeks or months at a time, as opposed to campgrounds focusing on daily or weekend stays.
McFail said other campgrounds are suffering from the gas hike, though.
“People that I’ve talked to are seeing more of an impact,” McFail said of neighboring campgrounds.
Other areas of tourism are seeing the same dwindling numbers of visitors this year, said Diane Bruening, executive director of the Galesburg Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.
“Vacation and travel is usually that fun thing you do when everything else is done and paid for,” Bruening said. “At this point, we don’t know how it’s going to be this summer. We hope things pick up.”
Where Cabin Fever is starting to feel the weight of high fuel costs is in maintenance expenses. McFail said if gas prices continue to rise he may be forced to mow the campsite’s grass only once a week, as opposed to every three to four days. And as maintenance costs rise, camping fees may have to increase.
“Ours will probably be going up to $5 per night per campsite,” McFail said. “We’ll wait and see; I don’t know.”
A concern for McFail is how raising campsite fees will affect the number of visitors.
“I’m sure if (fuel) continues to rise, then people won’t be able to afford to travel as much,” McFail said. “I’ve got friends from the Quad Cities, and it cost them $50 to drive here and back with their trailer.”
McFail and Bruening will see how drastic fuel prices have impacted the tourism industry come August and September.
One area of camping that has yet to see such an impact from high gas prices is families using tents. Larry Cox, director of public works, said Allison Campground at Lake Storey has seen a slight dip in visitor numbers, but attributes it to the colder weather.
Between April 12 and May 18 Lake Storey had 61 sites rented.