Even with high gasoline prices, owners of RV parks in southeast Minnesota say it’s had just minimal impact on the number of visitors staying with them in the big, gas-consuming campers.
“At the start of the season, which is April, we did (see an impact) for the months of April and May,” said Mike Wilson manager of the Silver Lake Motor Coach Resort in Rochester. “What we found was, instead of coming up ahead of time, people were trying to plan more. But now, this summer, since June, our number of reservations is about the same as last year.”
However, Wilson said that they are seeing shorter stays, according to the Rochester Post-Bulletin.
“People are not coming a day or two ahead,” he said, “and they aren’t lingering a day or two later like they used to.”
Galen and Patricia Youngkrantz, owners of the Autumn Woods RV Park just south of Rochester, haven’t seen a change.
“It’s been pretty much the same,” said Patricia. “Just from our standpoint here, it hasn’t affected us.”
Carol Harper from Madison, S.D., works and camps at Autumn Woods.
The biggest change for her has been the lack of spontaneity.
“You don’t just go on a whim anymore,” she said. “You spend a long time here to make the trip worthwhile.”
Higher gasoline prices have affected Beaver Trails Campground and RV Park, east of Austin, off I-90 but not the way you think. Mirroring much of the summer, the park was nearly full again last week.
“It hasn’t affected us a bit,” said Tammy Westrich, the owner’s daughter.
Instead, the campground has been consistently full, and might even be busier than previous years. Currently, the campground has a waiting list for seasonals – RVs that stay at the park permanently from April 15 to Oct. 15 – still this year, and a list of 25 waiting for next year.
“People staying here are staying local,” she said. “It’s good because it keeps money local.”
But the prices have changed some campers’ ways.
Scott Deters of Austin and his family decided two years ago to trade in their pop-up camper for a more substantial RV. He is one of many campers at Beaver Trails to make that exchange.
“Lots of people are going permanent because the cost of going out just wasn’t worth it,” said Deters. “We used to camp within 2 1/2 hours of Austin, but now we just stay here in Austin.”
The 10-minute drive allows Deters and his family to make the trip every weekend, something they wouldn’t be able to do otherwise.
Bryan Benham of Denver, Iowa, was camping with his family and some friends this week. He usually camps about 45 days a summer, but this year, he isn’t able to do that.
“Gas prices make you stick closer to home,” said Benham whose home is less than 100 miles to the south. “We don’t quit camping we just camp closer.”