As a leading outdoor travel site and campground software provider, the outdoors are kind of our thing here at Campspot. That’s why we’re constantly looking for new hidden corners of the country to explore, the latest camping trends for 2023, and expert advice on how to make the most of our time living on this beautiful planet. In the latest issue of the Campspot Outdoor Almanac – Road Trips and Retreats, we spent time ruminating on how important it is to look ahead at the fun times to come. Whether we’re laying low this time of year because of the forecast, or to meet the demands of jobs or family life, that lull in our adventuring is just as important as the time we spend exploring because it allows us to dream up what’s next.
What is next?
Gather ‘round the campfire, pour yourself a cup to keep your hands warm, and dream with us, won’t you?
Top Camping Trends for 2023
1. Good Eats in the Great Outdoors
Sing it with me—food, glorious food, cooked right at the campsite!
In the latest issue of the Campspot Outdoor Almanac, we found that 72% of Campspot campers are interested in becoming more adventurous outdoor cooks. What’s more, 44% of Campspot campers want to try new recipes outdoors, and 23% want to learn new cooking skills for outdoor cooking.
With popular cookbooks like Emily Vikre’s Camp Cocktails flying off the shelves and campers gobbling up recipes from our Camp Guide regular Carlin Frimmel, it’s clear there’s not only an appetite for taking camp food to the next level, but also for having resources at the ready to make the most of your meals outside.
Some favorite fan-favorite Camp Guide recipes of Carlin Frimmel’s include:
- The Ultimate Camping Grocery List for a Weekend Trip
- Charred Citrus Camping Cocktails
- Easy Camping Breakfast Burritos
Regardless of what campers are cooking in 2023, it’s clear that meals and the necessary amenities and gear to create those experiences will be top of mind for campers in the months to come.
2. The Search for the Last Frontier
We’re arguably living in a world of fewer “final frontiers.” But while we’ve collectively traveled far and wide as a society, individuals—especially in the next year—are craving new places to explore. This is likely in part due to the time they’ve spent closer to home over the last few years. In fact, a top camping goal for Campspot campers for 2023 is to travel to new places to camp.
Where are Campspot campers headed? How far will they travel to get there?
For many, distance isn’t a concern. The latest issue of the Campspot Outdoor Almanac found that 37% of Campspot campers are willing to travel any distance on a road trip if they have time, and Roadtrippers reports the average route distance for a road trip is 1,223 miles. As for where folks have in mind, Texas, Arizona, Florida, Michigan, and New Hampshire all made the list of trending states.
3. More Young Explorers Embrace Camping and RVs
Campspot recently reported that site visits in 2022 by campers aged 18 to 34 grew by up to 140% compared to the same time last year. We also saw that campers aged 18 to 24 were the fastest growing segment of travelers, following folks in the 34 to 44 age bracket.
Camping, and specifically RV camping, isn’t just for the retired! Young people around North America are prioritizing spending more time outdoors with their friends and family. RVshare found that almost half of younger travelers are eager to take an RV trip in the next 12 months.
With a new generation hitting the road, one of the top camping trends for 2023 is learning, exploring, experimenting, and discovering favorite camping preferences and destinations for many young explorers. If you’re looking for a crash course on the RV life, be sure to read up on How to Drive an RV Like a Pro and What Type of RV Should I Buy?
4. Hitting the Road, and More Often
The second-highest goal for Campspot campers in 2023 is to go camping more often! Americans plan to take an average of three vacations in 2022. However, the majority of Campspot campers shared that they take at least 4 to 6 trips each year, and 19% reported they take as many as 7 to 10 trips per calendar year!
One way campers are ensuring they explore more in the coming year is by hitting the road. Whether it’s traveling across the country (48% of Campspot campers are open to traveling across the country) or road tripping (54% of our campers are planning a road trip for next year) closer to home, demand for camping trips continues to grow. In fact, most Campspot campers take 4 to 6 trips a year and over half say they want to go even more often!
5. National and State Parks Tourism Surge Continues
Seventy-nine percent of Campspot campers have plans to visit a national or state park within the next year, and the third-highest goal for Campspot campers for 2023 is to explore more national and state parks.
As for the parks campers are most eager to visit, Yellowstone National Park was ranked number one. Additional favorites included Yosemite National Park, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and Rocky Mountains National Park.
In the recent issue of the Campspot Outdoor Almanac, Roadtrippers reported that Grand Canyon National Park, Arches National Park, and Zion National Park topped the list of trending national parks to which travelers planned road trips. The top state parks were South Yuba River State Park (California), Maquoketa Caves State Park (Iowa), and Cumberland Falls State resort park (Kentucky).
As demand continues to surge, securing a camping reservation can be a bit tricky inside the parks themselves. Of Campspot campers, 33% reported preferring to camp outside of the parks when visiting, likely due to the close proximity but increase in availability. One of the top camping trends for 2023 will be to check for campsites that offer you easy access to your park destination, while still offering all the amenities you’re looking for.
6. Unique Outdoor Experiences Both at and Beyond the Campground
According to Airbnb, “real-life experiences have rebounded past the pre-pandemic levels.” Looking ahead at top camping trends for 2023, it’s clear campers are craving unique and memorable experiences at the campground and beyond.
Whether it’s booking a stay at a campground because of the proximity it affords to destinations like national parks, or visiting a campground for their specific offerings, it seems there are more custom experiences being offered than ever before.
Campgrounds are finding creative ways to attract guests and provide them with lifelong memories. Here are some examples of unique campsite experiences:
- Camp in a literal apple orchard at Campground at Big B’s Delicious Orchard
- Stay at a working family farm at Crossing Creek Farms
- Ride ATVs when you stay at Alabama Mud Park
7. Thoughtfully Designed Lodging Accommodations
In our first annual Campspot Awards, we designated a category for Top Design because of the large number of campgrounds going above and beyond when it came to site details and delivering an aesthetically thoughtful and pleasing experience.
Sun Outdoors Paso Robles, Camp Fimfo, and Dark Sky RV Campground ranked first through third place respectively in this category. All exemplify the use of modern branding designed to attract and delight campers.
From interesting layouts, interior design choices, artwork, and other well-designed experiences on property, we expect this trend to continue well beyond 2023 as campgrounds work to meet modern campers consumer expectations.
8. AstroTourism and Camping for Special Events
More campers are looking to the stars and using campgrounds as a means to have a dark-sky experience. But beyond casual stargazing, or chasing the aurora borealis, 2023 and 2024 will be particularly spectacular years for astronomical activity with an annular eclipse occurring in October of 2023 and a complete solar eclipse in April of 2024. This will be the last total solar eclipse that will be easy to see from the U.S. until 2045!
It’s estimated that between 1.85 and 7.4 million people will visit the path of totality on eclipse day in 2024, and while the annular eclipse is not as “big of a deal,” a huge number of people are still anticipated to travel to experience this event too. Where better than at a campsite?
Start planning now! Read next: Where to Camp for the 2024 Solar Eclipse Path.
9. Environmentally-Friendly Campgrounds and Vehicles
Many campgrounds are being more thoughtful and intentional than ever with how they run their organizations when it comes to protecting the planet. Cuervo Mountain RV and Horse Hotel in Stanley, New Mexico; Santee Lakes Recreation Preserve in Santee, California; and Sun Retreats Avalon in Cape May Court House, New Jersey, were all awarded Plan-It Green Parks of the year, a designation granted to National ARVC member parks that prioritize environmentally-friendly practices within their park operations.
In addition to campground operators considering their impact and making changes to help the environment, the RV industry is following suit with announcements about living vehicles capturing portable water from the air and Thor partnering with EV startup company Harbinger Motors to collaborate on its future line of electric RVs. The year 2023 will bring continued progress and modifications to the ways campers experience camping and impact the world around them.
10. Spending Less on Travel, But Experiencing More Nearby
Current economic conditions are leading many travelers to modify their plans. Luckily for campers, camping tends to be a comparatively affordable way to get out and explore. More than half (53%) of Campspot campers said their budget per trip is less than $500, and 35% of campers also look for destinations that are closer to home as a cost-saving measure.
With the right tools, it’s easy to discover hidden gems to explore in your own backyard. In 2022, 43% of campers reported changing their plans to be more local due to gas prices, and that type of behavior is expected to continue moving into the next year. Road trips are a top way campers plan to see more for less, with 54% of Campspot campers planning to take a road trip in 2023 and only 7% having flown for a trip in the last three years.
For more insights and top camping trends for 2023, be sure to grab a copy of the Campspot Outdoor Almanac for free. Full of expert advice, destination spotlights, and even campground and beer pairings brought to you by Founders Brewing Co., this is a must-read for outdoors and camping enthusiasts.
Ellie Burke is the content & SEO manager at Campspot. Raised in the Finger Lakes region of western New York, she lives for all things family, food, farming, and wide open spaces. Connect with her on Instagram @ellieburkebooks.
Image credit by order of appearance: Santa Cruz Redwoods RV Resort, Carlin Frimmel, Tyler Way, Tyler Way, Adobe – Brian Jackson, Adobe – Wirestock, The Campground at Big B’s Delicious Orchard, Camp Fimfo, Adobe – Anthony, Adobe – Tomasz Zajda, Brookwood RV Resort