BILLINGS - According to a report released by KOA, the number of campers nationwide has increased for the second straight year, and it’s thanks in large part to the COVID-19 pandemic.
KOA Vice President of Strategy Whitney Scott has witnessed the increased interest in camping firsthand.
“We’ve seen exponential growth in camping over the past two years, and it’s just really exciting to see,” Scott said.
Scott attributes the growth to the COVID-19 pandemic when people had fewer options as to where to vacation.
“I think during the pandemic camping was one of the only options,” Scott said. “So it made sense there was a really large increase in campers.”
According to new numbers released by Billings-based KOA, 2021 was a record year for the number of campers nationwide.
That number grew even more, by 1.5 million households, in 2022.
The report also showed that of all the families who camped in 2022, 41% were going for the first time.
The increase in camping has helped many Montana businesses like Metra RV Center in Billings.
Owner Debbie Becker said the increased interest in their products has been noticeable.
“So, there was an upswing, and now we’re finding that a lot of people are continuing with the camping,” Becker said. “With the pandemic, we found that people were not going to stop enjoying life.”
The increased interest in RV travel is also accounted for in KOA’s report.
Fifty-four percent of campers in 2022 were tent campers, but 43% camped in RVs or cabins — up from 40% in 2021.
Becker believes many people changed their plans in 2021 and chose to stick with them in 2022.
“They couldn’t do the things they thought were the best vacations. The simplicity of RVing is kind of nice for a lot of us,” Becker said.
And while many gave camping a chance for the first time during the pandemic, Scott believes most will continue to in the future.
“I think the benefits of camping really point to why people come into it,” Scott said. “Camping is an easy way to access the outdoors and it’s an economical way."