Packing up the family and heading off to the great outdoors has become all the rage since the pandemic hit. In fact, compared to 2019, the proportion of first-time campers across the U.S has grown five-fold, while the number of households that own RVs has grown by 2.6 million, according to the latest research from Kampgrounds of America’s annual North American Camping Report.
While tenting is still popular, having a self-contained recreational vehicle is, by far, more convenient, particularly for families. In fact, RV sales have skyrocketed this year alone. People want that great outdoor experience, but also desire their own bathrooms with showers, indoor cooking areas and, of course, heat and air conditioning.
On Cape Cod and Plymouth County, campgrounds large and small abound, with amenities including fishing areas, ponds and pools, playgrounds, coffee shops, mini markets, bath houses, kayak and boat rentals, and more. Or, if you really want to get away from it all, you can rough it in almost total privacy at state parks.
In Brewster, Nickerson State Park is one of the most popular campgrounds around. The campsites there book up quickly each year, often selling out for the entire summer. Right now, it is close to being fully booked for the months of July and August, according to the state Department of Conservation and Recreation’s Press Secretary Olivia Dorrance, who adds there are some reservations still available for September and October.
“As of June 10, 2021, there are 7,845 active reservations at Nickerson State Park for the camping season,” Dorrance said. “During the 2020 camping season, there were 5,710 in a shortened season with fewer campsites available. During the 2019 camping season, Nickerson State Park saw 11,551 reservations. The breakdown of reservations is 5,672 tent reservations, 506 fifth wheel/pop -up reservations, and 315 RV/motorhome reservations.”
Nickerson State Park offers an amphitheater, hiking trails, an eight-mile bike path that connects to the 26-mile Cape Cod Rail Trail, and ponds stocked year-round with trout. Cape Cod Bay is within walking or bicycling distance. Swimming and canoeing are allowed at Flax and Cliff ponds while bird watching and catch-and-release fishing are popular at Higgins Pond.
“Those wishing to book a campsite at a popular location or at a campground that is already full are encouraged to check ReserveAmerica frequently for cancellations and create an Availability Notice,” Dorrance said. “Reservations for all DCR-managed campgrounds can be made at the ReserveAmerica website.” (reserveamerica.com)
Information on what campers can expect at any of the state park campgrounds can visit DCR’s camping webpage, mass.gov/camping-at-massachusetts-state-parks. Dorrance cautioned that weekends fill up quickly, and visitors wishing to book a campsite are encouraged to be flexible with arrival date and length of stay. In general and where available, reservations can be made anywhere from one day to four months in advance of arrival date.
Smaller campgrounds, like Cape Cod Maple Park Campground in Wareham (capecodmaplepark.com), have also seen a huge increase in the number of campers and reservations this season. While not as large as a state park, family-owned campgrounds like Maple Park have survived thanks to loyal guests who keep returning year after year to visit its 600 campsites, swimming and fishing ponds, and cranberry bogs.
“We’ve definitely seen more campers in general,” said Maple Park General Manager Tonya Kiestler. “RV sales are crazy busy, and more people than ever are camping.” Maple Park offers a number of primitive sites for tents with no hookups, as well as for those who require electricity and water. The RV sites are spacious, and there are a lot of them.
While reservations might be hard to come by these days, Kiestler advises not to give up trying back. “Even if we’re full, check back in in case someone cancels!”
Maple Park has lots of weekly activities for kids and families, a large game room, theme weekends, an arcade, an ice cream and snack shack, golf cart rentals and so much more. It’s great for kids of all ages. Nearby the property are shopping plazas, Onset Beach, Wareham Crossing, as well as easy access to highways and backroads. It’s perfectly situated for whatever you need.
Don’t have an RV or a tent? Not to worry! There’s a website called Auto Camp where you can rent anything from a vintage Airstream camper to luxury camping “suites” and tents, and so much more. It’s “glamping” (glamourous camping) at its absolute finest. Check out autocamp.com/capecod
Whatever type of camping you choose to try, it will surely be an experience you won’t forget. Seasoned campers swear there is no other way to live, and no better vacation to have.
“People really want to enjoy every second of every day,” says Kiestler.
That being said, there is no time like the present to get out there and have an adventure.