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Nevada campgrounds experience higher volume of campers

Posted at 8:52 AM, May 26, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-26 18:55:27-04

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — For Shawn White and his family, unplugging and escaping city life is the goal when they drive up to Mt. Charleston to go camping.

“We started coming up here about a year ago just to get away,” White said. “Away from the city and all the folks, and you know, probably like everyone else, just the peace and quiet, and it’s beautiful out here.”

White is one of eight million people who went camping for the first time in the past year. The trend prompted Nevada State Parks to develop a reservation system that will launch in 2023.

On Mt. Charleston, reservations are required for many of the 160 sites throughout their several campgrounds. The rest are first-come, first-serve.

“First thing I actually tell people is that if you’re looking to actually camp on the weekend, you want to come at least Thursday night, if not, Friday morning to get a spot,” said Taylor Tims, Recreation Management Specialist with the U.S. Forest Service at Mt. Charleston. “It used to be just the weekend that we would be pretty full, but now, more people are starting to come on the weekdays.

Tims has worked on Mt. Charleston for six years. She has seen the campgrounds get more crowded, especially after the pandemic began.

“People have found these hidden gems, especially during the pandemic when they were forced to find new outlets for their recreation,” Tims said.

The ongoing hike in gas prices and expensive airfares have also led the majority of campers to stay close to home this year. For memorial day weekend, more than 22 million people are expected to go camping according to new data from Kampground of America.

KOA’s May Monthly Research Report shows that numbers are set to meet or exceed that of last year’s numbers and among those planning a Memorial Day camping trip. It also found that 40% of campers plan to camp the long weekend, while 30% are taking one or two additional days.

During the pandemic, Holly Priest quit her job as a corporate lawyer to start her own outdoor consignment shop in Las Vegas, Peaks and Pedals. Priest said that camping equipment can be expensive, especially if it's not a recreational activity that will be done often. She sells used camping gear in quality condition and advises first-time campers on what they should bring.