Starting a Campground Business

By Eric Hammer

Starting a campground business can be a dream come true for some people. If you happen to love the outdoors and you enjoy meeting new people all the time, it can be a very enjoyable experience. Keep in mind however that running a campground is not the same experience as visiting a campground.

When you are in charge, you’ll be the one people complain to if the outhouses are all stopped up or if the water isn’t flowing in the showers. You’ll also have to deal with visitors who stay beyond the time they paid for and refuse to leave and wildlife problems that your guests may encounter. In other words, yes, you get to live in a campground all the time, but you also have the headaches that you used to pass on to the owners.

Finally, before you take the plunge to create your new campground business, you’ll need to do a feasibility study, check on zoning regulations and decide what kind of campground you want to run (do you want a campground which offers pure wildlife experiences where people pitch their own tents or will you provide cabins? What about RVs? Will they be allowed to come to your campground?).

How Much Can You Make?

Most campground owners charge a per person or per group rate. The typical prices range from $10 for a single person pitching a tent to as much as $80 for a group coming in an RV, which includes all hookups for the RV.

Keep in mind that depending on where your campground is located, you may not be able to accept visitors on a full time basis due to weather considerations. However, even if your campground is located in area that is usually temperate, you’ll still have high and low seasons when more or less people will come. Summer for example will always be high season since kids are off from school whereas during most of the year, you can expect much lighter use of your campground.

Ways to Make More | Related Opportunities | Tips

In addition to offer the basic amenities, you can also offer activities for which you can charge extra money. For example, ice cream socials, movie nights and other events are popular with people coming to campgrounds and can make extra money for you, especially during high season when there are enough people around.

Consider also the possibility of running a for profit summer camp on your property or leasing the property to a summer camp each summer. This way, you can maximize your profits, guaranteeing income over the summer while renting the space out as an ordinary campground the rest of the year.

In all cases, remember that you need to keep the space clean and family friendly. Be prepared to evict those who are making others uncomfortable and make sure to maintain your campground in order to get repeat business.

Speaking of repeat business, consider selling subscriptions to families who might want to come regularly, where they either get a discount or they can stay for free for a certain number of nights with their subscriptions. Often, these can be big money makers because people buy subscriptions which then don’t get fully utilized.

Qualifications / Requirements

You’ll need to check with the local zoning board to make sure your site is legal for a campground. You’ll also need to either hire someone who is handy or be handy yourself as you will have to keep things in good repair, at the very least repairing or replacing things like porta potties and water tanks with sinks for potable water. If you intend to offer cabins, be prepared to hire cleaning staff to clean them after each guest leaves.

First Steps

Start by reading up on campgrounds in your area and actually visiting some. See how they operate. Ask questions. Most campground owners love to talk about their businesses and will be happy to advise you (unless you plan to buy the plot of land right next door) on your new venture. When you find a piece of land for sale that you are interested in, research it thoroughly. Check with the local zoning board before you sign any documents to make sure that the land really can be used for building a campground.


Staves Consulting: Designing and Building a Campground or RV Park – An excellent resource from an organization that helps you to start your new campground business (for a fee of course).

Own a KOA: Koa campgrounds are actually a franchise operation for campgrounds. They offer a number of advantages over starting a campground on your own, including professional support staff who can offer you good ideas and franchise wide advertising. The disadvantage of course is that your start up costs will be higher as will your operating costs.

BuyMyDreamHotel: Buying a Campsite – A bit of a different take on starting a campground business. In this case, it’s all about buying an existing campground business and running it. Very useful information.

NewRVer: Campgrounds, Many choices – Not really about starting a campground business, this is where to find a campground for people interested in visiting one. However, the information can be invaluable to those wishing to start a campground business of their own all the same.

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