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How Much Does It Cost to Run a Campground?

The exact amount it cost to run a campground depend on certain factors. However, on average, it cost around $10,000 to $50,000 per year to operate a small to medium-sized campground.

The National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC) reported that the number of campgrounds in the United States has risen by 27% within the past few years and this trend is projected to continue in the years ahead.

Although the exact amount to spend as operating expenses will vary, it is important to first take into account the exact type of camping you will offer. In the United States, there are three major types of camping: primitive, developed, and luxury.

Primitive campsites possess little more than a cleared spot for a tent and a fire ring, whereas developed campsites are known to provide more amenities such as electric and water hookups, restrooms, and showers.

Luxury campsites are the most exciting as they are known to have the amenities of developed sites, and extras like game rooms, pools, and playgrounds to ensure that campers are never bored.

Developed camping, according to experts, is the most prevalent type and tends to provide the best return on investment.

Developed sites tend to charge $25 – $40 per night, while luxury sites can charge as much as $200 per night. Primitive camping remains the least popular and will cost campers around $15 or less per night.

Operating Expenses for Campgrounds

To ensure you have a comprehensive idea of the things to expect, below is a list of the campground’s most notable operating costs:

a. Property taxes

This is one of the most prevalent operating costs these businesses face. Howbeit, note that it will vary depending on the location of your campground. Most often, you can expect to pay anywhere from $500 to $5000 per year.

b. Maintenance and repairs

Keep in mind that the exact amount you spend here will vary depending on the age and condition of your campground’s facilities and equipment. Nevertheless, the budget is around $1000 to $5000 per year.

c. Marketing and advertising

The exact amount you spend to market your campground will also vary depending on the size and location of your campground. Howbeit, the budget is between $500 to $2000 per year for marketing and advertising.

d. Staffing

Also note that the exact amount you spend on staffing your campground will depend on the number of employees you hire, their salaries, and benefits. Nevertheless, you will need to budget $2000 to $10000 per month on employee costs.

e. Supplies

To ensure you meet the needs of your campers, you will also have to purchase supplies such as firewood, propane, and ice regularly. This can indeed add up to several thousand dollars per year.

f. Utilities

You shouldn’t underestimate how much it will cost to pay for electricity, water, and sewer. Howbeit, note that the exact amount will vary depending on the number of sites you have as well as the type of hookups you offer. Don’t forget to factor in the cost of maintenance and repairs for these utilities.

Factors That Determine the Cost of Running a Campground

Just as it was noted above, the exact amount it costs to run a campground will indeed vary depending on certain factors. Those factors include;

1. Location

One thing to note is that operating costs will most often be dependent on things like your region, the closeness of your campground to tourist destinations, as well as local economic conditions.

2. Property Size

You need to understand that the number of campsites and amenities will have a direct impact on your operating costs. As such, bigger campgrounds will cost more to manage especially as against much smaller campgrounds.

3. Amenities and Facilities

Campgrounds are known to have varying amenities and facilities, and just as it was noted above there are varying campgrounds with varying concepts in the United States.

Owing to that, note that the types of amenities and facilities you provide to campers, such as restrooms, showers, laundry, swimming pools, playgrounds, and recreational areas, will in one way or another impact your running costs.

4. Infrastructure

Keep in mind that the condition of roads, utilities, and campground infrastructure, such as water, electricity, and sewage systems, will have a huge impact on your business operating expenses.

5. Staffing

It can be quite difficult and daunting to manage a campground ground alone, especially if you have a large one. Please note that the expenses that come with hiring and maintaining staff for customer service, maintenance, security, and management will take up a gigantic part of your operating budget.

6. Permits and Regulations

The license and authorizations you need will vary from one state to another but note that staying in line with things like local zoning laws, environmental regulations, and permits will more or less add to your campground running expenses.

7. Marketing and Advertising

In this line of business, note that you will want to invest in the right marketing and promotional strategies. Note that the expenses that come with marketing and advertising to draw in campers will also be part of your operating expenses.

8. Insurance

You cannot underestimate the importance of adequate insurance in the line of business. However, regardless of how vital this is to the safety of both your business and you as the owner, note that the cost of liability insurance and property insurance will directly impact your operating costs.

9. Land Acquisition or Lease Costs

In this particular instance, lease or rental costs for the property will most definitely have a say on your operating budget.

10. Technology and Reservation Systems

In this modern age, campground owners and managers are advised to leverage technology to streamline their activities and better manage their day-to-day offerings. Howbeit, keep in mind that Investments in technology, reservation systems, as well as online booking platforms will impact operating costs.

11. Taxes

Same as with other businesses in the United States, you will have to pay certain taxes to the government. Note that things such as property taxes, sales taxes, and other local taxes will indeed vary depending on your location and will also add to the cost of operations.