Delaware may not have a mountain range or vast swaths of wilderness, but that’s not stopping it from becoming a popular camping destination.
Delaware has seen a record number of campers each of the past three years. And visitation to the five state park campgrounds has increased nearly 40 percent in the past two years.
Delaware State Parks director Ray Bivens said the state’s cabins and cottages are especially popular.
“When it comes to our cabins and cottages we see more overnight visitors than 17 other states. We’re literally only 130 nights behind Colorado. But we beat much bigger states like Montana and Maine,” Bivens said.
The state’s RV campsites are also popular. Bivens credits that to a $6 million overhaul of the state’s parks over the past couple years.
Upgrades include new electrical and water hookups for RVs at Lums Pond and Cape Henlopen State Park. Restrooms and electrical hookups were upgraded at Killens Pond and Trap Pond.
"“A lot of [the campsites] were designed and built in the 1970’s. So they weren’t really accepting of modern RV’s that are longer and are taller,” Bivens said.
So far in 2017, Delaware has seen 5,500 more overnight reservations, which is a 7 percent increase from the same time last year.
April alone accounted for a 3,000 night increase over last year.
"Something I find very intriguing was that the bulk of our growth in camping has not been in the summer season," Bivens said.
The increase in overnight visits was mostly in February, March, October and November, which means people are starting the camping season sooner and ending it later.
The increase in campers is expected to be good for Delaware’s tourism industry, which contributes $3 billion to the state’s gross domestic product each year.
But there is a downside.
Campsites are going faster than ever, with 65 percent of the sites at Delaware’s state beach parks already booked through Labor Day.