Camping in the West? Like Everything These Days, It’s Complicated

The interest can be see in private campgrounds and R.V. sites such as Soledad Canyon, in Acton, Calif., near the San Gabriel Mountains, which offers water and electricity for $73 per day.

“All private parks in California are open and have been all along,” said Dyana Kelley, chief executive and president of CampCalNOW, a trade group for R.V. parks and campgrounds. “The phone has been ringing like crazy.”

For those willing and able to pay more, glamping may be an option. Seven miles north of Moab, Utah, outside the gradually reopening Arches and Canyonlands National Parks, Under Canvas rents private luxury tents, including linens, lounge chairs and high-end takeout meals, with nightly rates ranging from $300 to $400.

“Social distancing is a fundamental part of how we are designed,” said Matt Gaghen, Under Canvas’s chief executive. The company will open its Utah location June 4 and plans to reopen locations near Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon the following week.

This summer Under Canvas has made some significant changes, including allowing guests to check in electronically, and providing hand sanitizer and wipes, as well as “deep cleaning” of personal restrooms.

Maintaining a clean environment is vital for public parks too, requiring more staff and funding to sanitize the campsites and enforce social-distancing requirements.

And this comes at a time where travel constraints are hampering the hiring of new workers.

Zion National Park, in Utah, has had to delay hiring 32 seasonal staffers, one reason the park is reopening just one campground.