Business is flourishing at Aroostook County (Maine) recreational vehicle parks, and most have to expand to accommodate the demand, including the only town-owned facility.
According to a report, many Aroostook RV parks have expanded their campsites due to increased visitors since the pandemic.
One family-owned park located in Eagle Lake even sold the business to shareholders to assist in keeping up with the growing customer demand.
The Maine tourism industry has been recovering after a significant dip in 2020 triggered by pandemic travel restrictions that prevented travelers from different states and countries from traveling. However, COVID-19 appeared to have increased tourism to Aroostook RV parks, including many vacationers from Maine, and that trend is not letting up this summer.
Birch Haven Campground in Eagle Lake has added 40 RV sites over the past two years because of an increase in demand, mostly due to the pandemic.
“A lot of people started camping because of COVID. A lot of people didn’t want to leave the state, so they decided to camp and explore the state,” owner Dale Roy said. “We were completely full last year and had to turn people away.”
First opened in 1967. the now 140-lot RV park has been in Dale Roy’s family for the past 40 years.
Roys sold the campground to 38 shareholders this year due to the business demand but are still part owners of the park.
“It was a lot of work for just me and my wife,” Roy said. “This way, we can keep it the way it is and not worry that we will sell it to someone who will, in turn, sell off the campground and turn it into condos or something.”
The Fort Kent RV Park is unique because it is owned by the town and operated by the recreation department.
Fort Kent has added six recreational vehicle spaces this year, bringing to 14 the number of sites at the town’s self-contained RV park. Some improvements include internet, cable, and telephone access that are available to campers.
“We were so busy last season, it only makes sense to expand,” Fort Kent recreation and parks director Jason Nadeau said.
In Grand Isle, George Dionne did not intend to open an RV park when he acquired the land from a friend years ago.
Dionne altered the land to allow RVs so families could have a place to stay for the 2014 World Acadian Congress held in the St. John Valley.
Dionne has kept the park open since then and has expanded the park from 12 to 21 locations over the last two years, mostly due to the increased interest generated by COVID-19. Many of his season holders are Maine residents.
Clare Arndt, owner of Arndt’s Aroostook River Lodge and Campground in Presque Isle, said that the 75-site campground that opened in 1994 had seen steady revenue growth even before the pandemic. However, last year, something unexpected occurred.
“Last year, we had someone from every state except four. We had people from 46 different states last summer,” Arndt said.
Roy said he is pleased to see the camping industry achieve more popularity among tourists.
“We’re seeing a lot of new people,” Roy said. “The majority of the new people are young families, and it’s nice to see that.”
This story originally appeared on Fiddlehead Focus.