Photos: What it’s like at a big RV Rally

RV rallys can be small or spectacularly huge. The 88th Annual Family Motor Coach Association Reunion and RV Showcase in Gillette WY in June, 2013 was one of the big ones. There were more than 2,300 coaches, 5,000-plus RVers and several hundred other vendors, dealers and exhibitors. Gillette's massive 1,100 acre CAM-PLEX exhibition center was jammed with motorhomes literally as far as you could see in any direction.

Crowd at Gillette RV RallyBig rallies like this are not for everyone. Camping spaces are cramped, with rigs parked just a few feet apart. Smaller RVs like Class B coaches are dwarfed by behemoth-sized Class A machines. I found a group of six Roadtreks parked in the dirt off by some rodeo corrals. A handful of others were scattered through the vast complex.RVs in Gillette WY

But most folks come to a big RV rally like this for other reasons besides camping. They come because this is where the action is. They come to learn, attend seminars,  take organized tours of nearby attractions, enjoy musical shows and entertainment at night and to reconnect with old friends. Many used this western town as a starting spot for trips to nearby National Parks like the Tetons, Yellowstone or Glacier.

The event celebrated the 50th anniversary of the FMCA and older, beautifully restored motorhomes were on display from the early days of RVing.

The CAM-PLEX complex offered pretty much all the amenities you'd want, full hookups, trash pickup and clean bathrooms and showers.

Wi-Fi was widely available, though understandably slow at peak times because so many were using it. Same with BYO Wi-Fi offered through those hot spot cards like Verizon's Mi-FI (which I use). With so many people now using them and in such a concentrated area as the CAM-PLEX, the cell towers were maxing out in bandwidth during prime time.

This part of Wyoming doesn't have a lot of trees and when a fierce windstorm whipped up Tuesday evening,dust and dirt blew everywhere. Fortunately, a strong downpour soon followed and the dust was washed off. But winds blew strong most every afternoon. Wednesday was particularly breezy, with some gusts over 40 miles an hour. Flags snapped in the breeze and antennas rattled on roofs. But the rally rallied on. At least there were no bugs. Not in these winds.

Jennifer and I attended several seminars, I taught two of them, we checked out the exhibitors and visited with folks. But we also took day trips every afternoon, unhooking and driving to area attractions.

Thursday night's entertainment was by the Buckinghams, a popular pop group from the Sixties, who performed their hits and other oldies to the delight of many in the crowd who, 40 years ago, were the one buying their records. The crowd seemed delighted to reconnect with the music from their youth in Gillette.

I could go on and write a lot more words, but pictures tell the story much better. Scroll down to see some photos that hopefully give you an idea of what a big RV event like this is like… click on any one to see it bigger, right click to save to your hard drive:

Rows of Class A Motorhomes in Gillette

The vast majority of 2,300-plus RVs at the Gillette rally were Class A's

RV Friends

Little neighborhoods are formed for visiting amidst the RVs

Full RV Lot

So many RVs came it took almost three days to get them parked. Attendees were assigned days and times to arrive to get them parked like this.

Roadtreks in Gillette

There were a few Class B motorhomes. This Roadtrek contingent parked close to the action near the rodeo corals at the complex. They had no hookups but the small building in the center had toilets and showers. A handful of other Roadtreks and Class Bs were scattered amidst the Class As in other areas, depending on whether they ordered hookups or not..

 

gilletteold58

This was the 50th anniversary of the Family Motor Coach Association and many old motorhomes like this beautifully maintained 1958 Starliner model were on display

gillettetours

Organized tours for Gillette, WY area attractions were offered, like a tour of a Buffalo Ranch or a working coal mine. Most sold out.

 

gillettescooters

These guys had their own mini-motor coaches

gilletteonan

There was lots of interest at the gig outdoor display for Onan generators

 

gillettecoal

Wyoming coal is currently shipped to 36 states, and accounts for 35% of our nation's coal production. This massive mine is just north of Gillette.

gilletteseminar

There were non-stop seminars at the gathering. You could find out about every part and feature of a motorhome, learn about fulltiming, traveling to Alaska, staying connected on the Internet while on the road, cooking on your microwave, maintaining yourRV plumbing system and just about any other RV topic you can imagine. Most seminars had 200-350 people in attendance.

fmcacrowd

The exhibition hall with RV vendors was also jam packed

 

fmcaclassa

Outside, dozens of spanking new motorhomes were on display and open for walk-throughs

fmcaroadtreks

Roadtrek had several Class B touring coaches n display, like the RS Adventurous (foreground) and the new CS Adventurous (back)

 

fmcawifi

Wi-Fi covered the entire complex, with antennas strategically placed to assure access, though with so many RVers using it, speed was slow at times.

 

fmcadevil2

One of the most popular day tours was to Devil's Tower, a little over 50 miles from the CAM-PLEX





  • Ted Ladd

    Thanks Mike for the info on Gillette, I’ll be there next weekend myself for the Escapees Rally. Its nice to have a heads up on the complex.

  • Laura

    Great article, Mike. I especially liked how you clarified that big RV rallies are not about camping; they are about everything else. They are conventions with wheels.

    I look forward to reading more of your adventures (while on the road in our RT)!

  • Campskunk

    too many people for me! i can get claustrophobic, even in wyoming 😉

  • Gary Fichman

    I was in Gillette today and went to check out the Roadtrek. I The new RS layout was interesting liked the towel dryer. The RT rep was a dude sat a day sulked in the E-trek

  • I enjoyed your seminar, but Mike, you guys left to early! You missed the massive rain and hail storm we’ve been having all Friday and Saturday! It will be a lot of “fun” getting us out of here on Sunday…I see a lot of wenches being used as most of us left are in about 6 inches of water and mud! Oh boy! Pray for a lot of sunshine for us!!