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Old 03-06-2015, 12:32 PM   #1
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When is the 'right' time to start booking campgrounds and parks?

Hi all:

I'm leaving CT in mid-July to begin a year long journey with my kids around the US. I don't have every day mapped out, but I have some spots I KNOW we want to be. Campgrounds are not open until May in the colder parts of this country. So, when does everyone start booking their stays?

I still have bright white outside my window, and I CAN NOT wait to leave this all behind in my bright and shiny A/S Safari!

Thanks.
Kira
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Old 03-06-2015, 12:37 PM   #2
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I am OCD and I am already booked for all of my planned trips through November.
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Old 03-06-2015, 12:43 PM   #3
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We generally don't book in advance unless we know we want to be in a particular place during a holiday weekend or high season (e.g., South Florida during the winter, the beach during 4th of July.) Then we book the specific location during the holiday/high season period and work around that.

90 to 95% of our stays are spontaneous. We usually pick our next destination a few days before leaving where we are and call around to get a spot in the new place. Most of the time we get what we want, when we want it.
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Old 03-06-2015, 01:44 PM   #4
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If I know I'm going to be some where popular I'll book. I booked my sites at Zion, North Rim Grand Canyon and Bryce the days the 6 month window opened up for those campgrounds.

We have to book for our local sites at COE campgrounds several weeks in advance.

I don't bother to book sites along the way traveling to popular locations.

Some campgrounds are first come first served so I make sure I'm at those places bright and early the day we arrive. In Glacier Natl Park to get a site at Many Glacier I'll reserve a one night stay at St Mary campground then get up early to be a Many Glacier the next day as that campground will fill up by 9am or earlier in August. Kinda stressful walking around the campground asking people if they are leaving wondering if you will get in.

Too many RVers and campers, not enough nice campgrounds.

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Old 03-06-2015, 01:49 PM   #5
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we, also, only book campgrounds for a certain holiday weekend. Other than that, we fly by the seat of our pants. We enjoy being spontaneous and are always taking unplanned side trips.

On one trip two years ago, we towed Lucy up to I-10 and then decided whether we would head east or west.

Brian
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Old 03-06-2015, 02:21 PM   #6
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Here's a really dumb sounding follow up question to my original: Please bear with me. I'm new at all this and I can't wait to be a veteran and pay it forward!

If I'm traveling to an area where campgrounds are not yet open....where do A/S'ers park in that case? Obviously, if I can park at a friend's house, that's easy. But, if I don't know anyone....then what? (and if there is no Walmart around)
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Old 03-06-2015, 03:33 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KiraR View Post
Here's a really dumb sounding follow up question to my original: Please bear with me. I'm new at all this and I can't wait to be a veteran and pay it forward!

If I'm traveling to an area where campgrounds are not yet open....where do A/S'ers park in that case? Obviously, if I can park at a friend's house, that's easy. But, if I don't know anyone....then what? (and if there is no Walmart around)
You might try a Cracker Barrel, or other similar highway-exit type of chain restaurant. Also, if you are in a "small town" you could try a local church. Also, check in with the local police to see if they have any suggestions. If you are a member of the Elks, Moose or Eagles, many of their lodges offer short term RV parking. Some states allow overnight parking in rest areas, travel plazas and/or welcome centers.

To the original question about making reservations in advance, another strategy we use to avoid making reservations is to make our relocation move on a Sunday to Wednesday when almost all campgrounds will have openings. Once in, it's often easier to extend our stay over the following weekend. Obviously this does not always work in "resort type areas" during high season or during national holidays if you are near a big city.
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Old 03-06-2015, 05:45 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KiraR View Post
If I'm traveling to an area where campgrounds are not yet open....where do A/S'ers park in that case? Obviously, if I can park at a friend's house, that's easy. But, if I don't know anyone....then what? (and if there is no Walmart around)
Local churches are a fine alternative to a Walmart parking lot. They tend to be in better neighborhoods besides. You still need to ask permission and maybe make a contribution to the collection plate. If you'll be there when regular services are held, it's considered good form to attend, and if a wedding or funeral will be held, it's good form to clear out beforehand so you're not in the way.
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Old 03-06-2015, 07:18 PM   #9
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In the November of 2011, we took a trip to New England with our then new Truck Camper. As most campgrounds on the route had already closed for the season, we spent most of our nights in Wal-Mart parking lots or Truck Plazas.

In New Hampshire we were able to find an open campground. The Wal-Marts worked well.

Brian
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Old 03-07-2015, 11:13 AM   #10
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Now or as soon as you can. I haven't gotten a round tuit, yet, but I have talked to the wife about it. We need to get on it. Usually reserving campgrounds for the entire year starts about now or the first trip out. Our first scheduled rally is the Mississippi Unit End of Winter Blues Rally at Rivertown Campground in Vicksburg March 18-22. We have reservations for that. I also have a reservation for the Magnolia Messenger rallies in April and November and the Texas-Louisiana rally in October. Maybe I'll get on it this afternoon. Sometimes it is not necessary to make reservations for local campgrounds- just show up and put money in the can- if it isn't a holiday or if there isn't a special event-
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Old 03-07-2015, 01:13 PM   #11
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camping in Texas

Best place to camp in Texas. Garner State Park is the best. Located near ConCan, Texas ( 7 miles ) or 30 miles East of Uvalde or about 80 miles west of San Antonio. Take Hwy 90 from SA to Sabinal and go north 30 miles and you are there. Reservations are made 11 months in advance for the peek summer months. The park in usually full in the summer ( June and July ) because this is when the park makes its money. The store in the park has food, ice, drinks and air for tubes. At the dam- there are paddle boats and kayaks for rental. There is a dance every night at an open Pavillion- unles it rains. The music is from the 60's at the jute box. The parents bring lawn chairs to sit around the perimeter of the slab dance floor to watch the kids. Dancer age range from 4 to 17, sometimes the older folks dance. The River going thru the Park is called The Frio River and it is cold. Each camp site has water, cement table and a ground bar-b-q pit. Sites with electricity have wide spaces for vehicle and trailer. Gathering wood is prohibited- so bring your own wood if you want to use the pit. Large herds of small deer come out at dusk. Water can be low on the River due to the fact that it is spring fed. However, near the dam it us usually about 4 ft. deep and you can see the bottom. Sorry, not many fish- water too cold for fish. Public restrooms with showers are located in each section of the park. Cleaned daily with trash pick up as well. There are many other camping places along the River. New one right across the River from the Park. I have been to Garner as a kid, Took my kids there as well. I have been going ther for over 50 years- now I go there in August because I dont dance anymore and it is not crowded. Plus, I dont need a reservation. If you have kids- they will love it. If you don't- then you will have a relaxing time. I hope this helps!
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Old 03-07-2015, 01:42 PM   #12
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As with all things campground, it varies regionally and varies depending on the park.

I booked summer and fall trips starting yesterday, and some places are already full. One place we sometimes stay is completely full for the 4th of July weekend already, and some of the campgrounds in Custer State Park (SD) are full on non-holiday weekends.

The Minnesota State Parks now have all campsites in all parks reserve-able online, with the result that you can no longer show up on a Thursday and count on staying through the weekend without reservations. Around here there's been a large shift in availability just in the last few years, to the point where it is difficult to plan a weekend stay in the summer after June 1. Even the places that have open sites usually have the best sites spoken for.
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Old 03-07-2015, 06:50 PM   #13
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Kira, A year traveling with the kids sounds just about right. We have been full timing (>160,000 mi), leave all options open when we are on the road and seldom make reservations. I use rvparkreviews.com when we need to find a place to stay but I generally do not call more than 48 hours in advance.
On the other hand, if you are planning on seeing Washington, CD, Disneyworld, stay in a National Park or camp during one off gatherings like Stergis I would do some planning and make reservations.
Stay south in the winter and north in the summer and you will avoid seasonal closures. If you want a break on the cost for campgrounds, some offer discounts and publish the RV parks in their literature and on line. Some of the discount campgrounds will want you to make a reservation at least 24 hours in advance. Plot your course around the attractions you want to see and remain flexible. Even small towns can have decent museums.
Since our objective is to live in or near a National Park all year, we generally stay in rural areas. If you get a book map that clearly shows where BLM and USFS lands are located in each state, you will be able to stay on Federal lands for free or for very little cost. Most of the BLM/USFS lands are located in the western US. Do a search for BLM Quartzsite. The 25' AS will fit into almost every campground in the West and the National Parks.
Staying on Federal land will allow your kids explore some of the most beautiful landscapes in the world. They will never get a more authentic education than a year traveling in the US and studying as they go They will also have the privilege of seeing what the world looked like before urbanization. .
This is not a pitch but if you want to remain connected in the western US (and do not have a satellite system) you will need to get an account with Verizon and use one of their devices for your hot spot. Verizon is more expensive than the other carriers but they are still the only viable option when traveling/staying outside of a city.
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Old 03-08-2015, 10:08 AM   #14
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Overnight free parking

[QUOTE=KiraR;1589885]Here's a really dumb sounding follow up question to my original: Please bear with me. I'm new at all this and I can't wait to be a veteran and pay it forward!

If I'm traveling to an area where campgrounds are not yet open....where do A/S'ers park in that case? Obviously, if I can park at a friend's house, that's easy. But, if I don't know anyone....then what? (and if there is no Walmart around)[/QUOTE
You may want to subscribe to overnightrvparking.com we used it for six yrs it displays both good and bad places to stay with user comments
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