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Old 05-05-2015, 09:52 PM   #1
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Trip Planning Advice

This summer we will be taking our first long trip with the travel trailer. We want to hit some of the major national parks like Glacier, Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Zion, etc. Probably not all on the same trip, but maybe multiple trips of 2 to 3 weeks each.

For those of you who have done this, I'm wondering how you go about planning for camping spots. I know that it is probably impossible to get into the major parks without reservations a year in advance, but I understand there are decent options if you stay 30-40 minutes away. How do you find these options? And do you make reservations or do you just trust your luck? There is part of me that thinks I would need reservations, but there is a big part of me that says that I'm on vacation and I don't want to be tied down to a schedule just because I have a reservation somewhere. I want to spend as much time at a particular place as I want and then move on. Is that too big a risk?

As I said, this will be our first time doing anything like this, so I would be very interested to hear how those of you who are pros at it go about it.

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Old 05-06-2015, 04:44 AM   #2
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I just planned a long trip with the Good Sams Trip Planner (membership required) but Roadtrippers.com will do the same thing. Using a map, you can see campgrounds, attractions, restaurants, shopping, etc. Since we're heading out to see Grand Teton, Yellowstone and Glacier, I made reservations for those places well in advance. Then, I booked the rest of our stops a few weeks ago.

If you don't want to make reservations, then plan to call ahead while in route. Depending on where you are, during the week, getting a campsite isn't a problem. But the weekends can be another story, so I try to make sure any weekend stays are reserved ahead of time. Without reservations, it's best to get off the road early. Some campgrounds hold back a certain number of sites for people pulling in without reservations, so getting there early is a good idea.



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Old 05-06-2015, 07:58 AM   #3
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Great suggestions and just what I was looking for. We are Good Sam's members (just joined) so will definitely check that out.
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Old 05-06-2015, 09:28 PM   #4
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Get the new Good Sam RV Travel and Savings Guide. It has most CG's in it with ratings and info. Other than that I just use Google and go from there. There are picks of most CG's on the net.
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Old 05-07-2015, 10:04 AM   #5
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I like having reservations better than I like staying in a Wal Mart parking lot.

We search reviews of the parks we are choosing from. And it doesnt have to be a year out.

Hope that helps....
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Old 05-07-2015, 01:27 PM   #6
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We full-timed 16 years without making reservations other for places we really needed to be such as visiting family at specific times. With our 40' motorhome we never had problems. There's no way we could have made reservations for 16 years for every day. We even traveled to spend the summer in Alaska without reservations.

Even the major national parks sometimes have campgrounds that don't even accept reservations such as Yellowstone and Grand Teton.

We've also gotten into Glacier, Zion, Grand Canyon, Rocky Mountain and others.

It does take some planning. Although we have gone to major parks in summer, most of the time it's been off season - in spring or fall. Also, we would stay nearby the previous night and pull into the campground early morning when folks are leaving.

If you're retired this can be easily accomplished because you're flexible. For weekend stays we'd pull into a campground by Wednesday. For the 3-day major holidays, we never went to a campground with any kind of water - pools, lakes, rivers. We let the weekenders have their fun. We would pick an out-of-the-way place so we'd have a quiet holiday.

Public parks were always our first choice - national, state, COE, national forests, county and city. We also loved boondocking in remote places on BLM or forest service lands. We rarely did 'parking lots'.

As far as finding campgrounds near major attractions: we'd much prefer to stay IN the parks themselves. We don't need hookups, especially since we had solar panels. Otherwise, just look on a map and start Googling that city for campgrounds or use RVParkReviews.com site or get a Woodall's campground directory. There are many online sources for campgrounds. For national forests we used forestcamping.com by the Dow's who have visited every campground and give good details, especially directions.

Have fun!

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