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Old 09-23-2020, 08:28 PM   #1
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Do you make reservations?

Hey guys,
Wife plans on retiring this year and I am already retired. We have been thinking about buying a TT for a while and spending a few months travelling. Anyway....we just got back from visiting seven NP's out in Wyoming and Utah and we were shocked that every Campground we passed were all full.
Let me ask....for those that are not stuck on a strict schedule, do you guys make reservations for your trip? If not...can you ever get into a NP? Do you only use private CG's? That would seem to get pricey....
Anyway...just wondering what is the norm for those who spend summers on the road regarding reservations.
Thanks guys
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Old 09-23-2020, 09:52 PM   #2
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There are campgrounds in some national parks that don't even accept reservations. Those are the ones we zeroed in on. There are also national forest campground that don't accept reservations. There are plenty of boondocking spots. That's mainly how we traveled.... rarely used a RV park. Months of travel also come into play. If you're retired, travel the shoulder seasons; not prime vacation time. Move on Sunday afternoon through Wed. or Thurs. Never try to move on a weekend. Don't stay right next to main attractions. Get off the beaten path.

Yellowstone and Grand Teton Nat'l Parks have those kinds of campgrounds.
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Old 09-23-2020, 09:55 PM   #3
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We don't go anywhere without reservations. Some people go on the fly & manage a walk-up without any reservations. But since COVID hit & the resulting boom in RV sales, trying to get into a campground enroute can be problematic. Weekends are the worst & if you want a particular spot at a particular campground, reserving is the only way to guarantee (sometimes by paying an extra fee) to what you want.

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Old 09-23-2020, 10:16 PM   #4
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Hardly ever make them. Usually call ahead the day before or on the day of arrival.
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Old 09-24-2020, 04:41 AM   #5
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I make reservations for popular areas, like Florida, 11 moths in advance.

During our travel to FL. from NY., we don't.
A good way to get into most parks is to look for Sunday to Thursday night stays. That's when the weekenders are home and sites are avalable.
Friday nights and Saturday nights we stay at Walmart or Flying J Travel Centers, if needed.
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Old 09-24-2020, 10:07 AM   #6
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never liked a schedule. we just go on the fly we may have a general idea where we want to go but we may end up somewhere else. if we are traveling east and want to go south we turn right and go south. it is getting nearly impossible to find camp sites anywhere especially locally here on the Oregon coast . we don't have a problem pulling into a gravel pit or some place off the road for an overnight. if there's an attraction somewhere that we may want to spend a few days at. we will call around a few days ahead and see if we can find something if not its were ever we can.
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Old 09-24-2020, 11:16 AM   #7
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We have a pretty detailed plan of where we are going, what we want to see, and have some flexibility in the timeframes in case we stumble or hear of something else or like somewhere to want to stay longer and vice versa. We never book anything unless it's somewhere like Liberty Harbour NJ for accessing NYC and we typically only do that a short time in advance.

We've learnt the hard way that all best laid plans and that through any number of reasons but in our case a couple of break downs requiring new engines over the past couple decades reinforced our reasons to not book/reserve anything in advance.

We're a bit like Jay D don't care for too set a schedule to be somewhere, and will quite happily dry camp somewhere nearby if what we wanted was full. If very high density area with little opportunity to dry camp nearby then will try to book somewhat in advance but not very far in advance at all.

We also don't get stressed during travels though when a spanner gets often invariably thrown in our plans. Our most used motto is "Oh well, it is what it is, let's deal with it". There's always a Home Depot, Canadian Tire or something similar we can overnight at to get our repairs done typically
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Old 09-24-2020, 11:27 AM   #8
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Here on the west coast, private campgrounds that are rated highly by Good Sam and other guides fill up first, and need reservations. Lower ranked ones will likely always have space.

I would not want to be towing a TT into any campground without knowing I will have a spot waiting for me.

When planning a trip that is too long to make in one day, we go to the Good Sam directory and see what towns are on the way. (typically we like to drive no more than four to five hours a day)

https://www.goodsam.com/campgrounds-rv-parks/
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Old 09-24-2020, 01:13 PM   #9
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If we would have had to make reservations for 16 years of full-timing (5,840 nights) then we would never have done it.

The beauty of traveling is to go and stop whenever you want. Honestly, we've never had an issue not doing reservations. However, we didn't have to have the most expensive places or ones with lots of amenities. We loved public parks. Our activities are out in nature and exploring the small towns and backroads.

Everyone is different so you can't go by what our way of RVing is vs. someone elses way. You'll have to experiment and do it your way! It can be done!
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Old 09-24-2020, 06:20 PM   #10
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We tend to only make advance reservations (more than 48 hours out), when going to major tourist destinations (Yellowstone, Grand Canyon, etc.), or when we know we will be at a fixed destination on a specific date. Let me give an example, last October I/we took a month long trip from Louisiana to Santa Fe, NM, and over to the Grand Canyon, including a loop the 4 corners area , Aztec National Monument, through southern Utah staying at Goosenecks state park,, Page, AZ, Meteor Crater, Gila National Forest, etc. For the trip we made advance reservations for 8-9 of the nights about 6 weeks in advance, these were for Mather Campground at the Grand Canyon, Wahweap campground at Lake Powel National Recreation area, for 1 night in Flagstaff (fixed date we knew we had to be there) and at a commercial RV park in Santa Fe, as it timed with the end of the Balon Festival. Otherwise no reservations along the way. Tough cutting timing this close we had to swap our original dates Page vs Grand Canyon to get reservations at Mather Campground, due to the limited number of sites there for coaches over 25 ft long.


When we arrived both Wahweap and Mather had some drive up sites available, though at Wahweap, no full hookups were available and at Mather they were only smaller 22-23 ft sites. 1 or 2 other nights on the trip we called ahead asking about vacancies either a few hours out or the day before.


The closest we came to not getting a site was at Cosmic Campground (an internatioal dark sky site) where I got the last official site in the campground in Gila National Forest, as unbeknownst to me the next morning was the opening day of hunting season.
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Old 09-26-2020, 12:12 AM   #11
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We're currently on a 3 week trip through Utah's National Parks. We have a large coach and want hookups where we camp. You won't find ANY spots by just showing up, even this time of year.

You have to look at how each person camps and what they're willing to accept as a campsite. We rarely boondock and I don't want to be camping in some primitive dirt spot with no hook ups. Many do and that's fine, but you better take their statements with a grain of salt when they tell you that they just show up and get a spot, as that's certainly not true near the large attractions.
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Old 09-26-2020, 11:49 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dutch Star Don View Post
We're currently on a 3 week trip through Utah's National Parks. We have a large coach and want hookups where we camp. You won't find ANY spots by just showing up, even this time of year.

You have to look at how each person camps and what they're willing to accept as a campsite. We rarely boondock and I don't want to be camping in some primitive dirt spot with no hook ups. Many do and that's fine, but you better take their statements with a grain of salt when they tell you that they just show up and get a spot, as that's certainly not true near the large attractions.
Funny you mention Utah's NP's because I just got back from a two week trip to YS, GT's and then south to Utah's 5 NP's and I noticed that ALL of the campgrounds were full. Even the State CG's that I passed. I was really surprised.
Now, I was using hotels because I haven't purchased a TT yet but it did concern me. Part of the allure of going in a camper is my ability to not be dependent on a schedule. I will be retired and want to be footloose. If that isn't the case then I may rethink my plan on buying a TT.
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Old 09-26-2020, 01:31 PM   #13
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Im old school and having a planned agenda just defeats my idea of the RV lifestyle.

However, I can understand the necessity of it if you are still working and are dealing with 2-4 week vacation schedules. But for a full timer, in my mind it would just ruin the whole feeling of freedom and carefree atmosphere of RVing.

I full timed for 9 yrs and never made reservations. Criss crossed the US a number of times, traveled to Mexico and Alaska. On the Alaska trip I did make one reservation to stay at a RV park in Denali. However, this was only done about 3 days before we planned to be there, and it was during the 4th of July week. Also this was about 10 yrs ago, times have changed, there appears to be a lot more RVers out there.
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Old 09-26-2020, 02:06 PM   #14
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My take is a lot depends on how you want to travel, we have a motorhome that is fairly well self contained, 80 gallon fresh water tank, 400 watts of solar panels on the roof, 32 gallon propane tank, etc. therefore as long as the weather is cool enough at night to not need air conditioning, we are fine with no hookups, and in probably 250+ days on the road since buying our coach in 2016 we have never not been able to stop for the night at our first choice of options, working under the call ahead a few hours out, or just drop in and take our chances on travel days, and making reservations for major popular tourist areas, or when we have fixed date plans. The only time we have ever made advance reservations more than 6-7 weeks out was for the big solar eclipse and Yellowstone in the summer of 2017. Though I have noticed that roadside RV parks, etc. tend to fill up as the sun goes down, so it pays to get off the road and get a spot by late afternoon, and beet the rush.
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