Campground reservations? - Fiberglass RV


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Old 09-29-2014, 09:37 AM   #1
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Campground reservations?

Hi all, this winter we plan on heading to the southwest, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and S. California for about 2-3 months, starting in February. We like to combine time in rustic campgrounds like national forest ones, with a spell of ones with facilities. Now, to get to my question, I do not want to make reservations because I don't want to be boxed in time wise. Ie, if I'm liking it, stay for a while, if not, move on. When I have gone on to a few places we want to stay at for sure, such as Big Bend, it's already filled up for winter?... So how reasonable is it for me to not have reservations ahead of time? Will I be staying at the worst places? I have never been there or done this so am clueless.. Thanks for your input and experience.
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Old 09-29-2014, 10:07 AM   #2
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On longer trips I pick a few "anchor dates" and make reservations at places we definitely want to stay at and then travel/wander in between those stops. A good cellphone app is a huge help in finding sites when on the road.

Lots of reviews here: iPhone Apps for Camping and the Great Outdoors.

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Old 09-29-2014, 10:13 AM   #3
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We have found that most of the SP or moderately priced campgrounds located in the more temperate areas are booked up during the winter months. (Try to get a reservation in a Florida Keys SP or any Florida SP South of Orlando during the winter months) We have not had problems finding private parks with sites available but the cost is prohibitive. ($50 + / night). We make reservations for SP's if necessary and if it doesn't workout ,the cancellation fee is not prohibitive
If you are looking for an unimproved site (NO water ,NO sewer ,NO electricity, NO showers ,NO anything , that is a different story.
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Old 09-29-2014, 10:20 AM   #4
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In SoCal, winter is "High Season" for many of the desert parks such as Anza Borrego, Death Valley and Joshua Tree. Some of these parks have some reservation based campgrounds and others that are first-come sites. At Joshua Tree all of the in-park sites are first-come, and the reservation sites, although also NPS, are at c/g's just outside of the park. Ferget getting first-come sites after Thursday nights as they fill up early for the weekend.

Last June I spent Wed-Sat at Giant Rocks c/g inside Joshua Tree and, what was almost deserted when I arrived on Wednesday, became a Zoo by Friday afternoon and was overrun by Saturday morning with late arrivals double camping with others.

Bottom line, try to get info on specific parks before adventuring in that direction.
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Old 09-29-2014, 10:48 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by steve dunham View Post
We have found that most of the SP or moderately priced campgrounds located in the more temperate areas are booked up during the winter months. (Try to get a reservation in a Florida Keys SP or any Florida SP South of Orlando during the winter months) We have not had problems finding private parks with sites available but the cost is prohibitive. ($50 + / night). We make reservations for SP's if necessary and if it doesn't workout ,the cancellation fee is not prohibitive
If you are looking for an unimproved site (NO water ,NO sewer ,NO electricity, NO showers ,NO anything , that is a different story.
It is pretty much any Florida SP, anytime on holidays or summer months. The problem is as you indicate above, not much penalty to cancel so people make reservations months (up to eleven I think) in advance. That said, and I do not know for sure but can speculate that if you are flexible you may be able to find last minute cancelations. And, Walmart is always an option.
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Old 09-29-2014, 11:15 AM   #6
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Excluding the famous/popular national parks like Yellowstone or Death Valley we never make reservations. Sometimes we'll call a day ahead and make a reservation or at least to check availability.

Off season travel except for the super popular places in FL and possibly southern CA, there is generally space. Though FL has a number of very desirable state parks they are all good and many are not well used.

We have never been turned a way in TX, AZ or NM. There are really fewer people traveling.

I believe in 14 years we've only run into full once, again we do make reservations at the super popular places like Denali and Yellowstone.
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Old 09-29-2014, 11:25 AM   #7
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Southern California will likely be a problem especially Friday through Monday. Forget most beach sites on weekends. make reservations 7 months in advance or hope to get lucky. Our desert sites are only bearable during the so called off season.
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Old 09-29-2014, 11:33 AM   #8
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Some day I hope to get to Big Bend National Park and I will definitely make reservations way in advance. I think reservations at all National Parks can be made 6 months in advance and I'm sure Big Bend as well a others fill up fast. Keep checking back because people do cancel you might get lucky

A few years ago my grandkids came out for a surprise visit and wanted to go to Cape Disappointment SP in peak season (August) and it was full up. I kept trying every hour or two and did pick up a cancellation. It took some persistence but worked out fine. Also be flexible with your dates. Best of luck.
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Old 09-29-2014, 12:47 PM   #9
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I managed to camp along the Colorado River in AZ in campgrounds that had at least water & electric without reservations December through February. I stayed at Cattail Cove State Park, Buckskin State Park and La Paz County Park. After that I moved to Quartzite & Imperial Dam BLM areas for some dry camping. More information about the places is at my journal for the trip.
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Old 09-29-2014, 01:04 PM   #10
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Karen

Big Bend is a special place, don't miss it and I wouldn't be too concerned about not getting a campsite there. Here is the link to the official website where they state 60 campsites with only 26 reservable, meaning there are another 33 on a first come first serve basis.

Chisos Basin Campground - Big Bend National Park (U.S. National Park Service)

Cottonwood Campground - Big Bend National Park (U.S. National Park Service)

and finally

Rio Grande Village Campground - Big Bend National Park (U.S. National Park Service)

which has 100 sites but only 43 are reservable.

Also there is a TX state park close by of similar name which allows camping I believe.

I agree with what others have said obtain some of those iPhone apps (or equivalent) for camping there are hugely beneficial. One of our favorites is Allstays and the other is Ultimate Campground for Public Campgrounds which includes everything from city parks to national parks and everything in between. Highly recommended.

Hope this helps.
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Old 09-29-2014, 01:29 PM   #11
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Excluding the famous/popular national parks like Yellowstone or Death Valley we never make reservations.
.
Funny enough I got into Death Valley on the US Thanksgiving Week-end which is their busiest week-end of the year a couple years ago.

I would try and keep my travel schedule as open as possible & avoid making reservations, can't speak to Florida but in Arizona, Souther Cal with the exception of a few of the on the beach prim campgrounds I wouldn't worry a about not having reservations in February.
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Old 09-29-2014, 03:47 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by kbingel View Post
Hi all, this winter we plan on heading to the southwest, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and S. California for about 2-3 months, starting in February. We like to combine time in rustic campgrounds like national forest ones, with a spell of ones with facilities. Now, to get to my question, I do not want to make reservations because I don't want to be boxed in time wise. Ie, if I'm liking it, stay for a while, if not, move on. When I have gone on to a few places we want to stay at for sure, such as Big Bend, it's already filled up for winter?... So how reasonable is it for me to not have reservations ahead of time? Will I be staying at the worst places? I have never been there or done this so am clueless.. Thanks for your input and experience.
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We're usually down in the southwest starting end of December through March. Reservations, don't need no stink'n reservations.

We stay mostly at National Parks. The places we stay don't take reservations. If you're 62 or over get the Senior Pass.

Places we've stayed without reservations. Joshua Tree National Park, S CA., Lake Mead, AZ and NV, Death Valley (Sunset campground), Organ Pipe National Monument, AZ, Big Bend NP, TX. Padre Island, TX. There's more but I can't remember them at moment.

Watch out for President's Day. Some places fill up for the weekend. Sunset Campground at Death Valley is OK, Texas Springs at Death Valley we got smoked out with campfire smoke on Presidents Day weekend.
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Old 09-29-2014, 03:52 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by honda03842 View Post
Excluding the famous/popular national parks like Yellowstone or Death Valley we never make reservations. Sometimes we'll call a day ahead and make a reservation or at least to check availability.

Off season travel except for the super popular places in FL and possibly southern CA, there is generally space. Though FL has a number of very desirable state parks they are all good and many are not well used.

We have never been turned a way in TX, AZ or NM. There are really fewer people traveling.

I believe in 14 years we've only run into full once, again we do make reservations at the super popular places like Denali and Yellowstone.

The only reason I can see reservations in Death Valley is if you really really really have to have electric hookups. Sunset campground 275 sites with another 200 in overflow. Only time I've seen it come close was Presidents Day, 20 of the overflow sites were taken. That still leaves over 150 sites.

Many campground in Yellowstone are first come first serve.
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Old 09-29-2014, 04:26 PM   #14
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[QUOTE=honda03842;485018]
I believe in 14 years we've only run into full once.....

This past June & July I was out for 4 separate weeks, both in the mountains and at the beaches, but always during the week, and of the 6 campgrounds I stayed in, 4 were posted "Full" when I arrived and only because I had reservations did I have a place to stay.

According to my friends in the RV business, sales are booming, 2013 sales were big, 2014 sales have been even bigger. Things are a changing.....
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