How do Public Campground Reservations Work? - Fiberglass RV


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Old 06-26-2012, 05:32 PM   #1
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How do Public Campground Reservations Work?

We took our UHaul out for an overnighter nearby to do a shake down before we leave for a longer trip.

Surprisingly, the "ranger" told us that we couldn't stay in the site we chose, as it's for people that reserved on line only. He stated that if we had internet access we could go online and reserve that same site, then stay there, otherwise, we had to stay in a "walk in" site. He said he had no access to the reservation site. This was a Michigan state park.

I'm curious if the National Forest campground reservations are similarly run??
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Old 06-26-2012, 05:33 PM   #2
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they operate the same here in Pa.
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Old 06-26-2012, 05:47 PM   #3
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I suspect they are using Reserve America. Many states are. As far as I know, Reserve America gets a cut from every camp site whether it is reserved through them or not and then collects a fee from every reservation made through them. The state system gets to use Reserve Americas software and saves the cost of setting up it's own system. That's how it was explained to me. For what it is worth we only stay at public campgrounds and have never made a reservation. Weekends are of course the tough nights. We stop early and look for places that are less likely to be a "destination". Raz
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Old 06-26-2012, 05:51 PM   #4
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Federal recreation, camping and tour reservation information - Recreation.gov which appears to down at the moment. Not all campgrounds in National Park, National Forest system have reservations. This site when operating will often be a help though.
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Old 06-26-2012, 06:02 PM   #5
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Welcome to 2012 and the great campsite shortage. For the most part, especially in the summer, many campsites now have to be reserved in advance. That can range from as little as hours, to as long as 5 months (think Yosemite) in advence.
These two sites seem to cover the most sites.
Federal recreation, camping and tour reservation information - Recreation.gov
and
Campgrounds and Camping Reservations - ReserveAmerica

The first one is Federal Govt. operated, is the cheapest to use, and also lists a lot of U.S. Forest Service sites not found elsewhere. You can get your senior/disabled rates on this site as well.
The second one is a commercial site, but it is also the reservations system for a number of state parks, such as California, as well as many county, regional and local parks and is where you have to make those reservations. They also provide reservations to commercial RV parks as well, everything from Luxury RV Resorts to Bubba's Fishin' Camp.

Add to this individual state systems, county systems and city systems, and it can be difficult to figure out where to make a reservation at times. Best bet... If you know the kind of park you want to use, call them up first and ask for reservation info.

BTW: Some National, State and local parks still hold out a few "space available" sites for single night stays.

However, don't show up at any California Beach State parks on a weekend between May and November and hope for a last minute space.

IMHO: It would be CRAZY to set out in the summer looking for a spot to stay every night without some reservations. But there is always WalMart, Cracker Barrel, Camping World, most Casinos, and Forest Service Public lands for a fall back.


Good Luck
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Old 06-26-2012, 06:06 PM   #6
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It is my understanding that Recreation.gov is also run by Reserve America.
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Old 06-26-2012, 06:12 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by P. Raz View Post
.......... For what it is worth we only stay at public campgrounds and have never made a reservation. Weekends are of course the tough nights. We stop early and look for places that are less likely to be a "destination". Raz
This is what I have done, too, in my past camping days and was seldom shut out - but we are heading out into the week that includes the 4th of July. Some checking on line indicates a surprisingly large share of campsites already reserved.

I was a little shocked at the $8 per night reservation fee - what a money maker that is!
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Old 06-26-2012, 06:20 PM   #8
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I hadn't heard that recreation.gov was run by Reserve America, but I do know that I can make the same reservations on the recreatrion.gov site and get a lower rate, get my Sr discount, not pay a reservation fee and it's much easier to make cancellations there. No matter who "runs" it, recreation.gov is a much cheaper and friendlier site.
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Old 06-26-2012, 06:25 PM   #9
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Yeah, Tom, we usually stay home holidays. No help. I know.
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Old 06-26-2012, 06:33 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by P. Raz View Post
Yeah, Tom, we usually stay home holidays. No help. I know.
Alas, DW is still working and we gotta go on her time schedule.
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Old 06-26-2012, 08:08 PM   #11
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I ran into a few spots like that last year, but it never kept me from finding a place to put the trailer for the night.

It makes some sense, in that if they just let you take the spot, unless they have internet access right there to enter you in the system, and many parks are places far from wired/cellular internet, there's no way that they could keep someone from reserving online and then showing up to a filled spot later that day.

I'm an internet addict and even I'm peeved when there are things that NEED the internet. Too bad there isn't a 24/7 phone system. But Reserve America is probably making money hand over fist with their computer system. If they had to put out of work Americans to work on phone lines serving Americans who want to enjoy the land that we all own, someone's profits will surely be impacted! Wouldn't want that.
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Old 06-26-2012, 08:11 PM   #12
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In michigan there is a phone reservation system for state parks, I think you are calling someone that just uses the web application for you. Still has the reservation fee.
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Old 06-26-2012, 08:20 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by dylanear View Post
...........It makes some sense, in that if they just let you take the spot, unless they have internet access right there to enter you in the system, and many parks are places far from wired/cellular internet, there's no way that they could keep someone from reserving online and then showing up to a filled spot later that day. ............
This place was in a metro area - plenty of internet access, but I guess there are still a few parks with no internet access. The world is a strange mix of high tech and low tech right now and I find myself surprised in both directions.
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Old 06-26-2012, 08:44 PM   #14
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Now that I've entered the world of camping--- I'm finding this to be my new pet peeve ! Getting a #@$& spot! Nebraska runs the same way-- I feel like I need to give blood to get a spot at Two Rivers! Luckily, I'm a teacher, and can go on a weekday and have more luck. Last Monday I got a walk-in spot for 4 days, then I just kept extending. Ended up being there 7 nights! Hated to give it up! I've gotten so frustrated, I've looked at "seasonal" campgrounds. One was $2400 for a site for about 7 months -- but the campground wasn't that exciting.
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