Camping reservations

Susan Premo

Super Active Member
Nov 5, 2020
1,137
Minnesota
I'm wondering when most people start making their reservations, I wanted to start as soon as it opens on reservation. gov. I know the places and the site numbers, I want to start in June, probably late June, but my dh is thinking that's not a good idea because we won't know what the weather is going to be like. I think you never really do. We're in Minnesota. So just curious what you guys do?
 

kcsa75

Super Active Member
Gold Supporting Member
Sep 9, 2013
6,019
Kansas City
For the places and/or dates we know are going to be high-demand, I mark my calendar and make reservations at the first opportunity. We've always been fortunate weatherwise, however, we've been canceled a three-or-four times because our campsite was flooded.

I made Memorial Day reservations on Thanksgiving Day before things got hectic at our house.
 

kitphantom

Super Active Member
Platinum Supporting Member
Dec 26, 2009
14,044
Albuquerque, NM
We tend to make reservations as soon as the window opens. For most of the national park and US forest Service places we go, that's 6 months in advance. For some of the concessionaire campgrounds in NPs, reservations can be made a year or so in advance. Utah state parks is 4 months. Makes for fun and lots of planning, but we've been doing it since the mid-90s - much easier these days with most reservations available online.
Courtenay won't retire for a few years or so, we plot our vacations to allow as much camping as possible, using his alternate Fridays off and holidays to help increase time camping. We generally camp these days in the 4 Corners States, so go by what the weather generally is. We did end up cancelling a late May trip to North Rim of Grand Canyon a while back (probably 2019), when a fellow SOTF reached out to me while she was there just after it opened on May 155. It was snowing, trails were muddy, some access wasn't good, so we canceled and added it to a fall trip.
Weather is not a sure thing. Continuing with Grand Canyon as an example, we've had 6" of snow on an early November trip, snow last year early in Oct., and this year's Sept trip (to accommodate my husband's raft trip) turned out to be very wet thanks to a tropical storm. We just go with it, change plans as we wish.
We'd rather do reservations and occasionally make changes, than not have reservations and either not have a place to camp, or spend more time than we wish looking for a place to stay. That began, for us, back in tenting days, when the SW was "discovered" and we got shut of of a huge NP FCFS campground on a Thursday morning. We also found we did more camping because we had trips on the calendar, instead of just getting around to doing a trip.
Right now, we're debating both Memorial Day weekend and July 4th week (one of those where we could do 8 nights using 3 vacation days). We only go camping on the holiday weekends if we're far enough away from populated spots to avoid the "party city" atmosphere. We know there are limited areas for Memorial Day that won't be too hot, or still snowed in. Courtenay may just take off and do a backpack on his own. We may go to one of our favorites in CO for July, knowing that he may encounter snow up high, it just depends on the snowpack.
 
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Mark CASTELLANI

Active Member
Aug 23, 2019
634
New York State, Erie County
we use (actually, FORCED to by NY) "Reserve America"... they're good at refunds if you cancel NO LATER than 48 hrs before you're supposed to show up... when we've had to cancel, we would be "dinged" for one day.

there haven't been TOO many cacelations on our part... there was that one time, the day before our trip, that I had emergency back surgery... oh well

for us, "bad weather" is subjective... rain doesn't often deter us (play games, read a book, etc.) though, if I saw rain in the forecast for the entirety of our planned trip, I would cancel and do my best to re-schedule

Happy Trails!
 

jmkay1

2004 Fleetwood/Coleman Utah
Oct 10, 2013
7,987
Northern Virginia
Pre covid I usually waited a month or two out with most of my trips. Now I found you have to reserve at least six months out or as soon as the window opens. Campgrounds are just crazy busy now especially weekends And getting a spot any closer is usually impossible. Unless there is a hurricane or tornado I’m going camping. Ever since the van life and other such podcasts and many offices allowing more work at home options more people are staying longer on their trip and not having to rush home.
 

GalsofEscape

Super Active Member
Nov 26, 2013
1,143
Maryland
if you want to get a particular site.... book as soon as the reservation window opens. i have some places we go to that are high demand that i book a year in advance.. but regardlesss, all my reservations are made by February for the upcoming camping season. Weather won't change my camping plans unless it is severe - like hurricane severe.
 

kitphantom

Super Active Member
Platinum Supporting Member
Dec 26, 2009
14,044
Albuquerque, NM
if you want to get a particular site.... book as soon as the reservation window opens. i have some places we go to that are high demand that i book a year in advance.. but regardlesss, all my reservations are made by February for the upcoming camping season. Weather won't change my camping plans unless it is severe - like hurricane severe.
We have a camping season that can stretch into November (for Thanksgiving) so our booking window goes later than February.
We were talking about our possible trips yesterday. For the 4th of July week, we need to be online Jan 1. Our October 2-week trip to Grand Canyon will need to be reserved in March and April. (March if we begin the trip at the end of Sept.) Once we get that done, my husband has parameters for his permit requests for a backpack, which goes in 4 months before.
We didn't discuss next Thanksgiving yet with the friends we spend it with, so need to do that soon. This year we took the entire week, stayed in a KOA 20 minutes from their house and they stayed at home. Courtenay and I are ready to try another state park, we'll see how our friends feel. Either way, we can make reservations soon for that.
And really bad weather can change things. My worry about the Thanksgiving trip is the route to get to Tucson, or wherever, from ABQ. We did have a really bad storm in '19, turned out we were actually stuck on the SP for a while, due to a flooded stream crossing on the entrance road. All the tents and popups cleared out once that was opened.
 




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