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Old 08-13-2018, 05:04 AM   #1
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Question Campground availability today(?)

Years ago I would not need reservations when traveling off season. However, with retired baby boomers buying RVs and filling campgrounds, I gather reservations are needed now in any season. Almost no new campgrounds have been built in the last 20 years, adding to the problem. I have been wondering if it is worth my buying a new RV.

Therefore, I am asking what our forum members are experiencing today.
Do you have to plan every day of your trip?

What happens if you fall off schedule?

How early in the day do you have to show up to make sure you get an available camp spot when you don't have a reservation?

Are the campgrounds overcrowded?

California State campgrounds close their showers and dump stations after Labor Day. How do you cope?

Thanks in advance for your answers.
DougB, Sacramento CA
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Old 08-13-2018, 07:45 AM   #2
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Default Closed showers and dump stations???

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Originally Posted by dougbaty View Post
Years ago I would not need reservations when traveling off season. However, with retired baby boomers buying RVs and filling campgrounds, I gather reservations are needed now in any season. Almost no new campgrounds have been built in the last 20 years, adding to the problem. I have been wondering if it is worth my buying a new RV.

Therefore, I am asking what our forum members are experiencing today.
Do you have to plan every day of your trip?

What happens if you fall off schedule?

How early in the day do you have to show up to make sure you get an available camp spot when you don't have a reservation?

Are the campgrounds overcrowded?

California State campgrounds close their showers and dump stations after Labor Day. How do you cope?

Thanks in advance for your answers.
DougB, Sacramento CA

Doug, I live in Southern California... where are you experiencing closed showers and dump stations??? Carpinteria comes to mind..... we've been there past Labor Day...

As far as making reservations... yes, im retired and find that traveling during the week is much easier....

I agree with you that it's very overcrowded many times....

We try and travel when most other people are back working....
If we are planning on a weekend.... yes, I do try and make reservations....

Is this what you generally do??
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Old 08-14-2018, 04:37 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dougbaty View Post
Years ago I would not need reservations when traveling off season. However, with retired baby boomers buying RVs and filling campgrounds, I gather reservations are needed now in any season. Almost no new campgrounds have been built in the last 20 years, adding to the problem. I have been wondering if it is worth my buying a new RV.

Therefore, I am asking what our forum members are experiencing today.

Do you have to plan every day of your trip? Generally no. We didn't plan during a 3-day trip in April and a 13 day trip to Yellowstone in May. We cut it close a few times, but traveling in the off season, we always got a site. Yet about half of our park stays were in parks with signs that said "Full". We ignored them and rolled in our Senior pass or State Park pass and found a helpful "Park Host". These are civilians who help out a parks in return for free spot and a the use of a Kawaski Mule. They always were helpful and got us into a spot.

A typical story. Our next to last night returning from our Yellowstone trip was a stop at Palo Duro Canyon State Park (TX). Rangers told us park was full and they had no sites for the night even though we told them we were willing to dry camp and didn't need hookups. It was getting late and we wanted to drive through anyway. They had a LOT of campsites and at dusk, at least 50% were EMPTY. We were tired, it was getting dark, and we did not want to drive out on the twisty 10% grade road at night. So we stopped in an empty slot knowing we could be asked to move. In the morning, the spots were still half empty and drive out and tried to pay, ready to ask for forgiveness. The park lady asked incredulously "How did you stay here last night, we were full?" They figured and figured what to do and finally backdated so they could charge us.

Something is terribly wrong! We never stayed in a "Full" park that anywhere near full of campers. Are there enough people with so much money they are reserving spots and leaving parks 10% - 50% empty? That is the only thing I can figure. I guess all parks care is that spots are paid for.


What happens if you fall off schedule? We did a couple of Walmart stops. Not intentionally, but it wasn't terrible.

How early in the day do you have to show up to make sure you get an available camp spot when you don't have a reservation? Time is not as critical as you think. Campers are always going and coming and I think the fact we never hit camp before 6pm worked in our favor. After park ranger hours, you deal with the Park Hosts. A much better experience in my book.

Are the campgrounds overcrowded? Sometimes at peak times and at peak seasons, but you can work around it. As a last resort, dry camp on Forest Land or find an RV park for a night.

California State campgrounds close their showers and dump stations after Labor Day. How do you cope?

Thanks in advance for your answers.
DougB, Sacramento CA

You are correct that things are getting more crowded. Parks are not expanding their campsites (foolish in light of the additional income they could earn). Plus, the "reservation system" is doing a terrible disservice to the camping community.

Please understand, my replies are based on very limited experience. We started rving just this Spring.

Hope I didn't scare you off. Not my intention since I think if you're flexible and Park Hosts continue to be helpful, you can do more than you think (especially in the off-season).
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Old 08-14-2018, 09:50 AM   #4
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Thanks for your input RS1. WRT showers & dump stations, take the example of Sugar Pine State Park (Tahoe). On their website they posts that those facilities are closed off season. On-season is the period May 23rd to Sept 2nd. Mighty short on-season in my view. I understand keeping such facilities open in freezing weather is not practical for a state park, but winter doesn't come to Lake Tahoe until November. They cut services before the leaves change color.

Years ago I had a little RV and had no trouble finding dump stations until we hit the California border. I travelled from the north border to mid-state and not a single dump station on my route was operational. I had full tanks until I got home, which limited camping options. I had to wonder - Oregon had so many dump stations they made it easy to obey the rules. California seemed indifferent what campers did with their black water. I hope their attitude has changed in 25 years.
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Old 08-14-2018, 10:19 AM   #5
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What great ParkHost insights RowieBowie! When the time comes I will act on your suggestions. I am disturbed by your "campgrounds full" story. I suppose nobody ever calls a campground to tell them they can't make it. There must be unused camp spots open every night.

It always takes me longer to get ready for a trip than I expect. Assuming that is the norm, half the visitors will be a day late getting started and then late to every spot they reserved along the way - a chain event. That would leave a string of camp spots reserved but unused along the length of their trip.

To me the wonderful thing about RVs is the freedom of an unscripted trip. If you missed an attraction one day you can catch it the next without blowing your whole vacation to bits. That freedom also lowers stress since a unscheduled delay won't ruin the whole trip. No need to fret over a traffic jam or road detour or medical issues or even a flat tire. If I get too tired to drive I can simply pull over. One time fog became so thick it was unsafe to drive. With an RV you needn't risk your life to lay your head on a pillow.
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Old 08-14-2018, 01:14 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by dougbaty View Post
Years ago I would not need reservations when traveling off season. However, with retired baby boomers buying RVs and filling campgrounds, I gather reservations are needed now in any season. Almost no new campgrounds have been built in the last 20 years, adding to the problem. I have been wondering if it is worth my buying a new RV.

Therefore, I am asking what our forum members are experiencing today.
Do you have to plan every day of your trip?

What happens if you fall off schedule?

How early in the day do you have to show up to make sure you get an available camp spot when you don't have a reservation?

Are the campgrounds overcrowded?

California State campgrounds close their showers and dump stations after Labor Day. How do you cope?

Thanks in advance for your answers.
DougB, Sacramento CA
Those are all points that argue in favor of an off-grid Class B. In Texas, certain state parks in desirable areas have waits for reservations of up to a year. It's simply not practical to work with a schedule like that. As off-gridders, we sometimes stay in hookup-less overflow and equestrian areas, which works just fine. Or if those are not available, then the nearest Walmart will do and we can enter the park on a day pass instead of camping there.
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Old 08-14-2018, 04:23 PM   #7
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Default WRT showers?? Don't know what you mean?

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Thanks for your input RS1. WRT showers & dump stations, take the example of Sugar Pine State Park (Tahoe). On their website they posts that those facilities are closed off season. On-season is the period May 23rd to Sept 2nd. Mighty short on-season in my view. I understand keeping such facilities open in freezing weather is not practical for a state park, but winter doesn't come to Lake Tahoe until November. They cut services before the leaves change color.

Years ago I had a little RV and had no trouble finding dump stations until we hit the California border. I travelled from the north border to mid-state and not a single dump station on my route was operational. I had full tanks until I got home, which limited camping options. I had to wonder - Oregon had so many dump stations they made it easy to obey the rules. California seemed indifferent what campers did with their black water. I hope their attitude has changed in 25 years.
I can see if they "close the park" due to winter.....

I have not found this to be the case where we go....and I wouldn't want to be at a park in the snow or inclement weather where it's raining constantly..,.

Dump stations are not a problem.... truck stops are always available.....
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Old 08-15-2018, 04:46 PM   #8
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To me the wonderful thing about RVs is the freedom of an unscripted trip. If you missed an attraction one day you can catch it the next without blowing your whole vacation to bits. That freedom also lowers stress since a unscheduled delay won't ruin the whole trip. No need to fret over a traffic jam or road detour or medical issues or even a flat tire. If I get too tired to drive I can simply pull over. One time fog became so thick it was unsafe to drive. With an RV you needn't risk your life to lay your head on a pillow.
That is so true. My wife says I was not stress free on our trip which is true. But I would have been more stressed had I been trying to "make miles" just to get to our next overnight destination. Heck, we left home only with a vague idea of where we wanted to go and how long to stay gone. Today, all I have is memories of a wonderful trip and how much we were able to accomplish in just 13 days.
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Old 08-17-2018, 03:25 PM   #9
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To me the wonderful thing about RVs is the freedom of an unscripted trip.
What a wonderfully descriptive term: "unscripted trip". To be sure, we're adding this to our advocacy arsenal.

Several responses have argued various alternatives: lesser campgrounds, Walmarts and rest stops, boondocking . . .

For us, that there may be alternatives is not satisfactory. Does it not offend that you - - as an unscripted traveler - - are being cast as a second-class citizen with second-rate accommodations? Shouldn't all have some access to the best?
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Old 08-17-2018, 06:00 PM   #10
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What a wonderfully descriptive term: "unscripted trip". To be sure, we're adding this to our advocacy arsenal.

Several responses have argued various alternatives: lesser campgrounds, Walmarts and rest stops, boondocking . . .

For us, that there may be alternatives is not satisfactory. Does it not offend that you - - as an unscripted traveler - - are being cast as a second-class citizen with second-rate accommodations? Shouldn't all have some access to the best?
I agree. I want full hookups, spacious & shady sites, mild weather, and breathtaking views at each stop. But sometimes, all I need is a place to pull off and sleep for the night.

Anybody got a time-machine so I can go back 15-20 years and travel before rv'ing got so popular.
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Old 08-17-2018, 07:42 PM   #11
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If you camp where it is substantially below freezing, like Tahoe or here in CO, then yes they cut off services that might freeze and you might have to winterize your RV to some extent. But we took a week long circuit between LA and San Diego last December and everything was open down there. The only place that seriously filled up was Joshua Tree, by one in the afternoon on a Friday. In season here in CO, yes Brainard Lake fills every night, but the area around Salida is nicer anyway. As Interblog said, getting out of undeveloped campgrounds and exploring in a smaller van avoids the over crowding issue.
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Old 08-17-2018, 10:18 PM   #12
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...lesser campgrounds, Walmarts and rest stops, boondocking . . .

For us, that there may be alternatives is not satisfactory. Does it not offend that you - - as an unscripted traveler - - are being cast as a second-class citizen with second-rate accommodations? Shouldn't all have some access to the best?
Is that tongue-in-cheek?

NO, we certainly all do not deserve "the best". The people who went to the trouble to get in the queue to make reservations and who put down money deposits far in advance deserve what they worked hard to secure for themselves. The rest of us deserve exactly whatever we can get.

In an analogous fashion, those who lollygag in school do not deserve "the best" when they graduate, for the simple reason that they did not work for "the best". They worked for whatever they can get. They deserve whatever jobs or post-secondary school admissions are available to them as being commensurate with the planning and the work that they put into bringing about their own outcomes.
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Old 08-18-2018, 01:40 AM   #13
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Is that tongue-in-cheek?
That is how I took it, and how I responded.
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Old 08-18-2018, 01:51 AM   #14
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What a wonderfully descriptive term: "unscripted trip". To be sure, we're adding this to our advocacy arsenal.

Several responses have argued various alternatives: lesser campgrounds, Walmarts and rest stops, boondocking . . .

For us, that there may be alternatives is not satisfactory. Does it not offend that you - - as an unscripted traveler - - are being cast as a second-class citizen with second-rate accommodations? Shouldn't all have some access to the best?
I happen to prefer dispersed, boondocking sites for a lot of reasons. And if I'm moving and just need a place to rest, and a Walmart/Cracker Barrel/Cabella's or a hospital emergency room parking lot will work, I'm all in. No check in hassle is a bonus.

On a recent four month trip I spent maybe three nights at a Walmart, about three weeks driveway camping, three to four weeks at official BLM, NPS, and USFS sites and the other approximately ten weeks dispersed camping. I spent one night at a driveshaft repair business(long, continuing story)

Works for me, but everybody has different tastes.
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Old 08-18-2018, 03:57 PM   #15
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Is that tongue-in-cheek?

NO, we certainly all do not deserve "the best". The people who went to the trouble to get in the queue to make reservations and who put down money deposits far in advance deserve what they worked hard to secure for themselves. The rest of us deserve exactly whatever we can get.

In an analogous fashion, those who lollygag in school do not deserve "the best" when they graduate, for the simple reason that they did not work for "the best". They worked for whatever they can get. They deserve whatever jobs or post-secondary school admissions are available to them as being commensurate with the planning and the work that they put into bringing about their own outcomes.

You wrote ......


Those are all points that argue in favor of an off-grid Class B. In Texas, certain state parks in desirable areas have waits for reservations of up to a year. It's simply not practical to work with a schedule like that. As off-gridders, we sometimes stay in hookup-less overflow and equestrian areas, which works just fine. Or if those are not available, then the nearest Walmart will do and we can enter the park on a day pass instead of camping there
.

All depends on how you define "the best"?????

Obviously you've stayed at Walmart... like most of have at least once... nothing wrong with this....it wasn't my first choice... just needed some quick stop for sleep.

Again.... all depends on what you want and where you go....

The beauty of the Class B is as someone said...."unscripted trip"....I love that description...
The "journey" is the destination....
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Old 08-19-2018, 06:13 PM   #16
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My wife and I have traveled up and down the East Coast and west as far as Denver and states north. Yes, the most popular campgrounds are full on the weekends. I am a planner by nature, but I have to say that we donít make plans anymore when we go RVing. We travel mostly during the week and take our chances. Honestly, weíve never had a problem. Sure if you go to Yellowstone or parks like that youíre going to have problems. We tend to go to national parks or state run campgrounds and have no problem. We donít always expect to have perfect facilities and we donít. Thatís why we have a Roadtrek. Our favorite time to travel is after Labor Day. The kids are all back in school and there are a lot fewer people camping.
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Old 08-19-2018, 06:45 PM   #17
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Hi Doug,
We live in Fairfax in the Bay Area and are new - ironically we have just been spending our Sunday morning hunting for reservations - in the WINTER - it really is tough here in CA - Big Sur books up fast - the mountains are deep with snow - boondocking is limited (to our newbie experience - would LOVE to find out we are wrong!) so we are honing our skills in the long-range planning scheme! Good luck!
Mel
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Old 08-19-2018, 09:29 PM   #18
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It is not only baby boomers that are fueling the off season travel, it is the young professionals that can work from anywhere toting their "home schooled" kids around with them that are overpopulating the camping spots. There are no longer "seasons" of life. Young people want it all, now!
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Old 08-19-2018, 11:40 PM   #19
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And they have as much right as the rest of us! Better yet, if they introduce their kids to camping , then we all benefit from more people camping because there will be A greater need for all kinds of resources. When that happens businessmen step up and build more campgrounds, more campers, and more of the services we all need.
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Old 08-19-2018, 11:42 PM   #20
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Upon reflection, I think you’re right. There are just too darn many non-retirees filling up the campgrounds. I think they all ought to be reserved for retired folks.
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