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Know your site before making a reservations deposit. Not all campsites are pull-through or even RV accessible. Some can be reached only on foot or from the water. Some accommodate only a tent or motorcycle.
Everything You Need to Know
About Campground Reservations
Camping without reservations is a gamble and it’s a good bet you’ll lose, especially at the most popular parks on weekends and in peak season.
Now that Reserve America (reserveamerica.com) is one big, convenient reservations center for camping on federal and state public lands, life is easier for RV travelers
But that’s just part of the story.
Whether it’s public or private park, RV travelers need to know all the rules, pitfalls and fine print that apply.
* Before committing to a reservation, make sure the site meets your requirements (length, width, hook-ups, pull- through, patio slab, pets permitted, number of people allowed per site, etc.) Some campsites can be reached only on foot or from the water.
* Some campgrounds operate only on a first come, first served basis. Others take reservations but keep some sites in reserve for first come, first served campers. Some campgrounds have overflow areas where an RV can be parked but may not have hookups.
* How far in advance can you get reservations? (Usually one year). Seasoned campers who know the drill actually pounce on popular campgrounds at one minute past midnight on the first day reservations can be made.
* Rates usually vary with the seasons. So do some of the rules. However dates for high, shoulder and off seasons vary greatly. Check with each part. Georgia State Parks, for example, have a one-night minimum stay Sunday through Thursday and two-night minimum Friday through Sunday all year. Campground cottages in the same parks have a two-night minimum off season and 5 or 7 night minimum in peak season.
* Public lands often have a maximum stay of, say, two weeks. Private campgrounds, by contrast, may offer yearly, seasonal and monthly rates at a discount. If you have a campground membership, check its rules.
* Cancellation policies vary greatly. Know how long a grace period you have, and what penalties apply if you cancel or change. . You may pay a fee or lose your whole deposit.
* If you’re planning for a group get together, different seasonal rates and minimums may apply for a cluster of sites or for reserving a pavilion or picnic shelter.
* Since campgrounds are usually in rural and wilderness areas, they may have to close suddenly because of a forest fire, drought, flood or other hazard. Once you’re committed to a place and dates, visit the website to stay aware of conditions there.
* Campgrounds covered by Reserve America are just the beginning. Do a search for Campground+RV+Name of City, Region or State to see the wealth of information that pops up.
The good news. In public lands alone, the National Park Service offers 29,000 campsites in 440 campgrounds in 401 national parks. The USA has 7,800 state parks with more than 220,000 campsites. Canada has thousands of provisional park campsites. National Forests in the USA hold more than 4,000 campgrounds in 155 locations.
Bureau of Land Management Recreation sites are found over almost 265 million areas while U.S. Army Corps of Engineers sites hold thousands more campgrounds. Lastly, National Wildlife Refuges permit camping in some places where it won’t intrude on conservation.
How much food is enough for an RV weekend in the woods for two people? A week in the outback for four? An emergency that delays your trip for three days?
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