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agesilaus

North Florida

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Posted: 08/25/20 03:24pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

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Your right! It is a real challenge to open your phone and say "cancel my reservations" . Strongly sugest don't consider RVing/camping on the west coast but I suspect it would not be your choice to consider anyway!


We've camped on the left coast before, went up the 101 all the way to Olympic actually. And we used our standard method of limited reservations and had zero 'we're full' responses. Of course we made reservations for Yosemite North Pines and for Lassen Volcanic. We visited Crater Lake and Rainer along with Olympic during that trip.

Our original and early plan this year, was for PNW for North Cascades and the eastern sides of WA and OR with a dip into CA to Lassen Volcanic. As the year moved on that became impossible.

Some of the problems with canceling or changing reservation is playing phone tag with the cg people. Some cg operators are very hard to get on the phone. We have rarely changed dates but have not canceled any recently. In my experience you can forget doing either thru reserveamerica or rec.gov. We did that in the past and never saw the actual promised refund.

And as the first law of Engineering goes: if it ain't broke then don't fix it. Our method has worked for probably close to 100,000 miles of RVing in mostly the western states but going to every one of the lower 48 with our kids and Mexico and Canada as well.

If your method is as successful then carry on, I won't try to talk you out of it. Some people like to minutely plan every step of a trip and others prefer flexibility. Neither method is better and the whole point is to have an enjoyable time. So continue with whichever makes you happy.

500 mile days included. Actually we used to do longer days when I was still working pre-retirement, went from Florida to Yosemite in 4 1/2 days one year when car trouble delayed our start. But now with more time we prefer a slower pace.

* This post was edited 08/25/20 03:40pm by agesilaus *


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dedmiston

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Posted: 08/25/20 03:38pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I think a lot of it depends on the time of year and the day of the week.

We took a ten week / ~11,000 mile trip this time last fall and I think the only reservations we had were actually on the beach in Port San Luis, CA. For the rest of the trip, we usually just made a phone call early in the afternoon to book a spot. Even then, the only reason we called ahead was to save a spot since we're oversized (45' 5er).

The only time we had to do our Las Posadas imitation going from park to park begging for room at the "inn" was in Bishop, CA on our return. It turned out they were having a big car show and the town was pretty packed. We found a spot eventually though.

If you're traveling off-peak though, it shouldn't be a problem to vagabond around the country with a loose itinerary. And hopefully you can boondock if there's truly no room at the inn.


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azdryheat

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Posted: 08/25/20 05:39pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

agesilaus wrote:

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We like knowing we have a reservation so we don't waste a 500 mile drive


Who does 500 mile drives? We averaged 189 miles between cg this summer and anything over 200 miles was a 'long drive' day for us. And we operate backwards from you, we plan a day's trip and then look for cg at the end of that day. Not the other way around unless we are going to a NP or some other major spot that we wanted to visit.

And we spent almost a month in CO, 2 weeks at South Fork, about a week near Gunnison and a few days at Grand Junction. Not a single full cg in sight. And we camped in south west WY and northwest WY, no full cg there either. Sure if you camp near a major city on a weekend you will find full cg. And maybe closing every other site in a cg might cause it to be 'full'. But that's why we avoid camping close to major cities, unless it's an overnight transit spot. And as noted above we avoid the dark blue states for the obvious reasons.

So I do not know how we avoided all these full cg, we do not camp at pricey resorts for one thing, but I do pick spots that have good ratings on CG reviews.
To address some of your points:

We do 500 mile days to get where we're going and I always have reservations so we don't arrive to find everything closed. We did that once - pulled into Minneapolis on a summer Friday night and all the RV parks were full. We ended up driving to Albert Lea to find an empty spot.

Tucson to Tampa was 4x500 mile days. Most of our destinations are at least 500 miles away. This summer we RZR'd in Marysvale Utah (population 408), which is almost 600 miles from Tucson. We normally do that in one day but this year I had to close down our RV show so we couldn't leave until noonish, so two days to get there. We next went to Silverton, CO (population 650). Notice these aren't big cities. Marysvale and Silverton are off-roader destinations and the RV parks fill up fast with campers pulling side-by-sides. We wanted to stay longer in Marysvale and Silverton but couldn't get a few more days due to incoming campers.

I'm a professional motorhome driver and am used to driving up to the max of 11 hours per day.

* This post was edited 08/25/20 05:53pm by azdryheat *


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Bob806

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Posted: 08/25/20 06:10pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Reservations are a blessing and a curse. The spontaneous trips are definitely harder to do nowadays in my region. We prefer state parks to camp in.

So we set an alarm on our google calendar for the reservation window openings at our favorite spots in Ohio, Michigan, or NY.

We always take a fall trip to Texas to visit family, and luckily we can basically "wing it" unless we're headed to Palo Duro Canyon. Arkansas, Oklahoma, even Tennessee seem to have openings for us.

mockturtle

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Posted: 08/25/20 06:50pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

This summer a COE park I encountered said they (COE campgrounds) all require reservations now, even if there are plenty of empty sites staring you in the face. And you have to phone the government reservation line, you can't book the site at the campground office. I considered this a ridiculous rule, refused to reserve and left. While I was able to find quite a few available USFS sites, most of those now take reservations and many were booked up even though empty (No one seems to enforce the "must occupy site first night" rule. My personal opinion is that USFS sites should be reservable only on weekends and should be FCFS on weekdays.


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rexlion

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Posted: 08/25/20 07:46pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Twice this year I had no problem showing up and getting an open site, no reservation, at Flat Rock Creek COE CG, north of Wagoner OK. I'd say it might be certain areas, not all COE.


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mockturtle

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Posted: 08/25/20 08:39pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

rexlion wrote:

Twice this year I had no problem showing up and getting an open site, no reservation, at Flat Rock Creek COE CG, north of Wagoner OK. I'd say it might be certain areas, not all COE.

You're probably right. This campground was in Oregon and I think it had something to do with COVID. Not sure what.

wing_zealot

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Posted: 08/26/20 05:44am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I don't just pass through places. If I'm going somewhere, I'm going to stay awhile. I'm going see the sites, visit the museums, hike/bike the trails, and whatever. I'm going to be there for a week or two. Overnight stops are something I do to get where I'm going - a necessary evil and generally a waste of time. A week or two stay doesn't happen without reservations.

agesilaus

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Posted: 08/26/20 07:55am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

We stopped at 13 COE parks this summer and I found that Sunday thru Thursday you can always get a spot. Friday and Saturday are more difficult since most of these parks have a large local group of boater/campers who want to be boating/camping for the weekend.

2012Coleman

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Posted: 08/26/20 08:26am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I think that your success in always finding sites is based on the fact that you only stay for a few days. Lots of CG's have sites in two - three day slots. I saw it just last week when the popular CG I was in had sites- nice ones at that, open for 2 - 3 days while we were there. The people who pulled in next to me noticed this but were clueless - the lady exclaimed: "I can't understand why it is so hard to get in here - I see lots of open sites!"

When I want to go camping, I want to stay longer - even longer if the drive is over 5 hours. That is harder to find, especially when booking includes a weekend. If I was on the road constantly, and needed a place to lay up for a day or two, I would expect to have your experience of not necessarily needing a reservation. But for most - who camp on vacation time, a reservation is needed.


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