Where Do You Go From Here?


If you’re planning on staying at any of the popular state or Federal campgrounds up north this summer – meaning not in Florida – make your reservations now. Yes, I know it’s January. Most campgrounds north of Georgia – and many in Georgia – are closed during the winter while most Florida campsites are packed to the absolute limits, at least until the Easter holiday. After Easter, most campers head north, vacating the Sunshine State and filling every available slot you wanted to stay at north of the I-10 corridor. Now is the time to get serious about your summer plans up north.

Seriously, if you have your eye on a specific campground our campsite for August, make your reservations now! Many campsites have reservation “windows,” which means you can only make reservation within a given amount of time prior to your planned stay, such as 90 or 120 days in advance, or conversely, past a certain cut-off date. Remember, at most if not all Federal or state campgrounds, two weeks is the most you can stay in any given four week period. Having your wife reserve the next window may not work as the rules stipulate “per family.”

The window for most campsites that open after Memorial Day are open, or will be by the end of next month. And if you're looking for distant future bookings, remember the dates on the windows "roll." For example, today, January 23rd, 2017, you can’t make reservations at A. H. Stevens near Atlanta past Friday, February 23, 2018. If you want a site there for Saturday, Feb 24th. 2018, you have to wait until midnight tonight to log on and grab, er, reserve your campsite. Believe me, if you are trying to pick one of the desirable sites, such as those at Raystown Lake in Pennsylvania, or Lake Lanier in Georgia, be prepared for fierce competition. If you get in to Bahia Honda State Park in the Florida keys, there’s a good chance you made reservations as soon as the window opened. You will, of course, find gaps of availability for many of the available sites, depending on the popularity of the campsites. The popular sites will be snatched up as soon as the reservation window opens and I guarantee they will all be booked for Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, and Labor Day before I finish writing this blog.

Several things we’ve found and base our plans on:
  1. Weekend dates are grabbed by locals
  2. Three day holidays are grabbed by locals
  3. Locals tend to to arrive in large tribes
We have friends who stay up until midnight on the first days reservations open on the sites they want just to insure they are first in line. Even then, they occasionally aren’t fast enough. Let me ‘esplain why.

Our travel trailer is five years old, yet it was among the oldest trailers we saw the entire two months we traveled this past summer. We were the “old-timers” everywhere we went, and not just because of our age. The explosion of recreational vehicles is far greater than anything we could have possibly predicted. The current popularity in RVing is astounding, and as a result, there simply aren’t enough campsites to fit everyone in all at once.

For Federally run campgrounds, such as a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers or the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), go to https://www.recreation.gov/, to research locations and make reservations. First, create an account – there’s no charge – and bookmark the page. Trust me, you will use it often. You can research locations, and specific camp pads or sites within a campground.
Click on the page, then:
  1. Click Find Places & Activities from tabs at top of screen
  2. Click Sign In or Sign Up to log in to your account or create a new one
  3. Use search box to find perfect campground, facility, park, forest or tour by searching by city, state, zip code or name of facility
  4. Use filters on left to refine search, such as by category or by availability
  5. Click See Details when you've found the perfect site
  6. Select dates of stay by using the Availability view
  7. Click Book these Dates
For state parks or state run campgrounds, click on https://www.reserveamerica.com/. The websites may look similar – they are designed and run by the same company – but they do not interact with each other and they do not share information. The rules and procedures, however, are the same.

There are many RV and camping associations with reservation and booking assistance, one of the most popular is http://www.goodsamclub.com/. Their camp-guide book looks like a New York telephone book.

Grab you calendar and your road maps and start drawing in your trip. Now is the time to get started.

George





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