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. Many campers head north after Easter, vacating the Sunshine State and filling every available north-bound 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.”
Believe me, if you are trying to pick one of the desirable sites, such as those at Raystown Lake in Pennsylvania, or one of the popular campgrounds on 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, but I can guarantee you every weekend is booked solid. The popular sites will be snatched up as soon as the reservation window opens and I assure you they will all be booked for Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, and Labor Day before I finish writing this blog.
- Weekend dates are all taken by locals, sometimes as early as Thursday when they park their RV units in their desired sites ahead of time. They check out as late as possible on Sunday.
- Three day holidays are also taken by locals who tend to to arrive in large tribes. They usually reserve contiguous or adjacent sites in blocks to facilitate parking/walking/eating/drinking.
Most Mondays through Thursday seem to be available at most sites, but some campgrounds are already booked solid until after Labor Day. Try and get into Old Federal Campground and let me know how that works out. 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:
- Click Find Places & Activities from tabs at top of screen
Click Sign In or Sign Up to log in to your account or create a new one
Use search box to find perfect campground, facility, park, forest or tour by searching by city, state, zip code or name of facility
Use filters on left to refine search, such as by category or by availability
Click See Details when you've found the perfect site
Select dates of stay by using the Availability view
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 your calendar and your road maps and start drawing in your trip. Now is the time to get started.
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