Spontaneous summer RVing vacations are becoming a thing of the past for popular camping destinations.
Each year millions more people are making advance camping reservations at highly sought-after places like Yellowstone and the Great Smokey Mountains; if you want a guaranteed spot for your yearly adventure, follow these tips for a worry-free getaway.
Find the Best Campground/RV Park for Your Itinerary
Figuring out where you want to visit tends to be the starting point. Then you need to sort out where to stay. You can either stay at a private RV park/Campground or at a Public/Government park.
We encourage you to look over our guide on finding the best RV Park and Campground Reviews to find the best fit before making camping reservations.
Camping Reservations for Public Campgrounds
If your heart is set on staying inside a park, begin your reconnaissance mission by visiting the website for your intended vacation spot and researching the earliest dates you can book a campsite.
Keep in mind that most people camp during the peak summer months of June, July and August, which results in fierce competition for campsites at popular destinations.
Being flexible with your vacation days will ensure a greater choice of campsites. Ideally you should make your camping reservations in early June or late August when most kids are in school but if those time frames don’t work for you, consider a Sunday arrival and Thursday departure, since weekend dates are in highest demand.
Next, research and pinpoint your most desired camping destinations and head to ReserveAmerica, a reservation portal for most of America’s publicly-owned outdoor recreation areas.
The website offers an easy way to make camping reservations at over 45,000 reservable facilities at national, state and city-owned parks as well as U.S. Army Corps of Engineers properties. But book early – publicly-owned vacation spots like Glacier and Acadia National Parks fill up several months in advance, often within hours on the first day they become available.
For example, many of America’s most popular national parks follow a process like that found at Yosemite National Park, in which blocks of campsite reservations are released in one month increments, thus allowing visitors to reserve a spot five months in advance.
This means that a camper who wants to arrive anywhere between June 15 and July 14 must reserve on February 15, ideally at 7:00am Pacific time when the reservation gateway opens. Be sure to get to the reservation website on time, since most sites will sell out within a few hours.
Although most public parks allow you to make campground reservations by phone, more than 90 percent of camping reservations are made online. For a successful online reservation process, get familiar with the ReserveAmerica/Recreation.gov reservations buying process before your desired arrival dates go on sale.
Camping Reservations at Private Campgrounds and RV Resorts
They’re usually located in the vicinity of the area’s attraction and typically offer far more conveniences than government-owned campgrounds with their bare bones facilities.
Do an Internet search for privately-owned RV parks near the public park you want to visit. Many are starting to offer online camping reservations through their websites, though it is hit or miss to find them.
If not, then you will need to email or call. Then, get ready to enjoy all the comforts of a full-hookup campsite in your ideal RVing destination. However, these strategically located parks are also in high demand during peak months, so advance reservations are a must. If your dates are open, remember that many will offer bargains to customers who can visit during the off-season.
If you can visit during these down times, ask for camping reservations deals like “Stay 6 nights get 1 free.
Should you take a last minute trip, be prepared to pay higher prices for your spontaneity. If you’re lucky enough to get last minute camping reservations at your desired destination, you’ll save a few dollars by purchasing an on-site membership with a nationwide camping club.
For example, the Good Sam Club enables members to save 10% at over 2,100 Good Sam RV Parks and Campgrounds across North America. And if you’re among the millions of people who prefer the guaranteed comforts of amenities found at nationwide campground franchises like Kampgrounds of America (KOA) or Jellystone Parks, joining their rewards clubs will enable you to save money on current and future stays.
Lastly, another way to save money at RV parks is to join Passport America, a club in which members pay one yearly fee of $44 and in return receive a 50 percent discount on nighty rates at a large number of RV park campgrounds in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.
The membership pays for itself in just one of two nights at most destinations and although many parks restrict club usage to off-season dates, just as many do not. Search the Passport America website to see which parks in your intended vacation spot restrict club usage.
Vacation time is a precious commodity to modern campers; a well-planned, affordable camping getaway is the key to many unforgettable, trouble-free RVing adventures.