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  1. #11
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    7,127

    Default

    You will find that most parks use a contractor to manage lodging and camping, such as Xanterra. Each park *should* have appropriate links, and there should also be phone numbers to call.

  2. #12
    Join Date
    Jan 2000
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    9,259

    Default No, not really.

    Quote Originally Posted by martinhahn View Post
    Is campsite availablity updated in real time at nps.gov so that we can monitor concellations?
    Martin, as GLC mentioned above, the NPS rarely manages the availability of any lodging at national parks. Road and weather conditions are updated more-or-less daily at the specific park web sites, but I'm not sure any sort of updates are done at the national site, (nps.gov) more than seasonally.

    Xanterra is just one of the lodging contractors, here is a list of the parks, both national and state parks, that they manage.

    Mark

  3. #13
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Columbus, OH
    Posts
    28

    Default Lots of options....

    Hi Martin - You definitely have lots of options and i agree that waiting those extra couple weeks might make a good difference. Also, consider touring the southernmost places first (late May) and coming home the northern route. That period of time (during your trip) that passes will let those northern places warm up and have more attractions open.
    As far as National Parks, I vote for Bryce Canyon, Zion National Park, Mesa Verde and Rocky Mountain National Park. Keep in mind, too, you dont have to stay in the park to have a great time. You will have much better luck finding a "nearby" park on short notice that still allows great access to the park. Get yourself a Trailer Life Directory and put it to good use. And if you are visiting a few parks, get an annual pass to save $. Good luck. Sounds like a great trip.

  4. #14

    Default

    Thanks Shelley, I hadn't heard of "Trailer Life Directory" so you have opened a whole new avenue!

    If I might: part of the reason for this trip is to revisit a trip I did with my family of seven (in a Rambler with popup) when I was six years old. What I remember the most are the campgrounds: riding bikes after dinner, chasing chipmunks, campfires.

    For our trip, I have a bias to stay in the state and national parks rather that KOA or similar. Maybe this is not necessary. I welcome input.

    Martin

  5. #15
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    1,821

    Default

    RV directories:

    Trailer Life directory ... about the size of an older Sears catalog (remember those?)

    Woodall's directory ... same

    AAA CampBooks ... these are distributed by AAA and include both public and private campgrounds

    There are also guidebooks out there, distributed by private authors, that include a lot of public and private campgrounds. Various geographical areas are included. Search your public library in the travel section for some ideas.

    When we tent-camped, we stayed primarily in state parks, national forests, and national park campgrounds. When we went into a tent trailer ("popup") we did those and experimented with some private campgrounds. By the time we graduated to the 5th wheel, we were staying in private campgrounds. Though my dad is a former KOA owner, we did NOT stay in KOA's purposely. For the most part, they were too high priced. We did have a better trust in Good Sam rated campgrounds and RV parks, especially when we needed/wanted hookups and shower facilities.


    Donna

  6. #16
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    7,935

    Default Recreation.gov for camping.

    What I remember the most are the campgrounds: riding bikes after dinner, chasing chipmunks, campfires.

    For our trip, I have a bias to stay in the state and national parks rather that KOA or similar. Maybe this is not necessary. I welcome input.
    Without doubt, I would always choose State and NP campgrounds where possible. Your memories are made in these scenic 'wonderlands' and I wouldn't swap the opportunity for the world. The problem being, is wanting to stay flexible and the fact these sites are so popular. If a 'Pop up' can be used on a normal tent site, your chance of finding an available place increase somewhat, as RV sites are more limted in numbers.

    What I usually do, as I have to keep to a certain schedule [governed by flights] and have a list of NP's etc to visit, is to book the popular places [GC/Yosemite etc] to help keep me on schedule, and leave the 'bit's in between' open to change, depending 'on'.

    I have not missed a booking yet, but I always think that I would rather forfiet the $18 fee [if I missed night one for example] than I would miss the opportunity to stay in the park altogether, especially when considering the time and fuel it could cost travelling in and out of the park each day.

    Xanterra that Mark linked to is used mainly for NP lodging, not camping. Each NP site has it's own Camping page where you will find info on the each campground in the park. Once you have decided what is best suited to you you will be linked to Recreation.gov where you can check for availability and book ahead well in advance or from the road, if they are showing availability.

    Check out this page to locate every NP and info on each one.

  7. #17

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by martinhahn View Post
    Thanks everyone -- it looks like we'll leave Vermont mid-May rather than May 1. US 191 looks like it will be a great ride!

    Is campsite availablity updated in real time at nps.gov so that we can monitor cancellations?

    Martin
    Recreational.gov is in real time. The exception might be Yosemite. Yosemite was having problems with people buying up campsites and reselling them and last year they added new regulations. You now have to show ID that you rented the campsite and they said that you would have to call to get a site that had had a cancellation. I don't know if they changed that or not because I can't find that stipulation on their website now.

    Camping at Yellowstone is though Xanterra Parks & Resorts. I don't know if they are in real time. I highly doubt it tho. One great thing about Yellowstone reservations is they don't charge for cancellations and they will work with you if you need to make changes to your reservations.

    Campgrounds you will want to make reservations at:

    Yosemite Valley campgrounds will require a reservation. Watchman Campground in Zion National Park, Utah. (Keep checking because spots are always opening up. We know because it's the only way to get in at the last minute.) South Campground in Zion is first come first serve but by spring it starts filling up by early afternoon.

    If you want to stay in Devil's Garden campground in Arches National Park, Utah then make a reservation.

    To be on the safe side I'd make reservations at Yellowstone.

    If you want hook ups at the Grand Canyon then you need to make reservations at the Trailer Village. If you want to stay at Mather Campground at the Grand Canyon it might be a good idea but probably not necessary unless it's near Memorial Day Weekend. (Note: you do not want to be at the Grand Canyon over the Memorial Day weekend. And where ever you end up for the holiday weekend, make reservations! The exception would be Canyon de Chelly. This is a great place to be over that holiday weekend!) The North Rim camping is by reservation only.

    Wauweap RV park if you want hook ups in the Lake Powell area.

    You won't need reservations at Mesa Verde unless you want hook ups.

    Let me know of other places you will be visiting.

    Utahtea

  8. #18
    Join Date
    Jan 2000
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    9,259

    Default Great post

    Utahtea,

    Great post with good information -- I didn't realize that recreation.gov was updated in real time.

    Mark

  9. #19
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    10,576

    Default

    I actually think Yellowstone is also updated in real time - or very close to it. When I made reservations over the summer, the campground I wanted wasn't available on the day I made my reservation, so I booked at another site. However, the next day looking online, I saw the location I wanted had opened up, so I called to change my reservation. I'm pretty sure that after I'd made my updated reservation, the website reflected that once again there were no open sites.

  10. #20

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Sedenquist View Post
    Utahtea,

    Great post with good information -- I didn't realize that recreation.gov was updated in real time.

    Mark
    I had asked when I called once and they said that the website gets it just as fast as they do at the call center. Last spring we wanted to go spend a week in Zion. We lucked into a week but then I had a kidney stone and decided to cancel and our cancelled site showed up INSTANTLY!

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