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  1. Default tent camping cheaply WItHOUT reservations?

    Hi guys,

    I was wondering if anyone had any advice re: driving and camping at campgrounds and rv sites around the country without pre-booking anything.
    Is it likely that we'd be able to find a space rocking up on the day? Do most campgrounds/ rv parks allow one night stays?
    Also, we are planning a trip from August-Nov 1; we'll be in the north east coast October; am I right to assume most campgrounds will be closed at this point, and it would be far too cold to tent camp? I read somewhere that Yellowstone closed a lot of sites mid-September.. this is when we were going to be in that area, it seems a little early? Would the weather be too cold to camp in these places this early in Fall?
    Also, and this is a big one, we are planning on leaving early from one site, and driving up to 500 miles (at the most, usually somewhere around 300 miles) a day, with stops, to reach our next destination. This would mean rocking up to the next campsite late afternoon, or possibly evening (possibly late evening at times!) Do campsite receptions close at a certain time? If we rocked up in the evening without booking, it is likely the site would be closed for new arrivals and we'd be stuck?
    Would love some help!!! Have been trawling the net without too many comprehensive answers.
    - Tess :)

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Tent camping.

    Firstly the reason for Yellowstone closing that early is that winter comes early at those elevations, and yes, it would be very chilly tent camping. You definitely would need a four season sleeping bag. Some of the State parks around Yellowstone, such as Bakers and others near West Yellowstone are likely to be still open. Check the State Parks for Wyoming and Montana websites.

    North East, I am not sure of all of it, but I was there a couple of years ago in Sept and all the State Parks and Forest campgrounds in New York State had already closed.... for budget reasons. Some private ones were still open. October is a busy season with the autumn leaves in the north east.

    I have never booked a campsite when I was tent camping and only once or twice found a place full. But when they heard it was just a tent, they were able to squeeze me in. However, I would not rock up at 8pm and expect them to accommodate you. Late afternoon is the latest I would turn up - well before dark. On the other hand, you will be well and truly out of peak tourist season, so things should not be too busy.

    Note that many RV parks do not welcome tent campers. Some do not even have an amenities block. Those are the ones who cater for fully fitted out RVs only. I have run into a couple of them over the years.

    Tess is this all part of your trip where you started out about car rental? In which case it is best to keep all the posts in that one thread.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    In the earlier part of your trip, ie. August, you will still be competing for campsites with families that have school-aged children. We found that national forest campgrounds were generally under-used unless they are located right outside the boundary of a major national park. For those, you need to be there early -- definitely not 8 pm, but more like mid-afternoon. Once schools have started in the US (late August to just after Labor Day, the first weekend in Sept), you'll have a little easier time getting a camping spot.

    What you could possibly do is drive that day, and then take a motel room within 100 miles that night. Clean up, etc. Drive to the national park the following day, EARLY. Be at the gate no later than 9:30 am. Queue up for one of the first-come, first-served campsites, for that evening into whenever.

    I agree with Lifey on everything else except never securing reservations. We always did when around touristy places on either weekends or during the summer!


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