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Thread: Last Minute

  1. Default Last Minute

    Hi guys!

    In about a week (July 9th) a buddy and I are about to take off on a month-long trip around the country. Generally a big loop: NY to CA via the northern states, south along the coast, back east along the southern states, and up the other coast. We have spots we might want to hit, but no solid route. And that's the idea. Meandering.

    Our plan is to crash with friends and in campsites. I went on a coast-to-coast road trip a few years back and we were always able to pull right in and camp at any camp site we visited. No calling ahead or anything. Looking at these forums, I see a lot of people advising to call for reservations.

    So, my question: Will I be able to make my way back and forth across the country, finding campsites along the way with no reservations?

    Followup question: I didn't think it cost much to get a campsite, but a lot of these posts are saying $40 and such things. Am I imagining that we never paid over $20 when we went the first time?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Situational Camping

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    If you read those recommendations carefully, you'll see (I think) that what our disparate group of regular contributors say is that making reservations for camping is generally a matter of personal preference. If you want peace of mind, make them. If you want freedom, don't. The only time we ever strongly recommend booking a campsite is for major national parks during peak season. I would think you'll be fine as long as you don't expect to drive into the Grand Canyon on a summer's weekend evening and expect there to be a vacancy. Now, on a slightly more down note. the cost of campgrounds, like everything else is going up, but again not outrageously. If all you need is a patch of ground to pitch a tent, you're going to be paying less than the $40+ that someone who wants to pull in a 40 foot RV rig and get a 30 amp/water/dump hookup.


  3. Default Cool.

    Yeah, we just need a spot to pitch a tent. What should we expect to pay (average)? Also, I assume state parks are less than national parks for camping. What other camping is available to the public? All those signs for campgrounds you see along the road... are those mostly parks or privately owned campsites?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Situational Camping - II

    In my opinion, state parks are one of the two greatest underutilized public lands in the US. The National Wildlife Refuge system is the other. Yes, state parks typically charge less for camping than either national parks or commercial campgrounds, but the amenities are often minimal - just what you want! For a simple spot to pitch a tent, you should expect to pay $15-20/night. Commercial grounds will charge more, on the order of $25-$35 depending on what they offer (some offer internet access!), time of year and location of the campground. There are just too many variables to be any more precise than that, and I'm sure that you will find spots for both more and less than the costs I've indicated.

    The little blue tent signs on the Interstates indicate that a campground is within (usually) 12 miles of the exit ramp. This will (again - usually) be a commercial campground. State and local parks will be indicated with brown/white informational signs.


  5. #5

    Default Always remember to...

    Always stop at the visitor centers which are oten to be found as you cross the state line on major routes. They are generally staffed by very helpful and knowledgable folks who want you to leave their state with the best possible image. The reason I stop is to grab a list of state parks which allow camping but, almost every time, they offer up two or three places to visit that I'd have never known about otherwise.

    If you're thinking of stopping at commercial sites, you wouldn't go far wrong by getting hold of a copy of the Woodalls Guide.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Western/Central Massachusetts

    Default Camping rates and reservations

    Sometimes it can be a good idea to call ahead for reservations if one or more members of the party feels more comfortable doing that. It's also a good idea if you are going to be in an area where there is some major event going on - I like to use the example of finding a place to stay anywhere near Carlisle, PA when the swap meets are going on.

    I've seen rates as low as free and they just go up from there. Twenty seems about right, anything above $35 a night for a tent site I would question, unless there was something really special about the campground.

    Craig's recommendation about the visitor's centers is spot-on, many states have excellent guides to their state parks. Plus, Ohio's visitor's centers are neat bunker style earth berm constructions.

  7. Default Last Minute

    Hey dudes!

    So I'm taking off on Monday for a month-long round-the-country road trip with a friend. I've been reading up on these forums to get prepared. It's pretty much a given I won't be prepared for everything... but that's fine by me, we'll wing it.

    BUT I do want to attempt to be prepared. I have not begun packing the car but here's what I am in the process of gathering to pack:

    -First Aid
    -Cooler for grocery store food
    -Camping stuff (tent, portable grill, sleeping bags, lanterns, blankets, pillows)
    -Car Stuff (jumper cables, fix-a-flat, spare tire, jack, tire iron)
    -Electronics (laptop, phone, chargers, camera)
    -Tunes (CDs, MP3 player)
    -Atlas (Rand McNally '06)

    That's all I can think of. I'm talking the major stuff. Now, is there anything huge I'm forgetting? Or anything you think I should make sure to get/do/prepare? My trip is heading west from New York to California, down the coast, and meandering along the south and back to New York. Low-stress, leisurely, seeing the sights, dropping by cool little towns to hang out, staying with friends, camping most nights.

    I just want your opinions, ideas, thoughts, whatever in these few days before the trip. THANKS!

    P.S. Check out our online roadtrip journal.
    Last edited by AZBuck; 07-05-2007 at 11:21 AM. Reason: Combined threads on same trip; Preferred link format

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