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  1. Default About National Park Camping & planning ahead - 6 Month Road Trip

    So I've never taken a cross-country road trip before, but I'm currently planning a doozy.

    In little more than a year I plan to be on the road visiting many national parks, cities and other landmarks. I want to keep my plans loose, since I will be gone for so long, having a just enough structure to be able to plan wisely, with plenty of room for spontaneity.

    My question is this:

    To those of you who have experience visiting and staying in national parks (specifically the big ones - Grand Canyon, etc.)How far ahead of time would you suggest I book my stay at the national parks that are likely to get booked up?

    I will likely book a few of the big guys before I even leave to ensure I have a spot, especially at the ones that are far from other accommodations.

    Also: if anyone has any suggestions of good places check out, or ones that book up fast -- that would be much appreciated!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    10,104

    Default

    Welcome to RTA!

    You should book immediately when the booking window opens up. All major parks book up very quickly.

  3. Default

    Thanks! And wow!
    Any recommendations for must-see locations? I'm probably only going to pre-book a handful because I don't want to be too constrained with my trip. I'll be booking the top picks. I'm most interested in natural sites--wildlife, bike trails, canoeing/kayaking and also ancient ruins.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,722

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    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    The short answer is book as soon as you can.

    The slightly longer answer is each park is a little different, especially when it comes to options for reservation policies and the number of 1st come/1st served sites. Yellowstone, for example, has a very liberal cancellation policy, which means sites fill up, but then can open back up. At the Grand Canyon's Mather Campground, on the other hand, reservations are required during the peak season, and they have no 1st come sites at all.

    In the end, you'll have to look at the specific policies at each park and campground, because they are not all the same - but the earlier you book, the more options you'll have.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,722

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by ellamouse View Post
    Thanks! And wow!
    Any recommendations for must-see locations? I'm probably only going to pre-book a handful because I don't want to be too constrained with my trip. I'll be booking the top picks. I'm most interested in natural sites--wildlife, bike trails, canoeing/kayaking and also ancient ruins.
    When you're talking about a trip of this size, narrowing down "must-see" locations is nearly impossible, because the possibilities could really be in the millions.

    That said, I would certainly plan to spend a good amount of time in the 4 corners region, based on the priorities you listed.

    Beyond that, I would really encourage you to make sure you take a few smaller trips before heading out on the major 6 month adventure. That will give you a better idea of what you like and dislike, what you need and don't need, before you are in the middle of your epic adventure.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    11,660

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    With plenty of time to plan I would recommend getting hold of some good maps and just keep researching your options, there are thousands ! Use the search function on this site, read some of the trip reports and check out the links below to areas like Routes and Attractions and the Map centres etc. As you start to put your trip together and you have specific questions about particular areas or queries then just ask in this thread.

    Enjoy the planning, it's a fun part of the journey !

  7. #7

    Default

    Strongly recommend a good book or two covering the national parks and USA to help guide you a long. This will help in focusing on some of your priorities or perking your interest in a few areas you might have otherwise not known about. There are also several good web sites covering the national parks not to mention the National Parks website itself.

    Visit all of the top national park and national monument websites on your list and start making a list of when they open and close during the year, check on the campsite(s) seasons of the parks and while you're at it try to determine the elevations of the campsites. Many can become very cold even during July. Being south (e.g., Arizona) or north (e.g., northern Wyoming) isn't always a good indicator of weather and climate. So its also a good idea to obtain general temperature ranges.

  8. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Midwest Michael View Post
    Beyond that, I would really encourage you to make sure you take a few smaller trips before heading out on the major 6 month adventure. That will give you a better idea of what you like and dislike, what you need and don't need, before you are in the middle of your epic adventure.
    I actually tour around for a living, I'm currently on the road and have been for the past month...I've also backpacked through Europe for a month--and I love it! So I'm fairly certain that I can likely handle 6 months on the road. I understand the concern though.

    I definitely plan to visit the four corners region, I was there about 10 years ago and loved it. Other than that though I'm definitely going to take the advice of some of the other posters and invest in some serious research and maybe a book about the parks.

    Thanks for the advice!

  9. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by landmariner View Post
    Visit all of the top national park and national monument websites on your list and start making a list of when they open and close during the year, check on the campsite(s) seasons of the parks and while you're at it try to determine the elevations of the campsites. Many can become very cold even during July. Being south (e.g., Arizona) or north (e.g., northern Wyoming) isn't always a good indicator of weather and climate. So its also a good idea to obtain general temperature ranges.
    This is really good advice actually and I will definitely research the regional climates. I remember going to Switzerland in July thinking it would be decently hot like it is on the east coast of the US, and boy was I wrong--never again!

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