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  1. Default Advice needed on cross country road trip - how far in advance to book campsites?


    My husband and I are planning on taking a three month trip across country in our little teardrop trailer from June through August. This is our first long trip of this type as we typically have only used our trailer for a week at a time as our work schedules would allow. We are planning to start by driving first to Colorado, then continuing west to Utah, Arizona, and the driving up to California coast etc. We would prefer staying in places with electric hookup but not absolutely necessary for every night.

    I am just looking for any advice as to how to go about booking campsites - I am overwhelmed with trying to plan! We want to freedom of staying a few extra days in places we love and picking up and moving to the next location when we feel like it. This being said I am nervous to wait to book campsites in fear that we will have trouble with things getting booked up in the busy summer months! We are thinking we would book the Grand Canyon now as that may be very busy, but will we have trouble in places like Utah and California if we don't book weeks (or months!) in advance? (We will also be on budget since we won't have any incoming income during this time!)

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default In a Word, Yes

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    You are absolutely correct that you will need reservations for any campsite in Grand Canyon NP, and you will need to make them well in advance (several months, like now or very soon). The same is true of the more popular Utah national parks such as Zion, Bryce Canyon and Arches. There are a few back-up options, however. One is to look at nearby national monuments and national forests (especially) for open slots if the national park is fully booked. For the Grand Canyon, consider staying on the North Rim rather than the more popular South Rim. As a last resort, check out BLM campsites, but these will almost always come with no hookups.

    So yes, I'd be making reservations now. The way my wife and I handle this is to book in order of how much we want to see a given location, or how difficult any of the sites we want to stay at are to book. So start with the Grand Canyon and book whatever you can. Then book base camps near the the major parks or sites you want to include. Keep the 'big picture' in mind, but take it one step at a time. That should ease the feeling of being overwhelmed.

    Last edited by AZBuck; 02-05-2019 at 11:17 AM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    I pretty rarely make camping reservations for my trips - with the exceptions of being especially high demand places and/or high demand times like holiday weekends. Of course, that flexibility does come with some trade offs.

    For example, I did a 2.5 week trip out west 2 years ago, and the only reservation I made was for Yosemite. Even that, I didn't make more than a few weeks in advance. Now the downside was I was only able to get a reservation for a single night, and I didn't really have a choice of campground - I had to take whatever was available. I'm sure the spot I grabbed had been a cancellation - which will come up from time to time at even the busiest parks, you just have to really keep an eye on things, and be able to jump when something opens up.

    In other cases, I accept that I probably won't be able to stay right inside a National Park and will have to find other options. For example, for the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, I found a private campground near Jacob Lake, because all of the campgrounds in the park and nearby National Forests were full. Another option is to find a place to camp near a park, and then plan to get up bright and early and get into the park very early and grab one of the "first come, first served" sites available at most campgrounds - with a teardop, that should be especially easy since you don't have to worry about the time needed to tear down a tent or hook up a big travel trailer.

    As with any of that, the more work you do to prepare by researching the areas you're thinking of visiting, the more options you'll have. And of course, few National Park campgrounds have hookups, and the ones that do will require reservations as early as possible - but Private Campgrounds will probably a better choice in those situations.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    As far as private campgrounds and RV parks are concerned, once again that would depend on their location. We found, when we RV'd, that if we were close to a major tourist area, reserve as soon as we figured out where we'd be. If it was a weekend near a beach in CA, reserve, especially if you want a California State Park RV site with hookups. (Don't expect cheap, here in CA.)


  5. Default

    Most reservations are done online.

    If you’re not sure if you’re going to NEED a reservation, just start looking for available campsites now. If there are plenty for the dates you’re interested in, keep checking back. If they’re already filling up, make up your mind and book immediately. This especially goes for weekends and holidays.

    In some areas, you’ll be hard pressed to find private campgrounds too.

    With national parks, canceling a reservation last minute only costs you one days fee I believe. A small cost for peace of mind. Double check of course.

    I’ve done this many times; booked an alternate campground while hoping to find my desired one.

    I’ve even booked an alternate campsite at my desired campground, then changed the reservation later for a better site at the same campground. For example, trading a wooded site for a waterfront site. There might be a small fee for changing sites.

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