Reserve America tips???

Discussion in 'Reservation Systems' started by JBinNV, Oct 13, 2017.

  1. XKPin

    XKPin There's no situation so bad it can't be made worse

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    . . .on the flip side. . . . I was tired of chasing after some high volume campgrounds where everyone camped. Started to check out other CGs and WOW! Did I find some hidden gems! - sure some bummers too but the good new ones far exceeded the number of disappointing ones.
    -- My thought, my [2C] : If a campground creates anxiety (barking dogs, partiers, crowds, reservations), try someplace else. Camping is supposed to get rid of the ulcers, not cultivate them. So many state parks, private campgrounds, National Parks, National Forests, BLM, etc, and so little time!!!
    --I heard someone once say, "Illegitimi non carborundum (I can say that, can't I? o_O)" Words to live by in today's pressure cooker!
     
  2. XKPin

    XKPin There's no situation so bad it can't be made worse

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    --Coffee, no; an adult beverage maybe[;)]. I camp a lot, with grandkids, just the dog, just the wife, and every possible combination. I WILL CAMP, even if I can't find what I THOUGHT I wanted in the first place.
    --Yes, I use the site with great success. But sometimes it does not sponsor the CGs I'm interested in. Below I've offered my alternative Go-To sites.
    --However, I never rely on just one site, but have found a great source of CG searching! It was apparently intuitively obvious to everyone but me (go figure :cool:): Google Maps.
    --For example: I needed a campground near Devil's Tower for a return trip. All the sites are first come first serve, so I planned for the mid week. I also found Devils Tower on Google and then searched for campgrounds and found a excellent KOA in the immediate vicinity for a backup.
    Another example: I wanted to stay in Glacier NP but my TOW & Pop-Up exceeded the 27-foot site capacities remaining. Back to Google Maps. I found a fantastic campground immediately outside the park which met all my prerequisite needs and then some (also cheap).
    --Google maps offers the Street View & visitor pictures of the park.
    --There are a lot of campgrounds I stay at regularly - and NONE of them were the sites I started out to reserve! There is a whole world of campgrounds out there even better than I could have imagined initially. Although no single campground web site shows all the campgrounds, Google offers all campgrounds to you in the vicinity you're interested in.
    --Now if you have access to military bases there are several apps: Ultimate US Military Campgrounds. For civilians: Ultimate Campground Project (very nice).
    [!] But when I want to reserve I start with these when sites:
    --Recreation.gov of course
    --Reserve America: https://www.reserveamerica.com/welcome.do
    --America’s Parks: http://www.stateparks.com/index.html
    --National Forests: https://www.forestcamping.com/dow/list/nflist.htm
    --National Park Service: https://www.nps.gov/findapark/index.htm
    --US Army Corps of Engineers: https://www.recreation.gov/campgroundDirectoryListByAgencyID.do?contractCode=NRSO&agencyID=70902
    --In conclusion, I ALWAYS try to reserve, because my time is important. But I never let a single campground reservation site refusal ground my camping expectations :).
    I hope this helps.
    . . .oh and my [2C]: if everyone stopped overbooking, there would be more sites available for everyone ;).
     
  3. mrkrag

    mrkrag Active Member

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    The beach sites here in FL book exactly out to the window as others have mentioned. And they are empty except for weekends. Apparently its common practice to book dates a week ahead of when they will visit as soon as the window opens. So people book 7+ days on a site starting ahead of when they will be there and it just sits unused. I have noticed that on some of the county parks, they require you to be at the site on the first day of the reservation, and the site can not be left unattended for more than 24 hours. That seems a good way to keep people from just tying up the sites to beat the booking windows.
    I also think it would be a good idea for them to limit some of the sites to short stays, to give more people the opportunity to use them. Some of the sites on the east coast beaches are tied up with the same giant 5ers and class As for the entire winter season, making it impossible to get in at all.
     
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  4. XKPin

    XKPin There's no situation so bad it can't be made worse

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    --I see what You see, but not only in Florida [!].
    --Multi-site multi-date booking gets my goat. Occasionally I have been able to take advantage of unoccupied sites for a single night stop - awaiting the 'reservee' which never showed - or enjoyed camping where there were last minute cancellations. But not everyone is retired and has time to 'gamble.'
    --It disturbs me that campgrounds are already fully reserved - yet I see so many 'reserved' sites vacant where I camp. People do claim their refund, minus a minimal processing fee at the last minute, but way too late for others to plan for their vacations. A lot of good people PLAN ahead for their once in a lifetime camping extravaganza and missing special sites because they are multi-overbooked is just - inconsiderate.
    --I have read reasons why others multi-overbook. Some because they want to camp during the best weather days. I can appreciate one's need to make the best of their limited vacation days but the practice hurts everyone. ;) Maybe no one would have to overbook if so many people weren't overbooking.
    PS: Florida. So many beautiful campgrounds! So little time. So many packed like a parking lot. Yet, so many less acknowledged campgrounds left unattended. Check out Google for unexpected locations! I think you'll be surprised.
     
  5. scubacamper

    scubacamper Well-Known Member

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    When we first started camping back in 2012 in the tent and even up until about 2 years ago with our PUP we had little trouble getting a spot or two at even some of the heavily used SP but within the last 2 years things have changed dramatically. I'm not sure if the word is out but now more than ever I'm seeing so many tourists using our SP CG's that it's almost impossible to book them when you live 1-3 hrs away.

    R/A has also increased their fees here and so just a few years ago I would spend an extra $4-$6 to book a site now it's more like $12 - $18 depending on the taxes.

    Lastly, and this is for those of you who want to come down during the summer months...check out the actual RESORTS in the Keys and South FL as this is their "Off Season" and I found out they give often Better deals than camping at the SP or KOA's plus have a lot more to offer.
     
  6. kitphantom

    kitphantom Well-Known Member

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    We've gotten more creative with scheduling some trips over the years, as we've found things that work for us, and for the places we like to camp. We have our early summer trips all planned and reserved. Tomorrow I will try to make the reservations for our end of summer trip; they will open up for Aug 28-31, so will include Friday of Labor Day weekend. We have a plan that includes me arriving at camp mid-week, with my husband driving up at the end of the week. (the second vehicle means he can explore an area he's had on "the list", since he can take the 4Runner to do an overnight backpack, and I'll still have the truck) If I'm shut out of the sites we know will work for us, we'll have to develop another plan.
    We're meeting friends for Thanksgiving at an AZ state park, so made those reservations earlier this month. My first choice of site was already reserved, but we got two next to each other that are also nice. (We've been to this park a few times.) Our friends hate to make reservations, but are happy to do so for this type of trip.
     
  7. Customer

    Customer Well-Known Member

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    RV manufacturers are setting major new records in the number of RVs sold, all those people have to camp somewhere.
     
  8. tenttrailer

    tenttrailer Art & Joyce - Columbus, O

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    We have found over the past few years we need to make more reservation than in the past because of the increase of campers. But we still do most our camping without reservations.
     
  9. kitphantom

    kitphantom Well-Known Member

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    End of summer trip is all reserved - this one was recreation.gov, which works much the same as RA. I got the site we wanted, which will make things easier all around. Once that was in place, I made the KOA reservations for the last couple nights of the trip.
    We started making some reservations a long time ago, because it helped with planning vacations. Over the last decade or so, it has become necessary to make reservations in many of the places we camp, even though we seldom go in the busiest seasons. Not being able to find a campsite before noon mid-week is not fun. Now, for some places, to be sure of getting a site, we need to make reservations as soon as they open up, instead of shortly before a trip.
    Camping in general seems to have had a resurgence, along with those new RVs, we see tents, vintage campers of all sorts, and lots of rental RVs (including the new smaller versions such a Juicy). Also, beginning sometime in the '90s, a lot of the areas we enjoy became extremely popular with people from all over the world, and many of them are camping in tents and RVs.
     
  10. vagov

    vagov Well-Known Member

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    thats pretty much how it is here also for the more popular sites and campgrounds. many book up to a week in advance, wait 18 days, then cancel the first part of the week, so they can have the perfered site for the weekend . take a $10 loss and have a great weekend
     
  11. kitphantom

    kitphantom Well-Known Member

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    We've never tried to cancel just part of a reservation, but it seems like some places require the reservation to go back into the pool if you make any changes. On the few occasions that we've been delayed, I've called the proper place and they've held it for us. We've never been delayed more than a day.
     
  12. Dan from Troup

    Dan from Troup Well-Known Member

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    Getting started to book reservations to Maine for next Fall. I assume most use Reserve America for State/National Parks? Does one do the same for private campgrounds too?
     
  13. kcsa75

    kcsa75 Well-Known Member

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    I think there may be some private campgrounds on Reserve America, but all federal facilities are on Recreation.gov. For private CGs Good Sam has a good campground directory with ratings.
     
  14. tenttrailer

    tenttrailer Art & Joyce - Columbus, O

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    Except for high demand and high volume dates, or we feel we have to be in a certain CS we make reservations. We almost never make reservations. It gives us some flexibility saves some money the reservations fees and cancellations/change fees. We have never been without a CS in the CG we want to camp, in 30+ years of camping and the laat 8 years of 30 to 60 nights a year. With so many people making reservation so far in advance there are lots of cancellations and many time the choice sites are free when when we arrive.
     
  15. MNTCamper

    MNTCamper Active Member

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    We make reservations ahead of time when we are taking a longer trip and the location(s) are more of the destination type (NPs and such) that would fill up. It is hard to wing it in that instance because you are going to be out for two or three weeks and have a plan and sights to see and so on. In general, if you are not at a destination location and are camping S-Th nights, there is pretty much no reason to make reservations. We have traveled across country with no reservations, it is fun and freeing and with cell phones now, you can call ahead and find spots almost spur of the moment.

    In regards to "cheating" on the reservations like several folks have mentioned above, it is pretty easy to put a stop to that by changing policies for the system and occupancy. Namely, you have to be in the site the first night is is booked, or you lose it. If you book and later go back in and remove the earlier days, you lose the reservation completely. 14 day max occupancy in 30 day period and increase the fee for cancellation and completely lose the total $ amount for cancelling withing one week of date.

    Problem is, these CGs are trying to maximize their revenue and if the site is booked and paid for, all good for them even if someone doesn't stay there. But they should really be trying to maximize the occupancy and there can be policy conflicts in this.

    We love out of the way NFS campgounds, or if you have the time, midweek stays. Few people and very relaxing. Eventually the reservation systems will catch up to those who game the system via data mining and smart systems that ID abusers as noted. Other option is to expand campgrounds for popular areas, but then you run the risk of excess people spoiling the experience. In the end it is a balance and people and campgrounds will adjust to things, just like detours and traffic jams, folks adjust in the end to make things work.
     
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2019
  16. Sacramento Pop Up

    Sacramento Pop Up New Member

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    Found this on camping in Maine.
    https://www.maine.gov/DACF/parks/camping/campground_maps.shtml
    These are federal parks. Reserve America is not great here in California. Maine in fall sounds amazing! Good luck.
     
  17. Dan from Troup

    Dan from Troup Well-Known Member

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    Thanks, that’s where I went to reserve a week at Mt. Blue State Park in northern Maine. Deb and I are going to a family reunion at Sebago Lake in southern Maine in early August and then headed to northern Maine. And then we’re headed to the Maine Coast for another week of Lobster, crab rolls and enjoying Downeast Maine. Looks to be about a month long vacation in our Starcraft popup. Can’t wait as we got a new tow vehicle too, a 2019 Honda Ridgeline.
     
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  18. kitphantom

    kitphantom Well-Known Member

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    As I've commented in the past, making reservations or not is partly how each person or family like to travel, their willingness to leave finding campsites to chance, and where they camp.
    I had to laugh last week, when I found that our friends who "hate to make reservations" are going to try a trip in late summer/early fall that is mostly reserved. Partly because they are going to a few national parks that are difficult to get into to camp, partly because the recently-retired husband had fun planning and reserving it.
    For Courtenay and me, part of the fun of a trip is planning where we'll be camping, along with places to see and hike. Once we're in a campground, we often have a far longer list of things to see than we can do, so we choose according to mood, weather, fitness level, etc.
     
  19. nineoaks2004

    nineoaks2004 Every meal is a picnic and every Day is a holiday

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    I do not like surprises, and having had a problem a few times for NOT reserving which left me out trying to find a place to park. I always make reservations (I usually camp in Fl State Parks and reserve America is the one used by Fl)
    I have found RA to be dependable,. If I am going out of state I usually make reservations by calling the park directly and that works well for me.
     

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