When do you place Reservations?

Discussion in 'General Camping Discussion Forum' started by JbirdsChick, Mar 20, 2017.

  1. JbirdsChick

    JbirdsChick One Big Bird, his Chick, and 2 Hatchlings

    Jul 9, 2012
    Central Kentucky
    I have found that if you don't book Memorial Day and Labor Day a year in advance you sometimes don't get the opportunity to camp on those weekends. Also, I have found the same requirements at high demand campgrounds such as ones that have lakefront sites.

    How far in advance do you book your camping trips?
  2. twinmom

    twinmom New Member

    Aug 21, 2014
    I've booked as far as 11 months out. We were going to Balmorhea State Park in Texas in June. It has a large spring fed pool and is in the middle of no where so not a lot of nearby options. Only 35 sites or so, not all with electric and water. If I canceled, it would cost me $5, it was worth the gamble. Ended up keeping reservation, and having a great time. My husband is retired from the USAF, so we have access to military campgrounds. I booked four months out for a site at Andrews AFB near Washington, DC--the earliest I could as a retiree. I booked six months out for a site at the Naval Station Coronado near San Diego--again the earliest I could book. It got us in the high demand campgrounds we wanted and was worth the nominal charge if we had to cancel. I did end up paying about $40 in cancellation fees the year we were supposed to go to Washington DC and my daughter broke her leg after I had made all the reservations. I had reservations at KOAs for overnights, and they ding you $10 to cancel.
    JbirdsChick likes this.
  3. 94-D2

    94-D2 Happy Campin'

    May 21, 2010
    Sutter Creek CA
    Made my reservations 18 months early for the august solar eclipse rally. Glad I did too cause nearly a CS to be had now.......
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2017
    JbirdsChick likes this.
  4. kcsa75

    kcsa75 Active Member

    Sep 9, 2013
    Kansas City
    I set a reminder on my calendar at work months in advance and made reservations for Memorial Day, July 4 and trip to Colorado on the first day I could.
    There are three COE reservoirs within less than an hour's drive of where we live. Add about twenty minutes and there is another. It just far enough out and rural enough that it doesn't draw the crowds from the city. It's become our regular weekend getaway. One of DW's requirements is being able to see the lake from the campsite. We never have a problem getting a good site.
    JbirdsChick likes this.
  5. Orchid

    Orchid Sharp Shootin' Grandma

    Usually 11 months, although sometimes sooner. Just depends on what is available. We rarely camp on holidays, and usually not even weekends. We prefer weekdays when campgrounds are less crowed.

    Even so, with some of our state parks here in Florida, 11 months ahead is necessary to get any site, especially a good one, even on weekdays.
    JbirdsChick and Chris Short like this.
  6. 4xMeteor

    4xMeteor Active Member

    Jul 30, 2012
    As soon as I know when and where we're headed.
    JbirdsChick likes this.
  7. MsMac

    MsMac Active Member

    May 19, 2016
    The farthest out we've done was about 6 weeks for Yellowstone in September of last year. Otherwise, a week or two, maybe less. We've not had an issue finding nice places to camp for any time period. We've also stayed in some beautiful places without reservations.
    JbirdsChick likes this.
  8. Wrenchgear

    Wrenchgear Near Elmira, Southern Ontario

    Aug 5, 2010
    5 Star Eagle Camper
    When booking here in Ontario for a Provincial Park, the earliest you can book a site is 5 months to the day you want to go in. The web site refreshes at 7 AM, and its a mad dash trying to get logged in and book the site you want, lots of competition. It used to be 11 months, then 6 months, now its been 5 months for a number of years. People used to play a game of booking many sites far in advance, and then by cancelling a bunch as you go along, you somehow work your way to get the site you wanted and never miss out booking your favorite site. I don't fully understand how the game was played, but they've been making it more difficult to play the game by shortening up the booking times.
    JbirdsChick likes this.
  9. Snow

    Snow Well-Known Member

    Jul 19, 2007
    Like Wrench said, booking here in Ontario is five months ahead.. Closer to 6 months if you want to do the dance and pay the penalties for cancelling weeks..

    One bonus I have is at work we do our vacation bidding in October for the following year, so I know plenty early enough exactly when my vacation will be and can book sites accordingly whether we are staying in Ontario or doing a 20 night stay through a couple States.
    JbirdsChick likes this.
  10. jmkay1

    jmkay1 2004 Fleetwood/Coleman Utah

    Oct 10, 2013
    Northern Virginia
    If I choose to camp during a holiday, a special event, or a very popular tourists area then I make my reservations six month or more in advance. I went to Acadia nP made my reservations six months in advance and found that already the campground was nearly fully booked and that was for a trip late August early Sept. Otherwise if I camp non holiday weekend and when kids are still in school I can usually make reservations a couple weeks in advance. Weekday camping reservations can usually be made a day in advance. After awhile you get to know which places you can go on short notice and which you need well in advance. Holiday weekend is a given, everyone is wanting to do the same thing. It's like going to a lake on memorial day. MAD HOUSE central. Totally not my cup of tea.
    JbirdsChick likes this.
  11. JWeible

    JWeible Member

    May 11, 2015
    We don't camp holiday weekends. However, our favorite campground only has about 25 sites and less than half of them are reservable. It's a bit too far of a drive to go and hope we get a first come first serve site and there are no other campgrounds close enough to use as a backup.
    In Iowa the state parks open their reservations up exactly 90 days in advance. So, we plan ahead and I put a reminder on my phone. Reservations open up at 7 am and sometimes I'm lucky to get anything at all. Our first trip this year will be at a nonelectric site because that's all they had left. Worth it though, we love that place.
    JbirdsChick likes this.
  12. kitphantom

    kitphantom Well-Known Member

    Dec 26, 2009
    Albuquerque, NM
    Once upon a time, we almost never reserved a campsite. Now, we mostly reserve. Camping has become more popular.
    We found, a long time ago, that we do more camping when we sit down with the calendar and plan when we want to camp, and usually, where we want to go too. We use my husband's alternate Fridays off to add to trips when possible. For instance, last year and this, his holiday and day off combined to let us do 8 days trips using 3 vacation days for Memorial Day and Labor Day weeks. (No Labor Day trip this year, only 1 vacation day left as we've planned the year - something about an eclipse :smiley:)
    For most of our camping, we try to reserve when the specific campground is eligible to be reserved. Since that usually ranges from 4 months to a year, it can get interesting for some trips.
    We've managed to find sites at shorter notice, but that's getting less than successful in some places. Since we often drive 6-9 hours to a campground, I'd rather have a place to camp than have to search one out.
    For the Colorado Rally last year, people could not get reservations even 4 months in advance. Last time I spot-checked, there were still sites for this year's Rally CG, and there are lots of FCFS in that campground too.
  13. JustRelax

    JustRelax Active Member

    Feb 20, 2013
    Holidays, Halloween, and Indiana Dunes we book the minute they are available. Other trips we book when we realize we have a free weekend and move to the next campground if one is full. Could be a couple of months to a few days. We always go with a reservation. Back when it was just the wife and I with a tent before internet was so convenient we'd do FCFS but it's so easy to do a reservation plus the work and cost involved with pulling the camper I just don't risk showing up without one.
    JbirdsChick likes this.
  14. AFramed!

    AFramed! Member

    Mar 20, 2017
    Full year out for the most popular parks down to 6 months. Spare of the moment fall camping we watch websites daily and scoop up cancelled sites. I agree with Twinmom, the cancellation fee for life happening over a camping weekend (while depressing) is minimal to secure the site at a park where you really want to want to go. We budget campsite reservations right into the household budget and reserve as required to ensure we are "popping up" every chance we get!
    GA Judy, twinmom and JbirdsChick like this.
  15. GA Judy

    GA Judy Active Member

    Oct 15, 2010

    I booked four reservations the other day after seeing how many sites all over Georgia, Alabama, and Florida are reserved. One was easy to get and is for April - Hamburg State Rec Area (GA), harder to fit in was June - Manatee Springs SP (FL), really hard to get 5 nights with a weekend in July - McKinney CG COE at Lake Allatoona (GA), and Nov. - Henderson Beach SP (FL). I tried for Henderson Beach in April but kept having to select "Next 2 weeks" until I got to November! This is the hardest search and bookings I've ever had.
    JbirdsChick likes this.
  16. dlaudens

    dlaudens Member

    Dec 21, 2015
    Usually 6 months out if it's a holiday weekend. Did Acadia NP during July 4th and made the reservation as soon as the reservation window was open (12 months). Some of the reservation sites have an option to be emailed if a site comes open.

    Since you're in Central KY, you could look into the campgrounds as Great Smokey Mtn NP. Surprisingly, a lot of the campsites are non-reservable, but I'm guessing you would have to get there 1st thing on a holiday weekend to get a spot (or show up on Wed/Thurs).
    JbirdsChick likes this.
  17. Natureangel

    Natureangel Everythings better outdoors...

    Feb 28, 2016
    As soon as I decide where I'm going and as soon as the reserve window is open. Especially if the time planned has a weekend in it.
    JbirdsChick likes this.
  18. JbirdsChick

    JbirdsChick One Big Bird, his Chick, and 2 Hatchlings

    Jul 9, 2012
    Central Kentucky
    Thanks guys! I am gonna have to start embracing the idea of booking holidays and other sites 12 months to the date in advance. I think its craziness but with my husband's work schedule the holiday weekends are the only times I can travel somewhere that is 2-3 hours away. The rest of the year I stay less than an hour from home because hubs still has to work. Sometimes I camp solo with the kids . Thanks for helping me process all this.
  19. Haybale

    Haybale I'd rather be camping!!

    Aug 22, 2013
    San Diego via MN
    The only reservations I have made recently are for a rally at a CA SB, and a SP in MN when traveling from CA.

    The majority of my camping now is FCFS state or federal CG's or boondocking.
  20. Orchid

    Orchid Sharp Shootin' Grandma

    Probably because the camping season up there is what? Two, maybe three weeks? [;)]

    Sorry, I couldn't resist. [SUN]

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