FIRST COME.....

Discussion in 'General Camping Discussion Forum' started by Beekeeper1, Jul 5, 2019.

  1. Beekeeper1

    Beekeeper1 Member

    Messages:
    39
    Likes Received:
    10
    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2018
    Location:
    Whitman Creek, WV
    I am new at this and was wondering how important is making reservations for a campsite. How many of you just try for "first come" sites. I sure I would probably call ahead and ask about available sites. How far ahead do you reserve? I plan on trying to visit my daughter, who lives in Montross VA. I would like to stay at the state park. I have checked on line and there seems to always be several sites available that cannot be reserved. The sites that are reserveable at this time do not have electric.
     
  2. eoleson1

    eoleson1 Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,216
    Likes Received:
    666
    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2011
    Location:
    Macomb County Michigan
    I would make a reservation if you can. First come sites can be a crapshoot depending on the park, the time of year, the day of the week, etc. Usually if you call, they will give you a vague answer about when or if the park tends to fill up on a particular day.
     
    PopUpSteve and Rik Peery like this.
  3. Rik Peery

    Rik Peery Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    601
    Likes Received:
    477
    Joined:
    Jun 15, 2018
    Location:
    Virginia
    Depending on which state park, I'd go w/ what eolson1 said, get a reservation; went a few rounds w/ the reservation head a couple months ago; we had a reservation for the non site specific non electric sites (Claytor Lake), supposedly you couldn't get a Friday/Saturday together...there were 3 site specific none electric open at least 1 of those nights, & 2 electric sites totally unoccupied. After talking to some of the camp hosts & campers, I emailed the reservation center & asked about the possibility of requiring a minimum of 2 nights on the weekend, was told that wasn't the problem; I did a recon on the June/July/August reservations, there were several weekends broken up...she didn't wanna hear it, but the staff at the park is pushing for it, so who knows...hope all goes well & you can avoid a cluster bang...I think Westmoreland SP is around there, nice place...***I was told by the reservation head my only option was to book early, book often, but I'm not gonna tie up sites unless I'm for sure gonna use 'em...
     
    Artist60164 and PopUpSteve like this.
  4. jmkay1

    jmkay1 2004 Fleetwood/Coleman Utah

    Messages:
    4,546
    Likes Received:
    1,492
    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2013
    Location:
    Northern Virginia
    I make reservations myself especially if you are looking for electric. In my experience With the state parks near me. Campgrounds have designated first come sites and designated reservations only sites. All the first come sites do not have electricity and if they do., not an ideal site. It entirely depends on the day of the week and when. Coming in on a Friday expect everything to be completely picked over, come in early week day you may have a lot of luck. Unless there is something special going on in town or a few towns over.
    Been to one campground with only first come left and figured if I take Friday off I could easily grab a site early afternoon late morning. Well me and a 100 other people thought the same thing and I managed to grab the only site left. It was a pull though and I thought great, awesome. Didn’t take into consideration that the entire campground was going to use the lower portion as parking for the bathhouse. Had people trampling though my site 24/7. Now I know why no one chose that spot. Like you, that campground is dead when I drove by on a weekday so figured finding a spot would have been no problem. Did find out on the day I left that a town about an hour + away had a bluegrass festival. So that did not help any. I would never do that again, it would have been a long drive back home if I didn’t get that site.
     
    Rik Peery likes this.
  5. Arlyn Aronson

    Arlyn Aronson Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,047
    Likes Received:
    507
    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2014
    Location:
    Houghton, MI
    Many of the NFS campgrounds we utilize are not that busy. Having said that, this afternoon we are heading to one and in case its full, we'll bring along everything needed to boon-dock near there. We plan to work on a trail there so other locations are not practical. But I suspect that option might not work for you. [HH]
     
    Minimalist and Rik Peery like this.
  6. silvermickey2002

    silvermickey2002 Morris County, NJ

    Messages:
    4,627
    Likes Received:
    438
    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2008
    Location:
    Morris County, NJ
    I wouldn't chance it. I would make the reservation. There is nothing more stressful than getting to a park and there is nothing available in the area.
     
    Rik Peery likes this.
  7. davido

    davido Active Member

    Messages:
    870
    Likes Received:
    169
    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2014
    It depends on where the campsite is located. If you're near a popular recreation area such as a national park, state park, or national monument, or a popular fishing / boating destination, forget it. If you're looking for a spot at a remote destination that has very little in the way of attractions you'll often get lucky, but then you're in the middle of nowhere.

    I think of the tradeoffs; prep the trailer, get up early in the morning, hook it up, tow it somewhere 30 minutes to several hours away, show up and discover there are no first come sites available. Tow everything back home, and mow the lawn. ... OR ... make a reservation, show up a popular site with an assurance that there will be a spot for you. Enjoy.

    I've even tried to do first-come at nearby (popular) sites by arriving mid-week on a Wednesday, booking the site through the weekend, and getting ahead of the weekend crowd that way. Campgrounds in my area require that you spend the first night there, and that you visit your site once every 24 hours. So the thought process has been to get the site on a wednesday, spend the night, and then check in on it thursday, and camp with the family friday, saturday, and sunday. Great thought. But of the several times I've attempted it, I never find a spot.
     
    MyName likes this.
  8. kitphantom

    kitphantom Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    11,615
    Likes Received:
    773
    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2009
    Location:
    Albuquerque, NM
    It really depends on location, such as section of the continent and local attractions, as well as time of year and day of the week.
    In the region where we do most of our camping - the 4 Corners States - we have not done FCFS as a routine in over 20 years, most places tend to be too popular most of the year. In some places, we make sure to reserve when the reservation window opens, usually 6 months in advance. Where we used to be able to count on doing reservations closer to a trip, or FCFS, it's just too hard to get a site. [We postponed our trip to North Rim of Grand Canyon, since there was still snow over Memorial Day week. We were able to add it onto a trip already planned for South Rim, and counted ourselves lucky to get 4 nights at a little over 4 months out.]
    Since we tend to drive 5-9 hours to get to camp, we prefer to have a site reserved. There are a couple of places that we'll do FCFS, but we usually try to be much closer and arrive early in the day.
    We have friends, though, who do most trips without making reservations. They tend to do short days, arriving in early afternoon. It works well for them most of the time. However, they have trip coming up in the fall that is mostly reservations, so they can camp in some of the national parks they haven't been able to get into over the past few years.
     
  9. MyName

    MyName Active Member

    Messages:
    278
    Likes Received:
    72
    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2018
    Location:
    Ca
    I always reserve. That way I don't have any disappointed kids. Most sites (state/Fed) that I reserve I try to get them 6 months in advance. I like to take a week, and the places book up relatively fast. Plus I think the reservation vs walk up price is the same at most site? Even if reservation was a few dollars more a night I would do it.
     
    Rik Peery likes this.
  10. neighbormike

    neighbormike Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,063
    Likes Received:
    1,358
    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2012
    Location:
    WI
  11. George2018

    George2018 Member

    Messages:
    31
    Likes Received:
    5
    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2018
    Location:
    Canada
    Depends on how many times my DW "suggests" I do. Personally I prefer not to; however realistically you should reserve if you want electric etc. I have set up my Popup with solar so we can go to any site. I like to check how many sites are left before we head out to make sure there are some left, then drive around when we get there and choose one that looks good.

    But where we live most parks are within a 6 hour drive and there are a lot of them. I have never seen one full yet.
     
  12. Toedtoes

    Toedtoes Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,533
    Likes Received:
    1,164
    Joined:
    May 28, 2018
    Location:
    California
    Booking allows you to get the site you want at the campground you want.

    Not booking, you will likely be able to get a site at a campground in the general area.

    If you can arrive between a Monday and Wednesday, you are more likely to get a site in your preferred campground than if you arrive on a weekend. However, you may have to move come Friday if the site you chose is reservable.

    Personally, up til this summer, I have always reserved in the summer to ensure I get a nice site in my preferred campground for the entire length of my stay. In winter, I often just watch the reservations the two weeks prior to see if reserving may be worthwhile.

    Now with retirement, I am trying to go to more first come first serve campgrounds as I can just move on if one is full.
     
  13. crazymama30

    crazymama30 Active Member

    Messages:
    405
    Likes Received:
    173
    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2017
    I wouldn't trust it. If I am going somewhere I am not familiar with and/or several hours away I want to be sure I have somewhere to set up. The only time I dont worry about reservations is if I already know of a boondocking sight I want or if it is a national forest campground with light use (the website tells you this) and I am going midweek. I dont want to have to camp in a parking lot somewhere.
     
    Rik Peery likes this.
  14. penny

    penny Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    572
    Likes Received:
    368
    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2017
    we never used to book reservations. But we never used any hook-ups. just propane in the bottle, water in the tank and a fully charged battery. We only disperse camped in the national forests and wilderness areas a few hours from home. There are so many places when you camp with a small pop up and youth on your side! But now we travel and camp along the way, we meet people and go camping together, we go to a lot of different places since we are retired and can go camping during the week. Research and reservations are pretty necessary for this kind of camping. We still venture out to the favorite places in our near by forests and wilderness areas without reservations as often as we can, but we know exactly where we are going and when they tend to fill up with campers.
     

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.