Unused reserved spots

tfischer

A bad day camping beats a good day at the office
That would work great for ne now since I'm retired. But when I worked, it would have been miserable. I'd have to drive 3+ hours to get to a campsite only to arrive to late to nab one and having to drive 3+ hours back home.

Yeah, FCFS really only works when there's enough supply that you can virtually always find a site. '
 

Toedtoes

Super Active Member
May 28, 2018
2,840
California
Our forest service campgrounds have a good mix. They have a few campgrounds that are only FCFS. These are usually in smaller campgrounds that have limits on camper size (often "under 21ft" or "under 18ft").

Then with the bigger campgrounds, they'll identify a portion (maybe 5-25%) of the sites as FCFS. The rest are reservation only. And they will vary which sites are which each year. Sometimes they do it by loop and other times they pick a few from each loop.

I think it works well. Folks with larger rigs who are already limited as to potential campsites can reserve. Folks with small rigs or tents can grab last minute since they don't have to fit a 24-45ft rig.
 

Susan Premo

Super Active Member
Nov 5, 2020
1,130
Minnesota
I've noticed that if the campground is any where near water, the sites that are fcfs, are not on the water, which can suck for a lot of people.
 

Susan Premo

Super Active Member
Nov 5, 2020
1,130
Minnesota
MN state parks used to do that but they went to 100% reservations a few years back, as many of those sites sat empty all season.
I dont like state parks as much as I use to, they charge too much. National parks are a better deal, and if your 62 or older you can get the senior pass. But, I do miss whitewater state park, it's just so busy, its beautiful though.
 

tzmartin

Not here for a long time but here for a good time!
Sep 9, 2015
1,432
Clayton, Georgia
Disney's Fort Wilderness seems to have a good system. You pick your site type and days you're camping. They give you the specific site number when you check in. You do get to request close to bath house or bus stop but if you don't check in, the site is not assigned. Of course, you lose out on a specific site you may want. I've found that all the sites I've had there are pretty good even though I may not have chosen it if it were a FCFS. There's no one way to do this system.
 

kitphantom

Super Active Member
Platinum Supporting Member
Dec 26, 2009
14,036
Albuquerque, NM
When we began camping 30+ years ago, we almost never made reservations. Even then, there were times we couldn't find a spot, but we could usually find a place to perch and move after a day or two. By sometime int he mid-90s, much of the area we usually camp was discovered. One of the final straws was getting shut out of a FCFS-only, large campground, mid-week, early in the day. We now do reservations probably 95% of the time. As we've moved from tents to our two popups, and on to our 17' TT, we have reduced the sites we can choose from, though not as much as we would have with a larger rig. (Our TT is actually smaller than larger pups and HTTs are when open.)
We usually drive 5-8 hours to get to a campground, so beginning to look for a site at that point is no longer fun. Our friends who almost never reserve have been able to find spots, but even they have started to make more reservations.
With the increase in interest in camping, it will just be worse for the time being, especially with some campgrounds not opening and others choosing reduced capacity until Covid issues improve.
 

tenttrailer

Art & Joyce - Columbus, O
Jul 18, 2013
3,796
Thornville, OH
+2 on almost never making reservation 30+ years ago. Even 10 years ago you could almost get a weekend CS without reservations, except those special places or weekends.

Now you almost alway need reservation on weekends. Week day we do a lot with no reservations. But covid comes along and the state and federal require reservations. The campsites seem harder to get reservation, mostly due to covid campers.
 

BillyMc

Super Active Member
Mar 25, 2018
2,488
South Carolina
Even this past year with the exception of when everything was closed I could get a site anytime I wanted. The key is to be flexible. I you want to camp, you can camp. If you want to visit a certain destination you need to plan ahead if it's a popular one or a busy holiday. Equipping to your level of comfort to be able to dry camp goes a long way toward being able to camp when you want.
 

Susan Premo

Super Active Member
Nov 5, 2020
1,130
Minnesota
  1. I'd like to just find a spot, to boon dock on. Not that it necessarily has to be a free thing, that would be sort of the objective though . Just to feel the real solitude.
 

Toedtoes

Super Active Member
May 28, 2018
2,840
California
The key is to be flexible.

Unfortunately, not everyone can be flexible. Some folks can't take off work in the middle of the week; some folks only have their kids on certains days; some folks have emotional/medical/other reasons why they are limited.

Those of us who can be flexible should be very grateful. For me, I try to remember what it was like before I retired - so I try to camp during the week so working folks can have the weekends. I also don't make reservations I don't intend to keep.
 

kitphantom

Super Active Member
Platinum Supporting Member
Dec 26, 2009
14,036
Albuquerque, NM
As Toedtoes says, it's easier for some to be more flexible than many others.
I'm retired, but my husband won't retire for another 5-8 years (Finally that number is under 10!) Because he has worked a "9/80" schedule for years, we use those alternate Fridays off, his holidays, and vacation time to get in as much camping as possible. Because the region we usually camp in has become so popular over the last 2-1/2 decades, reservations are the way we work, even if they're not always a complete must. Add in things like needing to reserve a campsite at Grand Canyon 6 months in advance, which ties my husband to that time frame when he requests his backpack permit 4 months in advance, and there is only so much flex we could do for one of those trips.
 

firepit

Super Active Member
Feb 26, 2020
2,820
Here in Nebraska they are at least trying to adjust on the fly.
Reservations are now only allowed 1 month in advance.
You have to take the good with the bad.
For our family camping trip where we have to reserve 4-6 sights together...Being able to
reserve a yr out was nice.
Now I have to make sure I get in there at midnight at the 30 day mark.
I did call them and they are discussing maybe going to a 60-90-120 day window.
The FCFS part is what I don't like....People go out on a Mon-Tue-Wed and pay then
put a tent or camper on the site and leave and don't return till Friday night.
The down side to reservations a year in advance are....Retired people or people with money
get on and reserve up everything for the whole summer rather they go or not.
The little guy who still works and has limited funds and weekend camps gets left out.
I get the whole the argument if someone pays for it and never shows up...They still payed for it.
Who knows what their reasons for not showing up are (Car troubles..Family Emergencies...Work...Etc)
Something should be done to open those spots back up.
I have had family members show up on a Friday night and spots say reserved but then they go to the office
and a spot next to us is open and they say....That spot is open we just didn't remove the tag.
I have seen them get told no spots are available and no cancellations have been made and nobody shows up
all weekend.
There are no perfect solutions to cover everybody but at least around here they are trying finally
to adjust things to make it more fair across the board.
Whatever the rules are...Its on us to deal with them.
If that means I have to jump on the computer at midnight on the 30 day prior date
then I will...It is what it is.
I like the 1 month in advance rule for everything but family camping trips
where we need multiple sites together and have family coming from different states
and need that extra time for planning and time off.
At least with a yr in advance you have more time for going to plan B if plan A doesn't work out.
One idea I like is...You have to use Reserve America and register a account as the only way to Reserve spots.
Then the put a cap on how many reservations you can make at once.
Example...You reserve a spot for a (weekend only) and you have to wait a minimum of two weeks before you can reserve another spot
at that same campground.
The exception being if you reserve 7 days in a row.
This would give the still working weekenders a fair shot.
FCFS spots is easy...You are only allowed to reserve them if you are physically there every night.

Just some more of my thoughts since my original post.
 

BillyMc

Super Active Member
Mar 25, 2018
2,488
South Carolina
Unfortunately, not everyone can be flexible. Some folks can't take off work in the middle of the week; some folks only have their kids on certains days; some folks have emotional/medical/other reasons why they are limited.

Those of us who can be flexible should be very grateful. For me, I try to remember what it was like before I retired - so I try to camp during the week so working folks can have the weekends. I also don't make reservations I don't intend to keep.
Oh I know! Anniversary 2014 we pack the bags on the Harley and spent nearly a week riding the mountains. Anniversary 2015 we have a house full of my stepson's kids renting and SUV to go to the mountains for three days because that's all the got off from school for Labor Day. Then DQT joins marching band, that would have never happened had I know those fools expect an entire family to work their lives to fit the demands of a pampas narcissist that think the whole world revolves around high school band. She has graduated and moved out and finding out band and her dream of career in it is fading. We still have the two boys, the youngest has six more years of school after this one. Flexible is different for everyone. We have three destination camping trips coming this year, they are all booked for times the kids are out of school and I can be off work. There will be other strictly camping getaways that will popup when we have a free weekend and the weather is nice. Those I will just start checking local CGs until I find an open site. There are a few that are dry only with some having vault toilets that always have open sites. I really miss the freedom where only my work was a factor in our activities, but now if the kids weren't here I really miss them. We are planning a around the country trip for when I retire and so happens the youngest boy should be graduating the month after I retire.
 




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