Why is a good campground so hard to find?!

Discussion in 'Campground / Trip Planning & Suggestions ?' started by Suzanimal, May 1, 2012.

  1. cwolfman13

    cwolfman13 Active Member

    Messages:
    3,218
    Likes Received:
    7
    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2011
    Sometimes camping on a busy holiday weekend can't be helped. I used to avoid it like the plague, but that was back in the good old days when I could pretty much pack up and head out whenever I got the itch. These days, DW and I are busy, busy people and the holiday weekends give us an opportunity to camp for multiple nights without having to burn precious vacation hours at work.

    In RE to RV resorts...."real camping"....etc; really, it's what you make of it. Everyone has their personal preferences and it's all "real" camping as far as I'm concerned. Personally, I couldn't do it; besides the hassle of making reservations and the extortion prices, I just can't stand being packed in that tightly (often with only enough space between sites to have a picnic table). I by no means want to tell someone how/where to camp, to each their own....but I do think people often sell themselves short in this RE and completely disregard a plethora of other camping opportunities because they think they "need" X, Y, & Z. Most people I talk to who finally bite the bullet and break free of their hookups, swimming pools, televisions, etc really enjoy themselves and wonder why they didn't do it sooner.

    In RE to the kiddos, you would be amazed at their ability to let their imaginations take over in the absence of manufactured entertainment. Also, a lot of other hobbies and things people do while camping to keep themselves and their kids entertained (check out the Hobbies threads), for example, geo caching....and numerous other activities. Camping can also be quite the learning experience....everything from basic survival skills to simply learning about the nature that is all around us but often goes ignored with the hustle and bustle of daily life.

    In RE to acronyms......here's several that should help you out:

    FS - Forest Service
    BLM - Bureau of Land Management
    COE - Corps of Engineers
    CG - Camp Ground
    NP - National Park
    SP - State Park
    SF - State Forest
    DW/DH/DS/DD, etc - Dear Wife/Dear Husband/Dear Son/Dear Daughter, etc (depending on your mood and feelings at the time, the first letter may have a different meaning....i.e when DW refers to me as DH....it's often "Dumb Husband" or "Dorky Husband"

    Just go out and have fun....relax and enjoy yourself; camping shouldn't be stressful. Happy [CP]
     
  2. Suzanimal

    Suzanimal New Member

    Messages:
    14
    Likes Received:
    0
    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2012
    Cwolfman13,

    THANK YOU for your thoughtful response and the acroymn definitions. I was WAY off on some! [:D]

    From eating/sleeping/living campground research the last few days (because I know it's a holiday and I am already behind the game) I am starting to understand what everyone is saying regarding leaving behind the modern amenities and focusing more on what I set out to do to begin with - get back to nature and spend time with my family. I think fear has been holding me back and I'm ready to take a step out of my comfort zone.

    Now that I am switching gears, can you recommend how I go about finding some alternative campgrounds to the resort style? We may still try those but I think going to one for our very first trip will also set a bad precedent for the kids. I certainly don't want them to expect to be constantly entertained.

    I am currently looking in the Lake George NY area because of the plethora of outside actives and because we have never been to that area. But I am open to mid coast Maine and down, New Hampshire, MA, CT, even RI.

    Again I want to thank everyone so much for their help!
     
  3. cwolfman13

    cwolfman13 Active Member

    Messages:
    3,218
    Likes Received:
    7
    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2011
    Well, I'm not abundantly familiar with the east coast or New England, but I would start with State Parks within the travel radius you're looking at. State Parks are great for novices and experienced campers alike, and my experiences have generally been positive; I haven't been to a SP yet where I said, "boy.....never coming back here." With SPs, you have a pretty wide range of options and different experiences. Here in NM, we have some SPs that take reservations and some that don't; most that take reservations also have some sites that are first come-first served. Many SPs also have hookups as an option, as well as non-hookup sites; many also have other amenities such as small playgrounds and the like for kiddos. Many have flush toilettes and some have full bath houses as well. They are not as well appointed as a resort type RV park, but IMO, the overall experience is much better as some amenities are available, but there's a much more "back to nature" vibe to everything. A google search of SPs should do the trick.

    Another option would be to see if their are any National or State Forests in your travel radius; their websites should disclose what campgrounds are in that particular forest. Again, not familiar with the east, but here in NM, FSCGs are generally first come-first served with some exceptions for group areas; I've seen only a handful of FSCGs that actually take reservations for anything other than group areas. Also, they tend to be "dry".....as in no hookups for electricity and water; in fact, I've never been to a FSCG with hookups, though there may be some out there. Most of these have vaulted toilettes (out houses) and water available (but not usually on your particular site).

    Being one of the busiest holiday weekends of the year, I would imagine you will still run into some hurdles. I boondock camp (no campground....just find a forest road and keep going until I find a spot I like) and I can generally get away from the crowds on most weekends, but holiday weekends can be just as busy in the boonies as it is at the CG and I've had to do a bit of driving in the past to find a spot on a holiday weekend (even in the boonies).

    Couple tips:

    1.)If you're doing first come-first served for a busy holiday weekend, I recommend arriving on a Thursday and no later than mid morning on a Friday. By noon on Friday of a holiday weekend, you're likely to find a lot of full up CGs regardless of whether they're first come-first served or reservable.

    2.)I've never camped with hookups, but I know a lot of people simply can't do without them. Just be aware that hookup sites tend to be snagged up pretty quickly. If you can manage dry camping, it is well worth it; you will find that "dry" sites are often more spacious and private relative to hookup sites. I don't know why, but I presume it has something to do with setting up the power/water grids.

    3.)with a p'up, you don't necesarily need an "RV site". If you need/want hookups, you may have no choice here....but a lot of people work under the assumption that they have to have an RV site because they're in a camper. A p'up is quite versatile and can often fit into sites that other RVs can't; as such, I prefer what are often referred to as "standard sites" and I've even camped in a couple of "tent" sites that weren't the walk in variety.
     
  4. kitphantom

    kitphantom Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    11,760
    Likes Received:
    858
    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2009
    Location:
    Albuquerque, NM
    Have you tried searching on reserveamerica.com and recreation.gov? (I know many don't like reservations, or even that they exist, but for some of us it relieves a lot of stress.) At quick glance, it looks like there might be places in the areas you're considering, though not many left for that weekend.
     
  5. cwolfman13

    cwolfman13 Active Member

    Messages:
    3,218
    Likes Received:
    7
    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2011
    This may also help, now and in the future. It's not the be all end all, but it's pretty good:

    http://epgsoft.com/CampgroundMap/

    The red markers are private CGs and RV parks, etc. The green are public CGs.....i.e. state parks, national forest service, blm, national parks, etc.
     
  6. Penny Logan

    Penny Logan The traveling teepee in her Dreamcatcher

    Messages:
    276
    Likes Received:
    0
    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2011
    The website that cwolfman13 posted is wonderful and lists just about everything. I would suggest if you can go on Thursday on a first come, first served, you would be in the best shape to get a site. Tent site with hook ups would work. I don't know how old your children are, but for my 5 yr old granddaughter and 10 yr old neice I take crayons/paper/books, checkers, kites, butterfly net, cheap binoculars. I also have a small tv with built in VHS and take some movies. We always fish and swim, and take little hikes. Have them collect the kindling for the fire. The time really flies by when we camp. The 10 yr old has a game boy and her cell phone to play games on.
    Alot of the activities you will do, depend on the age of the child(ren)
    You will probably take too much stuff the first couple of times out, make a list and add or delete from it, as you take each trip.
    Hope you have a great time and make wonderful memories [:)C]
     
  7. Suzanimal

    Suzanimal New Member

    Messages:
    14
    Likes Received:
    0
    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2012
    Thanks for all the recommendations! I have searched some of those sites and am checking out the others.

    I finally booked a site! We are staying at the Twin Mountains (NH) KOA. It seemed like a good mix of resort like (because it does have a pool and gameroom) and a more quiet campground where most of the activities are active like basketball, etc.
    It's also in a great area with plenty of things to do. Amusement parks (Santa's village, Six Flags, etc) and natural activites (Flume Gorge, etc.) So we should have plenty to do both on and off the CG. I looked it up on here and it seemed to be highly regarded amongst those who had stayed there before.

    Thanks again for everyone's help!!! Now I am off to use those websites provided to find our next trip's campground!!! [RTM]
     
  8. JeepMama

    JeepMama New Member

    Messages:
    2,424
    Likes Received:
    11
    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2011
    I am glad to see that you found a spot for Memorial weekend :) another fun activity with kids while camping is geocaching... we have been able to do it easily with a smart phone app and or our car's gps. Have fun!
     
  9. cwolfman13

    cwolfman13 Active Member

    Messages:
    3,218
    Likes Received:
    7
    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2011
    Glad you found a place that works for you.....have a great MM Day weekend, just the beginning of many family camping memories I would presume.

    Happy [CP]
     
  10. dgarbers

    dgarbers New Member

    Messages:
    394
    Likes Received:
    0
    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2008
    Location:
    GA
    Travelhoveler - one question about "The campgrounds at Grand Canyon often fill." What time of year is that, is it just summer, or all year round?

    Thank you!
     
  11. kitphantom

    kitphantom Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    11,760
    Likes Received:
    858
    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2009
    Location:
    Albuquerque, NM
    I'm not Travelhoveler, but head for GCNP a couple of times a year.

    Which campgrounds are you interested in? We would not head for North Rim without reservations, have seen few empty spaces there (short season and remote location both contribute. I know TH and some friends of our stayed at DeMott, not far from the entrance, it is a FCFS NF campground, but it has not always been open when we've been there, esp. early in the summer. There is boondocking in the NF too )again that may depend on road conditions early in the season), but our personal preference is to be in the park, as we enjoy not needing to drive as much as staying farther away requires. [We walk a lot in the evenings, and it is great to just stroll out from the campsite.]
    For South Rim, we make reservations, even though we are often there in less busy seasons; we usually stay at Mather CG. When I was there in Sept., the weather was rainy, and the campground was not full. Same with the trip in Nov., but not everyone wants to camp in a snowstorm. For that trip, we did make reservations at Trailer Village (we knew the weather would be colder than previous Nov. trips & wanted power), again it was not full, but we didn't know what to expect for vacancies.
     
  12. colorado_camper

    colorado_camper Member

    Messages:
    852
    Likes Received:
    9
    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2011
    Location:
    Denver, Colorado
    Just to add to the kids activities ideas, an old girlfriend and I used to camp with her young kids and we always carried some of those cheap (Cobra, etc.) 2-way radios. Not only did it help with car-to-car communications but we would send the kids out on their own with one and we would check in with them every few minutes. It made them feel all grown up. [;)]

    On one trip, they were gone for a while and had been very quiet, a little too quiet - I'm sure you know what I mean!! Anyway, my girlfriend grabbed the radio and called them on it only to receive an agitated, "Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!" from the other end. Turns out they had come across a small group of deer in the woods and were silently tracking them until we called on the radio and scared the deer off. [V] They were so excited by this whole experience and talked about it for months afterwards.
     
  13. Travelhoveler

    Travelhoveler New Member

    Messages:
    2,337
    Likes Received:
    7
    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2011
    We only visit the North Rim as it is not nearly so crowded as the South Rim. In fact, it only gets about 10% of the visitation.

    The North Rim is NOT open all year. It closes with the fall snows and reopens in spring, sometimes late spring. The campground in the park often fills.

    However, there are a number of interesting options other than the North Rim campground. We much prefer the USFS campground five miles outside the entrance at De Motte Park. It's located in an absolutely beautiful meadow and is scenic and quiet with lots of wildlife around. In fact, it's one of the nicest campground settings I've ever seen. That campground opens mid to late spring and stays open until fall. According to the concessionaire manager, it fills every now and then, but not often. You can be in the park in a few minutes and at the rim in about twenty or twenty-five, and then get away from the hustle and bustle at the end of the day. No showers, but we use those in the park.

    There is another USFS campground at the north end of the Kaibab Parkway at Jacob Lake. According to the hosts, it never fills. It's thirty minutes from the park though.
     
  14. NJGuy

    NJGuy Active Member

    Messages:
    2,353
    Likes Received:
    5
    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2010
    I agree, DeMotte CG is awesome. South Rim, during Summer, is an absolute mob scene. Better during Spring and Fall. However, early Spring and late Fall can be cold due to higher elevation.
     

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.