Leaving on first cross-country tomorrow!

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Re: Leaving on first cross-country tomorrow!

Postby Bethers » Wed Oct 11, 2017 4:17 pm

OTW wrote:Huh? I thought ReserveAmerica reservation fees were specifically for them to process reservations. You're saying that if you don't make a reservation but just do a walk-in, the fed/state campgrounds charge the reservation fee anyway?

it depends. Some of them go into that system to process the reservations, thus the charge. I rarely make reservations and if they have walk in sites, have not been charged it.
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Re: Leaving on first cross-country tomorrow!

Postby OTW » Wed Oct 11, 2017 4:51 pm

Bethers, do you move around a lot? Sorry, I don't know if you're fulltime ;-|. But if you do travel a fair bit and don't make reservations, how likely is it you'd get somewhere and they'd have no space for you? That was my fear going across country where, after driving 6 hours -- particularly since I always seem to end up getting a really late start -- that I'd get to a CG very ready to call it quits for the day, and be told they had no space. So with that timid approach, I made reservations before even leaving for the trip. Someone said a while back in I think this thread that she doesn't often cover 200-250 miles in a day, so I think if I were not on a destination timeframe, I might be more adventurous in terms of taking my chances, but since you don't make reservations, am hoping to get a better idea how you roll (pun). For one thing, it would seem that if you just pulled up and asked what they have, that you'd probably be less likely to get a drek site. In my case, I'd made the reservation in advance and of course they want a credit card number to hold the space, so I was pretty much at their mercy. Add to that, they were aware I was just passing through, not a local whose repeat business they were concerned about, and I think the whole scenario of how I went about it was flirting heavily with being a sitting duck. ONE campground out of 4 I felt I was given a nice site and that my stated want list (pull-through so I wouldn't have to unhitch, shaded or partially shaded at least, and level). It had all that. The other three? Pfffft. Said they did but fell quite short when I arrived. (I did NOT like being in the position of prepaid with a 1-night cancellation penalty in any event.)
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Re: Leaving on first cross-country tomorrow!

Postby Bethers » Wed Oct 11, 2017 5:17 pm

I'm full time since June 2005. I'll make reservations for some major holidays or more often, for gtgs. The worst that can happen, I find a casino, Cracker Barrel, Sam's Club, Wal-Mart or similar. I usually check for places I'd prefer to stay along my route... At different areas, so if I feel like going further I can. But I also usually plan to be off the road between noon/2 pm. I've not been happy with many commercial cgs, so if a cg, I look for state, county, city, COE. I've never not been able to find a spot for the night, but that doesn't mean I always have hookups. I'm happier, in many cases, away from everyone boondocking.
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Re: Leaving on first cross-country tomorrow!

Postby BirdbyBird » Wed Oct 11, 2017 5:23 pm

My use of preregistration depends...... For example, driving to and from the recent GTG in Illinois I didn't bother to call ahead until about 2-3 pm when I had a pretty good idea of how much more energy I had and how much farther I wanted to drive that day. Depending upon the season (September mid week not being high traffic) most places let me know if they have a pull through or back in and just took my name.... Other than not wanting to park in a mud puddle or spend hours with my leveling blocks so as not to fall out of bed, I don't worry too much about shade or sun or how pretty the site is. I am only planning to stay one night and as long as the electric is solid I am good.

Around holiday weekends or special events like the "fall/halloween" themed weekend camping they have here in the mid-west I would probably need to plan ahead and make reservations earlier. I know that even though the dogs and I don't particularly like it we can stay at Cracker Barrels or Walmarts if it means getting off the road and sleeping we will survive.
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Re: Leaving on first cross-country tomorrow!

Postby Acadianmom » Wed Oct 11, 2017 5:54 pm

I don't know about other states charging the $6 fee for a walk in but I have been charged it at Louisiana State Parks. Since the Louisiana State Parks give Louisiana residents 1/2 off for the National Park Pass I guess I shouldn't complain. Considering the cutbacks that have been make at the parks I'm surprised we still get the discount. The local state park is about half way run by volunteers. We had to raise money to get it opened after it was built. The only reason it got finished after Hurricane Rita was because it had already been contracted. The then governor said the state didn't have the money to open the park. Friends of the park raised the money to open it and they are still holding fund raisers every year to keep it open.

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Re: Leaving on first cross-country tomorrow!

Postby JudyJB » Wed Oct 11, 2017 7:32 pm

One thing I do if I do not have a reservation is check recreation.gov or reserve America a week or two ahead of time. If they show plenty of spaces available, no worries. I do this for two or three potential campgrounds on my route. It also depends on the time of year, however. There is almost NO chance of getting a camping spot here at Yosemite right now no matter how early you arrive--booked full every day.

Now, if you want to join me at Hidden Valley campground at Hensley Lake next week, there are only three campsites out of 45+ occupied! Guarantee you a nice spot with a view of the lake.
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Re: Leaving on first cross-country tomorrow!

Postby snowball » Wed Oct 11, 2017 9:02 pm

OTW wrote:Huh? I thought ReserveAmerica reservation fees were specifically for them to process reservations. You're saying that if you don't make a reservation but just do a walk-in, the fed/state campgrounds charge the reservation fee anyway?


we used to camp host at a National Forest campground...we didn't charge the reservation fee for the walk in's... never heard of the National park doing so but hey things change....hope not totally not fair if they do
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Re: Leaving on first cross-country tomorrow!

Postby JudyJB » Thu Oct 12, 2017 1:12 am

I can understand how you had the bad experience in California. California has absolutely the worst and the most expensive state parks in the country!!! Hands-down.

However, they also have some of the best regional or county parks I have stayed in. Often they are not listed on Reserveamerca.com so you have to use RVparkreviews and also look up the county. For example, here is Sweetwater Regional Park in San Diego. The newest, full hookup part takes up the entire top of a hill, so you get fantastic view and full hookups, all for $33 per night. Here is a photo: http://grandmajjb.blogspot.com/2016/03/ ... go-ca.html

The reason there are very few COE campgrounds in the northeast is because the Corps builds lakes, reservoirs, and canals, and the northeast has lots of lakes already. They build reservoirs in dry places or places like Tennessee, Georgia, and Alabama. And in a lot of places where they build reservoirs, they put in campgrounds for PR.
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Re: Leaving on first cross-country tomorrow!

Postby OTW » Thu Oct 12, 2017 5:02 am

Bethers -- I haven't yet gotten myself techno-equipped to find last minute choices on the fly so can't do the workarounds you do yet (Walmart, Cracker Barrel, etc.) but what you wrote makes sense and leaves you with tons of flexibility. One thing seems likely though--I have a feeling CG owners would be more inclined to give over a higher quality site if you haven't made a prepaid reservation and they can see you can just as easily walk out the door. But I like the way you do it!

Judy -- where's the Hidden Valley Campground you're referring to? I think in California probably but there happens to be one by that same name very close to where I live, and when I read that at first, I thought, "Why not? I'll go from my camping trip I'm leaving for today straight there after instead of headed home, lol.

Getting ready to go up north so will check thread once there. As typical I left way too much to do for the last minute. Does one ever learn to not do that?
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Re: Leaving on first cross-country tomorrow!

Postby OTW » Thu Oct 12, 2017 5:06 pm

Well, some time later in the day, I'm finally at the CG, have set up (not awning until tomorrow morning) and as dusk approaches, I'm sitting at a level picnic table overlooking a beautiful wooded stream with wonderful babbling brook sounds. Nothing like bubbling water to be relaxing and at the moment, this being Thurs. evening, I'm pretty much alone in the whole section, but feel quite safe. Hopefully as other people fill in over the weekend my 2 potential neighbors will be nice but for now, it's perfect. This section of the campground is its own little "place" -- one of those. Now that I've had some practice where setting up is pretty much a breeze, I'm really appreciating having a trailer. Nothing in the world beats a moveable "house" when you find a backyard you like! It's sure Fall though. Northern parts of the state are distinctly colder.

As for California public campgrounds, we used to go to the one in Lake Arrowhead and I don't recall what the fees were but I seem to think it was a very big campground and it was luck of the draw whether you landed next to loud, partying types or not, I remember during one visit a neighboring couple across the road fought constantly -- loudly! At one point it sounded like they were tearing their trailer to shreds, only to find as it escalated, it became obvious the "he" was beating up the "she." Not a ranger around to check on it or break it up, so we went for a walk -- right past their trailer, and started talking a bit loud to see if that close of a presence of others would inhibit the activity, which it immediately did. She came out sniffling, shot me a look that seemed to say thank you, but the next morning when my other female friend and I were sitting outside, approachable eye contact with her so she could make a move if she wanted, she declined and later was hanging all over him as they went straight from coffee at 8am to beer at 9am. Like nothing out of the ordinary had happened. It was kind of a Wild West sort of place. But very pretty scenery. The only other experience in California camgrounds was a beautiful one with rushing water (serious type whitewater) somewhere up north where the big trees were. Did not visit any desert type areas but those can be very pretty also, in a different way entirely.

I think those of you who are in the West have a lot of choices, it sounds like! I'm assuming your campgrounds are open year-round, yes?
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Re: Leaving on first cross-country tomorrow!

Postby Azusateach » Thu Oct 12, 2017 6:46 pm

OTW wrote:I think those of you who are in the West have a lot of choices, it sounds like! I'm assuming your campgrounds are open year-round, yes?


I haven't weighed in on this, largely because I don't have much to add. Until now. ;)

We live in So. California, and almost exclusively camp here, or maybe as far north as the central CA coast. You're right that we have lots of choices, and that the campgrounds are open year-round. California is unique in that there are less than a handful of places that you wouldn't want to camp year-round. Areas in the desert (like Palm Springs) aren't fun in the summer, and the eastern Sierras can be inaccessible during the winter. The coast, however, is available year-round, making California immensely attractive to people wanting to escape colder climates.

Being spontaneous is difficult because we're such a popular area, So. California especially. Sure, we could go to the desert in the winter, but we're not desert rats like Sharon is. ;) We prefer the coast, or regional campgrounds where there are hiking trails or attractions nearby that we can enjoy. So we have to plan ahead. We're used to that, so it doesn't bother us.

I liken dealing with crowds and the obnoxious reservation system to those who've grown up in snow country. We don't know any other way of dealing with making reservations, so we're okay with it. Those of you who live in the snow for half the year just deal with it because that's the way you've grown up. I lived in Minnesota for 3 years in high school, and when our family moved back to California, I got in the car & never looked back. Couldn't pay me enough to live in a place like that again.

So I guess it's all what you're used to. Judy, I know you find CA to be a pain in the patootie at times, and I understand your frustration. There's a price to pay for living and visiting here. Guess one just needs to decide if that price is worth it. ;)
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Re: Leaving on first cross-country tomorrow!

Postby Cudedog » Thu Oct 12, 2017 8:13 pm

I have lived in California most of my life, and there are few places on earth where one can drive to so many and varied landscapes in but an hour or two.

The ocean.
The beaches.
The mountains.
The forests.
The deserts.
The lakes.
The volcanoes (You had to know I would put that one in! :lol: Actually, California has a great many volcanoes. One that is even still quite active! )

It is possible here in California to start one's morning gazing at the ocean, have lunch admiring tumbleweeds in the desert, and tuck into bed that night in a beautiful mountain forest.

It's all here.

I have not camped much in southern California. Hrm. Actually, I try to avoid southern California at all costs. I grew up there, and it has changed so much since I was a child as to be unrecognizable to me. I have camped mostly in northern California, Oregon, Washington and Nevada.

Most (if not all) of the northern California campgrounds that I love (and a great many others besides!) are closed in the winter, from about mid-October to mid-May. Too cold, and too much snow. Located primarily in the western Sierras and southern Cascades. Camping in California valleys in Summertime can be an endurance exercise. Too dang hot, at least for me.

So, yes, California campgrounds do close in the winter. Fancy that! ;)

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Re: Leaving on first cross-country tomorrow!

Postby snowball » Thu Oct 12, 2017 9:03 pm

In the Rocky Mts. the campgrounds are closed during the winter like most of them
are now except maybe some of the ones in the towns. Cold snow wind does it
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Re: Leaving on first cross-country tomorrow!

Postby JudyJB » Thu Oct 12, 2017 10:17 pm

My problem is with California state parks, not the state itself or all campgrounds in the state. I like to have electricity and few that I have found have that, plus they are crowded and expensive compared to the county or regional parks in California. I have not found very many state parks here that have paved sites, electric hookups, and adequate space between sites, and are also reasonably priced.

Some state park campgrounds in California that I really like are ANZA Borrego State Park and a couple of beachfront state parks in southern California, but they cost as much as $40 - $70 per night, which is just too expensive for full-timing when I stay a week or longer at a campground. It is entirely different paying those fees if you are just going on a weekend.

Regional/county parks I really like in California are the Napa EXPO which is at a fairgrounds, Sweetwater Summit near San Diego, Rancho Jurupa in Riverside, Buena Vista Aquatic Park near Bakersfield, Tehachapi Mountain Valley RV Park, and some others I can't think of right now.

I am spending all of the next almost three months in California, so it is not as if I am avoiding the state. I am headed now to Hidden View at Hensley Lake and then spending 10 days at Sweetwater. Also, remember that I am usually looking for a quiet spot where I can relax and get some work done, as opposed to visiting with friends.
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Re: Leaving on first cross-country tomorrow!

Postby Azusateach » Thu Oct 12, 2017 11:19 pm

Judy, look at both Lake Casitas and Lake Skinner. Casitas is near Ojai, and there's a loop or two that have full hook-ups. And I believe that there are sites at Skinner (east of Temecula) that have full hook-ups as well. We like both of them; however, they're not close to any town, so you'd have to be stocked up before camping. And if you are okay with just water & electric for awhile, check out Guajome, which is just outside of Oceanside. All three of these are county parks -- just different counties. Ojai is Ventura Co., Skinner is Riverside Co., and Guajome is San Diego Co.

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