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Reservations or "First Come, First Serve"


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While planning a "jaunt" from AZ to Nor CA via a bunch of states, using my "Camping America's Guide", Youtube, and gov. sites, I'm having a rough time determining which campgrounds require reservations, and which have a "first come, first serve" policy. Is there an better source for this information than making phone calls or having to wade through user unfriendly government sites that are slow and inefficient. Thanks much!

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Unless you're planning to stop at a 'high profile' area, don't bother with reservations. We rarely made them. If it's just a one night stop you can always boondock somewhere or pull into a RV park around 4pm or so and you'll get a spot.


We've even been to national parks without reservations with our 40' motorhome. Some campgrounds in the parks don't even accept reservations. For those we'd stay outside the park nearby and move into the campground early morning when folks are leaving.


Good luck!

Full-timed for 16 Years
Traveled 8 yr in a 2004 Newmar Dutch Star 40' Motorhome
and 8 yr in a 33' Travel Supreme 5th Wheel

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We rarely make reservations but do call ahead to where we want to stay about noon. You can waste fuel and time cold calling on campgrounds that do not have a space for you. We have also found parks that were listed in directories that were closed. This Spring several parks in Mississippi that we were considering were closed due to flooding. The larger the RV, the greater the chance that there may not be a site large enough. If you are willing to take a backin site, that can increase your chances in some parks. It is not just holidays and special events that will fill up the campgrounds. Last fall comng across Kansas, the two commercial parks in the area where we wanted to stop were completly full due to a pipeline construction project in the area. We went to a nearby state park and were the only ones in our loop other than the host (the state park has a 14 day limit so was not used by the construction workers),

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We almost never make reservations. Like others we call around noon with several options in mind for our stop. Almost always we are told yo come on. But we end our team l days by 2 or so in the afternoon

Ron & Linda

Class of 2007
2000 Monaco Diplomat

2005 Honda Element

"Do what you can, with what you have, where you are" Theodore Roosevelt

"We can't control the wind, but we can adjust our sail"

"When man gave up his freedom to roam the earth, he gave up his soul for a conditioned ego that is bound by time and the fear of losing its attachments."

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I'm not aware of any government run parks that require reservations but there are many that do fill up, particularly on weekends and so a reservation is needed at times. Commercial RV parks rarely ever require them but calling ahead is a good practice and one we usually do. For government parks, recreation.gov or reserve America cover most federal ones but only some state parks and very few county parks. Like Linda, we seldom bother with reservations, usually do call ahead, especially if in a busy area.

Good travelin !...............Kirk

Full-time 11+ years...... Now seasonal travelers.
Kirk & Pam's Great RV Adventure



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Like others, we rarely make reservations. That includes at RV parks and campgrounds. I can't remember a time when we were not able to find a place to stay. We do end our day early, however...we're off the road by 2 or 3 PM and always by 4 PM.


If you are traveling in a popular area during tourist season, or you are traveling during a holiday, or you don't get off the road until late afternoon or evening, then reservations would probably be a good idea. Otherwise, I wouldn't sweat it.

2014 Winnebago Aspect 27K
2011 Kia Soul


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You have to make reservations at some of the better locations, North Rim AZ, Goblins State Park Utah, Green River Dino Park Ut, Zion Ut, Fools Lake AZ State Park, Moab and many others. This is also the case if you want to be near a feature; lake shore, river, canyon edge. Some locations are fully booked within a week of the sites becoming avail. Most Gov sites state if a location is first come or reservations. Good luck, made my reservations last winter for the North Rim.


rocmoc nAZ/Mexico

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While government campgrounds may not require reservations, it seems that more and more of them are taking reservations. Some campgrounds that had both first come first serve sites and reservable sites seem to be putting more sites or all the sites into the reservation system. Two examples of this are the COE campgrounds at Abuqui and Cochiti Lakes that are often mentioned on this forum. It appears that all of the sites are now reservable where in previous years half the sites were first come first serve. The reservation window is 72 hours, so you may be able to get a site for a night or two, but no guarantee that you will be able to stay or not have to play musical campsites.


What constitutes an attraction and the popularity of some normally quiet rural areas at specific times may come as a surprize to those unfamiliar with the area. Harvest Festivals, Pow Wows, Oktoberfests, County Fairs and such can fill up the campgrounds in areas with few to begin with. We enjoy these type of local events and seek them out, checking out the availability of places to stay in the process.

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COE parks on the Snake River near Pasco, WA are all reservable but you can snag a spot if no one has reserved it. But you have to be out by the date that spot is reserved. Weekends for these parks finds all spots reserved months in advance. This makes it very difficult for people who can't plan weekend camping due to work issues and encourages vacation camping (two weeks at a time). I'm not a big fan of "all reservation" RV parks (like many of the state parks are moving towards) simply for the fact that it is difficult for many people to plan a weekend far enough ahead of time to get a spot.


So we tend to go to out of the way places and boondock a lot.



1993 Foretravel U225 with Pacbrake and 5.9 Cummins with Banks

1999 Jeep Wrangler, 4" lift and 33" tires

Raspberry Pi Coach Computer

Ham Radio

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