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How was traveling this past summer?? Crowded??


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I decided to spend the summer at the cabin.  But all summer long I noticed the traffic from Seattle heading over the passes into eastern Washington.  We do rent the cabin as a vacation rental and it has been booked every weekend since late June.  First time that has happened.

With the approach of fall I have organized a fishing trip up to a small lake.  I did email and friend and former Forest Service collegue that lives in the area.  Here is his note.

Good luck on at the lake.   

Yeah....lots of folks in the woods.  Twice Ive driven up Hwy 20 to do short walks off Rainy or WA passes.  
Both times I came home - hikeless;  the Rainy Pass lot had 90+ cars...folks parked out the access road and quite a ways up and down 20.  
Even the normally quiet TH across the road that is just the PCT trail going North - 75 cars.   
I dont need that many people breathing on me....!

I’ve driven up Twisp River 4 or 5 times.  Again...looking for a short walk, or just a place to sit by the river.   
Or to ride my bike for a while.  EVERY wide spot has a camp in it, and most of them look like long-termers.  
I pulled a small log, that had been purposely placed there, from across one low-level spur - drove down - and found 3 camps at the end.  

Another trailhead that has a dead end trail - that I know hasnt been maintained in 10+ years - had 8 cars at it. 

It’s weird....these camps are all empty during the day, no cars around.  
I think they are camps of ‘homesteaders’ working in town- or else covid refugees from Seattle.   
It’s the same or even worse up the Chewuch.  
I drove some folks up to the 30-mile Fire memorial in mid-July - absolutely swamped with folks in every camping spot!   

Where the hell are all these folks going to go a month from now?   
I think it makes the PBS series I sent you more interesting.  Is it ‘Grapes of Wrath’, again?

So how was it this summer in the RV campgrounds, the Forest Service and BLM sites, and the National Parks??   Particularly interested in boondocking reports from different parts of the country.

The good news is no large fires on the Forest.  We had NO RAIN for the entire summer in Wenatchee and with the large number of folks in the woods....truly a miracle.

Here are the links to the PBS series....slightly off-this topic but RV'ers will appreciate the series.

https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/these-retirement-age-nomads-find-work-wherever-the-road-takes-them

https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/how-some-older-americans-are-monetizing-their-vanlife

Edited by Vladimir
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In Texas many RV dealers essentially sold out this summer. The dealer in Kerrville actually had zero inventory at one point, and in an article said that the demand had been unprecedented, and supply curtailed due to COVID. With camping being one of the "endorsed" recreational family activities in this COVID era, many first time folks bought RV's and headed out to the parks. I know of at least two families that bought RV's solely because of this. Things have calmed somewhat with school starting back up, and it will be interesting to see how many of these folks stick with RVing as a long-term hobby. 

Many Texas State Parks were maxed out for both overnight camping and day use most weekend days and even some weekdays this summer. I saw a lot of notifications as early as Tuesday or Wednesday stating that all day-use passes had been sold for Saturday and Sunday, and sometimes Friday as well. And other "day of" notifications on weekdays stating that the park had reached capacity for the day. 

Our experience over the past few years has been that both public and private campgrounds are busier than in the previous years, and I imagine that will continue. For us it has made our long trips from volunteer spot to volunteer spot less enjoyable as we've had to plan a bit farther in advance, and generally avoid public campgrounds completely on weekends. Some favorite spots are not longer viable on a "drop in" basis. 

Edited by mptjelgin
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Northern mid Michigan We stayed in one park June through September . The weekends were usually full and dead vacant , but for the seasonals and not even all of them , during the week . That is typical for that park , year to year .

So far , we haven't had difficulty during our travels . Came close this weekend as we booked the last site . It happens to be a special weekend as there are boat races scheduled . 

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Yesterday tried to go through Rocky Mountain National Park on U.S. 34 (Trail Ridge Road).  Stopped at the entrance gate, and we were told that unless we had reservations we couldn't go in.  ...And they were booked to capacity.

Regards,

Michael

Edited by bockofma
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For anyone looking for summer options, I would encourage you to look at Minnesota and Wisconsin as possibilities. Lots of camping options...everything from KOA with FHU to remote US Forest Service campgrounds up in the Superior National Forest. And unlike places like California, you can park almost anywhere when you need a night or two in between developed campgrounds. (Walmart, city streets, parks, etc).

We didn't allow Covid to alter our camping trips and made short trips to Iowa, Duluth, MN, Sturgeon Bay WI, and Whitewater State Park (MN). We camp Sun-Fri as weekends are definitely busier and we just go home and park the RV when not in use. The trip to Sturgeon Bay included weekends and we planned ahead and made reservations at Lake Wissota SP for 2 nights, camped for free at the casino in Green Bay, Wi before heading up to Tranquil Timbers (Thousand Trails) in Sturgeon Bay. It was our first trip to Door County and very much enjoyed it. Lots of weekenders, so the weekends are busy and Mon-Thurs a slower pace sometimes. 

If you're on a Thousand Trails membership, MN doesn't have any parks but Wisconsin has 6 including the Trails Collection parks., 

The Northern part of MN/WI has vast wilderness with lots of camping options, 13,000 lakes in MN, and of course "The Big Lake" which is always awe inspiring.

 

 

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I’ve been finding last minute reservations difficult in certain locations out west.  I was in Las Vegas where the pets section of the campground I was in was pretty full while the non-pets side was half empty for most of the month, but filling up fairly fast this week.

Since I’m on my way to Phoenix I wanted to spend a couple of nights somewhere cooler than Vegas and on the way.  I tried 3 campgrounds in Williams and all were filled for the weekend.  On the other hand, I didn’t have any trouble getting a site at a campground in Quartzsite for Friday and Saturday.  It looks like some things are starting to open up in town, and I was told people are starting to trickle in for the season in spite of the 100 plus temps.

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4 hours ago, bockofma said:

Yesterday tried to go through Rocky Mountain National Park on U.S. 34 (Trail Ridge Road).  Stopped at the entrance gate, and we were told that unless we had reservations we couldn't go in.  ...And they were booked to capacity.

Regards,

Michael

That's interesting.  I wonder if Highway 120 (Tioga Pass Rd) in Yosemite National Park is under similar restrictions?? 

I talked to a non-Forest Service friend that went to the back country areas in Montana and he said it was very crowded.  I wasn't sure of his comments since he did not work for the Forest Service.  So I asked my friend and it looks like it was very crowded in Montana on the Flathead National Forest.

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We are in NE WA and have had no problems here.  Keep in mind that all NPS stuff is/was closed.  We primarily boondock.

In June was did Banks Lake for 4 nights and it was empty until July 3 and got over filled so we left and headed for Mattawa.  At that location over the 4th there was only one other camp site and it was a long way from us.  

Then we went to the Blue Mtn outside of La Grand, again no problem finding an opening with no neighbors.  

Off to Pine, ID.  There were a lot more people in that area, but it is a huge recreation area.  Even then we were easily able to find a spot distanced from neighbors.

This was followed by a Challis, ID we stayed 3 nights in a private campground because that is where our friends were staying.  This was on a weekend and it was full, but also has hot springs.  We decided to stay the rest of the week but due to temperatures and needing good cell service we found another park in town.  They had lots of space with full hooks for $30/day, or about what it would have cost to run the generator for AC. 

Then we headed down to Arco, ID.  Again no problem find a spot.  

I have spent 3 of the last 4 weeks in OR, and I did have lots of neighbors, but hey that is the life in fire camp. 

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We found it incredibly crowded out there. Boondocking sites were crowded, RV parks were packed. More than once we got the *very last* site in a park, even though they had 50-200 sites! Eventually we lowered our 'standards' and started utilizing lower end parks and county fairgrounds. Those weren't as full, as long as you got in before a weekend. This is everywhere west of the Rockies, from New Mexico to Montana to Washington to Southern California. Increased demand combined with restrictions on occupancy = PITA!

We're now back in Albuquerque. We're not at our usual park because they were booked! The balloon festival was cancelled long ago, but lots of people had reservations. The ones that cancelled were quickly replaced. We got into a nearby park, just barely.

No, it's not impossible, you can reserve ahead of time if you schedule things out. But the boondocking is iffy. Always have a backup plan!

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 We changed our plans due to COVID and cancelled all of our reservations so we had to wing it this summer. even though we were told by more than 1 campground that it has been crazy busy we still never had any issues finding a campground but we do plan at least a week in advance. 

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We stayed at several NY State Parks this past summer and most were quite full. One exception was our Labor Day week stay at a park on the St Lawrence Seaway near the Canadian border. There were a number of vacant sites, and a staff member said they had a number of late cancellations and no-shows. Since the park is quite popular with Canadians, I expect the closed border was a major factor.

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