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Old 01-12-2019, 12:11 PM   #1
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Starting the 2019 Camping Process

This past week was the start of 2019 for myself with the booking of National Park campgrounds in Canada. Every year it is a major challenge to pick where we want to be on long weekends and book these sites at precisely 8:00 AM in the morning. Signing in, selecting sites and having the finger at the ready to hit reserve button. The stress of getting the spot, worrying if your computer will freeze up or will you get thrown out of the web site only to log back in and see there is no more availability on where you want to stay. Even though we did not get the first choice on the sites we wanted, we did get sites. Redstreak in Kootenay for May, Tunnel Mountain in Banff for July, Wapiti in Jasper in August and Kicking Horse in Yoho in August. We still have to go through the process one more time for British Columbia campsite in August. The stress continues.
Now I look out the window and see my Windjammer covered in snow and wait for spring to arrive. Four months to go.
I do have the RV show coming in February to to keep my hopes up that spring will arrive. I think of the the things I will need to repair for the upcoming season or the improvements I want to add.
I think camping life was easier when we just used a tent. But now I am soft and need the comforts.
I feel bad for the ones who did get shut out of getting their sites and now struggle on where to go for their long weekends.
Only four more months to spring.
Just some thoughts.
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Old 01-12-2019, 01:02 PM   #2
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Here in California,this is the same process and issue for Yosemite and nearly every beach campground. I’ve only been able to get a Yosemite site once in my life because of this, but I know families that manage to get great sites every year. I’m convinced the online system is somehow rigged or there are special tricks. For example, I know one family that sets up 10 computers on T1 lines ready to hit those buttons at the exact second to grab multiple sites for family and friends. This leaves us normal people without campsites. I’ve lost out so many times after taking off Work and painstakingly preparing, that I have given up. To make matters worse, I have a family member that works in IT for the state parks that can’t do anything about this.

Fortunately, we’re not going to the “crazy reservations” parks this year. And are mostly set for 2019 as well.
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Old 01-12-2019, 01:07 PM   #3
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i have started mine as well have 9 weekends booked so far started in December, unfortunately i can't afford to book them all at once, will book the remainder in early February good luck to all in getting the sites they want !!
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Old 01-12-2019, 02:02 PM   #4
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I have also started. Here in Colorado, the window for public campgrounds is 6 months (by day, not # of days). For example, Memorial Day weekend starts on Friday, May 24. So, if you want to camp that weekend, then you need to have gotten up on November 24 and booked a site when the cgs opened at 8:00 AM.

The main freeway in CO is I-25 and has the 3 main metro populations along it: Fort Collins (north), Denver (central), and Colorado Springs (south-central). About 35 miles west is where the mountains begin and, hence, the camping begins.

That means that anything in the 35-60 mile range of I-25 is in high demand of CO's major metropolitan areas. As you might imagine, some of these places fill up fast ... as in within 5 minutes of opening. And some of these are spectacular places to camp: Mueller SP, Golden Gate Canyon SP, Camp Dick, and Heaton Bay are some examples.

And this is where is gets super challenging. Let's say you wanted to camp the weekend of Friday, June 21. That means, the soonest you could have booked was on Sunday, December 21. But, if there was someone who wanted a long weekend and decided to camp Thursday, June 20 through that weekend, they could book a day earlier on Saturday, December 20.

And so on. So, what happens for a lot of the popular campgrounds is that the only way you can book a weekend is to effectively book an entire week. You must book Tuesday through the weekend, for example. If you wait until the Friday opens up, all of the campsites will have already been reserved by those willing to camp for longer than a weekend.

For example, I want to camp the weekend of Friday, July 19 at Dowdy Lake. Today is January 12, so I'm still 7 days away from the window opening to allow me to reserve for that weekend. However, as of now, 24 of the 62 sites are already reserved for the weeknd of 7/19! How? Because it's the back-end continuation of a very long reservation. I'm a week away from being able to book and nearly half the campground is already full. It's likely that the spots will all be taken long before I get a chance. Well, I technically have the same chance as others, I just have to be willing to camp the entire week.

In general, if I know I want to camp in a high demand cg, I will plan to arrive on a Thursday, at the latest. This allows me to book a day or two earlier than those who would otherwise only want to camp the weekend.

For many campgrounds, I'm just not willing to camp for a long enough duration to get a spot.

Good luck.
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Old 01-12-2019, 04:23 PM   #5
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That used to be a common practice in British Columbia campgrounds. Book a full two weeks and then cancelling the dates before you were really going to arrive. They stopped this by making it where you could not get a refund on seven days camping fees prior to your new arrival date. They call these restricted dates. You would have to cancel complete reservation and it would not become available for booking until next day and then everyone would see a spot open and go after it.
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Old 01-12-2019, 05:12 PM   #6
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So, you have to decide if you reserve extra days and pay for them, but not go until the weekend. For instance, you reserve Wednesday through Saturday, but not show up until Friday. You essentially pay double for the two nights you actually camp. Only you can determine if you want to spend the extra money.
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Old 01-12-2019, 05:38 PM   #7
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Making advanced reservations sucks sometimes. BUT, I also remember the LONG lines when it was first come, first served and everyone scrambling for a good site. Holiday weekends were UNREAL!!

I have long since given up on trying to get the "best" sites. I purposely walk campgrounds to find good sites away from the "best" sites so i can reserve these later.

As long as I have a camping spot, I'm happy!
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Old 01-12-2019, 05:55 PM   #8
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Gone are the days when people would be assigned a site and within minutes they would be back at the booth to get a different one. Another nice thing with BC parks is if you don't show up you're considered a no show and your site is given away with no refund for entire stay. You have to call park if you have a breakdown and can't make it on your arrival date.
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Old 01-12-2019, 05:57 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CampingGator View Post
So, you have to decide if you reserve extra days and pay for them, but not go until the weekend. For instance, you reserve Wednesday through Saturday, but not show up until Friday. You essentially pay double for the two nights you actually camp. Only you can determine if you want to spend the extra money.
In CO, that won't work. You must show up within 24 hours of your reservation or your entire reservation is void. You cannot do partial cancellation.

So, in your example, if you booked Wed - Sat and didn't show up until Friday, you'd find someone else in your site and you'd be SOL. At noon on Thursday, your site would have been released back to first-come-first-served ... and someone would grab it.

I had a campground call me last year when we had a last-minute cancellation and we were a no-show, but that's not required.

So, you really do need to commit to the full duration of camping here in CO. You can't really game the system as you described.
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Old 01-13-2019, 01:39 PM   #10
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Have started reservations here in Ontario, but have to wait until Jan 22 to book sites at the National Parks in Newfoundland
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