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Old 01-26-2019, 08:25 PM   #1
Join Date: May 2016
Location: SEATTLE, Washington
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Reservations ???

On this and other forums I sense a feeling of distaste towards state parks that support a reservation system. Not sure of why this is - assuming that this is not coming from the extremely small percentage of folks without internet connections.

Not long ago I was at a popular state park with no reservation system on a popular weekend. Because I am retired (unemployed and/or unemployable?) I was able to come, mid-week and get a site. On Friday evening, it was so sad to see multiple folks - probably many with kids, cruising through the camping area, looking for a vacant site - to no avail. If that park had had a reservation system those folks would have been able to see that the park was full up and head for plan B. ....or if they were able to plan more than 2 days ahead, they would have been able to make reservations - and assure a site.

Why would anyone (other than those with no internet access) not support the park reservation systems?

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Old 01-26-2019, 08:36 PM   #2
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With a reservation system it is a good chance you would have had to leave your site before the weekend as it would be reserved by one of the people that drove around.
I am neither for or against but we have got kicked out of a spot because it was reserved the next day.

So many little time.
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Old 01-26-2019, 08:47 PM   #3
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...and I guess the question is - why didn't you reserve the site for the time that you expected to be there?

Not meaning to be in your face - it's a question I'd ask myself...

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Old 01-26-2019, 09:46 PM   #4
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One aspect is that not everyone is travelling on a highly organized, rigid time table. In our area the second reservations open up, and I mean within seconds, those with fixed timetables grab sites months in advance.

OK, fair enough to a degree, but it leaves travelers not on rigid schedules out in the cold. I'm happy when the system has a mix of reserved and first-come, first served sites.

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Old 01-26-2019, 09:55 PM   #5
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Many parks with no res system were getting abused which is part of the reason AZ moved to res for many state and county parks. Folks were sending someone out on Wed and setting up the trailer then returning to town leaving the trailer empty on the site. The entire group would come up on Friday night after work and they would have their site for the weekend because they had squatted on it since mid week. It was starting to get pretty difficult to find a site if you legitimately came up on Friday night due to all the squatters.
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Old 01-26-2019, 10:13 PM   #6
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I'm a big fan of spur of the moment trips, but if twice the number of people want to visit somewhere than there are spots, then what's a realistic solution? What do you do with all the people who've driven for hours to reach somewhere. I suppose some of them go home, but others will go and camp somewhere else and just move the congestion elsewhere. There's nothing wrong with boondocking where there are places for it, but this isn't a great solution everywhere. At some point things break down and a reservation system becomes a necessity, despite the disadvantages.

I'm booking sites 7-8 months in advance now in Washington and it can still be hard to find a good spot in some places. This is isn't going away or getting better in the future. The population keeps going up and a lot of the best places for secluded parks have already been taken. Nobody is making new coastline either.
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Old 01-26-2019, 10:32 PM   #7
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I'm for reservation only because our favourite campground is 6 hours away and I would hate to arrive to the site being full. If I was retired my opinion would likely be different since I would be less held to start/end dates. However, there is a downside if we don't get on within 5 minutes of the sites going on sale we're out of luck. This year we had two computers going as soon as it was 8am, my wife was able to snag a site, and I was on 2 minutes later and all the sites were reserved. This was the biggest selling point to finally upgrading from a tent for us, we can now shoulder camp in our favourite sites without fighting for reservations.
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Old 01-26-2019, 10:33 PM   #8
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The Florida state park system takes online reservations up to eleven months in advance. As a result, people from out of state, including (ahem) Canadians , lock up the campgrounds nearly a year in advance so that I can't find a spot. That's the downside for me. But it's useful for those on a fixed schedule, like working families trying to take a vacation.

On the other hand, some municipal parks (e.g. Clackamette Park, Oregon City), military (Kirtland AFB, Albuquerque), and others have decided that they won't fool with reservations and have first come, first served camping. For retirees this is good-- you just show up early Wednesday afternoon and you're probably good to go, if you're willing to take a risk. But families on a schedule are left out in the cold (or heat, if it's ABQ). So I can see both sides of this.
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Old 01-27-2019, 12:02 AM   #9
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I like the reservation system when I have a set schedule, plan ahead, and know exactly where and when I'm going to be somewhere. Since that doesn't happen much, I don't like it much.

I recall as a kid camping at Arches or Bryce or Zion (grew up in Utah) any time, no reservation, no problem. Now you have to book a year in advance and even then unless you're one of the first few who are online when the window opens, you're out of luck.

No easy answers with the increase in demand with no increase in supply. One way we've coped with this high demand environment is to do more boondocking on BLM land or similar. And truth be told we usually have a better time doing that than in an established campground.
"You can't buy happiness, but you can buy an RV. And that is pretty close."
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Old 01-27-2019, 01:18 AM   #10
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We are not fans of the reservation system model. I understand the reasons for it, and sympathize with those for whom it allows planning a trip on a tight schedule far in advance, but for us, the effect is that it makes it harder to fly loose and fancy free and just wing trips. I think an ideal compromise are campgrounds that offer both reservable and non-reservable sites. If it were up to me, I’d cap reservable sites at 50% of the total number of sites.

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