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Old 01-26-2019, 09:25 PM   #1
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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, 09:36 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.
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Old 01-26-2019, 09:47 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, 10:46 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, 10:55 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, 11:13 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, 11:32 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, 11:33 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, 01:02 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.
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Old 01-27-2019, 02:18 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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Old 01-27-2019, 02:23 AM   #11
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If it were up to me, I’d cap reservable sites at 50% of the total number of sites.
That, and perhaps not allowing block reservations from companies (especially overseas companies) instead of individuals.
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Old 01-27-2019, 02:28 AM   #12
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That, and perhaps not allowing block reservations from companies (especially overseas companies) instead of individuals.


Yes! Also, I’ve noticed that some places have instituted some sorts of punitive systems where people who book but fail to show are penalized somehow. I know that during peak season I always see empty spots even though everything is “fully booked” and people are being turned away.

Another thought: Are there campsite scalpers out there yet? Because if there aren’t, there will be. They’ll use the same tricks to buy up choice campsites and dates the millisecond that they come online, the same way that concert tickets are gone in a flash, and then resold later for a tidy profit.
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Old 01-27-2019, 06:42 AM   #13
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After spending years traveling and staying in motels or KOA cabins we found making reservations too restrictive. sometimes our lunch stops made our night destination too far away. Even with a reservation we often arrived after closing and only staying enough for sleep and then departing. One of the nice things with your Escape is having everything you may need, 10 feet behind you and knowing that takes the stress off driving to make your reservation deadline.
There are so many places one can stop and take a rest, even eat chinese carryout inside the camper as we did in Baker City, Or. Less stress and the freedom to do what you want and stop when you want is what makes owning an Escape enjoyable. Making reservations at your destination is fine, particularly for rallies or if you know you will be staying, but otherwise enjoy the freedom owning an Escape provides.
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Old 01-27-2019, 07:05 AM   #14
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I’ve got mixed feelings about the reservation system. I remember when I was first tent camping before reservations were popular. Back then, when I was working, it was a gamble heading out to camp after a long day of work and hoping to find a site on a weekend. Often the sites went to retirees (like me now), or people with short workdays or on vacation. Things have changed as the system has matured. Some areas (for example Key West, Florida) that I find impossible to get reservations. Other areas being abused - Core of Engineers sites - with reservations from Thursday - Sunday, but empty on Thursday as the campers arrive on Friday. Also, I’m hearing of some reserving on the gamble that they might be used, but then being cancelled due to low cancellation fees. These sights aren’t available when they open for reservations because someone else has gotten them “just in case.” I know this is just one opinion, but what I am seeing now that I’m spending a couple months per year camping. But camping and retired sure beats the alternative!
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Old 01-27-2019, 07:45 AM   #15
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I agree it's great to be able to just wander, stopping at any CG at the last minute and get a site. Just doesn't work out that well at all times.

If I need to be assured of a site, I reserve one. Particularly weekends, holidays, late arrivals, or popular places. And yes, way ahead. I also cancel a lot of them when plans change. We're very particular on our desired sites, making early reservations allow me to be choosy.

Not needing hookups opens up ones options, many times the no hookup sites are a lot nicer then the ones with, at least to us.
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Old 01-27-2019, 08:00 AM   #16
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I agree it's great to be able to just wander, stopping at any CG at the last minute and get a site. Just doesn't work out that well at all times.

If I need to be assured of a site, I reserve one. Particularly weekends, holidays, late arrivals, or popular places. And yes, way ahead. I also cancel a lot of them when plans change. We're very particular on our desired sites, making early reservations allow me to be choosy.

Not needing hookups opens up ones options, many times the no hookup sites are a lot nicer then the ones with, at least to us.
Yes, agreed - no need for hookups opens lots of options. Also, the short length of our Escapes helps. I recently got a sight by the beach that was only available as it would handle an RV less than 20 feet.
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Old 01-27-2019, 09:46 AM   #17
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I've been to campgrounds that prohibit leaving a site vacant. Meaning you can't park a trailer in a site on Wednesday, leave, then return on Saturday. You have to occupy the site with people. Florida state parks might be like this, I don't remember.

I've been told by visitors from up north that some of them game the Florida state park reservation system by making multiple, overlapping reservations then cancelling the extra ones at the last minute. They were suggesting that I try at the last minute to get those newly opened spots. That's too much trouble IMHO.

Our state parks usually have one or two spots that can't be reserved. They are for last minute arrivals, but they can stay only overnight. I think they should have an entire camping loop left unreserved for first-come, first-served campers. Or to be really parochial, they could have the unreserved loop "reserved" for Florida residents.
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Old 01-27-2019, 10:27 AM   #18
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County and State Parks are underfunded and need to find sources of revenue. Reservation system generate cash . When us Northeners reserve a sight in a Florida SP we pay a reservation fee plus the full camping fee at the time of purchase . Florida gets to use our money for 13 months free plus if we cancel we pay another fee . I am NOT criticizing Florida , they are only trying to ration a limited commodity

Reservations have become the norm and there use is only going to grow and be more wide spread .

The private campgrounds in our area have gone almost entirely seasonal ( No daily rentals)
because it makes economic sense for them
If we had to choose between first come first serve and making reservations , we choose the reservation system because of the certainty.
Why a campgrounds would want to hold sites in case someone might decide to come by and possibly want a site doesn’t make economic sense
That’s why all SP campsites in Minnesota are now reservable I!!
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Old 01-27-2019, 10:46 AM   #19
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Oregon figured out funding. Come to Oregon, camp... gamble and support our State Parks!
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Old 01-27-2019, 01:35 PM   #20
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Why a campgrounds would want to hold sites in case someone might decide to come by and possibly want a site doesn’t make economic sense
I see your point. Florida wants revenue from out of state; tourism is a big part of our economy. Even if a loop was not reserved for Floridians, I think there should be more unreserveable campsites, open to anyone. Since demand is so high I don't think there would be a risk of them staying empty.
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