Free 7 Day Trial RV GPS App RV Trip Planner Campground Reviews RV Maintenance Free 7 Day Trial ×
 


Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
 
Old 06-07-2021, 08:11 PM   #1
Winnebago Camper
 
Join Date: Nov 2020
Posts: 37
First come first serve camp sites

The wife and I booked camping with our 2108 TT months ago for an August trip to Colorado. We live in the Midwest and are surely going to be anxious to hit cooler weather. However, we are thinking we might make a trip in July also. This being peak season we realize campgrounds are full; at least state parks. We are not seasoned boondockers but it seems the only chance of finding something in mid July would be campgrounds with no services. While even those campgrounds are full (from what I've found anyway) there are many campgrounds with "first come first served";no reservations. Question is, does anyone have experience with FF camping? Or are these sites even hard to get? I can see showing to a campground with FF sites but no one is leaving. We a!so are not looking for extremely remote locations. We are open to any suggestions of good locations where we might be able to grab a 4 night reservation. But mainly anxious to hear from any who have had either good or bad luck with FF.
KeithB is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-07-2021, 11:44 PM   #2
Proud “No Intent” Owner
 
Wyatt's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2019
Location: Belmont, CA
Posts: 1,356
Blog Entries: 1
Quote:
Originally Posted by KeithB View Post
The wife and I booked camping with our 2108 TT months ago for an August trip to Colorado. We live in the Midwest and are surely going to be anxious to hit cooler weather. However, we are thinking we might make a trip in July also. This being peak season we realize campgrounds are full; at least state parks. We are not seasoned boondockers but it seems the only chance of finding something in mid July would be campgrounds with no services. While even those campgrounds are full (from what I've found anyway) there are many campgrounds with "first come first served";no reservations. Question is, does anyone have experience with FF camping? Or are these sites even hard to get? I can see showing to a campground with FF sites but no one is leaving. We a!so are not looking for extremely remote locations. We are open to any suggestions of good locations where we might be able to grab a 4 night reservation. But mainly anxious to hear from any who have had either good or bad luck with FF.
Following…
__________________
26 m 2018 Intent Owner—Belmont, Ca, with too many upgrades to mention. Seriously...
https://www.winnieowners.com/forums/...albums248.html
Wyatt is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-08-2021, 03:19 AM   #3
Winnie-Wise
 
Join Date: Jul 2019
Location: Branson MO area
Posts: 371
I think you need to really decide what type of park you want. By that I mean state, federal, county or private. The state and county parks that have First Come site most are ok arriving on a Tuesday. But then that depends on where you are at and whats going on near the location. My really only experience with First Come sites is in Iowa and you have to get there early or forget it.

Its for that reason I go with the good old Ma and Pa campgrounds. They most always have sites plus they need the business.

Good Luck safe travels
__________________
07 Meridian 36G
Roadmaster tow dolly
Great Wife!! & Max the Frisbee chasing dog.
be happy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-08-2021, 07:32 AM   #4
Winnebago Master
 
Join Date: Nov 2018
Location: Pflugerville/Austin, Tx
Posts: 3,304
If I was going to drive more than five miles off route to get to a site, I would not expect to fing one during the summer. What we often do is if we are reserved in a campground and can't get the full number of days we want at the site we will wait until somebody leaves and swap to the open site.
For a full campground, the odds are just not good that one can drive in later in the day and find that somebody from a nearby site has not moved to.
commercial sites are the bottom of the list for us but when we have to, we do go there.
This year is going to be far worse than any and our current plans are made and we are staying with friends in a couple spots.
__________________
Richard
2015 Winnebago Vista 31KE on 2014 chassis
Morich is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-08-2021, 07:43 AM   #5
Winnebago Owner
 
Join Date: Jun 2020
Posts: 106
We did it at the Hot Springs National Park last June during Covid. We got the last spot, and were lucky because there was somebody who came in 5 minutes after we arrived.

My lovely bride doesn't like uncertainty, so that was a one off. She wouldn't feel comfortable if that was the only option. For me, not a big deal, as I can find a place to park and survive for the night if it is just a stop on the way somewhere.
__________________
2020 Winnebago Vista 29V
sundog964 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-08-2021, 07:57 AM   #6
Site Team
 
creativepart's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2009
Location: Spring Branch, TX
Posts: 3,928
Here is our experience over the years.

July in Colorado is super popular. And nowadays reservations are needed to get a good spot in desirable locations. Campgrounds that offer First Come sites fill up super quickly in the morning.

When National Forest campgrounds in Colorado and other States went to a reservation system 4 or 5 years ago they allowed booking 6-months in advance on recreation.gov. As a result local area residents near those campgrounds figured out that they needed to reserve their summer weekend camping trips as early as possible. And in years since weekends are usually all booked up months early, many times 6-months ahead to the day.

Weekdays are generally pretty open and available - at least Tuesdays through Thursdays. But if you are in a campground on a Thursday and the campground has First Come slots on the weekend you show up Friday morning very first thing to grab a spot. As in 7am or whenever a Camp Host or HQ opens up. So these spots can be difficult for drive up campers to get.

Campgrounds without reservations, using First Come access only are much easier to get into... but weekends make it much more difficult. Local residents will show up on a weekday, book a site through the weekend and place camping items on the site to hold it until after work on Friday. Though many campgrounds have rules against this.

There are always cancellations and no shows - I’ve seen figures of up to 20% of reservations don’t show up or cancel on day of arrival. Those are sometimes your best bet. Though be aware most campgrounds hold a no-show campsite for at least 24-hrs. Bad weather helps, there are lots more no shows and cancellations and so does super remote camping areas with difficult drives to access.

The long and the short of it is that it’s super crowded out there in the woods in Colorado in July and August. You can find a place but it can be difficult and time consuming requiring you to try multiple campgrounds. You can get to a weekend with nowhere nearby to go. So have a contingency plan in place.
__________________
2017 Winnebago Adventurer 37F
2016 Lincoln MKX Toad
creativepart is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 06-08-2021, 08:26 AM   #7
Winnebago Master
 
Join Date: Nov 2018
Location: Pflugerville/Austin, Tx
Posts: 3,304
Our list runs like this:
Nice spots, commercial sites and as a last resort, Hampton Inn! Many would include the Wal-mart group but we don't go that far.
__________________
Richard
2015 Winnebago Vista 31KE on 2014 chassis
Morich is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-08-2021, 09:56 AM   #8
Winnebago Master
 
Join Date: Oct 2017
Location: Elk Grove, CA
Posts: 2,216
Getting there early means trying to get there so you can grab a spot from an early departure but you may need to wait until the official departure time to get a spot since some wait to the very last minute. Once there you could politely ask those there if they'll be leaving today.

If you're fortunate to live in an area with a supply of BLM (Bureau of Land Management) land there's always a boondocking alternative. Read up on the rules first and make sure you're in the right area.
__________________
Bob C
2002 Itasca Suncruiser 35U
Workhorse Chassis
BobC is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-08-2021, 10:28 AM   #9
Site Team
 
creativepart's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2009
Location: Spring Branch, TX
Posts: 3,928
I just saw a YouTube video from RV Miles (he does a weekly RV news video) that said that at Zion National Park over memorial day there was a 3-hour wait for the Park's bus system (buses are required, no cars) and that the popular but super difficult Angels Landing hike had a line 4-hours long. A hike had a line!

And in the same video he said that Texas Parks dept had just changed their no-show policy due to so many no-show bookings. Now any site reservation that doesn't show up by noon the next day (or call into to the park to explain the no-show) the entire reservation will be canceled and all camping payments forfeited. He said that low-cost campgrounds had a 30% no-show rate.
__________________
2017 Winnebago Adventurer 37F
2016 Lincoln MKX Toad
creativepart is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 06-08-2021, 10:47 AM   #10
Winnebago Master
 
Join Date: Nov 2018
Location: Pflugerville/Austin, Tx
Posts: 3,304
At Meaher State Park, Al. we ran into that as we got messed up on reservations phone numbers and talked to a guy who appears to not have anything to do with the park but told us to just show up!
Of course we had no real reservation as "joe-blow was just giving us the runaround and they told us they were totally full. So as we circled through the campground to get out, we noted how many sites were empty and stopped at the gate to verify they were in deed full. Yes, they agreed that many sites were not used but all were paid!

Too many folks who do not care that they are wasting dozens of reservations and making dozens of folks go other places! Those with money have no consideration for the trouble they cause all the world around them. Pay for three sites and don't bother to cancel any is no big thing to them!
__________________
Richard
2015 Winnebago Vista 31KE on 2014 chassis
Morich is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-08-2021, 11:01 AM   #11
Site Team
 
creativepart's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2009
Location: Spring Branch, TX
Posts: 3,928
Richard, it's less dubious a practice than disregard for others. It's a function of the Reservation system. First, they MAKE you get a reservation. Many state parks won't take a walk up you are forced to reserve. Then they refund so little of your money if you officially cancel that there is no monetary incentive to officially cancel.

We stayed at a State Park in Michigan last month. No walk ups only online reservations. No refunds after 48hours prior to the reservation. Then to make things worse no online cancellations permitted, you have to call the State Park directly. But then they are understaffed and you can't reach anyone at the State Park to cancel.

I'm sure for some it's a low dollar risk to make a reservation "just in case." But it's not always just someone being thoughtless of others.
__________________
2017 Winnebago Adventurer 37F
2016 Lincoln MKX Toad
creativepart is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 06-08-2021, 11:18 AM   #12
Winnebago Camper
 
Florida88's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2021
Posts: 6
No shows are definitely a problem with Florida State Parks. Unfortunately the problem is that the sites are too cheap! (Can’t believe I’m saying this). People will book sites at multiple locations months ahead of time, just to have options. And at roughly $20 per night, never bother to cancel.

More problematic is the fact that there are now 3rd party booking agencies who have algorithms to automatically book sites instantly when they come available 11 months in advance, to be resold on the secondary market. Florida state parks have just recently changed their reservation system, so hopefully the new system prevents this.
Florida88 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-08-2021, 01:21 PM   #13
Winnie-Wise
 
Join Date: Nov 2020
Location: California
Posts: 383
A great deal depends on the type of RV and its overall length. Very different with a 22 foot or shorter Class B van than a Class A with toad or a truck pulling a 5th wheel trailer. The first sites taken may be the ones that you need for your RV as with state and federal campgrounds the sites tend to be smaller as they predate motorhomes and 5th wheel RV's.

BLM lands are an option and often there are town parks and state fairgrounds that are available for RVers. Not ideal but better than staying at a Wal-Mart. With our Class C motorhome we have the option of parking it for the night at a hotel and staying there while in route to our next planned stop.
__________________
War is God’s way of teaching Americans geography – Ambroze Bierce
Elkman is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-12-2021, 08:17 AM   #14
Winnebago Camper
 
Join Date: Jul 2018
Posts: 26
July is the busiest month in CO and we generally avoid all camping that month for that reason. During the week, it'll just depend on where you go, with farther from Front Range cities the better. There are also a good # of private campgrounds that tend to have sites available. I would personally not drive out that far w/o something booked, but if you aren't wanting the greatest site in greatest location, you likely can find something.

The best bets for a public camping reservation is probably going to be forest service on weekdays in a the less popular campgrounds/areas. (>2hrs from Denver helps). That said don't fully rule out State Parks, once you get past the big 8-10 that are most popular and/or with nicest (full hookup sites) campgrounds, several others usually have sites, though the locations aren't as ideal.

You can also just keep looking for someone to cancel, this seems to be a pretty common task this summer all over, but I've seen several say they got site(s) this way. We had a good friend get Memorial day weekend Yellowstone sites just being online at the right time to get a cancellation that popped up.
COSCamper is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-12-2021, 10:37 AM   #15
Winnie-Wise
 
Join Date: Nov 2020
Location: California
Posts: 383
The longer the RV the fewer the available spaces at state and federal campgrounds. Check any state campground and look at how many spaces are long enough for your trailer and tow vehicle and you will get an idea of the problem. A 20 foot Class B van can go anywhere and trailers add another dimension as some spaces may be wide enough for the tow vehicle to park beside the trailer but other may not. At some campgrounds there are no spaces for trailers.

For California there is a book by Tom Steinstra that shows the number of camping spaces of varying lengths by campground it is great for trip planning. Unfortunately this is very rare and usually one needs to go and look at each campground and hope that the site map is drawn to scale. Private RV parks are the safest bet as they will take any length rig.
__________________
War is God’s way of teaching Americans geography – Ambroze Bierce
Elkman is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-12-2021, 12:10 PM   #16
Winnebago Master
 
Join Date: Oct 2017
Location: Elk Grove, CA
Posts: 2,216
Quote:
Originally Posted by Elkman View Post
The longer the RV the fewer the available spaces at state and federal campgrounds. Check any state campground and look at how many spaces are long enough for your trailer and tow vehicle and you will get an idea of the problem. A 20 foot Class B van can go anywhere and trailers add another dimension as some spaces may be wide enough for the tow vehicle to park beside the trailer but other may not. At some campgrounds there are no spaces for trailers.

For California there is a book by Tom Steinstra that shows the number of camping spaces of varying lengths by campground it is great for trip planning. Unfortunately this is very rare and usually one needs to go and look at each campground and hope that the site map is drawn to scale. Private RV parks are the safest bet as they will take any length rig.
Tom's book is a great resource. The website below has photos of actual campsites so you can check out the details in conjunction with Tom's book and campground maps. It also has an alert function which I haven't tried that will alert you as to availability:

https://www.campsitephotos.com/

One comment - The above website has ratings, which, IMHO, should be taken with a grain of salt. For example, we found Bullard's Beach State Park, near Bandon, OR to be a great place to camp, yet it only gets three stars. I guess it all depends on what you're looking for. Valley of the Rogue SP in southern Oregon also gets only three stars. Granted it's right off I-5 but it's a very nice park right on the Rogue river and great for a stopover with access to many southern Oregon attractions (we didn't find the traffic noise objectionable). I highly recommend both. I checked a number of our favorites and they had no ratings at all (ex: MacKerricher SP near Fort Bragg, CA).
__________________
Bob C
2002 Itasca Suncruiser 35U
Workhorse Chassis
BobC is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-13-2021, 04:48 PM   #17
Winnebago Camper
 
sherf's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2012
Posts: 19
Campsite photos

Quote:
Originally Posted by BobC View Post
Tom's book is a great resource. The website below has photos of actual campsites so you can check out the details in conjunction with Tom's book and campground maps. It also has an alert function which I haven't tried that will alert you as to availability:

https://www.campsitephotos.com/

One comment - The above website has ratings, which, IMHO, should be taken with a grain of salt. For example, we found Bullard's Beach State Park, near Bandon, OR to be a great place to camp, yet it only gets three stars. I guess it all depends on what you're looking for. Valley of the Rogue SP in southern Oregon also gets only three stars. Granted it's right off I-5 but it's a very nice park right on the Rogue river and great for a stopover with access to many southern Oregon attractions (we didn't find the traffic noise objectionable). I highly recommend both. I checked a number of our favorites and they had no ratings at all (ex: MacKerricher SP near Fort Bragg, CA).
Campsite photos also has a Utube channel.
sherf is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-13-2021, 06:11 PM   #18
Winnebago Master
 
FIRE UP's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Out there, somewhere
Posts: 1,674
Years and years and decades ago, the time of the year made a big difference in availability of spots, pretty much across the nation. That was when there was REGULAR SCHOOL of ALL of the kids everywhere. And, there were REGULAR school seasons. Mostly, the school year would start in or very close to Sept.

That meant, if you were one of the lucky ones or families that could "evade" having your kids in regular school, you could find a spot just about anywhere across the U.S. But, Allllllllll of that's changed. For the most part, a "regular" school year, is just about anything, in terms of time. There's been "Year round" schools for decades now. Meaning, there's no real time schools are in or out of session.

Then, there's the folks that think they're better at teaching their kids than folks who've gone to college to become teachers. There's zillions of "Home schoolers" across this country. And those people can do all their "Home schooling" from an RV. And that means, LESS SPOTS available for travelers.

Then, there's RETIREES! There's more and more and more of them. Many of them still have a brick and stick home but, are free to travel and use spots if and when it pleases them. Then there are the ones that have sold their stick and brick places and are FULL TIMERS. There are many, many of them. Nothing bad about either of those groups. It's just fact.

Then, there's COVID!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Covid has disrupted this planet beyond belief. For some odd reason, since Covid started, Homes, boats, RV's, motorcycles, trucks, trailers, and BUILDING MATIERIES have all skyrocketed in volume and price. And much of that means more people are traveling, no matter what their status is.

Then, there's regular travelers. Folks that still work for a living but, want to enjoy a "Vacation" (remember when you could take a VACATION ) from your job?

All this means is, there's more and more people, of all ages, groups and all, that are out and about, using camp spots, all over the place, for various lengths of time. When I retired 11 years ago, we could simply pack up the coach and head out. We'd have no destination with the exception of say, Yellowstone at some time in the trip. We'd just drive 'till we found a campground or RV park. We NEVER had trouble getting a spot. Well, we can still do that but, the chances of just dropping into a campground or RV park that's within 50 miles of anything that's popular, and drive right into a camp or RV spot, AIN'T GONNA HAPPEN.

It is what it is out there gang. Not a whole heck of a lot anyone can do about it. Reservations are the name of the game from this point on. At least if you want nicer, more popular areas and or regions you'll need them.

One of the areas mentioned in that RV Camp spot photos is Lake Havasu State Park. Well, it shows about 80-90% of the spots EMPTY when the photos were taken. I can tell you first hand, you're only gonna see those spots empty during the height of summer, when it's around 115-120 degrees outside. Other than that, you'd better make reservations A YEAR in advance for that place. Yeah, yeah, there's exceptions every now and then but, by and large, it's a seriously popular place and is rarely that empty.

Annnnyway, yep, "camping" as in RVing is not what it used to be and, there's no relief in sight. Dry camping or "boon docking", well, even that's getting more and more tough to find and or, go back to spots you used to just drive right up to and setup camp. Mars, here we come.
Scott
__________________
2004 ITASCA HORIZON 36GD, 2011 GMC Sierra 1500 4x4 Toad '08 GL 1800 Gold Wing
Retired-29.5 yrs, SDFD, Ham - KI6OND
Me, Karla and the Sophie character, (mini Schnauzer)
FIRE UP is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-14-2021, 07:27 AM   #19
Winnebago Watcher
 
Join Date: Aug 2020
Posts: 4
One month, 5,000 miles, 8 National Park

My wife and I (and 23 year old daughter for part) just returned from a trip where we drove from Georgia, to Arizona, through the parks of Utah and East Colorado and back. Although we had reservations in a mix of National, State and private campgrounds for about two weeks of the trip, for the drive out, the week in Colorado and New Mexico and the return we did not.
Knowing that the chances of gaining last minute reservations in a state or National park (our favorites) was low, we decided to learn more about and prepare for comfortable, extended boon docking. Although we had done some in the past, our 2018 View 24D, which we love, was not up for more extended stays, so starting a few months beforehand, I researched and designed a new electrical system and means of conserving power and water. But before I get into that, we researched and learned that camping in National Forests, on wildlife lands and BLM is allowed nearly anywhere unposted, accessible and that doesn’t cause obstruction. For us, the Bureau of Land Management properties became our havens. In fact, these ended up being some of the most spectacular places we have ever stayed, along rivers with Mountain View’s, etc. we are njoyes these so much that we canceled some of our last reservations and went almost entirely to National, State and BLM lands. So back to prep…
The water is simple… water savers on sinks and shower and good practices, which cuts down water use and holding tank (though holding tanks are basically never an issue.. just fresh water)..
For the electrical, I went all out. We added (4) 100W solar panels to the roof (we are actually adding one more soon), a new Victron solar controller charger, a Sungold Power 2,000W inverter/charger with auto gen start in the back of driver side storage where the old sewer hose tank used to be, a Renogy DC-DC charger under the passenger seat (2), 205AH lithium batteries from Big Battery, a small supplemental breaker box, and a ton of cables, fuses, and Victron Bluetooth monitoring. Believe it or not, with the Easy Start 365 A/C contoller added, this will even run our A/C for a while..
This system, combined with some other sewer, water management, storage, auto-levelers, and rattle fix upgrades has not only allowed for greatly extended, comfortable boon-docking, but we can set up and be level or tear down in less than ten minutes (chairs, grill and all). So think about noon-docking not just as a Walmart parking lot, but as the most beautiful, expansive places available, with as much or little privacy as you prefer.
CaptainMitch is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-14-2021, 09:57 AM   #20
Winnebago Camper
 
Join Date: Sep 2020
Location: Saint Helens, OR
Posts: 7
Quote:
Originally Posted by be happy View Post
I think you need to really decide what type of park you want. By that I mean state, federal, county or private. The state and county parks that have First Come site most are ok arriving on a Tuesday. But then that depends on where you are at and whats going on near the location. My really only experience with First Come sites is in Iowa and you have to get there early or forget it.

Its for that reason I go with the good old Ma and Pa campgrounds. They most always have sites plus they need the business.

Good Luck safe travels
How do you determine which campgrounds are "Ma and Pa"?
PnDH is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply


Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
NJ to Utah - RV sites in KS? Pathfinder Campgrounds, Travel and Attractions 11 06-04-2019 12:18 PM
Integrated Login with RV Life Network Sites Janet H Forum Admin | News | Member Concerns 3 04-01-2019 05:27 PM
Any Recommendations for Wisconsin area Sites? bbbrr Campgrounds, Travel and Attractions 7 01-17-2019 08:24 AM
MAX Coach length allowed in MOST sites pameridan04 Winnebago General Discussions 11 01-17-2011 08:07 AM
Hot water flow stopped at all sites. shcusmc1 Plumbing | Systems and Fixtures 7 07-14-2008 05:30 PM

» Featured Campgrounds

Reviews provided by

Disclaimer:

This website is not affiliated with or endorsed by Winnebago Industries or any of its affiliates. This is an independent, unofficial site.


All times are GMT -6. The time now is 09:45 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2021, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
×