Camping Next Year? Start Planning Now

Plan ahead, to secure the best campsites next year

Plan ahead, to secure the best campsites next year

If you thought the campgrounds were crowded this year, you haven’t seen anything yet! With a slow economy and expensive airfares, more families are planning on camping vacations next year than ever before. Here is how you can get a jump on the competition for those lucrative campsites, or avoid the crowds altogether, while still enjoying some of the best camping around.

Competition for campsites will be fiercest around holidays, so realize that the crowds and noise will be at their worst around Memorial Day, Independence Day, and Labor Day.

Get a 2009 calendar. Yes, you will probably get some free ones for Christmas, but you cannot wait until December to plan next year’s camping trips. Also, many companies have not yet published their 2009 holiday schedule, but use this year’s schedule as a guide. Competition for campsites will be fiercest around holidays, so realize that the crowds and noise will be at their worst around Memorial Day, Independence Day, and Labor Day.

Use vacation days to avoid the crowds. If you get at least ten vacation days in 2009, and your company allows you to break them up, you can plan three-day, Wednesday through Friday, camping trips and avoid the weekend rush. Best of all, you will still have the weekend for recovery and yard work, and the kids can catch-up on the school work they missed during the week.

Use first-come, first-served campgrounds. Nobody likes uncertainty, which is why first-come, first-served campgrounds, those that do not accept reservations, are generally less-crowded than their reserveable counterparts. If you show up at a first-come, first-served campsite on Wednesday, you might even have the entire campground to yourself!

Save money and buy gear this winter. The camping is mighty slow in the winter, so stores tend to offer their best deals on camping gear during this time. Make a list of what you wish that you had on your camping trips this year, and include things that you already have, but are getting worn out. Note that Santa Claus’ idea of a camping stove might differ greatly from yours, so be careful when putting camping gear on your Christmas list.

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2 thoughts on “Camping Next Year? Start Planning Now

  1. Howdy Scrib,
    Just so everyone knows, most organized camping locations like Arches National Park, Utah. Grand Canyon National Park, North or South Rim in Arizona. Crater Lake National Park in Oregon accepts campground reservations 240 days in advance. So if you’re thinking of camping in July 2010 you could technically reserve a campsite in November 2009. That is just an indication of how firece the camping reservation system can be. Some places like RV campgrounds in Yellowstone, Wyoming or Yosemite, California can reserve spaces up to two years in advance. Good luck.

  2. Some really great advice! It’s never too early to start planning a camping vacation, particularly a longer trip.

    I’ve posted a number of tips for planning a camping vacation over in the camping section of my website. But a couple of ideas I’d add:

    1. Give some thought to national forests, less visited national parks, and off-the-beaten path state parks. They are always less crowded, and usually have open campsites even on weekends.

    2. Stay away from the major resort areas. Whatever they offer usually can be found in other, similar, less visited locations. Or you can find uncrowded campgrounds by trading a little more drive time. For instance, without reservations, forget camping in Orlando. But 50 miles further out you might find them wide open.

    3. Plan your destination around desired activities rather than location. Then see if you can find those same activities away from the more popular locales.

    4. Once you’ve focused on a particular area, double check what’s going on there when you plan to visit. Even a normally available campground can be overflowing if there’s a special event in progress that week.


    Brook’s last blog post..Dec 27, Catfishing. Catfish fishing for the Big Fish.