How Far in Advance Should You Make Reservations for Camping?

How Far in Advance Should You Make Reservations for Camping?

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nelson creek recreation area, fort peck lake, montana campning

You should make reservations for camping as far in advance as possible. If 2020 was any indication of how the COVID-19 pandemic created a surge in camping, it’s going to continue for 2021.

USA Today reports that both state and national parks across the country are urging people to make their reservations as far in advance as they can possibly make them….

Katlyn Svendsen, the media relations manager for South Dakota Tourism said that their Kampground of America corporate partners are reporting strong 2021 camping reservations numbers. Because Memorial Day and July 4 holidays are almost fully booked at some sites, she recommends that camping reservations be made “sooner than later.”

Read the full article here.

However, we here at Boondocker’s Bible are not really into campground camping or RV park camping. We’re trying to do the opposite, get people into boondocking.

The fact is that booked-up campgrounds is only going to force more campers into boondocking. For those of us who already make boondocking our full time lifestyle, it’s going to mean more competition in securing our favorite camping grounds.

Last summer I wrote about (or complained about) not being able to find any boondocking near the Grand Tetons. There was just too many other campers that had taken up all the boondocking sites offering any decent view of the peaks. This happened because the park itself, Grand Tetons National Park, had closed down its campgrounds, forcing people to take up all the boondocking in nearby Brigder-Teton National Forest.

So, I had to instead find boondocking on the other side of the Grand Tetons, in Idaho. I did find a campsite, and it was a pretty campsite. I’m not complaining. But if I was just a part-time camper, who takes the family out on vacation for a few weekends out of the year, and I had promised them camping at the Grand Tetons, I would have learned my lesson.

Plan far, far in advance.

As as boondocker, you should already have a plan in place where you will camp during Memorial Day weekend, Independence Day weekend, and Labor Day weekend. Even if you’re just boondocking, and don’t need to make reservations, you will still want to arrive at your planned destinations a full week in advance.

Here it is today, March 1st. You should already be thinking about where you are going to be on Memorial Day, Monday, May 31st. You will need to get to that location a full week before then.

You may even want to get there even earlier. That’s because you may arrive there a week in advance only to find that it’s already pretty crowded, and will need to go somewhere else instead. So, you may need more time.

Memorial Day is usually pretty warm in the desert Southwest of the United States. So, you will want to head to higher ground, like Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado. I’m sure you know of places there where you can usually get a place to camp.

Perhaps the days of boondockers being able to always get a decent place to camp wherever they go, whenever they go, may be coming to an end.

Steve Johnson is a full time boondocker since 2017, and has traveled full time since 2013. Steve is the editor of Boondocker's Bible. He lives and works out of a 2017 ATC Toy Hauler trailer pulled by a 2017 Chevy 2500 HD.

2 thoughts on “How Far in Advance Should You Make Reservations for Camping?”
  • Barbara Kossy says:

    We’re new to boon docking, but I’m hoping once Disneyland re-opens, and people start going to Hawaii on vacation and the museums are open again, and summer camp is open again, there will be less pressure on campgrounds and boondokcing sites. What do you think? And in some areas, school might move to all-year long.

    March 14, 2021 at 10:17 am
    • Steve Johnson says:

      Barbara, families taking vacations to Hawaii and Disneyland costs a lot of money. I don’t see that happening unless we make a huge political shift back towards a capitalist, free-market economy. That being said, I think camping and boondocking are going to be more popular over the next four to eight years.

      March 14, 2021 at 2:12 pm
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