Memorial Day *July 4th* Labor
of working for state and federal camping areas I can recommend holiday
camping to no one.
If you are still determined to camp you will
find some tips to holiday camping here.
While employed with the California
Department of Parks and Recreation I saw many unhappy campers on these
holidays. Many families would travel for six or seven hours in a small
car full of screaming children and barking dogs only to find that the park
was full. The park was actually booked for six months in advance so these
people had no hope at all of getting a camp site.
I called all of the parks in the
surrounding areas searching for camp sites for these unfortunate people.
By 5:00p.m. there would be no sites available within 200 miles of our park.
All motels were booked up too - and I had to send many of these people
Reserve a Site a Few Days Ahead
of When You Wanted To Camp
Many camp grounds are actually sold
out for holiday weekends before you can reserve a site. There is a trick
to this that many hard-core holiday campers use.
Most reservation systems have a
specific sale date. That is; camp sites can not be sold too far in advance.
Many parks sell camp sites up to six months in advance. If you wanted camp
sites for July 3rd and 4th you would not be able to reserve the sites until
Here is the trick. If I decide to
start camping from July 1st to July 4th I can make my reservations on January
1st, two days ahead of people who just want to camp on the holiday weekend.
At the really popular parks, this is the only way to get a site on a holiday
weekend. Please be aware that if you reserve a site, you are expected to
occupy it. Many people send out one family member ahead of the rest of
the party to 'hold' their reserved site.
A few naughty people make extra reservations
and try to 'scalp' their sites. This is frowned upon by the park staff
and you may well find yourself without a spot to camp in if you try this!
There isn't much the parks can do if you purchase a scalped camp site and
lie and say that you are with the family who made the reservations - but
don't get caught making the purchase!
You can also do this to get a really
great site: Each day there will be people leaving their camp sites
and going home. You can simply search for a better site each day until
you get a really awesome one. This may sound like too much work for you
- but you might change your mind once you see what site you might get stuck
Get a Site Early
Just because you have a reservation
doesn't mean you'll get a site you will like. Most camp grounds do not
reserve specific sites - just a site in general. If you arrive at the campground
late in the day, you will get your choice of whatever is left - and that's
not usually very good.
Many people send one person ahead
of the rest of the party to insure a good site for the weekend.
If you are planning on camping in
an area that doesn't accept reservations - please call ahead and make sure
that sites are available. All parks allow you to stay for 7 days in a row
and many allow 14 days in a row so the park you wish to camp in may be
full for the weekend before you have finished packing your car.
Look out for scams. Sometimes local
people will come to the park and take as many sites as they can. We caught
a family holding a site 'auction' for six camp sites for July 4th. People
were bidding as much as three times the price of a normal camp site. The
family caught perpetrating this scam lost all of the money they had paid
for six camp sites for four nights plus got a $150 fine.
You need to be aware of some
of the complications of holiday camping.
A poor choice of sites
Lines at the showers
People arriving at all
Lots of litter
No toilet paper
A zealous over-worked