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Single Parent Camping
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camping with kids
Tips for camping with babies
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Tips for camping with 9 - 12 year olds
Tips for camping with teens
Tips for Parents
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Healthy Dogs
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Holiday Camping
Seasonal Camping
Camp Bathrooming
First Aid
Water Safety
Altitude Camping
Campground Pollution
Holiday Camping

Memorial Day *July 4th* Labor Day

After years 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.

Make Reservations
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 home.

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 January 3rd.

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 with!

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 hours
  • Drunken revelry
  • Clogged toilets
  • No privacy
  • Lots of litter
  • No toilet paper
  • Frustrated campers
  • A zealous over-worked park staff
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