Tuesday, May 3, 2016

RV Birder needs perch

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
We are avid birdwatchers and full-timers. This makes us full-time birdwatchers. Our travel lifestyle puts us into a lot of boondocking/dry camping situations. What we have discovered, especially in the spring, is a lack of opportunities to use public campgrounds in excellent birding areas. Many State and Federal campgrounds are gated off and do not open until mid-May or even June.

These are pit toilet, self-pay sites. Why can't they just open the gate and let us early bloomers in. I hear all the whining about budget restraints, so why not make some early spring revenue and give us access.

I guess I am whining, but doesn't it just make sense to open these areas earlier?
--Fenced out in the Outback

Dear Outed:
I have given this same issue a lot of thought over the past few years. It seems the traditional usage of these facilities is changing rapidly, but the mindset of management has not caught on.

These are not campgrounds that have water pipe issues. There is no need to winterize in the fall and fire back up in the spring.

I first noticed this several years ago coming out of Yellowstone's East entrance. It was fall and the park was still very crowded with RVs. The weather was beautiful, and the need for RV accommodations was definitely still in demand. There were several Forest Service campgrounds between Yellowstone and Cody, Wyo. All were gated up for the season.

As many RVers leave the sunbelt each spring and head north they find the same issue with State and Federal campgrounds as you pointed out. It seems they could and should open as soon as weather permits, which seems to be earlier all the time.

Another option for you would be National Wildlife Refuge camping. Not many have designated camping areas, but some do and would be perfect for your activity.

Using one of several available apps you should find State, Federal, County, City, BLM, Corps of Engineer options near your birding hotspots.

We can only hope that as more people hit the road and have a desire to camp earlier in the spring, and later into the fall, public campground managers will try to accommodate them.
--Keep Smilin', Dr. R.V. Shrink

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