Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
This RV lifestyle is supposed to be relaxing, but trying to get a space in a campground is nerve-racking.
My husband and I have a method, but I am still shaking when it's all over. We have a motorhome and pull a small car. As we get close to a first-come, first-serve campground, he unhooks the car from the motorhome and waits while I go in and try to secure a site. Often I have to bother other campers and ask if they are leaving. Often there are others doing the same. It's like a scavenger hunt.
We see it only getting worse.
Do you have any suggestions?
--All shook up in Apgar
Dear Shook Up:
It is getting very interesting. More and more campgrounds are going to reservation only just to avoid all the disgruntled campers who reach a destination just to find out it is already filled to the gills.
We were just at Many Glacier campground in Glacier National Park. That campground went to partial reservations this season. The sites that remain FCFS are in high demand. Every morning there is a line of rigs stretching from the entrance gate, down the road and around the corner. Those who know how it works get in line as early as 4 a.m. At 7 a.m. the hosts come out and allow in campers as sites become available. They have already quizzed site occupants the night before, on whether they are leaving or not, and have an idea of how many sites will be available. They tell those far back in the line that they are most likely not getting a site and that they should move on and try to find other accommodations.
As sad as it is, that there seems to be more demand than supply, I thought this was a well organized attempt to take some of the pressure off people running willy-nilly through a campground almost fighting over sites and interrogating people on their intentions of length of stay.
Combat camping, campground bingo, and campground musical chairs, I've heard it all. On the front of our National Park handout, we received at the gate, it says in large type, "FIND YOUR PARK." What it should say is, "FIND YOUR PARKING SPACE."
If reservations are not an option, my only suggestions would be to pick a day to move into a campground when it might be less busy, and more likely that people would be moving on. Sunday thru Wednesday are good choices. Try none peak seasons, and arrive early.
The early bird gets to worm his way into the best sites.
My best advice is, "Never, and I mean never, let them see you sweat."
--Keep Smilin', Dr. R.V. Shrink