Virginia's Parks Retaining Reservation System
Following a camper survey, Virginia is keeping its existing campsite reservation system at state parks.
The survey was conducted to determine whether campers wanted the ability to reserve a specific site. Under the existing system, campers reserve a spot in a camping loop, but not a specific campsite. Campers pick an open site when they arrive at a park, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported
Nancy Heltman, state parks visitor services manager for the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), said most campers didn’t take either side in the survey. She said the existing system provides flexibility to deal with problems at a campsite, such as flooding or an electric hookup failure.
Mary Thompson of Waynesboro is among those happy with the current system. She leaves early to get her choice lake view spot on Loop A at Douthat State Park near Clifton Forge. Campers arriving later can get stuck by the bathrooms or farther from the lake.
“Everybody wants the choice spots,” she said. “But if they’re reserved (under a new system) you’re going to go and just get what’s left.”
According to Heltman, state parks either have standard campsites, which have no hookups for electricity or water, or ones with hookups. They also have campsites based on equipment size.
One advantage of the existing system is that if campers arrive early in the day, they can set up camp before the check-in time, Heltman said.
“Officially, checkin is 4 p.m., but if sites are open you can set up right away,” she said. “If several families are camping together, one person who arrives early can check in for all of the sites and pick them out, assuming they all have the same arrival date.”
With a site-specific system, Heltman said, a camper could arrive early and find the site occupied by a camper planning to stay until the 3 p.m. checkout.