Early Reservations Key With Colorado System (2/5/2019)
Story by Woodall's Campground Management
It’s the first week of February in Colorado's Yampa Valley and spring is so far over the horizon it might feel premature to daydream about sitting around a campfire reliving the day’s adventure in a desert slot canyon, according to the Steamboat Pilot & Today.
Quite the opposite — if you don’t get on the stick and make a reservation now, you might discover that strangers have already booked your favorite campsite, whether it’s a state park or a campground managed by the National Park Service or the U.S. Forest Service and booked by recreation.gov. That’s because online reservations have been available since the first of the year and campers in the know have been locking up their dates for weeks.
And the urgency also applies to summer campgrounds just minutes from Steamboat Springs.
Already there are some campsites reserved for national Dumont Lake on Rabbit Ears Pass. And especially when it comes to hard shell campers, Steamboat Lake State Park's camping sites are filling up for Memorial Day weekend and the Fourth of July.
Longtime Steamboat resident Steve Otis has some U.S. Forest Service camping sites booked in late June, but he's already making plans for autumn in Utah. The National Park Service won't open the reservation process for his campsite in Canyonlands until he's within six months of that trip.
"I've got a sticky note in my day planner to remind me," Otis said. "We'll be within six months (of his preferred dates) in another couple of months.”
One might say that online campground reservations are both a good thing and a tricky thing.
Reserving in advance allows campers to leave home secure in the knowledge they have a place to sleep when they arrive. On the other hand, the system takes some of the spontaneity and adventure out of one of America's favorite pastimes. The days when a person could decide on a Thursday to go camping on Saturday are fading, unless they are prepared to go backpacking or rough it in a dispersed Forest Service site.
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