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There are plenty of places to take your RV to experience the great outdoors. From national parks to festivals to attractions, there is always somewhere to go or something to see throughout the country.

However, as the popularity of RV travel has grown, more people than ever are packing up their campers and hitting the road to explore new and exciting places. The availability of quality campsites can’t keep up with the demand, and going where the wind blows is no longer an option. Making advanced reservations is now a must, especially during peak seasons or holidays.

Here are five reasons why you should reserve an RV campsite before hitting the open road:

1. You don’t want to spend the night at Cracker Barrel 

While waking up to Cracker Barrel pancakes for breakfast right outside your door may sound appealing, most people prefer to spend the night in a campground with full hookups and amenities.

However, if you don’t make reservations ahead of time, RV parks within your budget may be impossible to find at the spur of the moment. During the busiest seasons, when the roads are packed with travelers, it may even be hard to grab a spot at the nearby Cracker Barrel. If you are looking for adventure, starlit skies, and enjoying a campfire with friends, you aren’t going to find it in a noisy, crowded parking lot.

2. You want to camp your RV in a national park

Yellowstone averages 4 million visitors a year but only has 2,150 available campsites, with most spots having size restrictions for RVs. During the pandemic, national parks became extremely popular as people searched for outdoor activities to enjoy. The demand has not eased up, with crowds continuing to flock to the most popular locations, such as Glacier, Zion, Grand Canyon, and Great Smoky Mountains National Parks.

Due to the increased demand, the National Park Service recommends making camping reservations at least six months in advance. Most parks do not allow overnight vehicle parking in picnic areas, pullouts, or any other place not designated as a campground. Even private campgrounds in surrounding towns fill up fast.

 So, if you have your heart set on camping at a national park, it is imperative to book a site ahead of time. Without reservations, you could end up camping for several hours outside the park, spending more time driving than enjoying the splendor of the area and all it has to offer.

3. You plan to travel during the holidays or peak season

An aerial drone shot of motorhomes, RVs, and campers at the Galgenteich campsite in Altenberg, Saxony, Germany
The Galgenteich campsite in Saxony | Sebastian Kahnert/picture alliance via Getty Images

Traveling during the peak season is ideal because the weather is usually perfect, the kids have off school, and celebrations are in full swing. Unfortunately, you aren’t the only one with the idea to hit the road.

The summer months (June through September) are popular among families and other campers looking for a spot to vacation. Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, and other national holidays are also hectic times for campgrounds. The winter months (November through March) are enticing to “snowbirds” attempting to escape the ice and cold, heading to warmer climates like Florida or Arizona. 

If you are planning to travel during peak season or holidays, RV Magazine recommends planning several months ahead of time, saying, “Book your route, have a time of arrival set, and know where you want to go.” They also suggest securing reservations before taking time off from work and say, “Shifting your dates by a couple of days may make all the difference – and ultimately, give you an even better, more peaceful experience on your trip.” 

With the advent of Starlink and other internet providers, remote work is more accessible than ever. Travelers are taking their RVs to large cities to stay for extended periods, making it difficult to secure a reservation in popular destinations.

If you want to visit a major city, planning is essential. Most places sell out far in advance, so the sooner you can secure reservations, the better. Remember, most campgrounds have a generous cancellation policy, so you won’t lose too much money if your plans change. Just ask for specific details when booking a site so you can plan accordingly.

5. You want to attend a festival or event

The Albuquerque Balloon Festival brings together thousands of RVers from all over the country. However, you will be hard-pressed to participate in the annual event without a prior camping reservation.

Music festivals, sporting events, and RV rallies have become extremely popular for camping and usually sell out early. If you want to secure a reservation, watch the event or venue’s website for information and book a camping spot as soon as registration opens.

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