Friday, July 24, 2020

The Agony and the Ecstasy of Campground Reservations

Lacey-Keosauqua State Park, a favorite destination, no matter the weather

I'm reserving campsites ahead of time this year, more than the last couple of years. Part of the reason is that more local county campgrounds are now affiliated with here in Iowa, but that's not the whole story. My wife and I are also happy to be able to reserve our favorite campsites in federal, state, and county parks in the area. The "happy" is the "ecstasy" of this article's title. The agony? Finding that the reservation process means that it's almost impossible to reserve a site for two weeks--or even one week. Too many people reserve sites for just weekends.

Bentonsport Campground, on the Des Moines River

Let me provide an example. My wife are going to camp locally in late August for at least a couple of weeks, possibly longer. At Lacey-Keosauqua State Park, we were able to reserve our favorite site, #53, for ten days--but only for two, five-day stretches. Yep, Sunday through Thursday nights times two. The Friday and Saturday nights between we've reserved a site at Bentonsport Campground, a local county park nine miles away from Keo SP on the Des Moines River.

The two-night weekend break at Bentonsport will be great; it's a beautiful site my wife has never camped at before. However, we couldn't camp there for a couple of weeks because the cellphone signal strength is low, so my wife couldn't work during the week. Therefore, we will be moving and setting up camp three times during our sojourn. Since I'll be turning our campsite into "Mobile Office 1," the set-up and break-down is a bit more than I'd like.

I think it will be a nice experience, though, being out and away with my wife for an extended time (even though we'll be popping by our house for ice and fresh groceries a couple of times). I suppose weekend reservations are why a lot of people sign up as early as possible for campsites: they either want particular weekends, or they want to reserve a longer time before the weekends get taken.

One reason for reserving a campsite ahead of time is that some sites are better than others--more secluded, having a better view, or in the summer campsites with shade. These reasons tend to go away once the busy camping season ends. During the off-season, many of the parks revert to first come, first served (or walk-in) protocols. I like that because the fewer campers make it easy to find a good spot that I can camp at for a longer time. Over time I hope to get more adept at locating and securing great campsites. One of the pleasures of camping, though, is showing up to a totally new park, cruising around, and then finding a good campsite.

I guess I'm just a low-key explorer, blazing trails that many have traveled before.

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  1. Love those pictures! I guess I should think about reserving for August sooner rather than later. Good food for thought!

    1. Ha! Thanks, those photos were of great spots at great times. (I try to leave out the bad shots of lousy sites!)