Florida RVers ask when and where to go on Western camping trip

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Here’s a question from a reader of RVtravel.com about boondocking. 

Hi Bob,
Thank you for your articles in RV Travel newsletter. We camp a lot in the southeast; we live in Florida. My wife, Deb, is retiring May next year. We want to plan a month or two trip out West. Would like to know what time of year would we want to make this type of trip, spring to early summer or late summer to early fall? We are just overwhelmed as to where to start and finish as well as to must-see spots. Should we make reservations or just hope for the best. In our area if you don’t have reservations you don’t camp for the most part. We have taken several trips to western states, but never with our travel trailer. Your help would be greatly appreciated. –Dave and Deb

Hi Dave and Deb,
Well, that’s a question that needs a book for an answer. Since this column doesn’t have the space for it, here is the short answer and hopefully it will show you where to go next to continue your research.

Hands down, the best season is end of summer through October and in some places even later. Rains don’t come until November or later, all the families have returned home as schools have started, and you can find campsites without reservations. But not quite like it used to be.


Yosemite National Park

You didn’t mention if you were a boondocker, but if you are, there are always spots for boondocking. The West is blessed with lots of open space. When you are on public land (National Forests and BLM) visit the ranger stations and they will direct you to both dispersed (boondocking) campsites and developed campgrounds.

For popular areas like national parks and monuments, you are better off making reservations, but even if you don’t have one, visit the park on Tuesdays thru Thursdays in the morning or during checkout and you can score a site – especially after Labor Day. Also, many of the national parks are surrounded by national forests where you could find a site more easily and then drive into the national park on day trips.

Here’s another rule of thumb for where to go. The desert areas will remain hot and dry the longest. Visit them at the end of your trip. The higher you go in mountainous areas, the colder it will get and you might get early rains. The coast weather at this time of year is the best. The summer fogs have dissipated and the weather is balmy and clear. Between these areas you will find all conditions, most of them warm, comfortable and rain-free. But check the wildfire situation and avoid smoky and burned areas. And buy some guidebooks. Mike and Terri Church publish an outstanding series of regional RV camping guides for the West. You can find them on their Rolling Homes website or at Amazon.com.

Read more about boondocking at my BoondockBob’s Blog.
Check out my Kindle e-books about boondocking at Amazon.

Do you have a question for Bob? Email him at bob.rvtravel (at) gmail.com .

##RVT861

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Jim J
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Jim J

I made 2 road trips out west in the summer. The first and the last. It was so unbearably hot (125 ° near Vegas ) not even a dog was on the sidewalk. Cars have ac though and the Grand Canyon had endless lines of traffic. A similar trip in mid fall was like the difference in night and day. Much less traffic, pleasant daytime temps and Mother Natures ac at night free of charge.

Eric Eltinge
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Eric Eltinge

The state beach parks from Mendocino to Crescent City are infested with homeless, drug addicts, illegal aliens, and marijuana farm employees. Camp accordingly.

Pat
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Pat

Places to see in California. Death Valley, Yosemite Nat Park, Sequoia Nat Park and Redwoods Nat Park. One has the biggest trees {around} and the other has the tallest trees. All 4 places worth seeing. April, May and June also have great weather, and the wildflowers are blooming. Have a good and safe trip.

Lelia
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Lelia

Shh! You shouldn’t have told us where it is. . .

Boondocking Facebook groups, blogs, RVer clubs, etc., all post the great boondocking places only. So there are many secret places left.

Jeri Lessley
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Jeri Lessley

I live in SW Montana. We boondock and have a favorite campground. It is on a lake (Wade), which is up a 6 mile rough dirt road, through a cattle ranch. Since retirement, we would go early Sunday and always got one of our favorite sites. Unfortunately, it seems the whole country has it on their list of must visit places. The actual campers are, for the most part, great people. We’ve made lifelong friends there. However, there are rigs from all over the country filling it up. This year we had to move up the hill, away from the… Read more »