So, a friend told you about a great place to camp with your dog. But how do you make reservations? Here are some places to start:
- Reserve America handles reservations for almost 600 federal, state, private and regional park district campgrounds in California (a dog icon designates those that are dog-friendly).
- Recreation.gov is an umbrella site for reservable activities on federal lands, including camping in national forests.
• The East Bay Regional Parks District has campsites in dozens of parks in Alameda and Contra Costa counties.
• The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, Pacific Gas & Electric and the Sacramento Municipal Water District are among other entities that operate dog-friendly campgrounds in our region. County park districts and private campgrounds, such as those operated by KOA and Thousand Trails, present another set of possibilities.
• “Moon Outdoors California Camping” by Tom Stienstra (Avalon Travel Publishing) is a useful tome for finding descriptions and reservation information for almost 1,400 tent and RV campgrounds, most of them dog-friendly.
Be aware that most of California’s coastal campgrounds, as well as most in popular destinations like Lake Tahoe, are booked out six to seven months in advance for summer visits, so snagging a last-minute weekend reservation can take persistence, but it can be done. Some tips:
- Inquire about the cancelation window at your chosen location (30 days at Yosemite, for example) and call that many days in advance of your preferred dates, hoping a spot has opened up.
- Find out if your preferred campsite has any “first-come” or “overflow” sites in its inventory (most do). Take a risk by showing up at the gates about a half-hour before check-out time.
- Some popular coastal campgrounds use a lottery system to distribute sites made available through cancellations. If you’re flexible, this can work.
- Choose a campground that operates purely on a first-come basis and arrive on a Wednesday or Thursday if you want to stay over the weekend. (Note that it can pay off to pay extra and reserve those nights even if you can’t be there; you can always cancel within the designated time frame and still keep the weekend reservation).
- Go midweek, or wait until after Labor Day.