So, a friend told you about a great place to camp with your dog. But how do you make reservations? Here are three places to start:
- Reserve America handles reservations for 572 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.
- California Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds lets you search by region and amenity and has a dog icon next to the listings. Many have Reserve Now links.
- “Foghorn Outdoors California Camping” by Tom Sientstra (Avalon Travel Publishing) is a useful tome for finding descriptions and reservation information for more than 1,500 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 months in advance for summer visits, so snagging a last-minute weekend reservation can involve as much persistence as finding a bargain airfare to Hawaii at Christmastime. But it can be done. Here are some strategies:
- Inquire about the cancellation 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 Thursday if you want to stay over the weekend.
- Go midweek, or wait until after Labor Day.