Camping – a.k.a. “Roughing It”
If you’re an outdoor buff, nothing beats pitching a tent and sleeping under the stars. Most national parks offer their camping facilities on a first-come, first-served basis – meaning if you don’t claim your spot early, you’re out of luck come sunset. Be smart. Make a back-up reservation at a nearby public campground.
Unfortunately, sleeping under the stars isn’t always free. Some parks charge an additional fee for camping, which can range anywhere from $6 to $16. For those interested in backcountry camping, be sure to contact the park ahead of time, as you may need a special permit to do so.
If you’re planning on making reservations before visiting a national park (smart, smart, smart!), here are two places you can contact:
For those of you interested in the “not-so-rough” roughing it, you’re in luck. Most national park campgrounds are equipped for RV’s. One note of caution: most parks only offer the most basic facilities. If you require electrical hookups, water pumps or disposal stations, be sure to contact the park ahead of time to check if they can accommodate you.
Then, of course, there are the more comfortable accommodations. Given the plentitude of hotels, motels and cabins across the country, you’re sure to find something that suits your style in the “great outdoors.”
One important note for those of you planning on visiting during the high season (Memorial Day through Labor Day): be sure to book your hotel/motel/cabin reservations three to four months in advance. Accommodations go quickly. The secret is to wait until the season ends when you could save up to 25% on the rate – especially worth considering if you’re on a tight budget.