Summer campground reservations can be challenging

Ladd

Camping continues to grow in popularity with both NYS Parks and DEC campgrounds in the Adirondacks and Catskills experiencing record numbers of annual visitors. This is a trend that began during the recession of the late 2000’s and has intensified through the Covid pandemic.

My wife Adrienne and I are avid summer campers, owning a small “canned ham” style RV. Most of our trips are extended weekends at DEC campgrounds in the Adirondacks, doing what we like to call “renting waterfront property for a weekend.” But we’ve also visited a number of state parks and even hauled our little unit to Gettysburg, the coast of Maine as well as an annual Bluegrass music festival in western Vermont we’ve attended several times. We love the camping/RV lifestyle.

But reserving a weekend campsite (and especially longer) at New York’s popular camping destinations has gotten more difficult. For the longest time Adrienne and I would sit down during the winter and put our monthly camping weekends on the calendar. We’d then sign up for vacation time and usually be able to find a waterfront campsite somewhere during our chosen dates.

That’s no longer the case.

These days, we have to be prepared to reserve a campsite for the following year nine months in advance, which is how New York’s reservation system works. So in September, we’re booking for May or June the following year, and so on. Even more frustrating can be trying to find a waterfront site, or in some cases, any campsite at all. It’s a constant game of checking availability and pouncing on a reservation when and wherever you have the chance.

Fortunately, there is some help. In 2006, Canadian photographer/web author and avid Adirondack camper, Dave McGrath, launched campadk.com, a free website that provides photos of individual campsites. Campadk has quickly become a tremendous resource for camping enthusiasts and has expanded to nearly every campground in New York State. Last year, McGrath took things a step further, launching MyBaseCamp, from Campadk. There is an annual fee for MyBaseCamp, but what a service it provides. Along with even more photos of individual campsites it allows the user to narrow things down to their favorite campgrounds and available dates. Better yet, it list cancellations which can be filtered to one’s preferences.

Adrienne and I have found this to be an incredible resource. I mainly signed up for MyBaseCamp to support Dave, who along with his wife, Kate, also organize tiny trailer festivals called “Tear ups,” one of which we once attended and enjoyed immensely. But MyBaseCamp has served us well this year as three of our five summer camping weekend bookings have come from cancellations filtered to us through the website. As I write this, we just came off a weekend at one of the best campsites we’ve ever stayed on. The only catch is waiting for a cancellation and hoping something materializes.

So if, like us, you’ve struggled to be able make camping reservations, pay a visit to campadk.com and while you’re at it, consider joining MyBaseCamp. And be sure to save a couple of good campsites for us!

Categories: Dan Ladd

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