Here are three tips to help you secure a campsite during your impromptu road trip through the beautiful U.S. of A this winter.
Our road trip through the Pacific Southwest began in Phoenix Arizona after visiting family and friends from Los Angeles for thanksgiving weekend. They’d recommended we take a quick trip to Sedona “it’s a must” they said.
But an impromptu road trip to Sedona didn’t seam like a good idea, the weather forecasted called for mostly cloudy skies with night temps dropping to a cool sixteen degrees in Zion. A stark contrast from the sunny blue skies and warm cactus sprinkled deserts of Phoenix. Not to mention we hadn’t planned anything in advanced so we didn’t have reservations. But we decided to risk it anyway.
Yes the rest of our trip through Sedona, Grand Canyon and Zion was cloudy, windy and cold but oh so worth it!
#1 So first things first.
Where the heck are we gonna spend the night?
We love using google to find camps near us but sometimes navigating through the different government sites like nps.gov, recreation.gov and the various state park sites can be overwhelming and confusing. Luckily there’s Hipcamp. By far the most comprehensive and easy to use site out there for discovering both private and public campsites near you.
That’s how we found Manzanitas Campgrounds in Sedona soon after arriving. Keep in mind most parks start closing certain campgrounds for the winter around late October and don’t re-open them until March of the following year. The upside to this is that most of the campgrounds that are “reservation only” during the summer months are “first come first serve” during the winter.
To find out which camps will be open/closed, we found it easiest to call. Luckily Hipcamp list the phone number of the campground your looking for under the "details" section of the campgrounds listing page. A total life saver!
#2 Arriving early is key
Your best chances of snagging a last minute campsite will be to get there as early as you can. Preferably before noon, chances are the folks that were camping the night before should have checked out by now, giving you a chance to swoop in and claim a campsite.
#3 Bring Cash or Checks
Yeah I know it sucks, we hardly ever carry cash with us either let alone checks, especially on a road trip. But unfortunately that’s the only form of payment in some campgrounds. Both Manzanitas as well as Watchman Campground in Zion NP only accepted cash/checks.
Our trip didn’t end in Sedona it only inspired us to keep going further north through the Grand Canyon, Zion, Antelope Canyon, ending with a warm desert sunset in the dunes of Death Valley NP before heading back to our little sunny Cali apartment in Los Angeles. It’s definitely a confidence booster knowing we were able to successfully find a safe place to lay our heads during our 8 day trip through the Pacific Southwest.
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