I know it's crazy isn't it. My daughter's locals ski program just ended and we just got a storm last weekend that dumped nearly 4 feet at the Summit of Alpine Meadows that had us skiing powder all day Sunday, but we just hit the panic button. Spring sprung on us last Friday and with the snowflakes we barely even noticed. Except on Saturday evening when we all gathered around the table for some serious carbo-loading to ensure energy for the next days pow and summer planning.
We pulled out our calendars of choice...digital or old-school paper and started plotting out our camping weekends. See actually we are LATE! Late you say... YES! So now we are hitting full tilt rush mode as we also have the school year to start thinking about as our daughter enters kindergarten. So summer or alas the one where you can hit the open road at any point on Friday will actually end on August 13 with the first day of the public school year. And then add on top that many of the major national parks started accepting reservations for the summer months nearly 4 months ago and yes, we are behind. For instance any shot at camping inside Yosemite is dashed as the next window to open will be April 15 for scheduling of camping dates between August 15 (after school starts) and September 14.
Being in northern California and having access to such amazing differences in climate, topography, etc. we really try to keep our camping trips varied. Generally one to the coast, one to the high country, and one "just because." The "just because" one is reserved for the "because I know a family who has gone there for years and love it," "because it will be our wine country destination this year," "because it has an available campsite,"....
So we have our 3 weekends picked. And we have an idea as to where we would like to go. For our high country this year we are thinking to Calaveras and our "just because...it is in the a great wine tasting area"....Santa Cruz/Monterey area for the coastal visit....and then one more TBD. But now we start our biggest obstacle...finding a campground.
So when finding a campground you also need to be prepared...and know your needs or restrictions. For instance we need some of the following items:
> Pets allowed, at least on leash...as 2 out of 3 of our families have dogs
> Trailers allowed, we can forgo hook-ups, but 2 out of 3 of our families have pop-ups
> Takes reservations...don't want to go all that way for a walk-in and find it's full
> Kid-friendly activities...at least some hikes, perhaps a water feature, or interpretive program
Now the hunt begins. You may already have some ideas or specific campgrounds...if so you can go straight to some of the web-based booking tools such as:
Otherwise just a general Internet search might suffice.
If you don't have a good jumping in point it may be helpful to ask around. Of course the first stop should be friends or family, then head to a Visitor's Bureau or Chamber of Commerce for the area you wish to visit. Also with the Internet age the networking/social websites such as Facebook or Twitter (by the way...I twitter as norcalskimom) are other good places to gather recommendations.
When booking ensure you understand all the fees as well as cancellation policies, then book away and look forward to a summer of your child on the go in nature.
Other related posts:
Please feel free to leave your families favorite campground and why in a comment.