We made our first RV site reservation! It will be at a small campground just outside of Jackson, WY for the week preceding (and night following) my Grand Teton Half Marathon on June 4.
I’m running two half marathons on back-to-back weekends, with a 5k thrown in for kicks. The series is called the Caldera Triple Challenge. It is also the first real leg of our trip (two legs, I suppose): first to Jackson, WY for a race just outside of Grand Tetons National Park and then to West Yellowstone, MT for a race just outside of Yellowstone National Park.
Now, reserving actual campsites is not the plan for normal travel times. We plan to do a lot of off-the-grid boondocking (hence all of Nik’s solar panel wizardry and whatnot) if all goes well.
There are a few reasons we decided to go with campgrounds this time, and a few reasons we are not eager to repeat it for normal travel times.
Why we did it this way for Jackson and our first week in Yellowstone:
- Races, especially distances of half-marathon and longer, are tiring and sweaty. You really want a nice, long shower and a place to wash your clothes afterwards.
- National Parks and the surrounding areas are very crowded in the summer. We were wary of finding a free site that was nearby and not filled up when we needed to be at a specific place at a specific time (and preferably not have to drive an hour and a half before a 6:30am start time).
Why we will avoid it for normal travel:
- Cost. This is the biggest reason.We managed to find places for about $40/night with water & electricity and counted ourselves lucky (I saw sites as expensive as $110/night). This isn’t bad if you are on vacation, but for our day-to-day lives, that would quickly add up to a cost of around $1200/month. That’s a very nice apartment in Denver. Granted, less popular destinations are not as expensive per night, but we would rather not pay MORE for our RV life than our city life.
- Booking these places is such a pain. A big part of it is that we just haven’t found the right resources yet, but it is hard to just find the campgrounds in the first place. Nik pointed out that your average RV traveller is significantly older than either of us, so RV campgrounds have not maximized for online accessibility. Once you do find them, you have to then go through a reservation process that for almost every site I looked at is essentially “call this number and leave a message and we’ll let you know.” I don’t know when the last time I ran into something, other than doctor and dentist appointments, that still expect you to call and leave a message in order to reserve something. Yes, I know, I am a millennial who loves the internet and hates phones. You may register your disgust in the comments. I regret nothing.
- In general, we are hoping to be a little more open in our dates rather than being tied down to specific reservations that must be made several months in advance.
The exciting thing, though, is that it is happening! There are firm dates on the calendar now!