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What is Walk Up Camping and is it Right For You?


Walk up camping is camping without making any reservation. That means it works on a first-come, first-serve basis. So, all you have to do is to show up at a campground and try to claim a camping spot. You only have to hope that your chosen camping spot isn’t taken. There are reasons why someone would opt for Walk up camping rather than make reservations. First, the person may find reserving a camping spot inconvenient. For instance, the person may be required to attend to some duties on the same day they should go camping.

As a result, the person may have to cancel the camp and be charged a cancellation fee. Another reason someone may choose Walk up camping is when they realize they have some free time. Since the person wants to spend their free time camping, making reservations wouldn’t make sense since they cannot be made on the same day. Now that we have described what Walk up camping is, it is time to determine whether it is right for you. We will help you decide whether it is right for you by identifying its pros and cons. After that, we will describe some Walk up camping tips.

Pros of Walk Up Camping

You Do Not Need to Pay Any Reservation Fee

Reservation fees are usually paid when you want the camping management to look for you a camping spot. In Walk up camping, you look for the camping spots yourself, which is why you do not get charged the fee. An advantage of not paying the fee is that you can cancel your camping plans when you need or want to. The average site becomes available for booking six months prior. Within six months, a lot can happen. For instance, you may need to travel outside the country. If you booked a spot and needed to cancel, you would have to pay a cancellation fee. However, in Walk up camping, you simply need not to show up to any camping sites.

You Do Not Have to Deal With Call Center Agents and Online Reservations

If you make reservations, you will have to talk to the camping management over the phone at some point. Some people resent talking to call center agents over the phone. One reason some people hate talking over the phone is due to their social anxiety.  Some people can hold a conversation yet completely freeze when they have to do it over the phone. If you detest talking over the phone, you will be happy to know that you do not have to when you consider Walk up camping.

Not all people are tech savvy. If such a person had to make reservations online, they would wonder how to go about it. On the other hand, some people know how to make online reservations but may lack Wi-Fi services for various reasons. With such a setback, they cannot make reservations on time. On the other hand, walk-up camping does not require you to log into a computer since showing up is all you have to do.

You Will Enjoy Some Flexibility During Your Camping Adventure

While you are on your camping adventure, you may not complete the required days there. Perhaps, you have become bored and want to go home. Or, you may feel like exploring another camping site. Fortunately, you do not have to wait for a specific day to leave, which means you can live at your pleasure. Additionally, you can arrive at the camping site at your preferred time. So, you will never be too early or late at the camping venue.

Cons of Walk Up Camping

You May Have to Camp in an Unfavorable Spot

Camping spots tend to fill up quickly during weekends and summer. If you decide to camp during those durations, you are likely to miss out on a spot. That means you may have to come earlier than usual or camp during the weekdays. If you are unable to secure your favorite camping site, you will have no choice but to camp in any other available space. The space you find may happen to be your least preferred one.

It Is More Difficult If You Travel With Friends

The aim of traveling with friends for camping is to be together with them throughout. However, with Walk up camping, you may not be at the exact location with your friends. You have to hope the camping spot is large enough to accommodate you and your friends. If you find a small camping spot that cannot accommodate your friends, you will have to split up with them since they will need to look for the next available area.

You May Have to Drive to Several Campgrounds to Search for a Spot

Walk in camping is akin to a lottery. You can be lucky to find a good spot after driving a few miles. However, you can also be unlucky and find several places occupied. That means you will be forced to drive from one campground to the other. As a result, you will consume much fuel just searching for a camping spot. There is also a chance that you may not find any spot. In that case, it is important to have a back-up plan in case you cannot get a site.

Is Walk Up Camping Right For You?

After reading the pros of Walk up camping, we hope you have been able to decide whether it is right for you. In general, if you are not a risk taker, we wouldn’t recommend Walk up camping. That is because there are a lot of problems you could face. First, you could exhaust your fuel supply and discover that you are far from a gas station. Also, you could secure a risky spot, e.g., where hyenas live. Risk takers are usually mentally prepared for such outcomes and know how to deal with them. On the other hand, non-risk takers are likely to panic if they encounter such outcomes. If you consider yourself a risk taker and want to consider Walk up camping, there are some tips to keep in mind. Here are the tips below.

Bring Some Cash

Some campgrounds only offer cash as a form of payment. It makes sense since who would want to carry an ATM to the campsites? When you pay in cash, try not to give out large bills. According to Getaway Couple, the maximum bill denomination to give out is $20. Some campsites may be unable to give back balances from huge bills. Another reason why carrying cash is important is so that you do not have to drive around in search of an ATM. While you search for an ATM, there is a likelihood of other campers stealing your camping spot. Technically, if a camper steals your spot it is not illegal since your spot was not reserved.

Bring All Your Camping Gear

It is not uncommon for people to forget to pack a certain camping item. Once you discover that you forgot a particular camping item from the campground, it becomes very inconvenient. That means you could be forced to drive back for your gear, which is a huge risk. Going back for your gear means you risk losing your camping spot. Since your camping spot is not technically reserved, other campers have the right to occupy the spot. If you tend to be forgetful when you pack, it would be best to have a checklist to help you remember to bring the necessary camping gear. A useful way of getting a camping checklist is searching the internet. Additionally, you could ask your friends or family members to help you create one.

Use Social Media

On Facebook alone, there are several groups that cater to camping enthusiasts. You can join them and begin by asking the users in those groups about the best Walk up camping sites. There is a chance that you will get some responses that will help you decide on a Walk up camping site to visit. Besides mentioning some camping sites, some campers in those groups will also give you some tips on how to survive there. Another social media platform that you can use for your camping queries is Twitter. If you have at least 500 followers, you could post your camping query in the form of a tweet. There are some chances that at least one of your followers could know something about some Walk up camping sites.

Go During the Off-Peak Season

People tend to camp more in the summer months, from Mid-May to Mid-September. If you want to try Walk up camping for the first time, it would be best if you went during the off-peak season. When you go during the off-peak season, you are unlikely to face fierce competition from other campers seeking particular spots. Besides reducing competition from other campers, there are other benefits of camping during the off-peak season. First, the camping fees are usually lower. With fewer campers camping during the off-peak season, the camping management charges low fees according to the laws of demand and supply. Additionally, camping during the off-peak season means you will enjoy cooler weather. If you are a camper who detests the extreme heat during the summer or tends to get sunburns, this is the best season to camp.

Visit the Campground On Weekdays, Instead of Weekends

For some reason, people believe that the best days to have fun are the weekends. Since it is inculcated in us that those are the only days you should have fun, you end up thinking that you cannot camp on a Tuesday. However, some people may only consider camping on a weekday if it is a holiday. Believe it or not, you do not have to camp on the weekends. When you camp on the weekday, you will not have trouble securing camping spots since the number of attendees will be low. However, work may cause people not to go camping over the weekdays. If you work for a company that offers vacation leaves, you can use your leave days to camp on the weekdays.

Be Flexible and Adapt

When you visit Walk up camping sites, remember not to be so choosy. You are only allowed to be choosy if you realize a camping spot has dangerous animals. However, you shouldn’t reject a camping spot because it is overcrowded. Although there are genuine reasons why people may not like crowds, you do not have to let them ruin your camping experience. The best way of adjusting to crowds is acknowledging the positive aspect of it, e.g., making friends. Remember, an overcrowded spot is better than no camping spot.

You Can Show Up at the Place at Checkout Time

For various reasons, it can be difficult for some people to show up the night before to look for a camping spot. If you belong to that camp, you can show up either an hour or two before the posted checkout time. The idea of turning up minutes before the checkout time is to find out whether enough spots will open up for you to get in. This strategy is risky, but you could still be lucky to secure a camping spot in time.

Ignore “Campground Full” Signs

At a Walk up camping site, there is the freedom of leaving at your pleasure. Therefore, declaring the camping site full may be premature. Some campers may leave 30 minutes after the “campground full” board is erected. If you see such a sign, wait to see if any camper will leave.


Some people consider Walk up camping a spontaneous activity, yet it doesn’t have to be. You could drive for several miles for a camping spot if you want to, but remember there are easier ways of getting camping spots if you follow the tips above. If you know someone who is considering Walk up camping sites, point them to this article.

Liz Flynn

Written by Liz Flynn

Liz Flynn has worked as a full-time writer since 2010 after leaving a career in education. She finds almost all topics she writes about interesting, but her favorite subjects are travel and food. Liz loves the process of researching information, learning new things, and putting into words what others who share her interests might like to read. Although she spends most of her time writing, she also enjoys spending time with her husband and four children, watching films, cooking, dining out, reading, motorsports, gaming, and walking along the beach next to her house with her dog.

Read more posts by Liz Flynn

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