Washington, Dc + Trip

Discussion in 'Trip Planning' started by bcweiss, Feb 9, 2018.

  1. bcweiss

    bcweiss Novice

    Hi Everyone,
    We will be traveling to the Washington, D C area in June 2018 for a wedding in Charlottesville, VA. Wondering if anyone has experiences of camping on the east coast without having made reservations ahead of time. Any suggestions for campgrounds in the area?

    After the wedding we are thinking about North and South Carolina. Because we are retired we have usually gone on trips without having made reservations but our trips have been in the Midwest and Rocky Mountain areas which aren't as populated so I'm wondering if we need to do more preplanning?

    Any suggestions on things to do would also be welcome

    Thanks for your help!
    Sitting here during the snow storm dreaming about camping!
  2. Handben

    Handben Junior Ranger Donating Member

    From Charlottesville you're not too far from the southern end of the Shenandoah National Park. I think it's pretty risky to not reserve a spot ahead of time. Things are pretty crowded on the East Coast. I live in Baltimore and am making my reservations now for weekends as far ahead as October. That's not to say you couldn't get lucky and find a great site when and where you want but if you know when and where you need to be for the wedding, there's no reason to wing it in my opinion. Ben H
  3. bcweiss

    bcweiss Novice

    Thanks for the info! I have been thinking that we would need to get reservations this time.
  4. Warren  Mary Ellen

    Warren Mary Ellen Junior Ranger

    South Carolina - For the coast you will definitely need reservations. For the rest of the state probably depends on timing. Weekends I would want reservations, but the weekdays you will probably be okay. In NC I have mostly Camped in the mountains. Depends on where you are. Some campgrounds in the Great Smokies fill up but some of the small ones don't. Blue Ridge Parkway the same story there.

    Recommendations - Great Smokies NP, Blue Ridge Parkway (Linville Falls or Mt. Pisgah campgrounds, do these without reservations), Asheville, NC, Charleston, SC I or anywhere on the coast, UPstate SC In June I would stick to the mountains where there are several state parks. Keep in mind it is Hotter than Hades here at some point in the summer. NC mountains offer some relief and if you are going to be in Charlottesville, VA you are at the northern end of the Blue Ridge Parkway.
  5. bcweiss

    bcweiss Novice

    Thanks for the information! If it wasn't for the family wedding we would not be traveling to this area during the summer. There is a reason we live in the north - I don't do well in hot and humid! Because of that we were planning on heading for the hills so your comments are helpful.
  6. bcweiss

    bcweiss Novice

    Thanks Bear! We usually travel without reservations as well so we aren't tied to a certain number of days in any one area. Just a little nervous about the east coast during the summer. Your comments are reassuring.
  7. Tour 931

    Tour 931 Junior Ranger

    When I'm traveling I stay at truck stops, rest areas and Walmart and reservations aren't needed. But when I camp at state parks I almost always make reservations.
    bcweiss likes this.
  8. Handben

    Handben Junior Ranger Donating Member

    Barb, I find the AllStays website to be pretty useful for getting an idea of what all campgrounds are in a particular area. Googlemaps zoomed into the area of interest and then search "campgrounds" is also a good way to do. If you want to be in the Mountains, Loft Mountain campground is part of the Shenandoah N.P. It has reservable sites as well. You could check out any particular site via the Campsitephotos.com website. It is however a bit over an hour one way to Charlottesville. Just outside of town is a KOA. Since you're thinking about this already 4-6 months ahead of time, you don't strike me as the type who would want to come that far and just "wing it". I hope this helps. Ben
    bcweiss likes this.
  9. Warren  Mary Ellen

    Warren Mary Ellen Junior Ranger

    And in the NC mountains be prepared for showers and thunderstorms in the summer. You can see the campgrounds I've reviewed in the area too.
    bcweiss likes this.
  10. Jim and Sue L.

    Jim and Sue L. Junior Ranger

    Sue and I have stayed at Shenandoah N.P. in 2012. It is a well maintained campground with modern facilities. If you want to be close to D.C. we have stayed at Greenbelt N.P. several times because of its proximity to family and downtown D.C., only 12 miles. Its a bit rustic and well worn, but does have showers. We have traveled the east coast several times in the fall and have rarely made reservations. We even found open camp sites on Labor Day weekend. Traveling after schools are out I would recommend reservations to secure a spot near the wedding venue.

  11. Gypsy

    Gypsy Novice

    I've found the Allstays app very useful as well. I've never stayed overnight at a Walmart or Cracker Barrel parking lot but I noticed they are listed individually and several in my state do not allow camping in the parking lot.
    bcweiss likes this.
  12. Tour 931

    Tour 931 Junior Ranger

    I've camped in many Walmart parking lots. They don't care but some towns have laws against it.
    bcweiss likes this.
  13. fernlane

    fernlane Novice

    I've camped in the Shenandoahs in June without a reservation. The campgrounds typically have some unreservable sites so if you get there before the weekend you should be good. Plenty of bears up there so be careful with your food. The CG hosts actually made me sign a form that I'd been warned about the bears.

    In the Smokies I'm fond of Cataloochee but reservations are required and you've have to get them pretty early. I also like Deep Creek CG which has no reservations. It's right next to Bryson City which has some ok restaurants and a good brewery. Also lots of hiking and the creek itself is great for tubing and fishing. Please note that these campgrounds like most in national parks are dry camping only. And sun can be hard to find for your solar panel.

    a big +1 on allstays. I'd pay a good bit every year to use this app (but it's only a one time charge)

    also, if you use a solar panel among the trees (life on the east coast) you should check out the Sun Seeker app. Among other information, it shows you the path of the sun through the camera so it's easy to maximize your solar insolation.

    r dickson
    550 #645
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