(This is cross posted from my original post at The Outbound Collective)
Yes it is currently May and yes you should start planning now.
It was July 3rd and I was on a trip to visit my brother in Boise, Idaho when we decided to spend the 4th weekend in the Sawtooth Wilderness area, specifically the Sawtooth Range. I had recently been traveling across the country and visiting national parks along the way. Suffice to say it was nice to stop in with my brother for a week and be off the road. While much of my cross country trip was unplanned and by the seat of my pants (highly recommended if you have the time), an unplanned camping trip on 4th of July weekend is highly not recommended!
In fact, I am writing this now because if you plan to spend the 4th in the great outdoors, particularly in popular areas, this is my reminder to start planning this now! Specifically, make your campground reservations now (as in stop reading this and go do it!) or else you end up with this:
In truth, many of the campgrounds get booked a year in advanced from my experience. While I am all about dispersed camping, at times it is nice to have a designated site ready for your arrival for a nominal fee. If you plan to do dispersed camping, I still recommend planning now - many of the popular spots will be taken if you leave too late in the day (so schedule your time off now) as we also discovered.
We left after my brother got off work (around 6pm by the time we actually left) and drove the 2.5 hours into the Sawtooth Range. The views were rewarding around sunset.
However, as night crept in and we explored every possible avenue and campground in the Stanley, Idaho area, we sadly discovered our mistake around midnight. So if you have not yet, again, stop reading this and book your campgrounds now! In the end we had an enjoyable hike to Sawtooth Lake and realizing that we would likely be spending another night in the car after the hike we headed up to McCall, Idaho for the rest of the weekend. Luckily the reservations there were with my brothers partner and her family at a beautiful spot. Enjoy the photos!
Things NOT to do:
1. Wait to plan your 4th of July outdoor weekend.
2. Leave late on a Friday after work (unless you cannot avoid it).
3. Forget to throw plans out the window from time to time and enjoy the ride.