Celebrating Independence day in camping

How to Pull Off a Last-Minute 4th of July Camping Trip

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Celebrating Independence day in camping

Campfire Red and Lakeside Blue

This article originally appeared on RVshare.com.

Independence Day is just around the corner and one favorite 4th of July activity for many people is camping. Unfortunately, since camping is such a popular Independence Day activity, if you don’t plan pretty far in advance, it can be difficult to find a place to set up during the holiday. However, there are some things that can make finding a last-minute 4th of July campsite a bit easier. Ahead, we're sharing our top tips for finding a campsite and fully enjoying this all-American summer holiday.

Related: 22 Important Things to Consider Before Buying an RV

Camping # 54 XL

Tips for Finding Last-Minute Campgrounds

First, let’s talk about how one might go about finding a campground for the 4th of July. Obviously, the first thing to try is your usual way of making a campsite reservation. Many people like to reserve state park campgrounds through Recreation.gov. Others have a particular local RV park that they love and return to time and time again. However, if your usual methods fail you, there are still some things you can try.

Related: The Top 16 Military Campgrounds & RV Parks in the U.S.

Campground sign

Give 'Em a Call

Sometimes online booking systems aren’t programmed correctly, meaning they may not show all availability. For this reason, we highly recommend calling the campgrounds you hope to book before you give up completely. It can also be a good idea to look for campgrounds that only take reservations by phone. This is because people are less likely to book by phone, meaning there is a better chance of finding a campsite at one of these parks.

Related: 10 Best Waterfront RV Campgrounds

Campsite sign

Look for First-Come, First-Serve Campgrounds

If you can arrive a few days before the holiday, a first-come, first-serve campground could work well for you. Since these campgrounds don’t take reservations, the people who arrive the earliest are the ones that’ll snag a site. Arriving two or three days before the celebration will almost certainly mean you’ll find a site.

Related: A New Camper’s Guide to Camping Etiquette

Camper Boondocking

Consider Boondocking

Boondocking on government-owned lands is another great option, especially if you have a way of getting to the lesser-known areas, and even more especially if you are able to get there a couple of days ahead of everyone else. Of course, you will want to be equipped to boondock with a gas-powered fridge, plenty of propane and water, a full battery, and some way to recharge that battery.

Related: Boondocking and Other RV Terms You Need to Know

couple outside at an RV campground

What to Look for in Your 4th of July Campground

We all know beggars can’t be choosers. That said, if you do get to choose between two or more campgrounds, there are some things to consider. There are the usual things, such as what kinds of hookups are included and the location of the campground, but you may want to add the following things to your list for the holiday.

Swimming pool

The Right Amenities

Amenities can be important if you and your family like to be active while celebrating the holiday. Many campgrounds have swimming pools, sports courts, and other fun activity-based amenities onsite. If these are important to you, be sure to check for them when choosing your campground.

Related: The Top 10 Luxury RV Resorts in America

Laughing diverse friends playing charades in camp

Scheduled Activities

Another thing you might want to look for is a place that has special events or scheduled activities for the holiday. Depending on the place, some events that might be included in your stay are kids crafts, food truck nights, dance parties, and even fireworks shows.

Related: 80+ Great Camping Activities for Nearly Everyone

Woman having fun lightening firework near camper van

Fireworks Rules

Finally, when planning for 4th of July camping, we highly recommend finding out what the campground rules are when it comes to fireworks. In the vast majority of cases, campfires are not allowed in campgrounds and RV parks, meaning you will have to do some searching for the right campground if this is important to you. Otherwise, we recommend attending the local fireworks show.

Beach goers at Cragun’s Resort
Jeff Wallager/istockphoto

How to Stay Comfortable While Camping on the 4th of July

We all know that the 4th of July is a super hot holiday. This means that spending time outside during this holiday can be uncomfortable if you aren’t properly prepared. Obviously, you’ll be spending a lot of time outside while camping, so you will want to ensure you are prepared with ways to stay cool during your trip.

Related: How to RV Without Going Stir-Crazy

Group of young people having fun in a caravan

Camp in an RV

First, we highly recommend RV camping rather than tent camping. While RVs may not be as well insulated as houses, they do offer some protection from the sun and heat. Additionally, most units have an air conditioner, fans, and a refrigerator. All of these things will help keep you cool and comfortable.

Related: The Different Types of RV Camping

Enjoying a day at the Rv resort on a sunny day
Larry Crain/istockphoto

Park in the Shade

If you can, park your camping rig in the shade. This simple tactic can actually help keep the interior of an RV several degrees cooler, something that will make a huge difference on a hot summer day.

Related: 10 Tricks for Staying Cool in Your RV

Steak on rv grill

Cook Outdoors

Having a kitchen with you when traveling is great. That said, using the propane stove and oven in your camper can heat up the indoors really quickly during the summer months. For this reason, if you’re having trouble keeping cool, you might want to consider cooking outside. Most people like to cook over an open fire or grill while camping anyway, and cookouts are a great way to celebrate a holiday.

Related: The Grillmaster’s Guide to RV Cooking

RV Generator

Have a Way to Run the A/C

Another thing that’s great about RV 4th of July camping? Having an air conditioner. That said, it’s pretty useless if you don’t have a way to run it. Our suggestion is to either make sure the campground you’re going to has electric hookups, or plan to use a generator to run the A/C. RV air conditioners can be run off of battery banks, but you would need an enormous number of batteries to make this work and would need a way to recharge very quickly.

Related: RV Air Conditioner Guide

Laughing Together

Options for Other Outdoor Activities

Can’t find a campsite for the Independence Day holiday? While this is definitely a bummer, there are other options of things to do. Some of our favorite outdoor 4th of July activities include the following ideas ...

Related: 15 Unique Fourth of July Celebrations Across America


    Cook Your Heart Out

    As mentioned, cookouts are an incredibly popular way to celebrate the summer holidays. Head to a park or host a cookout in your own backyard. Consider using your RV to prep and store cold foods, as well as a place to cool off if needed.

    Related: 21 Cheap and Easy Dishes to Bring to a Summer Cookout

    caravan cars by the sea holidays in the nature outdoor by the sea

    Take a Dip

    Swimming is another great 4th of July activity. You might choose to visit a local lake or swimming pool, or even go to the ocean. In some cases, it only makes sense to take an RV along to use as a changing area, restroom, and a nearby place to grab a snack during your swim session.

    Related: 20 Beautiful Beachside Campgrounds Across America

    Life is better in nature

    Take in America's Beauty

    Finally, we highly recommend taking a hike on the Independence Day holiday. Doing this allows you to take in the beauty of our country and really appreciate it. Of course, taking a small camper (such as a campervan) along can be helpful before and after your hike.

    Related: 30 Gorgeous Spots for Spring Hiking and Camping on a Budget

    Lighting Sparklers