Phil Ingrassia

Editor’s Note: The following column by Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA) President Phil Ingrassia, appearing in the December issue of RV Executive Today, details the recently relaunched Recreation.Gov website.

During last month’s RV Dealers Convention/Expo, members of RVDA’s board of delegates were briefed on several public land use topics by the Department of Interior’s Ben Cassidy, including the Recreation.Gov website.

Cassidy said that the website is designed to be a gateway to explore outdoor destinations and is a significant upgrade of the old site.

It provides tools and tips to discover new adventures through a one-stop shop for inspiration, trip planning, information sharing, and most importantly for many RVers, campground reservations.

The trip builder portion of the site allows users to designate “RV site” as part of the search process and can facilitate site reservations at many federal campgrounds. It’s an ideal way to see what’s available when traveling to a region, especially if there are several different public lands recreation areas nearby.

Once you create an account on the site, you can start planning your trip and making reservations. For instance, I tested booking a family trip to the Stuart Recreation Area Campground, near Parsons, W.V. I was able to find several RV sites with electric hookups for three nights in late June 2019 at this popular fly fishing and hiking spot in the Monongahela National Forest.

There were photos of the sites and vivid descriptions of the outdoor activities available. It’s hard not to get excited about your trip when you see all the possibilities in one place.

You can also purchase the annual America the Beautiful pass for national parks and federal recreational lands. Site-specific passes will be added soon. Recreation.gov also provides an opportunity to enter lotteries for limited-edition outdoor experiences, such as river floats and other special events on federal public lands throughout the year.

If you ever tried using the old recreation.gov, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the upgrades.

I’ve received feedback from dealers that it’s getting harder for their customers to make RV site reservations on public lands. The popular campgrounds are usually reserved months in advance. Now, the recreation.gov site provides a valuable resource for customers to find alternative, and perhaps lesser-known, areas to travel with an RV — and it’s probably worth putting a “trip planning” link on dealership websites.