Following of one of the biggest camping weekends in America, Kerr Lake Park Watch goes on record against changing the Virginia State Parks reservation system for booking campsites that are site specific.  Being studied right now by DCR, the change to the reservation system could impact Occoneechee State Park and Staunton River State Park on Kerr Lake.

Emailed surveys from Virginia State Parks headquarters are circulating to people who have camped in a VA state park within the last year.  Circulated by the State Parks Visitor Services Manager, Nancy Heltman, the gist of the survey is to find out if campers who use Virginia State Parks like the current system that allows a camper to make a reservation in advance by phone or online and choose an available site upon arrival.  The change being considered would let a camper book a specific site in advance.

“We are already fighting this on the North Carolina side of Kerr Lake,” said KLPW’s spokesman, Frank Timberlake.  “We showed the NC State Parks people where allowing site specific booking led to ‘weekend cherry-picking’ of the most popular sites. NC went from a 7-day minimum, assuring that vacationers came first, to a two-night site specific booking system and we showed them with a legal pad and pen the huge loss – ‘Seven minus two leaves five.’  Campers booking longer periods should arrive and get to choose their sites right then, right there, very simple.”

In her email announcement, Heltman says, “an increasing number of our camping customers are requesting the ability to select their specific campsite at the time they make their reservation.  While we are sensitive to these requests they still represent a very small minority of our campers.”  “The flexibility we have now in campground management with non-site specific reservations has made us reluctant to make this change.”  “Making a change from non-site specific reservations is a significant undertaking and one that would be difficult to undo should we take that path… ” She added that the survey comes out of response to more requests for site specific bookings.

Timberlake added, “Virginia needs to take that knowledge and know that it is a simple, effective and efficient system:  1) a camper calls or goes online, 2) the phone rep or the computer shows there is one or more available sites that will work, 3) the camper reserves and pays for a site right then, and 4) later on, the camper goes to the park, picks out the best available site and voila!  We at Kerr Lake Park Watch think they already have the answer; it’s working so leave it alone.”

The survey link is IP address sensitive and can only be used once by the recipient which prevents anyone from weighting it or voting twice.  Campers and park users can request a link to the survey from the Department of Conservation and Recreation general email address: or  The comment period ends on June 15.

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Names and contacts of public officials with Kerr Lake management responsibilities can be furnished by contacting KLPW at

Posted in: KLPW - Campground Facilities and Improvements, KLPW - Occoneechee State Park, KLPW- Staunton River State Park

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  1. Sam Byrum May 30, 2013

    I personally like to be able to reserve site specific sites. As you know not all sites in a camping area are created equally. There is nothing more frustrating than pulling a travel trailer for hours and get to the campground and all the good sites are taken, usually by locals who bring their campers up a day or two early to ensure they get the choice sites. However I would agree that in order to reserve a specific site, that you would have to reserve it for a week. That would stop the Cherry picking you refer to in your blog. Virginia already has a reservation system in place for their cabins in that they can only be reserved online for a week at a time during prime season… however you can call in and book a cabin for just two or more days when you get within a 30 day window and they have not already been reserved. I think a system like this covers everything, people can plan their vacations months in advance and usally leaves something for last minute travel plans.

  2. Mike O May 30, 2013

    The lack of site specific reservations at Occoneechee is the primary reason that I do not go there except as a last resort. I prefer to know my site in advance, often choosing to stay on a site I have had and liked in the past.


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