06.10.14

The best ways to reserve your campsite online.

Or at least improve your chances!

As anyone who has ever tried it knows, reserving a campsite online at any of the popular campgrounds is about as tough as getting tickets to the Masters, Olympics or Super Bowl. This is especially true on popular weekends or during the summer.

After countless attempts and years of trying, we’ve come up with a few tips that may just help you reserve a campsite during the high season.  These tips are for the ReserveAmerica.com and Recreation.gov online reservation systems, which handle most of the national and state parks, as well as other campgrounds throughout the USA.

1. determining the reservation window

The first step is to determine what day the reservation window opens for your future arrival dates.  For state parks (handled by ReserveAmerica.com) that date is the first day of the month (at 8:00 AM PST), 6 months in advance. For example, if you were planning on an arrival date in August, the first day you could make a reservation is on February 1.

For campgrounds managed by the US Army Corps of Engineers, National Park Service (except Yosemite – see below), Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, and USDA Forest Service (all through Recreation.gov), campsite reservations can be booked beginning 6 months in advance of your first day of arrival. For example, to book a campsite for July 4, you may make your reservation beginning January 4. Group campsite reservations can be made 12 months in advance. Yosemite National Park has a different reservation window schedule (online or by telephone) as shown in the table below.

 


If you call or make online reservations on:

You can make Yosemite NP reservations for arrival dates between:

January 15th

January 16th and June 14th

February 15th

February 16th and July 14th

March 15th

March 16th and August 14th

April 15th

April 16th and September 14th

May 15th

May 16th and October 14th

June 15th

June 16th and November 14th

July 15th

July 16th and December 14th

August 15th

August 16th and January 14th

September 15th

September 16th and February 14th

October 15th

October 16th and March 14th

November 15th

November 16th and April 14th

December 15th

December 16th and May 14th


2.  Researching your campsite and cueing up your reservation

A.    Some time before 8:00 AM PST (on the first day the reservation window opens up) go to CampsitePhotos.com and search through the campsite photos of the campground you’d like to make a reservation.

B.   Once you’ve picked your campsite (and no later than 7:45 AM PST) – click on the ‘MAKE A RESERVATION’ button that is displayed below the photo of the campsite you want to try and reserve. This will direct you to the correct agency (ReserveAmerica.com or Recreation.gov) and the specific campground you are viewing on CampsitePhotos.com

C.   Fill in your campsite #, arrival date and how long you want to stay (# of days). To improve your chances of getting any campsite on the dates you’d like to arrive/stay – do not select a specific campsite #.

D.   At exactly 8:00 AM (PST) click ‘Search’.  Another tip is to open another browser window with an online clock that has ‘seconds’ so you know exactly when it hits 8:00 AM PST.

E.    Wait.  Wait until you see a message that your selection is available or not. If available, then continue on with the process to confirm your reservation.  If the site you selected is booked – quickly see what else is available (on the campground map) and grab it!  Chances are that the campground will sell out within minutes.

 

 It’s as ‘easy’ as that!

 

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