Sometimes planning a camping trip is as easy as packing up the car, hitching up the RV, and heading to your favorite local campground where there's always a shaded campsite waiting for you. Other times it isn't so easy! If you're heading out of state or going on an extended vacation, planning can be a headache. In addition to packing, prepping the RV, checking the weather, stopping your mail, and other tasks, there's the small (but very important) task of making reservations at the campsites where you want to stay. If you're new to camping, the whole reservation system may be a bit confusing. You'll quickly learn that it pays to start planning your camping trip well in advance so that you don't miss out on a coveted campsite. Here's some helpful information on when and where to book a campsite so you can beat the crowds the next time you're planning a fun outdoor getaway!
Timing Is Everything
The majority (if not all) of national and state parks have a booking window for their campsite reservations. Typically, you can't reserve a campsite more than 6 months in advance of your intended date of stay. So, for example, if you plan to arrive at Yellowstone on August 3, the earliest you can make your reservation is February 3. One notable exception is for Yosemite National Park in California. This park has a booking window that allows you to make a reservation up to 12 months in advance. This is due to the fact that reservations in Yosemite during the summer months are in such high demand that they typically sell out in 20 minutes! Do not delay in making your reservation if you have nailed down where you want to go, especially if it's in or near a popular national park. National and state parks fill up very quickly, and you may be forced to stay in a less-desirable public campground if you wait too long to book your site.
If you wish to make a campsite reservation on federal land or sites, you'll want to visit the National Recreation Reservation Service at recreation.gov. Here you can reserve individual campsites, cabins, lookouts, group campsites, tours, picnic shelters, and wilderness permits that are offered by the US Army Corps of Engineers, National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, USDA Forest Service, as well as other agencies. Recreation.gov offers over 60,000 reservable facilities at over 1,700 locations across the country. Reservations can be made 6 months in advance of your camping date by going online, by calling 877-444-6777, or at a field location. As of 2014, the United States had 10,234 state parks! So the next time you feel like you've been to all the great parks, remember that fact and accept that you probably haven't! Reserving a state park can be tricky, but we're here to help. Once you narrow down the state in which you want to camp, use this list below to help you determine where to go in order to reserve your campsite. The first list shows all the states that use Reserve America for their reservation system. If you don't see your destination in this list, then refer to the second list of states that use their own state's state park website for campground reservations.
Go to Reserve America to reserve state park campsites in these states:
California Colorado Connecticut Delaware Florida Georgia Idaho Illinois Indiana Iowa Kansas Kentucky Louisiana Maryland Massachusetts Mississippi Montana Nebraska New Hampshire New Jersey New Mexico New York North Carolina Ohio Oregon Pennsylvania Rhode Island South Carolina Utah Virginia Wisconsin
To reserve a state park campsite in one of these states, visit the links below:
Alabama State Parks Alaska Department of Natural Resources Arizona State Parks Arkansas State Parks Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Michigan State Park & Harbor Reservations Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Missouri State Parks Nevada State Parks North Dakota Parks and Recreation Department Oklahoma State Parks South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Tennessee State Parks Texas Parks & Wildlife Vermont State Parks Washington State Parks West Virginia State Parks Wyoming State Parks, Historic Sites & Trails If you plan to visit a franchise-style campground, such as a KOA or a Jellystone Park Resort, or another private campground, you'll want to visit their websites to check for availability and make reservations directly with them. Do you have any tips or tricks on how to beat the crowds when making campsite reservations? Let us know in the comments!