Reservable Campsites Suck

September 24, 2017 5 Comments

Booking a good campsite is a pain. Chances are, it has already been reserved by someone else 6 months ago. And if you stumble upon a walk-up campsite, it will occupied.

Reservable campsites are great if you plan on camping 6 months in advance. But come on, most people are not planning a camping trip this early. Vacations? Yes, but not camping trips. If my weekend is not busy, I load up my car and go. There is no way I can book a decent campsite a few days before my trip. I then have to rely on walk-up campsites.

Walk-up campsites are great if you come there on Tuesday. But that’s a problem! Like I said, I will usually go camping during the weekend. The best spots will be taken by time I get there. There is an option to send out a scout a day or two before the rest of the group arrives. I’ve done this several times. It works but it is inconvenient.

Salmon River Idaho

Salmon River, Idaho

If you don’t want to gamble with a walk-up campsite, you can simply reserve something 6 months in advance, right? It is not that simple. There is a lot of competition! That doesn’t apply to every single campsite, but for the best ones, that is the case. For example, Yosemite National Park will have insane competition. Why wouldn’t it? It is only one of the most beautiful places on earth! Recreation.gov even has an article giving tips for booking a reservation there because of the vast number of campers. Some campsites even have a lottery system because too much people try to book there. I live in Idaho. Redfish Lake seems to be one of the hottest destinations for camping. I was trying to book a campsite there in May. Everything was reserved until early/mid fall.

Is there a way to solve this problem? Is there a way to avoid the headache of booking a beautiful campsite without any hiccups? One option is to book exactly when the booking window opens. And of course, that doesn't guarantee anything. There are only another 100+ people trying to book the same campsite as me. To increase the odds of booking a really good campsite, a friend of mine opens at least 10 tabs for a campground. Once the booking window opens, he tries to book as many campsites as possible. That increases his odds and he usually gets the spot that we wants.

I don’t want to do that. My summers are not carefully planned out. Big events, yes, but my camping trips, of course not. If my weekend is free, I will go camping. Simple as that. Reservable campsites are frustrating. But, I can live with that because I absolutely love the outdoors. I will jump through any hurdle just to go outside. And even if I don’t get a pristine campsite with the Sawtooth Mountains glaring over me, I will still be happy with any place where I can pitch my tent and get away from it all.

Arrowrock Reservoir Idaho

Arrowrock Reservoir, Idaho



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Skyler Herren
Skyler Herren

April 09, 2018

Ugh, right!? The only good trails where I’m at in Georgia (Pine Mountain Trail being the closest) are reservation only. I always prefer finding and picking my own site, rather than a predetermined (and VERY lived in) reserved site. (Also, the leave-no-trace fanatic in me cringes at the extremely well defined campsites)

Juan Meyer
Juan Meyer

January 22, 2018

I have the same issue.. but I think with getting a rooftop tent it will help, if I cannot find a spot .. I’ll make one.. lol..

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