Posted on Mar-24-2017 at 5:06 pmShare on

How to Reserve the Best Campgrounds in the USA

8 Quick Steps to Booking the top Campsites in the Country

Have you ever tried to plan a summer camping trip and been extremely disappointed when you noticed the best campgrounds were already full? Well, you’re definitely not alone.

Here we detail a proven 8-step strategy to secure the most popular campsites across the U.S., including some of our incredible national park campgrounds.


Step 1: Start Planning in the Winter


Use Review Sites like Find Your Campsite to Target Areas of Interest

*Use Review Sites like Find Your Campsite to Target Areas of Interest*


Like any summer trip, the first step is identifying where you want to go, or what is even better with campgrounds: where you potentially want to go (see Step 6). And this task needs to be done in the winter months, November through March, and the earlier the better.

Use this site to help plan your trip and find different campgrounds of interest. Cross reference with other sites, such as Yelp and Google Reviews. Have a few places in mind for your trip, such as Mt. Rainier, Glacier National Park, and Western Wyoming for example.

*Identify the smallest campgrounds and your highest priorities*

As you would expect, the smallest campgrounds (by # of sites) in the premier locations will go first. The top campgrounds near major cities and in National Parks will also be booked as soon as they are released. Prioritize your favorite campgrounds for the upcoming year and write them down.

Step 2: Identify Booking Window


The most important thing you need to know is: How many months out can you reserve this specific campground that you’re interested in? This is the booking window. Most reservable campgrounds will have a booking window of 6 months, but that’s not always the case. We display the Booking Window for every reservable campground in our Quick Information section at the top of each campground page.

Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park Camgrounds


Booking Window Example:

Let’s say you want to book a popular campground on the famous Big Sur coastline of California

Campground: Julia Pfeffer State Park

Booking Window: 7 Months

Trip Dates: October 2017

Release Date: March 1st (or 1st weekday of the month)

Summary: If you want to reserve a campsite in October that has a booking window of 7 months, you will need to do so on the 1st of March.

Step 3: Be Flexible


If you want to secure one of the most popular campsites in America it’s important to be flexible. By flexible, we mean you should have multiple dates and multiple campsites in mind. You will have a higher chance of reserving a campsite on a weekday. Don’t be discouraged if your original dates planned are not available – you can try again for the next month. And there are always plenty of other campgrounds that are fantastic but not as sought after.

Step 4: Set Calendar and Phone Reminders


Make sure you are available during the campground release date. In the example above, if you wanted to reserve a campsite in October, the day you would need to be available is the morning of March 1st (1st weekday of the month).

The best way to remember this is by setting calendar reminders on your computer or phone. Free your schedule for 30 minutes that morning when the release happens.


Step 5: Be Prepared for the Release


Once you are on your computer for the morning of the release, here are a couple things you can do to improve your chances: Use multiple browsers when searching for the campsite you desire (Chrome and Safari, for example). Be already logged on and have your credit card information nearby. Be quick and efficient when the clock hits the magic number.

This process is similar to obtaining sough after concert tickets. When Taylor Swift or the Red Hot Chili Peppers go on tour (to name a couple popular artists), you must have everything in order to have a chance of getting the best seats. Reserving the best campsites is very similar.


Step 6: Book Early and Often


This is one of my favorite tips. Because cancellation fees are minimal for reserved campsites, and camping in general is very affordable, there’s little harm to booking a site even when you’re not sure about the dates. For most campgrounds, as long as you cancel by 24 hours ahead of time, you can get 80% or more of your money back.  You can check out a typical cancellation policy here.

Doing this gives you and your family (or friends) multiple options. Maybe you find a better campsite for the same dates, or maybe plans change and you can no longer travel on the original dates. By having multiple reservations you give yourself flexibility. And at FYC we’ve found that it isn’t as hard recruiting friends for a camping trip once you already have an excellent site booked!


Step 7: Try again each month


This comes back to being flexible and patient. No, you may not get the exact campsite or the exact dates you want, but you can try again next month using the same steps again.

If you use this method starting in December, you will begin to stockpile reservations in June (for the 6-month booking window). By April, you could have excellent campground reservations for the whole summer through September.

If you fail each month, still don’t stress about it. There are PLENTY of excellent campgrounds that will never be completely full and will often offer more rewarding, less crowded experiences for you and your loved ones.

Warner Lake Campgrounds


An example of this would be one of our camping trips last year to Warner Lake, just outside of Moab, Utah. It was half full, 25 degrees cooler than Moab, and situated in the most beautiful Aspen Grove I’ve ever seen. Hidden gems like these are everywhere. And we plan to feature many of them as this website grows.


Step 8: Future reminders to cancel by


This is the last thing to remember. If you are successful and you do end up reserving multiple campsites throughout the summer, make sure to cancel the ones you’ll no longer be using by the date posted to receive your refund. The best way to do this is with calendar and phone reminders once again.


And that is our 8 Step strategy to reserving the best campgrounds in the USA. Happy Camping!


Questions? Comments about the article? Other tips you’ve come across? Let us know in the comments!


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