State Campsite Reservations

Mark CASTELLANI

Active Member
Platinum Supporting Member
Aug 23, 2019
551
New York State, Erie County
Is there a trick to booking state park sites? It seems there's no availability or first come status.
and why would I divulge my secrets?... there's enough competition already LOL😂

all kidding aside, I'll plug a site we use in NEW YORK (don't know where you at)


for a nominal fee, he's got an algorithm that pulls cancellations and, if you're quick enough, you can snag 'em

it's worked for us but, again, only in NY

Happy Trails!
 
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tfischer

A bad day camping beats a good day at the office
My only 'trick' is to not rely on Shore Power or other hookups. Even then, especially post-COVID, it's sometimes hard to snag a site without booking months in advance.

The 3 states we tend to camp in allow booking up to a year in advance (one is 90 days) and I swear that the electric sites book up that far out, at least on weekends.
 

jmkay1

2004 Fleetwood/Coleman Utah
Oct 10, 2013
7,727
Northern Virginia
Sadly since the pandemic it's been impossible to get sites unless you get a very early start. Meaning the second the reservation window opens you make a reservation 6 to 8 months out. Some places it's a year out. I've had more luck finding places in the mountains during summer as most of the world is heading towards the beach. Being willing to camp during the week day vrs weekends. Unfortunately it's all about flexibility. Otherwise I found just continue to check back multiple times a day. If bad weather is expected you can sometimes luck out on grabbing a cancellation. It's easier for me as I don't have any young kids in school anymore. Still at the mercy of the boss though.
 

tfischer

A bad day camping beats a good day at the office
Sadly since the pandemic it's been impossible to get sites unless you get a very early start. Meaning the second the reservation window opens you make a reservation 6 to 8 months out. Some places it's a year out. I've had more luck finding places in the mountains during summer as most of the world is heading towards the beach. Being willing to camp during the week day vrs weekends. Unfortunately it's all about flexibility. Otherwise I found just continue to check back multiple times a day. If bad weather is expected you can sometimes luck out on grabbing a cancellation. It's easier for me as I don't have any young kids in school anymore. Still at the mercy of the boss though.

With two teenagers who have school, work, and activity schedules that don't come out that early, we simply can't make reservations out that early most of the time. It makes it hard.

Aside from my "don't rely on Shore Power" trick above, we've also tried some alternative ways of camping, including HipCamp. We used HipCamp to reserve a site on a farm over Memorial Day. It was unique and enjoyable, and not much more expensive than the state parks.
 

kcsa75

Super Active Member
Gold Supporting Member
Sep 9, 2013
5,815
Kansas City
Your profile says you're in Phoenix. I wouldn't think getting a campsite in Arizona this time of year would be too tough.

I would keep checking for cancelations. There's a certain amount of luck involved and you need to be able to act fast. Three or four years ago I was able to grab an absolutely primo waterfront campsite in Colorado by being in the right place at the right time so to speak.

You also might check Facebook for camping groups in your neck of the woods. I follow a couple
pages for Camping in Arkansas and Missouri. There's always somebody posting a heads-up that they're about to cancel their reservation if anybody wants to grab it.
 

hayyward

Active Member
Silver Supporting Member
Sep 16, 2006
318
Packerland
You have to be the first caller when the reservation window opens. State parks we go to start taking reservations at 8am 120 days prior. I have the reservation number on speed dial and start calling a little before 8 hoping to be the first call through and reach an agent who is ready to work. Even then, I fail more often than not for the specific site I want. Alternatively, I can attempt to reserve online but the webpage needs to be refreshed at 8am exactly then navigate to the CG and go through the process. I have had more luck with calling.

You can see on the SP website when a site becomes available so you can try again on another day. You get better at it, knowing what information the agent wants and in which order. It's a highly competitive game especially for the prime sites and sometimes you win.

If there are any first-come / first-served sites available (look on the website the night before), you need to be one of the first in line at the CG office before they open in the morning with luck in your pocket. The thing about these is they might only be available for a day or two. If you get one, go buy a lottery ticket. :)

Keep trying and good luck!
 

ccarley

Active Member
Sep 23, 2014
231
Here in CA, the reservation systems for some places have opened up a year in advance instead of "just" 6 months like it was pre-pandemic. I was just looking at sites for next summer after school gets out, and they are already going fast.

Along with the changes in reservation advance, most of the parks we have been to have signs now that say you must have a reservation to camp; no more can you arrive in hopes of a site. They will turn you away without a reservation.

That being said, just because our preferred location might be full, that doesn't mean if you look at campgrounds further away, they are full as well. I was able to get 4th of July camping at a park I guess a lot of people overlook here. I haven't checked yet, but in years past I found we could more easily get reservations if we wanted to drive up the coast more. Longer drive time, beautiful park even still, and coastal which means it'll be cool in the summer months (for us here anyway).

Good luck, don't get too frustrated, and keep at it!

Clay
 

KeizerTrailer

Active Member
Aug 31, 2020
140
Keizer, OR
Reserve America can be hard to work with, but the rule of thumb is plan 6 months in advance. You can always call the CG you want to stay at and see if they have any openings available. We have lucked out that way. Don't be afraid to camp during the week.
 

tfischer

A bad day camping beats a good day at the office
Reserve America can be hard to work with, but the rule of thumb is plan 6 months in advance.

I don't understand how people plan their life 6+ months out. Every single time I nail down a date in advance like that, later on we find out "oh crap, that's the date of <some other event we wanted to attend>, I guess we'll have to miss it now". If only we had planned to camp the weekend prior or afterward.

So many things either aren't planned that far out, or their schedules aren't published that far out. My boys have summer activities that we only find out in the late spring, for example.

We've made do though. It's one reason I don't mind camping off-grid if necessary to get a site... just like we will be doing tomorrow.
 

undara12

Member
Mar 25, 2016
47
If demand for government campsites is exceeding supply, are we building more campsites? I personally like US Forest Service camping and I do not have problems reserving sites or finding non reservable sites during weekdays (retired). Some of the sites I like are primitive.

I have lived about 5 miles from a state park since the late 1960s. I have seen the continuing addition of campsites over the years. For what it is worth, I checked next week's reservations and it looks like week day camping is possible but weekends are booked. The park is about 50 miles from Atlanta and very popular.
 

kitphantom

Super Active Member
Platinum Supporting Member
Dec 26, 2009
13,827
Albuquerque, NM
I missed the start of this thread, but looking at the date and the poster's location in Arizona, I suspect that if he had tried to make reservations just before he posted, he may have run into the change-over in the Arizona State Parks reservation system.
If we want to stay in an AZ state park, we tend to make them well ahead of time, but our Tucson friends often make them pretty close to the time they want to head out. They have a couple of state parks that are handy for first night out stays, or for a several day get-away. It does depend on whether it's snowbird season. If we're going to meet them for Thanksgiving, we usually make them in the Nov or December previous to it.
 

DanLee

Active Member
Apr 28, 2015
113
Virginia
Depends on the park. Haven't had a problem booking sites at Virginia state parks, but that's mostly because we're both retired and can be flexible. Some of the more popular places are booked up early, but others are spotty, especially during the week. Once school starts, a lot of sites open up.
 

poppy65

Member
May 10, 2015
84
Is there a trick to booking state park sites? It seems there's no availability or first come status.
If you aernt sitting on the they open reservations you probably arent going get. A lot of people will book several week in case they want to go that weekend.
Thats why i got out.
 

tlhdoc

Active Member
Oct 2, 2004
181
Book early, and if you have to cancel. Also many people cancel a week or less before a trip. Keep trying.
 

LlamaLlama

Member
Sep 1, 2022
11
Southern California
In California you just have to keep checking if it's less than 6 months ahead sometimes you can find a cancellation. In the "old" days (before internet) we had multiple people calling in the moment it was 6 months out and someone always managed to get at least one campsite.
 




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