To score your dream campsite, look to the internet

Getting a good campsite today is a lot like buying a hot concert ticket: Online reservations to the most popular areas can be snatched up minutes after the sites become available.

That high demand is in large part because more of us are getting back to nature than ever before.

Sixty-one percent of U.S. households describe themselves as active campers, a number that has increased steadily for the last several years. That’s adds up to millions of additional people searching for the same prime tent or RV site as you.

Complicating matters further, millennials – who make up almost 40 percent of active campers – like to go big. They camp in groups that average almost 11 people each. That’s a sizable difference from baby boomers, whose average group size is eight. Those bigger groups require more camp sites, leaving fewer for everyone else.

A family enjoys a campsite they reserved online.

Still, there are some ways to make the best of this high-intensity quest to leave  the world behind.

  • Know when and where you want to go, as far in advance as possible.

Don’t start thinking about a June visit to Yosemite in May – unless it’s June of the following year. The most popular parks and sites are typically booked months in advance. So request vacation time and do your research early.

  • Fill out any required forms beforehand.

Online forms will typically ask for dates, number of people and contact information. If it’s a site that also offers cabins or yurts, you can select your preferred style of lodging in advance. The more you do now, the less you’ll have to do when the reservation becomes available.

  • Know what time reservations open.

It might be 7 a.m. It might even be midnight. But if you’re serious about a particular camping area, be on the website and ready with your credit card at the time the site reservation system opens.

  • Be flexible.

Many park websites include an option to request notifications about cancellations. If the dates you wanted are already booked, but you can be flexible, you might still get lucky later.

Corresponding with the popularity in camping, camping websites abound. A few to check out:

Happy camping!


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