More than 11 million U.S. households now own an RV, a 62% increase over the past 20 years. The increase is attributed to stronger interest from younger generations who are living a more active, outdoor lifestyle, and Baby Boomers entering retirement. Along with all the RVs, there are nearly 50 million households who go camping each year. It’s easy to see why booking campgrounds is getting trickier and knowing when to book is more important than ever.
HOW EARLY TO BOOK A CAMPSITE
The best time to book a campsite depends on a number of factors, including whether you’re booking a campsite at a public or private campground; whether or not you’re booking includes a holiday weekend, and the type of campsite you’re looking for—such as an individual or group campsite, basic site, premium site with hookups, dry sites, back-in or pull-through site, etc.
A good first step is to track the open season dates and booking schedules for the campgrounds you’d like to visit. Most campgrounds, including state parks, become available about six months in advance. The most popular parks may sell out four to six months ahead of time, so you’ll want to plan ahead and reserve your spot as soon as the booking schedule is available.
Here’s a list of some popular campgrounds and when you can book them:
- Acadia National Park: Open from May to October, can be reserved two months in advance.
- Glacier National Park: Sites available to book six months prior to date of arrival for some sites and up to 12 months in advance for others.
- Grand Canyon National Park: Most sites are available to reserve up to 13 months in advance; others allow you to book only six months in advance.
- Grand Teton National Park: Reserve up to six months in advance.
- Rocky Mountain National Park: Reserve up to six months in advance.
- Yellowstone National Park: Can book up to 13 months in advance.
- Yosemite National Park: Reserve up to five months in advance.
Some parks are open to same-day or first-come-first-served reservations, but these are not guaranteed. If you’re taking the chance, be sure to arrive as early as possible because many will fill up first thing in the morning. When possible, it’s recommended to make a reservation in advance to ensure you get a site. So, if you want to camp in June, you should book your site in January.
Not all national parks and local campgrounds have the same reservation schedule, especially because some are only open during certain months of the year, while others are open year round.
The good news is the process is made simple with online reservation systems, which many campgrounds offer. Simply visit the website, enter the dates you want to visit, and learn when you can book the site. On many sites, if the reservation schedule is already open, you can book your space right then.
There are hundreds of campgrounds and RV parks across the U.S. Whether you want to enjoy a quick getaway or take a road trip to the other side of the country, you’re likely to find a campground that fits your schedule.