December 24, 2003 -- Planning ahead for next year's camping season? We hope so, because we can't imagine holing up in a tent in Utah right now. Reserve America (www.reserveamerica.com), the online system for reserving camping spots at many state and federal parks, will add 12 new parks to its system on Jan. 1, including some of the nation's most popular locations.
The parks that will soon be reservable online are:
- Arches National Park, UT
- Big Bend National Park, TX
- Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, CO
- Blue Ridge Parkway, VA/NC
- Bryce Canyon National Park, UT
- Buffalo National River, AR
- Chickasaw National Recreational Area, OK
- Curecanti National Recreational Area, CO
- Lake Roosevelt National Recreational Area, WA
- Lassen Volcanic National Park, CA
- North Cascades National Park, WA
- Ozark National Scenic Riverways, MO
For a full list of campgrounds at those parks and to reserve spots, go to this page on Reserve America's site. For details on each of the individual parks, check out the Frommer's guidebook pages linked above or the excellent National Park Service site at www.nps.gov. If you're planning to travel during the high season, between mid-June and the end of August, reserving a campsite can take the worry out of a stay in a crowded park.
Reserving a campground online doesn't cost anything extra. In general, reservations are only accepted (and only necessary) for dates from March or April through October, and you can reserve campsites up to nine months in advance. (You can reserve many group campsites 360 days in advance.)
Reserve America has thousands of other campsites online, too -- state parks, national forests, Army Corps of Engineers sites and more. With many reservable campgrounds going for $10, Reserve America has some of the best lodging deals you'll find in North America. Bookmark their site and refer to it when planning your next outdoors ramble.