Want to camp in Yosemite this summer? Good luck!

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By Russ and Tiña De Maris

Bookings for reservations in Yosemite National Park (California) in the Yosemite Valley open on Saturday, February 15, at 7:00 a.m., Pacific Time. For a few precious minutes, folks will vie to snap up a camping spot for dates from June 15 to July 14. According to a piece by Maura Fox in outsideonline.com, if you play your cards right, you might (emphasis on might) be able to secure a site.

Mirror Lake, Yosemite NP

Here’s Maura’s suggestion on how to increase your chances at snagging a spot. First, today, as in NOW, if you haven’t already registered as a user with recreation.gov, do so. Then, before 7:00 a.m. on Saturday, log on to the site using your user account. Sure, have your “preferred” dates ready, but have a backup plan, because sure enough, for every one of “you,” there are several more of “them” that will want that same date.

Why is this so critical? The story reminds us that the Yosemite reservation system (which opens once a month to reserve one month at a time) sees a huge crowd, all with their fingers hovering above the “book” button on the site. In the January “lottery,” if you want to call it that, there were 12,888 openings to be booked for the mid-May to mid-June time frame. Sounds like a lot of spots to be booked, but when push came to shove, those spots filled up in literally minutes. Less than 34 percent of the hopefuls got themselves a spot.

Read this story too late to qualify? In another month, the bookings for mid-July to mid-August will open. Save this page, mark it on your calendar – and be ready to click those keys like lightning!

#RVT935

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Eric Karjaluoto
7 months ago

My friend and I made a tool that helps with this (https://www.campnab.com). It scans campgrounds for cancellations and then sends a text message when one opens up. (Many thousands of campsite reservations are cancelled every day.)

Yosemite is wildly popular, so, even if we spot a cancellation it’s competitive. As such, we advise folks to be ready if they get an SMS alert—and act fast.

We live in B.C., where a lot of parks are sold out quickly. That’s how my friend came up with the idea for this. He had just bought a campervan and couldn’t find a spot anywhere that was available.

BTW: We don’t do anything unethical—like hold sites or resell them. We just scan the sites so you don’t have to refresh the page endlessly, hoping for something to come up. 🙂

Sharan Harrison
7 months ago

Have you ever been in Yosemite in July or August? It’s a nightmare of bumper to bumper traffic, crowded bike paths and hiking trails, long lines at restaurants or sights-to-see. Most Rv’rs I know are retired and don’t have to worry about kids’ school schedules. We can camp on shoulder seasons when the crowds have simmered down. The best way to secure a site? – don’t try for the peak months of July and August at all!

Kathy c
8 months ago

We have friends that book every year. If your camping you can book while your there for the next year.

Steve
8 months ago
Reply to  Kathy c

Kathy – I think your friends are not telling you the truth. Yosemite releases their dates 5 months in advance and no sooner. We have camped there before and have never heard of this. Please talk to them to get the exact details. I’m sure there are a lot of people here that would like to hear their story.

Two Buck Chuck
8 months ago

The reservation system is a necessary evil to be able to handle the massive crowds there. However, it blows for somebody that want’s to drop in. I think there should be some walk in spots available, but hey, I’m not running the parks.

Sadly, I think the days of dropping in are just about done. Sad, but true. I suppose you could get lucky and catch a spot that was cancelled, but I sure wouldn’t bank on it. More often than not iconic places are inaccessible because of crowding.

DAVE TELENKO
8 months ago

Getting a spot there is Hmmm, really difficult: We (all 7 of us) had a plan today to get a spot. FOUR of us on the booking spot with 4 different spots all set to go, the other 3 on the phone & ready to book 3 other spots. Well at exactly 7:00 I pushed the BOOK button & what, how can it be booked already! All 7 of us got the same results. Now we are going to call daily to see if someone canceled! Maybe we will get one. We’ve planned this for over a month & even practiced doing a dry run!
On another note, we did get reservations for September at Yellowstone with no difficulty as they had some of the upgraded sites open from 9/4 till 10/4. I suppose with not knowing if they were going to open, most others made other plans or just wait till 2021.
Snoopy

Steve Foth
8 months ago

I tried to reserve in the valley on Jan 15 @ 7:00 and lost out, the hotel I was staying at had a little slower internet connection, sites were booked at all 3 within minutes. I tried Hodgdon Meadows then, also no luck, sold out. 2 weeks later I looked again in the valley, nada. Checked Hodgdon again and lo and behold 3 sites had come available. For all kinds of reasons people cancel so it’s worth a second look.

Tommy Molnar
8 months ago

I’m glad my wife and I visited Yosemite over 30 years ago when you could drive in, set up, and enjoy the park. It was still crowded back then, but NOTHING like it is now. This kind of people-crunching is not my idea of fun.

David Howard
8 months ago

I would never plan on visiting Yosemite during the summer season, even if I were staying at a motel and not with my RV at a campground. Even later than peak season, such as in late September, the place is so crowded that the fun of the visit is severely reduced. Maybe there is no longer a good time to visit Yosemite or some of the other super popular national parks and won’t be until there is a real restriction even on entering the park, let alone reserving a campsite. Crowding and full RV campgrounds are what are making me re-think whether or not I want to keep traveling by RV at all.

Drew
8 months ago

Stay in one of the private parks outside. They’ll have more facilities and less riff-raff.

DAVID QUINN
8 months ago
Reply to  Drew

Exactly what we did last September, made the trip that much more enjoyable.

keith cooper
8 months ago

I’m impressed that sites last several minutes. In some locations like Waterton Lakes sites were gone within 45 seconds after the web site opened.