An outdoorsy home away from home
Whether you want to
glamp on a cliff above the ocean or sleep in a tent deep in the
forest, camping helps you get away from it all. But one of the
hardest parts of camping—wherever you like to be—is finding
that perfect campground. Love campers and trailers? Come join
our community group.
The most popular campsites near metro areas or in picturesque
national parks can book up months in advance, and there’s
nothing worse than pulling up to your destination only to find the
Luckily, a new crop of websites and apps makes finding and
booking a campsite easier than ever. You can search by location,
nearby activities, and what kind of campsite you need to find
everything from off-the-grid retreats to KOAs packed with amenities. Whatever type of
are, there’s something out there to suit your needs.
But that doesn’t mean it’s always easy to know where to
start your search. That’s why we’ve rounded up nine websites
and apps that can help. Below, we offer tips to making the biggest
booking sites—Reserve America and Recreation.gov—easier to
manage, and uncover some lesser known apps that can help you book a
site on private land or capitalize on last-minute cancellations.
Behold, the top ways to book a campsite online.
Details: As one of the largest online campsite
systems, Reserve America should be your go-to spot for reserving a
campsite. That’s because Reserve America is the website that
manages online campsite reservations for most state and local
government park lands campgrounds in North America. You can search
by location, dates, and site type. If you create an account, you
can also save favorited campsites and organize your top choices
with helpful category lists.
Finally, we like Reserve America because you can see your past
and upcoming reservations, a helpful tool if you can’t quite
remember the name of a previous campsite. Looking for California
campsites specifically? Check out Reserve California, a new
site managed specifically for the Golden State.
Details: Although not as seamless and easy to
use as Reserve America, Recreation.gov is another crucial tool
in booking campsites. That’s because sites on federal land are
not bookable on Reserve America, instead you have to use recreation.gov.
Recreation.gov is the
primary booking platform for national parks. Even if you find
something on another platform, you will likely end up at Recreation.gov for booking. We like
the map feature on this app and you can filter by amenities, site
type, and availability. Pro tip: Most national parks release
campsites six months in advance.
Details: Developed by a team of full-time RV
features 27,000 RV and tent campsites with plenty of reviews to
help you figure out which site is best. Join other campers to see a
ton of info on the campsite of your choosing, like photos, GPS
coordinates, camping fees, and whether or not the spot has cell
coverage. After you’re finished camping, log in to leave your own
reviews and help future campers know where to go.
This is a great app to find campsites and see crowdsourced
information, but note that you’ll use external links to actually
book your site.
Cost: Available through the Campendium iOS app for free
Details: Sometimes referred to as the Airbnb of
camping, Hipcamp connects campers with private landowners who allow
people to camp on their properties. An especially helpful tool on
busy weekends when public campgrounds fill up fast, Hipcamp lets
you camp on farms, vineyards, and ranches. You can search based on
location, price, and whether you want to camp in a tent, van, RV,
or rent someone else’s yurt or cabin.
Like other rental listings, some campsites are better than
others. Hipcamp will also cost more per night than public
campgrounds, but it’s a good option if you’re looking for
privacy or something different.
Cost: Free on hipcamp.com
Details: If you strike out at the
government-run campsites, consider staying at a privately owned and
operated campground. Go Camping America lists more than 3,000 RV
parks, KOAs, Jellystone parks, and more. You can search near
certain cities and by amenities, and a helpful map shows how far
away they are from your location.
The campsites listed are more developed than some others on this
list, but they also come with lots of amenities. Go Camping America
can be an especially helpful resource for families who might want
to camp where there is a pool or playground.
Cost: Free on the Go Camping America
Details: Another comprehensive camping app that
lets you book 30,000 campgrounds, RV parks, and even free parking
lots to stay in—we’re looking at you, Walmart. The best part of
the Allstays app is all the filters; adventurers can narrow their
selections by types of camping, how much it costs, elevation,
electric and water hookup availability, and even whether there is
fishing, hiking, or a pool nearby. We’ve found that Allstays can
be especially helpful for people with RVs who need to find
campsites near RV dealers or dump stations.
USFS and BML Campgrounds
Details: You forgot to reserve a campsite and
now you have nowhere to go on a busy holiday weekend. Instead of
staying home, use this app to find more than 5,800 United States
Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management campgrounds throughout
Most of these campsites are either free or much cheaper than
more developed campgrounds, and the app shows the campground,
weather, elevation, and more.
$.99 for iOS users
Details: Designed as a guide to dispersed
camping—places with few amenities and off-the-grid
camping—Boondocking.com is a public forum database where you can
search for free, auto-accessible camping spots using latitude and
An easy-to-use app shows crowd-sourced information of where
people have successfully camped with directions and varying degrees
of detail. While not for the RV-loving crowd who needs hookups and
electrical access, Boondocking is a helpful tool for people who
love camping on BLM land or who
want to stay off the grid.
Cost: Free for
Details: This nonprofit, 100 percent volunteer
project aims to help people around the world find places to stay on
the road. The database includes camping, hotels, restaurants,
mechanics, water, propane filling, and you can search the listings
or browse everything on a map.
We find this app very useful, especially when we’re traveling
off-the-grid or beyond the normal routes.
Details: We like The Dyrt because this
streamlined app does a good job of helping you find and read
reviews about campsites. You can filter by type of site but we also
love that you can filter by how you get to the site—drive-in,
walk-in, hike-in, and boat-in.
User-generated photos are helpful, and popular camping spots see
a lot of reviews. To incentivize people to write reviews, The Dyrt
offers prizes and money to campers.
Source: FS – All – Architecture 10
The 9 best ways to find a campsite online