You can book hotels, flights, cabs and other people’s apartments in one or two clicks. Campsites, however, have never made this easy.
As noted by Outside, federal and state campgrounds do often facilitate their online bookings through third-party companies (like Hipcamp, which also offers bookings on private land), often in exclusive contracts and with little incentive to improve or share their data.
But those contracts are up, at least for campsites managed by the Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management and the National Park Service. And starting in October, more than 100,000 campsites will be operated by management consultants Booz Allen Hamilton, which — under new requirements — must provide real-time campsite availability and “make good-faith efforts to negotiate business relationships with third parties that create campsite-reservation applications.”
So, you might be able to check campsite availability and book one as easily as, say, a hotel room on Kayak.
Unfortunately, there are more than twice as many state park campsites that won’t be affected by this new contract. Outside’s suggestion? Contact AccessLand, a coalition of 50+ organizations (including Hipcamp, the Sierra Club, REI and more) that want to increase access to public land through Open Data, the same information sharing standards under which campsites on federal lands will soon operate.