Tools, Resources can Help Book Campsites and Offer Ways to Explore New Areas

ben quiggle May 12, 2021
Large field with tents

As more people than ever before look to hit the open road in an RV this summer there is no doubt that many campers who waited until the last minute to book a site may be wondering if they will ever nab a campsite — especially near tourist hotspots, like national parks.

Early planners definitely have a leg up on the competition this year. But don’t fret. There are still plenty of options available for the last-minute camper.

Dispersed camping or a new term, “Overlanding,” has also seen an increase in popularity and offers campers the chance to get off the beaten path and enjoy nature in more secluded areas —away from the traditional campground.

Multiple services will allow you to search for dispersed camping wherever you are heading in the U.S. The Dyrt, a digital resource for campers, offers a tool, The Dyrt Pro, to allow campers to search for dispersed camping areas in national parks, national forests, Bureau of Land Management properties and other areas.

You can also find resources on the National Park Service’s website and on other websites like OutdoorProject.com and Campendium.

With third-party vendors now offering solar packages for RVs and campervans, along with a wide range of off-the-grid tools for tenters, it is easier to spend a few nights out in the wilderness.

Off the grid not your thing? There are plenty of other tools that allow campers to find unique stopping points to rest their heads at night.

Hipcamp is a listing site similar to AirBnB but it mainly features unique camping destinations. While some campgrounds are listed on its website, the majority of listings are from individuals that offer RV sites, treehouses,cabins and other “glamping” accommodations.

In a similar vein, Harvest Hosts offers camping experiences at wineries, breweries, farms and other attractions.

What is the draw?

These places offer a place to park an RV or stay in a unique accommodation unit, while also providing ancillary benefits like wine and beer tastings, farm experiences and more.

For those campers that are looking for more of a farm experience, there is also Farm Stay USA that features a network of farms and ranches that offer individuals a chance to stay at a working farm.

You can collect eggs, milk a cow, help with chores, harvest food and much more. The goal is to connect people with agriculture and help them learn how food is produced.

Just looking for a place to park the rig overnight? Boondocking might be the answer if everything on your route is booked.

Boondocking is similar to dispersed camping, but many boondockers usually spend the night in a parking lot or other space that is available for a quick stop.

Boondockers Welcome is a group that offers members a chance to Boondock on private property. It has over 2,900 hosts worldwide.

There are also other boondocking tools, but it is advised that RVers understand the rules and regulations in the area they are looking to stay in before parking their rigs overnight in an empty lot.

Still hoping to find a campsite in a traditional campground. Plenty of options still exist on that front too.

Websites like Campnab.com can help you find a coveted spot at a campground you have your eye on for afee. Typically, the company works with public parks. Users pay and the company’s software tracks vacancies at filled parks. If a spot opens up, then the software “nabs” the site for you.

Other options like Spot2Nite allow you to see what is available in real-time as you are traveling down the road. Great for campers who like to wing it.

It can also be fun to explore areas away from popular tourist destinations. Many less-traveled national parks saw upticks in visitors in 2020, but they are still a far cry from other more popular parks.

Another great idea is to look at mid-week availabilities. Sometimes parks are packed on the weekends, but they have sites open during the week. Some parks even offer lower rates or special deals to entice campers into booking during the week.

The outdoor hospitality industry is responding to the surge in interest, with many public and private parks adding more sites and amenities. The National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds estimates that 53,000 new campsites will be added in 2021 alone.  

New development is also occurring at a rapid pace with parks springing up across North America.

Hopefully, this means that consumers will have an easier time securing campsites in the future.

Until then, the best thing to do is plan ahead and be open to a change in plans. There are plenty of great outdoor experiences to be had.

It is time to go camping!