Jamie Feinberg
by Jamie Feinberg
Posted February 22, 2019

Each year, space in national and state parks gets more and more competitive as more people start to discover the joys of RVing and the outdoors. With this in mind, here’s what you need to know about how and when to apply for spring park permits and camping reservations.

Step 1: Create your list for 2019

Want to backpack in Zion National Park? Want to take a day hike in Paria Canyon? How about a stay in Yellowstone National Park? As early as you can each year (preferably in January or February), make your bucket list, outlining the times you’d like to go—and perhaps the dates possible within your schedule. This website highlights some of the popular national park permit options.

Grand Canyon National Park

Step 2: Find out how early you can apply

Camping reservations in national parks and state parks are extremely competitive, particularly during the summer season. If you plan to camp in one of these places, or take on a popular hike or backpacking route that requires a permit, planning is definitely required.

Visit the website of the national park or state park you’d like to visit and you’ll find tips for visitors, including how early you can make a reservation or enter their lottery system—then set your calendar alerts accordingly! Deadlines for applying for reservations can start as early as December, January or February for spring dates, and some of them will have already passed. (If they’ve already passed, make a mental note so that you can be sure to book for 2020.)

Yosemite I Outdoorsy RV Rental Marketplace
Yosemite National Park

Step 3: Do a dry run

A day or two prior to booking/signup, visit the website in question, make sure you’ve got your calendar and your notes and confirm that you know exactly when and where you’ll need to be to reserve. Some of our nation’s most popular places will run out of space within minutes! If you have any doubt about which spots you’ll fit in or any other questions, be sure to call the park in the days prior and ask them.

Yellowstone National Park

Step 4: Book it!

Now’s the time you’ve been waiting for! The U.S. National Parks website is here, and Parks Canada is here. This is the step where your planning pays off. And if you’re too late to make a reservation, remember: there’s always other parks to explore, and there’s always next year!

Once you’ve got your stay booked, you’ll surely need a cool RV or campervan to get you there. Pro tip: The same principle applies to RV rentals—the earlier you are to book, the better deals you’re sure to snag. 

Jamie Feinberg

Jamie Feinberg is a blogger, musician, theater artist and educator traveling the country full-time in her RV. She performs with her husband Ross Malcolm Boyd as they travel, and they co-own Tiny Village Music, offering private music lessons online in guitar, piano, ukulele, voice and more.

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