Lizzie Dragon
by Lizzie Dragon
Posted January 15, 2021

Since the start of 2020, camping and RVing have seen a significant rise in popularity, and we don’t expect that to slow down coming into 2021. With that, you can expect National Parks campgrounds to be a hot commodity this summer!

If you plan on hopping in an RV and hitting the road to any National Park, you will want to make a reservation ASAP.

When do National Park reservations open?

You can book most National Park campsites up to 6 months in advance. Looking to head off to Yellowstone in June? Book your campsite now! Hitting the road to Zion in July? You can reserve your campsite in February. Taking a trip to the Grand Canyon in August? Keep an eye out for booking in March.

Do all National Parks have the same reservation schedule?

Reservations at Yosemite National Park are a little different than the other parks. April through September, reservations are essential at the park. Even first-come, first-served campgrounds are usually full before noon.

If Yosemite is on your summer road trip route, you’ll want to book fast.

Arrival date Reservations Open
January 15 through February 14 September 15
February 15 through March 14 October 15
March 15 through April 14 November 15
April 15 through May 14 December 15
May 15 through June 14 January 15
June 15 through July 14 February 15
July 15 through August 14 March 15
August 15 through September 14 April 15
September 15 through October 14 May 15
October 15 through November 14 June 15
November 15 through December 14 July 15
December 15 through January 14 August 15

Additionally, some National parks may open for group sites, lodging, and activity permits as early as a year in advance. Make sure to research the specific parks on your road trip itinerary.

Are reservations always necessary?

This depends on the National Park and their campgrounds. The more popular and visited National Parks are likely to be completely booked pretty soon after the reservation window opens. You may not have any problem reserving a site at the lesser-visited parks right before your trip, but if you ask me, it’s always better safe than sorry!

Many National Parks will have first-come, first-served campsites. In that case, you won’t be able to make a reservation and will want to arrive as early as possible, as many will fill up before the afternoon.

Keep in mind that National Parks and their campgrounds will be especially in demand during the weekends and summer holidays — Labor Day and Fourth of July. That said, you’ll have better availability on weekdays.

What if all National Park campsites are booked?

All booked up? That’s a bummer, but don’t worry! Across the US, there are over 200 campgrounds and RV parks, so if there isn’t one available inside of the National Park, you can likely still find one nearby for the dates you desire!

Boondocking is also a great option. And, it’s free!

Ready to Road Trip?

If you’re not sure where to road trip this summer, we’ve got it all mapped out! Check out our top National Park picks for 2021.

Once you’ve decided on your destination, it’s time to plan the rest of the journey. Rent your RV and book your campsite. You can reserve most National Park campsites by phone or online at recreation.gov! Note that with the big boom in camping and RVing over the past year, campgrounds will fill up faster than usual. Safe summer travels!

 

Lizzie Dragon

Outdoorsy Author

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