Booking online for summer camping at Yosemite National Park begins soon.
Because Yosemite is one of the most popular camping destinations in the world, it can be difficult to secure campsite reservations for summer dates. A whole month of dates goes on sale at once, thousands of people are clicking “book now,” and they sell out fast — more than 75 percent of sites can sell out within the first few minutes.
Here are tips from the people who run the reservation system for www.recreation.gov, the website that coordinates with 12 federal agencies including the National Park Service, Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation and the Army Corps of Engineers.
First of all, know where you want to camp and which campgrounds accept reservations. Campgrounds in Yosemite Valley that take reservations include Upper Pines, Lower Pines and North Pines. Yosemite campgrounds off Highway 120 that take reservations include Hodgdon Meadow, Crane Flat and Tuolumne Meadows. More information is here www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/camping.htm.
The next window of opportunity for making summer camping reservations in Yosemite is at 7 a.m. Jan. 15, when you can reserve campsites for May 15 through June 14.
Between now and then, travelers should get familiar with www.recreation.gov, create an account and be ready to fill out a reservation request before 7 a.m. Jan. 15.
The key is being ready to click on “Book These Dates” a minute or two before the clock hits 7 a.m. Pacific.
“Yosemite sells out very quickly,” a recreation.gov reservation specialist said Monday. “Most campsites are going to sell out within a couple of minutes of the site going live. If you’re comfortable with the website, you can log in and search for the campground and put in arrival and departure and site locations.
“Be clicking on the button to book a minute or two before it turns 7 a.m.,” she said.
Here are some frequently asked campground reservation questions at www.recreation.gov:
Q: I try to make a reservation as soon as they go on sale, but everything good is already gone. How can that be?
A: When campsites/cabins/cottages are in high demand, hundreds of users rush to hold sites and dates the second they go on sale. The reservation system is able to handle multiple requests per second, resulting in things changing very quickly, and often many of the popular sites are gone very quickly.
Q: Do some customers get privileged access before the general public?
A: No, everyone has equal access to all campsites/cabins/cottages that are reservable. There are no waiting lists, priority sequences or anything in place that would provide anyone early access to the reservable sites.
Q: Are all of the same campsites and dates available both at the call center and on the website?
A: Yes, the call center and web use the same one centralized reservation system database. The reservation system handles all requests equally, regardless of who makes them and from where.
Q: How do I best secure a site?
A: Pre-plan, if you know what facility and site you would like, have this information ready. Once you log in you should be able to easily navigate through the website to make your reservation quickly once facilities are available.
Q: Can I advance the clock time on my computer to get access before the sale begins?
A: Changing the time and date of your computer does not affect the sale start time. The reservation system clock controls the precise date and time-of-day that reservations become bookable.
Q: Is the clock used by the reservation system server accurate?
A: Yes. system server time is very, very accurate. The website uses network protocol time to synchronize clocks of servers to standard time references. Several time reference sources are made available to ensure fault tolerance and accuracy of the clocks. Continuous monitoring of the server clocks is in place to ensure that the time is accurate, again utilizing network protocol time to ensure accuracy.
Future opportunities to make reservations for this summer in Yosemite are:
• Feb. 15 for the dates June 15 through July 14
• March 15 for the dates July 15 to Aug. 14
• April 15 for the dates Aug. 15 to Sept. 14
For more information on making a campground reservation in Yosemite, visit www.recreation.gov online or call (877) 444-6777. Or call park rangers at (209) 372-0200.