REI Let’s Camp, glamping, & other campaigns are increasing the popularity of camping & backpacking. With more parks using quotas, the campaigns are also increasing the popularity of backcountry reservations. Obtaining a coveted site can take planning and a little luck, especially in California. I’m making outdoor reservations for Feb 2017 in Aug 2016. This article describes the websites for Bay Area & California camping & backpacking reservations.
National Parks (e.g., Yosemite, Point Reyes, Lassen), National Forests (e.g., El Dorado, Inyo), and National Recreation Areas (e.g., GGNRA & Kirby Cove) reserve on Recreation.gov. Car camping, backcountry, and cabins can all be reserved, and sites available vary by park. Frontcountry camping in Yosemite is available via Recreation.gov, but backcountry reservations are from reserved directly from the Yosemite backcountry office. Campers reserve popular Point Reyes (e.g., Sky, Wildcat, Coast Camps) & GGNRA (Kirby Cove) at the site.
All CA State Park (e.g., Angel Island, Pfieffer Big Sur, Big Basin, Butano) camping and backpacking reservations are booked through Reserve America. On the first day of each month, CA State Park users can book reservations for six months out. On Aug 1 at 8:00 am, users make CA State Parks Reservations from Feb 1 to Feb 28. This is monthly reservation equivalent of the 1889 Oklahoma Land Rush where popular spots are only available within minutes.
Many other state park and local parks systems are also available. East Bay Regional Park District (e.g., Del Valle, Sunol) are available via Reserve America.
There is one backcountry camp available at Black Mountain Backpack Camp at Monte Bello Open Space Preserve. Reservations can be made directly with MROSD.
Camping at Memorial Park & Huddart Parks are available through the SMCP sites. I wrote about Memorial Park as my favorite Bay Area family camping spot with first growth redwoods, a steelhead creek, and old school amenities. Backcountry camping in Pescadero County Park are first come, first serve through the Memorial Park entrance.
Santa Clara County Camping and Backpacking (Uvas Canyon, Mt Madonna) are available via their dedicated site. Reservations can also be made via phone.
Reservations remove spontaneity from backcountry adventures, but they help prevent users from loving parks to death. With the right parks destinations & associated websites, some upfront planning helps secure the best campsites from some memorable nights under the stars.