People who try to book campsites or rental accommodations inside state or national parks often find they are already booked up, often several months out.
But there are other strategies consumers can use when campgrounds or rental accommodations in the park they want to visit are sold out: Stay at an independently owned and operated campground outside the park you want to visit.
“Camp-California.com is loaded with campgrounds and RV parks that are either just outside or within a short drive of state and national parks throughout California,” said Dyana Kelley, president and CEO of Camp-California.com, the travel planning website.
For example, Camp-California.com highlights several campgrounds just outside the western entrances to Yosemite National Park, including:
— Bass Lake at Yosemite RV Park in Bass Lake: This park features RV and tent sites as well as rental cabins. Amenities include a swimming pool, a restaurant, a lodge and a shaded outdoor picnic area. https://www.basslakeatyosemite.com
— High Sierra RV & Mobile Park in Oakhurst: This park, which complements its RV and tent sites with rental cabins, is located along the Fresno River near the southern entrance to Yosemite National Park. Amenities include hot showers, laundry, and a store with camping and RV supplies, including propane. Daily, weekly and monthly sites are available. http://highsierrarv.com/yosemite-rv-park-campground-amenities.html
— Yosemite Lakes RV Resort in Groveland: This campground has is located near the Big Oak Flat entrance to Yosemite National Park and has frontage on the South Fork of the Tuolumne River. This campground complements its RV and tent sites with furnished cabins and yurts. Its family-friendly cabins, which sleep up to six, include bathrooms with showers, flat-screen TVs and fully equipped kitchens, so guests can cook their own meals. The yurts also sleep up to the six and include microwave ovens, hot plates, cooking and eating utensils, flat-screen TVs and bathrooms with showers. The campground is also next to a YARTS bus stop. So you can leave your camping equipment at the campground and make day trips into Yosemite Valley. Advance reservations through the YARTS website at https://yarts.com are recommended. https://www.thousandtrails.com/california/yosemite-lakes-rv-resort/.
— Yosemite Pines RV Resort and Family Camping in Groveland: This campground not only has RV and tent sites but a wide selection of vintage travel trailers that have been restored to look like new, including Airstream, Boles Aero and Silver Avion travel trailers. The campground also rents out new Retro brand Silver Beach and White Water travel trailers, which are manufactured to look like vintage trailers. The rental units typically come with refrigerators, microwave ovens, coffee pots and fresh linens. This park also has covered Conestoga wagon rentals, each of which has a king-size bed and twin bunk beds, a small refrigerator, microwave and coffee pot. https://yosemitepinesrv.com/glamping/
Independent campgrounds in remote areas are also more likely to have more availability than campgrounds close to the most traveled state and national park entrances.
For example, the Coleville/Walker Kampgrounds of America (KOA) in Coleville, near Topaz Lake, about an hour’s drive north of Lee Vining, near the eastern entrance to Yosemite, still had quite a bit of campsite and rental accommodation availability for the summer months as of late April, according to park co-owner Tim Tack.
The park, with a website at https://koa.com/campgrounds/coleville/, can serve as a base camp for many scenic hikes, fishing, ATV and other backroad trips in the eastern Sierra, including trips to visit Bodie, the historic ghost town.
Further north, Lassen RV Resort in MacArthur is another example of a remote, independently owned and operated campground that can serve as a base camp for trips to Lassen Volcanic National Park, Lava Beds National Park, McArthur Burney Falls, and remote Ahjumawi Lava Springs State Park, which is only accessible by boat or kayak.
“We’re a park not many people know about,” said park owner Ben Jansen, adding that he anticipates having availability this summer. “We recommend making weekend plans now, as those will fill up fast. Weekdays are still a good bet through Labor Day. After Labor Day, our schedule opens up quite a bit usually, so that’s also a great time to visit us here. We’ll figure out how open we want to be for short-term guests after October 15 and if demand is there, we may book into November, depending on the weather. Winter will be for month-to-month guests only, likely, until February, when we begin taking off-season guests in just a few sites for travelers mainly.”
Other campgrounds in the Lassen area include:
— Hat Creek Resort and RV Park in Old Station, which has RV and tent sites, as well as cabin, yurt and motel rentals. www.hatcreekresortrv.com
Kelley noted that Camp-California.com has listings for gateway campgrounds near many popular national and state parks in California, which complement the listings of government-run campgrounds on recreation.gov.
For example, while Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, 50 miles north of Eureka, has its own campsites, there are several independently owned and operated campgrounds nearby, including Kamp Klamath RV Park and Campground in Klamath, which has RV and tent sites (www.kampklamath.com) and Sounds of the Sea in Trinidad, which has RV and tent sites as well as park model RV rentals (www.soundsofthesea.us)
“Use Camp-California.com to search for a campground near the park of interest to you and you will likely find campgrounds that are not listed on other websites,” Kelley said.