The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management has hired ReserveAmerica to operate a reservations system for public campgrounds, according to the Providence Journal.
Starting in November, campers will be able to reserve campsites as long as a year before a visit. The announcement was made on Friday (Aug. 31).
“We are excited about this,” Steven T. Wright, acting chief of the DEM’s Division of Parks and Recreation, said. “It’s a long time coming.”
More than 1,000 campsites in five parks — Burlingame State Campground in Charlestown, Fishermen’s campground in Narragansett, East Beach in Charlestown, Charlestown Breachway in Charlestown and the George Washington Campground in Glocester — will be included in the program.
ReserveAmerica is a 23-year-old company that says it manages reservations for 3,000 parks nationwide and handles 3.5 million reservations annually.
The state is not increasing the cost of renting a campground — $14 a night for state residents and $20 for non-residents — but the overall cost of a night will still grow substantially. ReserveAmerica, a New York-based subsidiary of Ticketmaster, plans to charge campers $9 to make a reservation online and $10 by telephone. A change in a reservation will cost an additional $10, Wright said.
Nearly 70,000 campers rent state sites annually in Rhode Island, generating $1.4 million in revenue.
Between April 15 and Labor Day, ReserveAmerica will staff a call center in Rhode Island that will operate from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekdays and from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekends.
During the rest of the year, campers can make reservations by phone from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. during the week and from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekends. The website, linked from www.riparks.com, will be accessible 24 hours per day.
Campers will still be able to reserve a campsite in person. But arriving before dawn, or skipping work to claim a site midweek, will not give an advantage over campers who booked months in advance.
More than 31 states use some version of a campground reservation system. In New England, ReserveAmerica already has contracts with Connecticut and Massachusetts