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The 9 best ways to find a campsite online

An outdoorsy home away from home

An orange tent on a mountain top. In the distance are mountains. There is a sunset and the sky is orange and purple. Shutterstock

Whether you want to glamp on a cliff above the ocean or sleep in a tent deep in the forest, camping helps you get away from it all. But one of the hardest parts of camping—wherever you like to be—is finding that perfect campground. Love campers and trailers? Come join our community group.

The most popular campsites near metro areas or in picturesque national parks can book up months in advance, and there’s nothing worse than pulling up to your destination only to find the campground full.

Luckily, a new crop of websites and apps makes finding and booking a campsite easier than ever. You can search by location, nearby activities, and what kind of campsite you need to find everything from off-the-grid retreats to KOAs packed with amenities. Whatever type of camper you are, there’s something out there to suit your needs.

But that doesn’t mean it’s always easy to know where to start your search. That’s why we’ve rounded up nine websites and apps that can help. Below, we offer tips to making the biggest booking sites—Reserve America and Recreation.gov—easier to manage, and uncover some lesser known apps that can help you book a site on private land or capitalize on last-minute cancellations. Behold, the top ways to book a campsite online.

Reserve America

Details: As one of the largest online campsite systems, Reserve America should be your go-to spot for reserving a campsite. That’s because Reserve America is the website that manages online campsite reservations for most state and local government park lands campgrounds in North America. You can search by location, dates, and site type. If you create an account, you can also save favorited campsites and organize your top choices with helpful category lists.

Finally, we like Reserve America because you can see your past and upcoming reservations, a helpful tool if you can’t quite remember the name of a previous campsite. Looking for California campsites specifically? Check out Reserve California, a new site managed specifically for the Golden State.

Cost: Search at reserveamerica.com or get the app for free on iOS and Android.

Recreation.gov

Details: Although not as seamless and easy to use as Reserve America, Recreation.gov is another crucial tool in booking campsites. That’s because sites on federal land are not bookable on Reserve America, instead you have to use recreation.gov.

Recreation.gov is the primary booking platform for national parks. Even if you find something on another platform, you will likely end up at Recreation.gov for booking. We like the map feature on this app and you can filter by amenities, site type, and availability. Pro tip: Most national parks release campsites six months in advance.

Cost: Search at recreation.gov or get the app for free on iOS.

Campendium

Details: Developed by a team of full-time RV travelers, Campendium features 27,000 RV and tent campsites with plenty of reviews to help you figure out which site is best. Join other campers to see a ton of info on the campsite of your choosing, like photos, GPS coordinates, camping fees, and whether or not the spot has cell coverage. After you’re finished camping, log in to leave your own reviews and help future campers know where to go.

This is a great app to find campsites and see crowdsourced information, but note that you’ll use external links to actually book your site.

Cost: Available through the Campendium iOS app for free

Hipcamp

Details: Sometimes referred to as the Airbnb of camping, Hipcamp connects campers with private landowners who allow people to camp on their properties. An especially helpful tool on busy weekends when public campgrounds fill up fast, Hipcamp lets you camp on farms, vineyards, and ranches. You can search based on location, price, and whether you want to camp in a tent, van, RV, or rent someone else’s yurt or cabin.

Like other rental listings, some campsites are better than others. Hipcamp will also cost more per night than public campgrounds, but it’s a good option if you’re looking for privacy or something different.

Cost: Free on hipcamp.com

Go Camping America

Details: If you strike out at the government-run campsites, consider staying at a privately owned and operated campground. Go Camping America lists more than 3,000 RV parks, KOAs, Jellystone parks, and more. You can search near certain cities and by amenities, and a helpful map shows how far away they are from your location.

The campsites listed are more developed than some others on this list, but they also come with lots of amenities. Go Camping America can be an especially helpful resource for families who might want to camp where there is a pool or playground.

Cost: Free on the Go Camping America website

AllStays

Details: Another comprehensive camping app that lets you book 30,000 campgrounds, RV parks, and even free parking lots to stay in—we’re looking at you, Walmart. The best part of the Allstays app is all the filters; adventurers can narrow their selections by types of camping, how much it costs, elevation, electric and water hookup availability, and even whether there is fishing, hiking, or a pool nearby. We’ve found that Allstays can be especially helpful for people with RVs who need to find campsites near RV dealers or dump stations.

Cost: Available as AllStays Pro on a web browser starting at $32.95 or on iOS for $9.99.

USFS and BML Campgrounds

Details: You forgot to reserve a campsite and now you have nowhere to go on a busy holiday weekend. Instead of staying home, use this app to find more than 5,800 United States Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management campgrounds throughout the U.S.

Most of these campsites are either free or much cheaper than more developed campgrounds, and the app shows the campground, weather, elevation, and more.

Cost: $.99 for iOS users

Boondocking

Details: Designed as a guide to dispersed camping—places with few amenities and off-the-grid camping—Boondocking.com is a public forum database where you can search for free, auto-accessible camping spots using latitude and longitude.

An easy-to-use app shows crowd-sourced information of where people have successfully camped with directions and varying degrees of detail. While not for the RV-loving crowd who needs hookups and electrical access, Boondocking is a helpful tool for people who love camping on BLM land or who want to stay off the grid.

Cost: Free for iOS devices.

iOverlander

Details: This nonprofit, 100 percent volunteer project aims to help people around the world find places to stay on the road. The database includes camping, hotels, restaurants, mechanics, water, propane filling, and you can search the listings or browse everything on a map.

We find this app very useful, especially when we’re traveling off-the-grid or beyond the normal routes.

Cost: Free on iOS and Android devices

The Dyrt

Details: We like The Dyrt because this streamlined app does a good job of helping you find and read reviews about campsites. You can filter by type of site but we also love that you can filter by how you get to the site—drive-in, walk-in, hike-in, and boat-in.

User-generated photos are helpful, and popular camping spots see a lot of reviews. To incentivize people to write reviews, The Dyrt offers prizes and money to campers.

Cost: Free for iOS and Android devices