Hoping to camp in California in 2021? Now could be the time to book your dates

Campers hoping to book campsites in 2021 are listening: now is the time to start thinking about booking your California trips for next year.

State park campsites can be reserved online up to six months in advance. This means bookings for next year’s Memorial Day weekend will be possible later this month – November 28th, to be precise. This is roughly the time of year campsites around the state open up in the warmer months.

With the coronavirus pandemic still ravaging the state, landing a campsite is sure to take on the feel of a competitive sport. But there is a trick you can use to secure the place of your dreams.

To jump on the reservation list for a popular website on a popular weekend – Memorial Day Weekend, for example – you can book additional days in advance and continue your reservation within the time frame you want. For example, you can book your campsite a day or two earlier, reserve it on November 26th (and for May 26th, a Wednesday) or November 27th (for May 27th, a Thursday) and then make the reservation until the Memorial Continue Day Weekend. May 28th to 31st. That way, beat the morning of the reservation crush and grab the campsite of your dreams.

How far in advance can you book? “It depends on the park and the maximum number of days the public can stay in a park,” said Jorge Moreno, information officer for California State Parks.

One important point about state parks, Moreno said, is that your website only stays open to you until noon the day after your arrival date. Failure to call the park will treat you as a “no show” and rangers will cancel your reservation.

Here are the key dates, logs, and contacts for booking reservations for some of California’s most popular outdoor destinations: state park campsites, campsites at Point Reyes National Seashore, climbing permits for Half Dome and Mount Whitney, and hiking permits for the John Muir Trail .

Camping in state parks

Protocol: Reserve campsites six months a day. State park location reservations at www.ReserveCalifornia.com open at 8:00 am daily.

Key dates for 3-day weekends: For Memorial Day weekend, reserve at 8:00 a.m. on Saturday, November 28th (for Friday, May 28th through the bank holiday weekend).

For the weekend of July 4th, reserve January 2nd (reservations cannot be made on January 1st) for Friday July 2nd and extend your booking over the weekend.

For Labor Day weekend, book March 3rd for Friday September 3rd and extend your reservation until September 5th.

The information: California State Parks, www.parks.ca.gov.

Camping in Yosemite National Park

Protocol: On the 15th of each month at 7 a.m., the campsites are available five months in advance in one-month periods. Book at www.recreation.gov.

Key data: Make reservations for April 15th through May 14th at 7am on December 15th. January 15th at 7am from May 15th to June 14th; on February 15 at 7 a.m. from June 15 to July 14; March 15th at 7am from July 15th to August 14th; April 15th at 7am from August 15th to September 14th.

Note: Reservations are available at seven campsites in Yosemite from April to September (an additional six are subject to availability). These are Upper Pines (open year round), Lower Pines, and North Pines in Yosemite Valley, as well as Wawona, Hodgdon, Meadow Crane Flat, and half of Tuolumne Meadows outside of Yosemite Valley.

The information: Yosemite National Park, www.nps.gov/yose.

Camping in national forests

Protocol: Reserve campsites six months a day. Reservations open daily at 7 a.m. at www.recreation.gov.

Key dates for 3-day weekends: Same as the state park protocol. For Memorial Day weekend, reserve at 8:00 a.m. on Saturday, November 28th (for Friday, May 28th through the bank holiday weekend).

For the weekend of July 4th, reserve January 2nd (reservations cannot be made on January 1st) for Friday July 2nd and extend your booking over the weekend.

For Labor Day weekend, book March 3rd for Friday September 3rd and extend your reservation until September 5th.

Note: Some of the system’s most popular locations are near lakes, particularly Lake Tahoe. However, there are approximately 200 lakes with camping facilities in California.

The information: US National Forest, Pacific Southwest Region, www.fs.usda.gov/r5.

Tom Stienstra is the outdoor writer for The Chronicle. Email: [email protected]

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