Free campsite availability alerts for sold-out nat'l parks 🌲

Disclaimer right off the top: I’m a founding team member of Hipcamp—sharing this news here as I believe this community can get a lot of use out of this service to get outside camping more! :handshake: :camping: :beers:

I’m stoked to share with y’all the launch of a new campground availability alerts service we just built. Our new tool scans for openings (cancellations) at sold-out national and state parks and alerts you (for free) the instant campsites become available. Check it out at Hipcamp Alerts.

Sharing with y’all because:

  1. I’m a strong advocate and believer of keeping our public data open to all of us. Outdoor companies that claim to be “made by and for campers” love paywalling tax-funded public data behind “pro” subscriptions and memberships and I believe we should all challenge this status quo. All of the existing paid availability alert services out there utilize the exact same api we do and are slower to notify. We check top spots (like Yosemite) every ~15 seconds. Other services charge arbitrary amounts (upwards of $30USD) for checks every ~5 minutes—and none of these alerts even guarantee that you’ll be first to actually swoop a reservation!

  2. As much I love camping on BLM/USFS land or private and quiet ranches/wilderness areas, I still at times pine for posting up in a good ol’ storied NPS campground loop. I find them incredibly nostalgic and almost homey. I imagine many of you feel the same about your favorite childhood / family vacation nat’l park campground. (Tunnel Mountain Village in Banff and Yosemite Valley for me)

I hope you find this new free service helpful and it becomes a core part of your camping toolkit. Would love to hear your feedback and experience using the service here—and hope someone is able to snag a site in Yosemite Valley this Labor Day because of it!

:round_pushpin: :world_map: :compass: ps. We also also recently unlocked access to USFS/BLM/NPS maps and FCC cell service maps (AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon) in the latest Hipcamp app release—more readily available public data that outdoor companies love to obscure behind paywalls. Get our app to check 'em out

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Thanks for the update Julian. Keep up the great work - love Hipcamp!

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I miss the days when no one knew about these areas and spots where still hidden and special.

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I still enjoy that great feeling when I find a new amazing campsite by EXPLORING the real world. Unfortunately it is getting harder and harder to find sites that are not adversely impacted by over/irresponsible-use.

Thanks so much @NWAngler, and I hear ya @climbhigher! I too at times find myself reminiscing about the days when swooping front country campsites in the most popular destinations wasn’t quite as competitive as it is today.

I then remind myself how it’s important that we make sure our public lands remain freely accessible to all of us—long time lovers of the outdoors like us and newcomers alike. We shouldn’t allow for the paywalling or gatekeeping of our special wild places—in the real world or digital sphere.

People only protect and love what they get to experience first hand—the more people who experience the magic of a night spent outside, the more people we’ll have who give a damn about these wild spaces and support, advocate, and fight for their continued stewardship, responsible use, and expansion. We won’t be around forever, educating the next generation on how to treat and respect these places is paramount. We can all do better here by leaving it better.

And as always, for folks like us who are equipped, it’s never difficult to head out and explore a few miles into the backcountry by foot or rig and find some peace and quiet and magical campsites. We’re so fortunate that this continent we find ourselves on has quite a bit of protected wild space to spread out on in all three countries. Let’s make sure it stays that way :evergreen_tree: :camping: :mountain_snow:

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Great idea and I’m sure it will draw more users to use HipCamp. I’ve been using your app frequently and like the quieter set up that often comes with private land. US Government should give Hipcamp a contract to run bookings since I find their web interface clumsy.

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devils advocate…

already some great services that do this… and the great thing about them is not many know about them. making this tool and marketing it is bad news for someone like me and will likely just make it harder to find a spot using similar tools.

for me, unwelcome news…