It’s Tuesday. You and your friends want to do some camping this weekend, but you’re not really sure where to go. You’d love to hit the beach, but being August, you’re sure that all the good spots are gonna be full. So what do you do? Do you bail on camping all together? It’s a lousy option, but one that happens all too often.
Introducing Hipcamp…the solution to all of your camping woes….at least for those of you in California.
Hipcamp is a new online reservation system that makes finding an available campsite super easy.
Hipcamp, a new start-up located in San Francisco, has embarked on a journey to catalog all of the parks, starting in California, and provide users with one simple, easy to use interface where Hipcampers can find an overview, activities, tips, history, and real-time availability for California’s coolest campsites. According to the folks at Hipcamp, “it really is camping made easy.”
How Hipcamp Works
If you are planning a camping trip with specific dates, the first thing you should do is go to Hipcamp’s homepage and click on “Discover.” This will take you to the page shown below where you can enter in your desired dates.
That’s where things get really cool. If you hover over the Activities, Amenities, and Features tabs, you can narrow down the exact type of campsite you are looking for. Wanna do some beach kayaking? Or are you looking for some solitude in the giant redwoods? Bringing Fido along? Wine-tasting anyone? You can account for any of these variables in your search.
So lets test it out. I want to go camping next weekend. I know I want to do some biking, and I want a campsite that has a restroom. I select these variables in the drop down menu and bam. There are 37 campgrounds that have availability. I can view all of these campgrounds by location on the map, or I can click any of the campgrounds in the list for more detailed information, including outdoor activities, insider campground tips, and the region’s history.
Making a Reservation
After drooling over all of my options, I decide that Austin Creek up in Sonoma County sounds perfect. Hipcamp’s description says that there is biking as well as nearby wine tasting and river tubing. A perfect mix of activities. Hipcamp also tells me that the bathrooms here are extremely clean, and there’s awesome stargazing which will make for a glorious evening around the fire.
So I click on “choose site” and, I’m shown a handy map of the campground and the available spots. Green sites are available for reservations, while yellow sites are for walk ups only. What’s really awesome is that many of the sites have photos, so you know exactly what to expect at each site.
Then all you have to do is click on the site you want and hit reserve and you will be taken to Hipcamp’s reservation system. Fill out the form with your contact and credit card information, and the site is yours. It’s that easy!
The Hipcamp Verdict
There are many things I really love about Hipcamp, like the photos, tips, and campsite maps. That said, Hipcamp is still very new and after messing around with the site, it does seem like there are a few kinks to work out. For example, not all of the campgrounds have maps and photos yet. But my biggest complaint is that in my search, some of the sites were showing availability when they were actually full. Also, for some of the sites, I was redirected to Reserve America to finalize my reservation. In these cases, there was also some discrepancies in availability. My guess is that these errors are more common for last-minute bookings, and hopefully as Hipcamp grows, this is something that will get addressed. I also look forward to Hipcamp’s expansion to other states in the West!
If you are looking to go camping in California, be sure to check out Hipcamp! By reducing the stress of picking a campsite, you can focus more on fun things like planning a stellar menu or the REALLY tough choices like biking vs tubing vs wine tasting.
Need more advice for your next camping trip? Check out my “Camping Essentials” board on Pinterest.