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Old 01-11-2019, 10:44 AM   #1
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Reserveamerica Dying?

In years past, there were two complementary public campground reservation sites (and some private cgs, too): reserveamerica.com and recreation.gov. Yes, I understand that some national parks used other 3rd party sites and some states (e.g., SD) used their own systems for state parks.

For the past couple of years, all USFS and federal campgrounds could only be reserved through recreation.gov. However, reserveamerica.com would show these federal campgrounds in various searches and was apparently linked to whatever database that showed availability. Thus, a person could use reserveamerica.com to browse for campgrounds and then be redirected to recreation.gov for booking. Easy peasy.

State, county, and other local campgrounds in Colorado, however, were exclusively available via reserveamerica.com. So, if you wanted a complete, comprehensive search of available campgrounds, reserveamerica.com was the place to go. Recreation.gov wouldn't show you the state parks, e.g.

While Reserveamerica.com and Recreation.gov started out using incredibly similar interfaces, they had diverged in the past 3-4 years, with recreation.gov becoming increasingly less user-friendly than reserveamerica (obviously, just my individual opinion). This made is even that much more likely that I'd use reserveamerica for browsing/shopping, even when I knew I was looking for a USFS cg.

I have noticed this year, that reserveamerica has no connection to federal campgrounds and will not display them on a search. Similarly, recreation.gov remains singularly focused on federal facilities. So, there is no longer a comprehensive view of available campgrounds ... a person needs to search both places.

Colorado also has started its own system through the parks and wildlife department. The following disclaimer shows on reserveamerica now: "Attention Colorado Parks and Wildlife Customers: please use www.cpwshop.com to make, cancel, or change reservations or make any license, pass, or retail purchases. ReserveAmerica.com has limited functionality for CPW customers." (emphasis added) So, federal goverment has cleaved reserveamerica's access to federal sites and state/local goverments are pulling up stakes, too.

Also, Recreation.gov has undergone a huge transformation in user interface. I think it's crappy, more difficult to use, and the interactive campground maps are at about 25% loaded (and this was before the govt shutdown). Additionally, site photos that were previously present are mostly gone. User reviews, including their uploaded photos, are all gone. For me, everything about the new recreation.gov is a major, major step backward.

I'd be very curious to know the reason why reserveamerica has effectively been mothballed by the various government agencies. I always found the site incredibly easy to navigate and thought it worked quite well. Now, I'm left with multiple sites to try to navigate, none of which are very good.

Anyone know what the deal is with reserveamerica's apparent demise?

Thanks.
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Old 01-11-2019, 11:04 AM   #2
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NJ state parks also dumped Reserve America. The company nickel & dimed not only the state but also the campers. With Reserve America you had to book a site through their website even if you were at the state office. That way Reserve America always got their "cut" and it bothered alot of people because you had to pay an additional fee just to reserve even if you're a walk in that day for one night.
The state now has their own system.
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Old 01-11-2019, 11:23 AM   #3
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Hey you're right. Just pulled up RA.com to do some early season reserves in Wi. and the SPs and SFs aren't listed.:
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Old 01-11-2019, 11:27 AM   #4
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I just use a google or google maps search for 'campground' or 'rv park' in the area I'm interested in... regardless of it's affiliation with any specific reservations system, it will render the info I'm looking for - at least to see if it's 'where' I want to be.
but, yes, the reservations systems themselves can sometimes be where the aggravation lies for most of us - it just should be easier than it is in most cases.

I like 'mapped' reservations options that allow me to 'pick' the site and where I want to be in the campground. I can use google maps satellite overview to even see a better 'real world' rendering, if needed, as many of the online 'maps' for campgrounds are not really very specific in how the sites are actually laid out, how close they are to others, etc.
One site for a Georgia park had it's own 'map' showing several sites at a lower rate because they were not considered 'waterside sites', and yet when you arrive you find that they have just as much of a water view and usage as any of the others. Crazy, but nice.

Some sites are also very limiting in how you can manage a multi-night stay, especially when the campground is somewhat 'booked' during your timeframe. If you just input a single date, you might find several options, but once you put in your true timeframe, you'll find nothing available - there's no good way for the system to 'break out' your days and give you options to 'move' to another site within that timeframe that would be available, giving you a full stay. But's, apparently, that's too much for most websites.

Some give you the options of seeing the 'calendar' of open dates for a specific site, or all sites, which is nice if you need to stay beyond the availability of any specific site, and move to another before leaving. I would like to see this also give you the ability to manage all of that within a single reservation, versus the normal process of booking site#1 for two nights, then having to book another site for the next night, all separately.
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Old 01-11-2019, 11:30 AM   #5
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I look at this situation just like 05crewdually. A couple of lakes near me both use Reserve America to the users disadvantage. If you reserve online, there is a reservation fee … if you simply drive out to the lake and find a spot on your own … the fee still is charged and RA gets that fee for doing absolutely nothing. I understand the OP's point about dual sites to locate a place to camp, but the way RA goes about harvesting fees burrs my saddle.
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Old 01-11-2019, 11:32 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by formerFR View Post
I just use a google or google maps search for 'campground' or 'rv park' in the area I'm interested in... regardless of it's affiliation with any specific reservations system, it will render the info I'm looking for - at least to see if it's 'where' I want to be. [...]
I do that, too, with Google maps and arial views. I'm OCD about it, but it works great. My family is always super happy with the great sites I end up booking ... we're almost always in the top 1-2 spots in campgrounds we've otherwise never been to.

However, there needs to be a map. I'll give you an example: Redstone Campground in Colorado. While admittedly a minority example, this campground has no map ... I'm talking about a static .jpg, .gif, .pdf type of a map. There is also no online interactive map, because recreation.gov sucks and reserveamerica.com has been kicked to the curb.

So, I can look at pictures of the campground with amazing clarity via google maps. I can pinpoint exactly where I'd like to be. I have no idea what site that is, though. No map.
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Old 01-11-2019, 11:34 AM   #7
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California also dumped Reservation America. They now do reservations with www.parks.ca.gov
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Old 01-11-2019, 11:52 AM   #8
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Good riddance! I hate the non-refundable reservation fees.
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Old 01-11-2019, 11:56 AM   #9
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Still exists for federal facilities via recreation.gov. For state, we got rid of the reservation fee in lieu of a 50% hike in per-night site fees. Instead of $24/night + $9, we now just pay $36/night. Somehow, I think I prefer the non-refundable fee!
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Old 01-11-2019, 12:13 PM   #10
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We are currently in a Ventura County (California) beach park, and even this county is now using their own reservation system.

They may have put the premium that they used to pay to a third party to better use, as the Wi-Fi coverage here is spread over at least five wireless routers, and coverage is pretty good (except when the Netflix crowd starts in the evening).

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