State park camping reservations may be necessary nationwide for 2022

Camping at a state park in the fall may be easier without reservations, but for summertime, you need to do a lot more planning ahead now.

It’s not yet officially winter, but if you want to go camping next summer, you need to be thinking about your camping reservations now.

There has been plenty of chatter online and in the media about how busy the 2021 camping season was. Based on the reasons often listed, it sounds like 2022 is going to be just as busy.

What this means is more-crowded campgrounds, especially at state parks where families can still find a reasonably priced place to stay. Weekends are likely to be busier than weekdays based on anecdotal sharing and personal experience.

Many state parks offer, and sometimes require, camping reservations as the days of first-come, first-served (FCFS) camping are dwindling. Even more concerning is how far in advance many states are now allowing camping reservations. The winner — and I use that term loosely — is Mississippi, where you can book state park campsites two years in advance.

In addition, you also may find a growing number of states requiring minimum stays of two or three days, especially on weekends or around holidays.

We’re also noticing more states are starting to have a longer advance registration requirement, meaning no same-day reservations. In these instances, you have to book in advance of your arrival date if you want to reserve a spot, otherwise you’re looking for an open first-come, first-served site.

It’s called “supply and demand.” The demand is up and the supply is stagnant. So states are scrambling to keep their proverbial heads above water from the flood of campers, both new and experienced, which both come with their own set of challenges. (This could be a whole other blog post, and probably will be at some point!)

2008 Roadtrek 190 Popular 4x4
We often prefer to boondock in the woods, but when we hit state parks for extended stays, we rarely risk showing up without a reservation.

For those who travel like we do — on the road months at a time and looking to settle in for two to four weeks while we explore an area — the maximum allowable stay comes into play. The most common stretch is 14 days, although some allow longer stints, and several are starting to go shorter.

Plus, the time required away from a park before you can rebook is quite variable, too. Generally, if you hit your maximum you’ll need to be gone for one night before starting your next reservation. However, some states are now requiring much longer breaks before you can stay at the same park.

It also isn’t as simple to make changes to camping reservations anymore. The days of booking multiple sites early to ensure you have something and then adjusting them later, which has always been a bit of a selfish practice, is now going to cost you money. With limited exceptions, nearly all states charge a fee to change a camping reservation and an even heftier fee to cancel one.

Researching this topic led to me creating a spreadsheet just to keep all the camping reservation variations straight because there is little consistency from state to state. And sometimes different parks in the same state have different requirements.

Below is a quick rundown, alphabetically by state, that lists some highlights for quick reference when you’re considering a camping trip somewhere.

Disclaimer: We have strived to make this information as accurate as possible and it should be considered up to date as of December 2021. State governments periodically update their rules and regulations, and there can be a time lag between those changes and a state's website being updated. If you note any errors, please let us know so we can update this list ASAP. 
  • Alabama — Can be reserved 12 months out; 2-night minimum on weekends; 14-night maximum stay. Sites not reserved are available on a first-come, first-served (FCFS) basis.
  • Alaska — A few campgrounds allow reservations 7 months out but nearly all are set up to be FCFS. Maximum stay is 5 to 14 days depending on the park.
  • Arizona — Can be reserved 12 months out; 2-night minimum on peak weekends; 14-night maximum stay. Sites not reserved are available on a FCFS basis.
  • Arkansas — Can be reserved 12 months out; 14-night maximum stay within a 30-day period. Sites not reserved are available on a FCFS basis.
  • California — Can be reserved 6 months out; 7- to 30-day maximum depending on the park. However, there is a 30-day maximum for any individual park within a year. Sites not reserved are available on a FCFS basis.
  • Colorado — Can be reserved 6 months out; 14-night maximum stay within any 28-day period. Sites not reserved are available on a FCFS basis.
  • Connecticut — Can be reserved 11 months out; 2-night minimum; 21-night maximum stay with 5 days between stays. Sites not reserved are available on a FCFS basis.
  • Delaware — Can be reserved 12 months out; 14-night maximum stay within a 21-day period. Sites not reserved are available on a FCFS basis.
  • Florida — Can be reserved 11 months out; 14-night maximum stay with 3 days between stays. Sites not reserved are available on a FCFS basis.
  • Georgia — Can be reserved 13 months out; 14-night maximum stay with 3 days between stays. Sites not reserved are available on a FCFS basis. Note that Georgia allows one campsite change per reservation without any financial penalty.
  • Hawaii — Can be reserved 12 months out except for the island of Oahu, where campsites can be reserved only 30 days in advance. There is a 5-night maximum stay with 30 days between stays. Sites not reserved are available on a FCFS basis.
  • Idaho — Can be reserved 9 months out; 15-night maximum stay within any 30-day period. Sites not reserved are available on a FCFS basis.
  • Illinois — Must be reserved at least 5 days in advance, can be reserved 6 months out; 3-night minimum on holiday weekends; 14-night maximum stay within any 30 days. Sites not reserved are available on a FCFS basis.
  • Indiana — Can be reserved 6 months out; 2-night minimum on weekends; 14-night maximum stay. Sites not reserved are available on a FCFS basis.
  • Iowa — Must be reserved at least 2 days in advance, can be reserved 3 months out; 2-night minimum on weekends; 14-night maximum stay with 3 nights in between stays. Sites not reserved are available on a FCFS basis. Note that Iowa retains 25% of all campsites as non-reservable so more can be available for first-come, first-served.
  • Kansas — Must be reserved at least 2 days in advance. Can be reserved “1 year into the following year starting in mid-December.” There is a 14-night maximum stay. Sites not reserved are available on a FCFS basis.
  • Kentucky — Can be reserved 12 months out; 14-night maximum stay. Sites not reserved are available on a FCFS basis.
  • Louisiana — Must be reserved 48 hours in advance and can be reserved 13 months out; 14-night maximum stay. Sites not reserved are available on a FCFS basis.
  • Maine — Must be reserved at least 1 day in advance, can be reserved 12 months out; 2-night minimum for stays before July 1; 14-night maximum stay. Sites not reserved are available on a FCFS basis.
  • Maryland — Can be reserved 12 months out; 2-night minimum Memorial Day through Labor Day, 3-night minimum on holiday weekends; 14-night maximum stay with one week between stays. Sites not reserved are available on a FCFS basis.
  • Massachusetts — Must be reserved at least 1 day in advance, can be reserved 4 months out; 2-night minimum in most parks; maximum stay of 14 cumulative nights in any one park per year. Sites not reserved are not available on a FCFS basis, which appears to be a change made due to COVID restrictions. There is no indication on when this restriction will be lifted.
  • Michigan — Can be reserved 6 months out; 15-night maximum stay. Sites not reserved are available on a FCFS basis. (Have you seen our YouTube series where we visited all 103 state parks in Michigan?!) From personal experience, we can tell you that some state parks in Michigan start to book out 6-months-to-the-day that camping reservations open. This is especially true at the parks on Lake Michigan, including Ludington, Grand Haven, and Mears.
  • Minnesota — Can be reserved 4 months out; 21-night maximum stay. Sites not reserved are available on a FCFS basis. (We spent the summer of 2021 traveling all over Minnesota. We have a YouTube playlist for that trek.)
  • Mississippi — Can be reserved 24 months out. From May 15 to Aug. 15, there is a 2-night minimum on weekends, 3-night minimum on holiday weekends. 14-night maximum stay May 15 to Sept. 15, 90-night maximum Sept. 16 to May 14. Sites not reserved are available on a FCFS basis.
  • Missouri — Can be reserved 12 months out; 15-night maximum stay within 30 consecutive days. Sites not reserved are available on a FCFS basis.
  • Montana — Must be reserved 1 day in advance and can be reserved 6 months out. There is a 14-night maximum stay within a 30-day period. Sites not reserved are available on a FCFS basis at only 9 parks across the state.
  • Nebraska — Can be reserved 6 months out; 14-night maximum stay in any 30-day period. Sites not reserved are available on a FCFS basis.
  • Nevada — The state parks do not have a camping reservation system. All sites are first-come, first-served. There is a 14-night maximum in any 30-day period.
  • New Hampshire — Can be reserved 11 months out; 3-night minimum if reservation is made prior to April 1 for later the same year and after April 1 if reserving for the following year. Most sites have a 14-night maximum stay, a handful are shorter. Sites not reserved are available on a FCFS basis.
  • New Jersey — Can be reserved 11 months out. There is 14-night maximum stay on your first reservation. Subsequent reservations have a 7-night maximum. There is a maximum stay of 40 cumulative nights in any one park. Sites not reserved are available on a FCFS basis.
  • New Mexico — Can be reserved 6 months out; 14-night maximum stay in any 20-day period. Sites not reserved are available on a FCFS basis.
  • New York — Must be reserved 3 to 7 days in advance, which varies by park. Can be reserved 9 months out; up to a 3-night minimum stay depending on the park; 14-night maximum stay at all parks. Sites not reserved are available on a FCFS basis.
  • North Carolina — Can be reserved 11 months out; 14-night maximum stay within any 30-day period. Sites not reserved are available on a FCFS basis.
  • North Dakota — Can be reserved 95 days out; 14-night maximum stay within any 30-day period. Sites not reserved are available on a FCFS basis.
  • Ohio — Can be reserved 6 months out; 14-night maximum stay in any 30-day period. Sites not reserved are available on a FCFS basis.
  • Oklahoma — Can be reserved 11 months out; 14-night maximum stay. Tent-only sites not reserved are available on a FCFS basis.
  • Oregon — Must be reserved at least 1-day in advance. Can be reserved 6 months out; 14-night maximum stay with three nights between reservations. Sites not reserved are available on a FCFS basis.
  • Pennsylvania — Can be reserved 11 months out; 14-night maximum stay Memorial Day to Labor Day, otherwise the maximum is 21 nights. There must be 48 hours between reservations. Sites not reserved are available on a FCFS basis.
  • Rhode Island — Can be reserved 8 days out; 14-night maximum stay during “peak season.” Sites not reserved are available on a FCFS basis.
  • South Carolina — Can be reserved 13 months out; 14-night maximum stay. Sites not reserved are available on a FCFS basis.
  • South Dakota — Can be reserved 90 days out except for Custer State Park, which can be reserved 1 year in advance. There is a 14-night maximum stay. Sites not reserved are available on a FCFS basis.
  • Tennessee — Can be reserved 12 months out; 14-night maximum stay generally, but some parks vary. Sites not reserved are available on a FCFS basis.
  • Texas — Can be reserved 5 months out; 14-night maximum stay but that can be extended by the park manager. Sites not reserved are available on a FCFS basis. (We also have a YouTube playlist about our treks through Texas.)
  • Utah — Must be reserved 2 days in advance. Can be reserved 16 weeks from the departure date. There is a 14-night maximum stay within any 30-day period. Sites not reserved are available on a FCFS basis.
  • Vermont — Must be reserved at least 2 days in advance. Can be reserved 11 months out; 21-night maximum stay. Sites not reserved are available on a FCFS basis. Note that Vermont seems to have the most restrictive generator hours with use allowed only from 8 to 10 a.m. and 4 to 6 p.m.
  • Virginia — Can be reserved 11 months out; 14-night maximum stay. Sites not reserved are available on a FCFS basis.
  • Washington — Can be reserved 9 months out; 10-night maximum stay. Sites not reserved are available on a FCFS basis.
  • West Virginia — Can be reserved 12 months out; 14-night maximum stay May 1 through Labor Day. Sites not reserved are available on a FCFS basis. Note that West Virginia retains some campsites as first-come, first-served only.
  • Wisconsin — Can be reserved 11 months out with a 2-night minimum on weekends; 14-night maximum stay in the summer, otherwise 21 nights. Sites not reserved are available on a FCFS basis.
  • Wyoming — Can be reserved 4 months out; 14-night maximum stay in any 30-day period. Sites not reserved are available for FCFS on a limited basis.

We hope you found this information useful and will endeavor to update this list periodically to ensure it remains a useful resource.

If you find yourself without a campsite, or just need to get away from a park for a night or two before you can get back in, consider using Harvest Hosts. We have been members for several years now and have enjoyed each of our stays at the unique locations made available to us as members. You can use our affiliate link to learn more and get a discount if you sign up!

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