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ReserveCalifornia™ FAQ's

ReserveCalifornia™

May 8, 2018

Q1: When did California State Parks change to ReserveCalifornia?

A: California State Parks switched from ReserveAmerica to ReserveCalifornia™ on August 1, 2017. You can book your reservation at www.ReserveCalifornia.com.

Q2: Why did California State Parks change to ReserveCalifornia?

A: Over the last two years, the California Department of Parks and Recreation has strengthened policies, procedures, guidelines, and organizational structures to support a sustainable entrepreneurial, service-oriented, creative and collaborative culture. Part of this effort included a new comprehensive reservation system to support field operations and enhance the experience of the visitors with a modern platform.

California has the largest state park system in the nation with 280 park units. Transitioning to a new reservation system allows us to provide more user-friendly web services and greater accessibility to more visitors for the highly sought-after camping and lodging locations. Interactive maps with more detailed views of campsites and self-service online options represent some of the additional features of the new system, which allow for better trip planning and access to outdoor public spaces.

Q3: How does the rolling window reservation system work?

A: California State Parks moved from a block or on-sale day reservation period to a rolling window. The public can reserve the highly sought-after campsites and lodging six months in advance from the current date. Camping and lodging inventory will become available each day for a period of six months in advance. Bookings may extend from the arrival date to the desired departure date – based on availability and the park’s maximum stay rules.

Q4: Why do certain parks sell out faster than others?

A: California’s state park system is loved by many within and outside the state of California. At times, the public demand exceeds the inventory of available campsites. We have approximately 13,000 campsites available on ReserveCalifornia and each year, on average, more than 6.5 million visitors camp in our popular state parks.

This is especially true with popular parks such as the cottages at Crystal Cove State Beach where there are only 24 spaces available to book and are booked all year round, and others like Steep Ravine cabins at Mount Tamalpais State Park, RV campground at Seacliff State Beach and all of our southern coastal campgrounds.

Q5: Why does ReserveCalifornia show available reservations one day and then booked before the 8 a.m. PST when the rolling window opens?

A: One factor that may explain the availability issue is that the new reservation system allows visitors who have an existing reservation to modify their reservation. For example, a visitor who already has a reservation from September 1-7, can modify their reservation from their original reservation to September 2-8 before the 8 a.m. PST reservation window as long as it is within the maximum stay limit of that particular park.

Q6: What should people do if they are having issues booking a campsite?

A: Feedback from the public helps us as we continue to develop and improve the system. Visitors encountering technical issues or who are unable to make a reservation on ReserveCalifornia.com are encouraged to call our Customer Call Center via phone at (800) 444-7275 or submit their feedback online under the “Contact Us” link located at the bottom of the ReserveCalifornia.com website. Individual parks do not take reservations. Please contact the Customer Call Center.

As nature lovers ourselves, we sympathize with our fellow outdoor enthusiasts and want to assure them that we continue to review the reservation system for process improvement and will continue to implement improvements as they are identified.

California State Parks apologizes for the frustrations some of our visitors are encountering using ReserveCalifornia. Providing a user-friendly reservation system and equal access to all of our visitors is one of our top priorities. As with any new large system, course corrections must be made.

Q7: Is California State Parks making any improvements to the new reservation system?

A: We are always looking ways to make the visitor experience, both online and by phone, accessible and positive. For example, California State Parks is looking into limiting the number of modifications an individual can make and updating terms and conditions that define acceptable and unacceptable uses of the reservation system.

Q8: I do not understand how the rolling window reservation works. Can you please provide an example?

A: Booking a reservation on the new system is easy and similar to booking hotel rooms, airline tickets and other similar services. It is also similar to the booking window for facilities in the National Park Service.

With ReserveCalifornia™ you can make reservations six months to the day in advance of the arrival date. Each new date opens at 8 a.m. PST. The rolling window also adjusts for months longer or shorter than 30 days. For example:

If you make a reservation on:

You can make reservations with an arrival date of:

May 1, 2018 (open at 8 a.m. PST)

November 1, 2018

May  2, 2018 (open at 8 a.m. PST)

November 2, 2018

May  3, 2018 (open at 8 a.m. PST)

November 3, 2018

Months with longer or shorter than 30 days

February 28, 2018 (open at 8 a.m. PST)

August 28, 2018

March 1, 2018 (open at 8 a.m. PST)

August 29-31

 

Q9: What are the new features with ReserveCalifornia?

A: A variety of features will be phased in through the Fall 2018, allowing for better trip planning and access to outdoor public spaces. Below is a breakdown of the features:

 The new reservation system provides more user-friendly and intuitive web services, including:

  • Additional self-service options, such as online profiles.
  • Interactive maps with more detailed views of campsites.
  • Easier to reserve camping and lodging sites (rolling window).
  • Customer contact center.

 As additional features of the new service are phased-in through the Fall 2018, visitors and staff will enjoy:

  • Ability to view real-time reservation inventory.
  • More payment options at locations currently accepting only cash and checks.
  • Additional trip information to make it easier for you to plan your visits.

The new reservation system includes state-of-the-art, computerized point-of-sale and fee collection equipment that will allow debit and credit card payments at more locations. This equipment will be installed in phases across the state, beginning with Hearst San Simeon State Historical Monument (Hearst Castle) and continuing at other state parks through March 2018. 

Q10: How do I make a reservation on ReserveCalifornia™?

A: You can make reservations online or by calling our Customer Contact Center. Below are the details:

  • Onlinewww.ReserveCalifornia.com
  • Phone: (800) 444-PARK (7275). The customer contact center will be available seven days a week from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m. (except New Year’s Day, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day). For international callers, please dial 833-448-7278.

Q11: Will the processing fees be changing with the new system?

A: Yes, processing fees changed. See below. 

 

                                                     Reservation Fees

Type of Reservation

ReserveAmerica Fee

ReserveCalifornia™ Fee

Camping

$8

$7.99

Tours (Hearst Castle™)

 $3.48 per ticket  $8 per ticket

 

Q12: Will California State Parks still use ReserveAmerica at any of the state park units?

A: No. As of July 26, 2017, California State Parks will no longer use ReserveAmerica. The department is grateful for the service of this vendor and appreciates their continued support.

Q13: Will the new service have my reservation that I made a few months ago?

A: Yes. All existing reservations made through ReserveAmerica for stay-dates through February 2018 will be transferred to the new system and are accessible to visitors.  

Q14: Will I still be able to walk up and camp or will I always need a reservation?

A: Yes, you may still enjoy walk-up camping. Some sites will remain first-come, first-served. View Details

Q15: I already have an account with ReserveAmerica. Will I need to create a new account?

A: Yes, you will need to create a new account/customer profile on the new system. Customer accounts from ReserveAmerica will not transfer to the new system. To create a new account, visit www.ReserveCalifornia.com

Q16: Will more state parks have reservations available online on ReserveCalifornia™?

A: Yes, an additional 41 state parks will be added to the new service. The parks will be added incrementally through 2018. Currently visitors are able to book at 110 parks. Information on the new parks will be provided as they are added to the system.

Q17: Will ReserveCalifornia™ impact any of California State Park’s annual, seasonal or discount passes?

A: Yes, but only for current Distinguished Veteran (DVP) and Disabled Discount (DDP) pass holders. We are modernizing the way we manage these programs. If you have one of these passes, please visit us online at www.parks.ca.gov/passexchange to view information on how to exchange your current pass for a new credit card design pass.

We are asking current pass holders to visit one of the 47 designated state park locations so they may continue to easily access state parks. It is important to note that current pass holders under the DVP and DDP programs may continue to use their current pass for walk up (first-come, first-serve) camping and day use through February 28, 2018. Old passes will not be valid after these dates.

Q18: What type of activities are available in California’s state park system?

A: California State Parks protects and preserves the state's most significant natural and cultural resources while delivering public spaces to bring families and friends together and providing a wide array of recreational opportunities for the benefit and enjoyment of all people. Off-highway motor vehicle recreation, boating activities, horseback riding, on and off-road cycling, hiking, camping, and rock climbing are some of the recreational activities enjoyed in 280 state parks organized into 22 field districts throughout the state.