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LOOKING FOR ANSWERS ABOUT CAMPNAB?

Frequently Asked Questions

For a lot of folks, Campnab seems a bit weird at first. So, we compiled a list of common questions we receive about our service. If you’re unsure about something, you’ll probably find the answer below. If not, please feel free to start a chat discussion, and we’ll provide a response as quickly as we can. Thanks for your interest in Campnab! 🤙

About

What’s all this nabbing about?

Eric hated how campsites were booked months in advance. He figured that if he could track cancellations, he could nab a spot for his family. So, he made Campnab: a campsite availability tracker. Along the way, he realized that others might also benefit from it. This led us to share it with other campers—who also found success with it! Here’s a video that tells our story.

Do you book a campsite for me?

Nope. That’s not our deal. We just monitor the availability of spaces in campgrounds and let you know when there’s a vacancy. It’s up to you to research which one is right for you, and make the booking via the park’s reservations system.

How does it work?

You fill in the form on our homepage, noting your camping preferences. You also provide your mobile phone number, preferred scan/plan, and payment information. Once complete, we scan your selected park for a cancellation. If one comes available we send you a text message so you can nab it.

Can you help me book a spot when parks open up for reservations?

Unfortunately, no, that’s not what our service is about. In fact, Campnab provides no value to you on opening day. Instead, you’ll need to do your research, get up early on opening morning, be signed into the park’s site, and act fast. If you’re well prepared, you might not even need us at all. However, if you aren’t successful, that’s where Campnab comes in. You can use our service to spot campsite reservations that get canceled between opening morning and your preferred arrival date.

Who made this?

An Eric and another Eric at a design studio called smashLAB, in beautiful Vancouver, BC. We’re both active in the outdoors, and love camping with our respective families. ⛺️

Does Campnab really work?

Yes—Campnab absolutely works. It monitors parks for cancelations and sends you an alert when an opening matches your criteria. That said, it isn’t magic. The app doesn’t create availabilities. So, if no one cancels a spot that meets your criteria, you won’t receive an alert.

For this reason, we recommend putting the odds in your favor. Scan more than one park and try for multiple campgrounds within each park. Turn on Flexible Dates. Set a short minimum duration. Don’t add too many filters. Also, trying for mid-week openings can help.

Can I download an iOS or Android app for Campnab?

You don’t need to. It all works in your web browser. 😀

Pricing

Is Campnab free?

Nope. Eric and I have built a number of products over the years. We’ve learned that free products typically don’t last as the maintenance, support, and costs become onerous. Free products tend to fizzle out or (eventually) need to generate revenue. Some free products switch to a paid model. Others fill their pages with ads. Yet others sell access to your personal data.

We want to be around for the long run to help people like you get out camping more. When you pay for Campnab, you sponsor the ongoing development of our product. Your purchase goes to paying my wage and Eric’s, as well as our technology costs. We look upon members like you as our patrons. Without you, it’d be impossible for us to do this work.

Can I have a free trial?

Nope—we don’t offer free trials. This is because Campnab is a small project. Every penny we earn from it helps us dedicate more time to making it better. That said, we do have an affiliate program that rewards members for helping us spread the word.

How much does it cost?

We offer two ways to use Campnab. The first is individual pay-per-use scans. These watch for vacancies at a specific park for a specific date. These work well if you know exactly when and where you're intending to camp. Pay-per-use scans cost $10 – $20, depending on how frequently you want us to check availability for you.

The second are memberships. These typically run monthly and are tailored to those who camp more frequently or are looking to maximize their chance of finding a site. A membership allows you to scan multiple parks and/or dates simultaneously. With memberships, you pay a monthly recurring fee ($10, $20, $30, or $50) depending on your needs.

We also offer annual memberships. These represent a greater commitment, but come at a notable cost savings.

Still not sure? This article goes over the benefits of a Campnab membership and this one looks at which Campnab plan is right for you. Not interested in reading? No problem! Here’s a video about Which Campnab Plan Is Right for Me?

Where does the money go?

Campnab revenue goes to two things: technology and time.

Scanning as we do requires a number of servers working to fulfill member requests. Additionally, we’ve sent over 350,000 alerts (as of December 2020). The costs to run these scans and send all those notifications add up pretty quickly.

It takes us a surprising amount of time and effort to build and maintain this service. This includes ensuring uptime, adding new features, and making ongoing improvements. Also, there’s the one-on-one support we offer. The two of us are always on call to help members like you with your questions.

Essentially: without your membership, we couldn’t offer this service to you. So, thanks for making this possible!

What are the benefits of a Campnab membership?

Pay-per-use scans are fine for occasional campers. However, memberships offer a lot of added benefits to more regular outdoors-people.

Most notably, memberships allow you to:

  • Run several ongoing scans at a lower overall cost
  • Edit your scans at any time
  • Scan for any date in the next 12 months
  • Filter by camping requirements and vehicle type
  • Scan for specific campsites
  • Get personalized support from a real human
  • Sponsor ongoing development

Looking for more about the above points? Check out this blog article for added detail.

Which Campnab plan should I go with?

The answer to this question depends entirely on what kind of camper you are. If you only plan to camp once a year, a pay-per-use scan might be all you need. If you camp mostly in the summer months, a monthly membership is a nice upgrade. It offers you more options and better overall value. If you’re a year-round RVer, an annual membership offers added savings (but requires a minimum commitment of one year).

One other consideration is which plan tier you choose. In many areas, one of our lower-priced tiers will do fine. That said, some folks need more options. They want to monitor more parks/dates, or they want their scans to run at a higher frequency. This scan rate is particularly useful if you camp at popular parks (e.g., Yosemite) because new openings at those parks get rebooked quickly.

You can find more a more detailed explanation of your plan options in this article: Which Campnab Plan Is Right for You?

Do I need the highest-priced Campnab plan?

Absolutely not. Many are served well with the $10/month plan, and we encourage you to sign up for that and see if it works for you. Should you need to run a greater number of scans, you can upgrade—but there’s no rush to do that.

However, in California or Florida, canceled spots are often rebooked quickly. For this reason, we encourage those camping at popular parks (like Yosemite or Bahia Honda) to start with a plan that runs scans at a greater frequency.

Is Campnab worth it?

The answer to this question depends on you. If you have spare time, you can avoid using Campnab and instead manually Refresh parks’ booking pages to check for availabilities. If you don’t have the time to bother with that, Campnab automates the process. For some, this convenience is valuable. For others, it’s less so.

If I sign up with a lower-price plan, can I upgrade later?

Yes. When you do, the system will pro-rate your existing purchase and apply the balance to the new purchase. 😎

What do you mean by “concurrent scans“?

When you sign up for a Campnab membership, you can run a few different scans at the same time. We call these concurrent scans, as they can be run in tandem.

Each of these scans can be set with unique scan parameters (park, campground, date, duration, filters). The lowest-price membership includes 3 scans. The highest-price membership includes 15.

Can I cancel my membership at the end of the summer?

Yes—you can cancel your monthly membership at any time. That said, we don’t refund for the current month (as you’ve used the service for part of it). Please do note, though, that this is a side-project we can only put so much time into. When you keep your membership active, you sponsor us in the ongoing development of Campnab. So, if you don’t cancel, we’re cool with that, too. 😉

Do you keep my money if I don’t find a campsite?

You betcha! You’re paying us to monitor campsites for you. There’s no way for us to guarantee that one will come available. That said, if you give adequate time, odds are high that someone will cancel their reservation—and you can nab a sweet site!

Why do subscriptions auto-renew?

Subscriptions automatically renew for your convenience. This approach ensures that any scan you created continues to run free of interruption, right up to your planned arrival date.

That said, it’s easy to cancel your Campnab membership. Just visit your Plan page and click “Cancel your plan”. You’ll still be able to use your plan until the end of your paid term.

I didn’t know I had to pay. How do I cancel?

Supplying your phone number only allows us to verify your phone number, and ensure you can receive messages. It doesn’t sign you up for anything. Unless you selected a membership/pay-per-use option, clicked “Purchase Notification”, and inserted your credit card number, you have not bought anything and there is nothing you need to cancel.

Can I buy a Campnab gift certificate?

Not yet, but we’re working on this. We plan to use our promo codes to distribute gift cards/certificates. The challenge is that our current promo code system is out-of-date and not built for this task. That said, we’ve roughed out a design for this page and sorted out the general mechanics. So, hopefully, it’ll be ready in not-so-long.

Do you bill on a calendar month or the anniversary of the first scan?

Subscriptions renew on the anniversary of you creating your first scan. Another note worth keeping in mind: If you no longer need Campnab, you should cancel before the renewal date. (You can do this by visiting your Plan page and then clicking “Cancel your plan”.) That way it will run until the end of your paid period—but not auto-renew at the end of that billing cycle.

Can I switch from a pay-per-use scan to a membership?

Yes—absolutely. You can switch to a membership via the Dashboard, in the Plan section. When you do, the amount you’ve already paid will be pro-rated and applied toward the first month.

Do you offer Campnab promo codes?

We don’t offer promo codes at this time. That said, we do have an Affiliate program that rewards members for sharing Campnab with their friends.

Do you refund me if I don’t receive any alerts?

Nope. When you sign up for Campnab, you’re effectively hiring us to search on your behalf. That’s all. We don’t control the supply of campsites and can’t force someone to cancel. As such, we can’t say whether you’ll get any alerts.

Plus, you set the parameters of your scan. The way you do this plays a huge part in what results you’ll see. The more reasonable your criteria, the better your odds. Here are some tips for getting more alerts.

We also can’t guarantee that you’ll book a campsite from an alert we send. Lots of people are looking, and someone might beat you to it. That said, those who are patient and persistent often do find success—even at super-popular campgrounds.

Trust

Is Campnab legit?

Absolutely! We’re just two people working on a little app and we’ve done so since 2017. You can read reviews on our website or see some Campnab reviews on Facebook. Still not sure? Feel free to send us an email or start a chat session (using the chat button on the side of your screen) to ask us questions if you’d like.

Do you resell campsite reservations?

That’s a hard no. We do not resell campsite reservations, and have no plans to. Such practices aren’t good for anyone, and often result in unscrupulous parties making it harder for campers to find spots. If you have a campsite reservation that you can’t use, we ask you to do the right thing, and cancel your spot. If you do so early enough, you’ll likely get a partial refund. More importantly, you’ll help someone else get out camping—instead of letting the campsite go unused.

Are you hoarding campsites?

Absolutely not. We help identify when a park has an availability—that’s all. We don’t book on your behalf. We don’t hoard campsites. And we don’t sell campsite reservations at inflated rates.

Are you skimming money from our parks system?

No. In fact, we consider Campnab to be an ally to parks, as we help fill campgrounds that might otherwise go unused (and not paid for). Campnab is made available at no cost to your region. Additionally, it helps maximizes campground utilization, which increases revenue for these parks. Even better yet, Campnab helps a greater number of people find a way to enjoy camping!

Do you guarantee success?

The service absolutely does work, but results vary. We can’t control when cancellations come up. We only monitor them and notify members. Sometimes someone cancels a booking and sometimes not.

For example: I had a scan running on Manning Park for the Canada Day long weekend, and didn’t receive a single cancellation notification. On the other hand, Eric S. (who built the system) received a handful of notifications for the same busy weekend, at a different park.

In our first year, we found that up to 4,000 new spots opened up, almost every day, throughout the summer (in BC and Ontario alone). So, otherwise sold-out campsites do open up all the time.

How do I know that your site is secure?

If you check the URL field in your browser window, you’ll see a lock icon. This indicates that communications between your browser and our web server are encrypted. This type of connection is built to prevent anyone from reading or modifying the data you exchange with the website.

When it comes to payment, we rely on Stripe for processing. Stripe is certified with the most stringent level of certification in the payments industry and is fully PCI (payment card industry) compliant. Stripe encrypts all card numbers at rest with AES-256 and they store decryption keys are stored on separate machines. You can read more about Stripe’s security policies on their website.

Your credit card information is handled directly by Stripe and we have no way of gaining access to your card number or other sensitive information. We just request payment and they tell us whether or not the charge was successful.

Do you share my information with third-parties?

We don’t sell or share your private information with any third-party. That said, we do rely on Stripe for payment processing. When you sign up for our service, you provide them with some information (name, credit card information, email address) to make your payment.

Stripe is a trusted service that’s used by many organizations on the web. You can learn more about how Stripe’s certification and processes in the section titled How do I know that your site is secure?

We also run Google Analytics to understand site activity and usage patterns. That said, the data we see through Google Analytics is anonymized and we can’t track it specifically to you.

How many alerts have you sent?

The last time we checked (December 2020) our campsite availability checker had sent over 350,000 alerts. Lots, right?

Do you have testimonials from Campnab users?

We do! Check out the Reviews page, or, you can take a look at the ones that members have added to the Reviews area on our Facebook page.

Parks Monitoring

How do I set up a campsite notifications scan?

Using your desktop or smartphone’s web browser visit our homepage and search for the park you’re interested in. Then select the campground you wish to stay at. Once you have, you can add filters (if you get a Campnab membership) for the kind of campsite you need. You can also note your preferred arrival date and the duration of your stay.

The system will then prompt you for your mobile phone number. After you do, you can choose from a pay-per-use scan or a monthly subscription. You’ll also select what tier of service you prefer. When you complete this process, Campnab will start monitoring that park based on your criteria.

BTW: We created a step-by-step walkthrough about how to create a scan that monitors sold-out campgrounds for new availabilities. You’ll find it on YouTube titled How Do I Set up a Campsite Notifications Scan?

Is Campnab always scanning/online?

Campnab runs 24/7 so we can supply you with notifications of newly available campsites as quickly as possible. That said, we do sometimes run into obstacles. For example, if the parks’ websites are down/unresponsive, we can’t pull anything from them.

Additionally, the underlying technology used by each jurisdiction is continually changing. As such, we sometimes experience temporary issues. That said, we do actively monitor system performance, and do our best to keep it running smoothly for you.

If you think something is amiss, tell us via chat. We take uptime seriously, and will drop everything to ensure Campnab is doing as we promise.

What regions can you monitor?

We started with parks in British Columbia, as we live here—and initially made this service so we could find campsite openings for our families. We added Ontario Parks, shortly after as we have family members out that way. Since then, we also added Canada’s National Parks (because how could we not?).

Our campsite availability checker scans areas managed by recreation.gov (America) and Reserve America. We’re able to scan National Parks in the United States for canceled reservations.

We also monitor availabilities at state parks in Alaska, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

More recently, we added service for Tacoma Public Utilities, Nova Scotia Parks, and Alberta’s Provincial Parks. As we add jurisdictions, we’ll note them in our newsfeed.

What’s the difference between a park, campground, and campsite?

Although folks often use these terms interchangeably, each is unique. A park is an area of land. A campground is an area in which people can camp (there can be many campgrounds in one park). A campsite is a place where people (typically a family or group) can camp.

BTW: You can find even more answers in Campnab’s Pretty Darned Useful Glossary of Camping Terms.

Can I scan for a whole month?

We don’t yet have a way to do full month scans. To date, we’ve avoided this as we don’t want to put undue pressure on parks’ booking systems. That said, a lot of folks have requested this possibility. As such, we’re exploring better ways to accommodate this functionality.

In the meanwhile, there is a workaround. If you have a membership, you can run a handful of subsequent scans over the month. For example, the Awesome Plan allows you to run 7 scans. You could create a number of those, and select “Flexible Dates” (covering a 5-day spread) when you do.

This approach allows you to monitor a pretty wide period. Additionally, as you find the spots you want, you can repurpose those scan slots to run for different dates/parks.

How often does your application scan a particular campsite?

Pay-per-use scans run every 60, 20, or 5 minutes, depending on the tier you select. If you’re on a plan, scans run every 15, 10, or 5 minutes—again, depending on the tier. (On a handful of extremely popular parks, we scan every 2 minutes on the Awesome and Mega tiers.)

Why don’t you scan more frequently?

Our scans run as frequently as every 5 minutes. In our opinion, this is an optimal recurrence for two reasons. The first is that scans take time to complete. As such, scanning more frequently than this is effectively redundant as your scans would overlap.

The second is out of respect for our parks services. We don’t want to inundate them with unnecessary requests that become a nuisance. We built our system to help get people into parks, without over-tasking any of these services. (We’ve done a lot of work behind the scenes to be as efficient as possible.)

How long can I edit my scan for?

Pay-per-use scans can be edited for the first 24 hours, or until you receive your first alert. With a membership, you can edit your scans whenever you’d like, with no limitations. You can change the date, switch the park, or adjust your filters—whatever you need.

Can you book a campsite for me when parks open for reservations?

We get this question from a lot of folks. Campnab doesn’t do this and we never will. It would give some people an unfair advantage over others, and that’d be kind of crappy for everyone.

All our service does is notify you when a campsite matching your requirements becomes available. This helps you avoid hitting the Refresh button manually, day in and day out. It also means campsites get utilized.

Out of curiosity, I’ve looked for apps that programmatically book campsites when they open for reservations. So far, I haven’t found anything of the sort. And, if someone were to create such an app, I suspect that parks systems would quickly shut them down. (FWIW: We don’t consider bots a real concern. Here’s a video that explains why.)

Admittedly, someone could be running a script that we don’t know about. However, even Parks Canada has researched this. In this CBC article, they note: “Of course, we don't want people to be using a script or a bot or anything, and there's no evidence of that.”

Doesn’t your service just slow down parks’ websites?

We’re very careful about how we access data from parks’ websites. When possible we integrate with their APIs. We also adhere to any policies/limits they put forth.

Also, we believe that our service can reduce the load on these systems, as one scan can amalgamate the searches of multiple individuals. Imagine, for example, 20 people all looking for a specific date and park. Instead of each of them hitting Refresh repeatedly, our system consolidates those searches into a single query.

We’ve put a lot of effort into optimizing how our scans and systems run. Much like when we’re out in nature, we do our best to leave no trace.

Why are some campgrounds broken up by “loops”?

We don’t control this information. We pull it directly from the parks’ booking systems. This part is tricky, as some break their campgrounds up into smaller loops. Others house all of their campsites under a single park listing with no campground categorization. Yet others have names that don’t necessarily correlate with the maps on their websites. This all varies greatly based on how each park sorts its information. (We’re often surprised by how strangely campground data is structured.)

Campground scans

How do I edit my scans?

You can edit your scans by visiting the Scans screen. Then click “Edit scan” on the scan you’d like to edit. This will pull up the scan creation page with all of your current scan details set. Just change these preferences as you’d like.

How do I pause a scan?

You can pause a scan by visiting the Scans screen. Then locate the scan you want to pause in the section titled “Your active scans” and click the Pause button. Doing so will move it to the section titled “Your paused scans”. To turn the scan back on, click the Play button.

How do I delete a scan?

If you no longer need a scan and wish to clean up your scans list, you can visit the Scans screen in your dashboard. From there, locate the scan you want to remove. Click the Delete button (X) to remove it permanently.

Is it possible to set up a search for 2 sites close to each other?

The best way to tackle this one is to set up one search for that campground and grab whatever comes available. Then keep scanning and book the next one. (Odds are not great that these are side by side, but you never know.)

Then keep the scan running until the arrival date, and if something closer opens up, grab that one and cancel the one that’s further away.

Why don’t you scan every minute?

Technically, we could run scans more frequently, but we think this is a bad idea. First off, every scan takes time to run. Running a scan every minute would result in one scan starting before the other finished, which is sort of silly.

Additionally, we need to consider our impact on booking systems. Scanning once a minute would put undue strain on those systems. We feel that overloading booking systems would be irresponsible, and ultimately threaten the existence of services like ours.

When do scans run?

Some have asked if their scan starts running the moment they add it, or if these are rounded to a set clock time (e.g. on the hour and then every 5 minutes). The answer is neither.

We batch scans into jobs that are queued up in the system. They then start as other jobs finish. As a result, there can be a bit of variation between scan timing. That said, they run within a few seconds (give or take) of their scheduled frequency.

Are you scanning all parks at all times?

No, this would be inefficient and add unnecessary load to parks’ booking systems. We’re highly sensitive to this point, as we don’t want to become a burden. Instead, we only actively scan parks that members have signed up to monitor.

Features

What are the benefits of Campnab?

Here are a handful of reasons why we consider Campnab special—and how these benefits makes a difference for campers like you.

Campnab allows you to scan a lot of different parks

There are many campgrounds out there, and we can scan for availabilities at many of them (currently 3,200 parks, 7,000 campgrounds, and hundreds of permits). We have over 300,000 campsites in our directory from parks in Canada as well as the United States, and we’re working to add more.

Campnab lets you scan for backcountry permit availabilities

If you prefer to get into the backcountry, Campnab can help you scan for permit cancelations at parks in the United States and Canada. In the U.S., we can scan for more than 650 permits and tickets (tours, passes, permits, day use, backcountry, etc.) at parks booked through Recreation.gov. In Canada, we can scan for backcountry cancelations at several provincial and national parks.

Campnab’s filters help you refine your results

If you have vehicle or amenity requirements, our filtering capabilities can come in handy. Although these vary from one park to the next, you can typically filter by campsite type, vehicle length, ADA—and sometimes electrical hookups. You can also use our filtering to specify the exact campsites you’re interested in.

Campnab is ridiculously easy to use

We’ve put a lot of effort into making Campnab work the way it should. As a result, members often tell us that it just “felt good to use”. Upon visiting our homepage, our system will step you through creating a scan, opening an account, and choosing a plan/tier in just a few moments.

Campnab is run by real humans

We’re Eric S. and Eric K., and we’ve been friends since Eric K. had a mullet. We built this product for our own needs, and are thrilled to be offering it to campers like you. So, if you have a problem or question, we’re here for you. Click on the chat icon (center-right of screen) to start a discussion, or email us, or call us at our design studio: 604-683-2250. We’ll work with you one-on-one to get you what you need. Please note that there can be a delay if we’re out on our bikes, or spending time with our respective families.

Campnab is our obsession

Creating a campsite availability app isn’t all that hard. In fact, a number of hobbyists have tried their hand at doing so. That said, it soon gets tricky. Campsite booking systems often change or have strange glitches. Adding new jurisdictions takes time and introduces new challenges. Sometimes weird things happen on the booking systems and need to be investigated. At Campnab we’re continually improving the system, addressing issues, and monitoring uptime (sometimes when everyone else is fast asleep) to ensure we’re offering good value. This might be why our members are so fanatical about our service.

What are Flexible Dates?

Flexible Dates is an option that adds scanning for the two days before your preferred arrival date, and the two days after. If you’re open to arriving a little earlier/later, this typically increases the number of alerts you can expect to receive. You can turn Flexible Dates on from the toggle next to the arrival date picker.

Do you monitor wilderness permits?

We currently monitor a number of wilderness permits in Canada and the United States for cancelations / new availabilities. That said, these are tricky because they’re often managed differently than campground reservations. As such, we haven’t added scanning for availabilities of all wilderness permits, but we do scan many hundreds of them.

Can I filter searches (ADA, hookups, etc.)?

You sure can! Start by creating your scan and selecting your desired park and campgrounds. Once you have, you’ll see the option to add filters to your campsite monitoring scan. (Please note that the available filters will vary from one park to the next, based on how that jurisdiction is set up.)

Can you add [feature] to Campnab?

Since launching, a number of folks have contacted us to request new features and improvements. Although we can’t always act on these requests immediately, we do welcome and value the input.

In fact, we love when members like you share your ideas, suggestions, and even frustrations with Campnab. This feedback informs how we improve the product and which features we prioritize development of. So, feel free to start a discussion with us or email your requests to us.

Can I scan for a specific campsite?

YAAAS YOU CAN! We just added this feature, and it’s pretty handy. Site-specific scanning is useful if you want to know exactly which campsites you want to stay at. (Obviously, this reduces the number of alerts you can expect to receive.)

Site-specific scanning is available to all Campnab members on a plan. To set one up, create a scan from our homepage as you normally would. Select the park and campground. Then, click/tap “Specific sites” to choose the campsites you wish to monitor.

Do you scan for backcountry permits?

We’ve been working on adding scanning of backcountry permits for canceled reservations for the past while. This is a challenging one to add, as even within a single booking system, permits are managed in several different ways.

As of early-March 2021, we’re able to scan for a number of backcountry permits on recreation.gov. In early April 2021, we added scanning of BC’s backcountry permits. Some have been more challenging than others to monitor, so, we can’t yet scan all of them.

Backcountry permits on other booking systems will be slower to come. This is because it takes time to integrate with each booking system—and we some are in less demand than others.

Campsite availability alerts

Do I receive only one alert?

No—you’ll keep receiving new alerts as spots open up, right up to your arrival date. (You can pause these alerts if you no longer need them.) That said, it is possible that you’ll receive no alerts. Your scan parameters—and luck—will play a part in this. Check out this video for tips on how to optimize your scans, so, you can maximize your chances of finding a canceled campsite reservation.

I only want a few specific sites. Will I be notified every 5 minutes for every open site, or just when one switches from reserved to open?

If you only care about a few specific sites in the campground, I recommend a monthly plan as it will allow you to filter out all but the campsites you want.

That said, if you choose a pay-per-use scan, you’ll receive an alert about those available sites once. After that, you’ll only receive alerts on sites that switch from reserved to open.

Why don’t you send campsite notifications by email?

Our system is entirely built on text messaging. We did so for two reasons. The first is that you don’t need to worry about new campsite availability notifications getting caught in a spam filter.

The second (and more important) one is that some reservations can get rebooked in less than a minute. Text messages are faster and grab your attention. This gives you a better chance at booking that spot.

I should also note that we don’t abuse this method of connection. We never share members’ phone numbers with any other parties. Also, we only send notifications. You can pause these, or stop them entirely, at any time.

What if nothing comes available?

That’s just the way this life works out sometimes, dude/dudette/dudex. You’ve got to roll with it.

How do I improve my odds?

First, select as many campgrounds as you’re willing to. You can scan up to 6 campgrounds in a park, per scan.

Try setting your alert for a shorter stretch (e.g., minimum 1 night, not 7). You’ll still be notified of longer openings, but you’ll also be alerted to shorter ones. (If you have an RV, you could move between a couple of different spots in the same park.)

If you’re open to it, you might also benefit by turning on Flexible Dates (under the date picker). This will add scanning for the two days before your preferred arrival date, and the two days after—at no added cost.

Don’t get carried away with filters. Filters only remove results, and this reduces the number of alerts you’ll receive. So, applying fewer filtering parameters can help.

Set your scans as early as possible—but, expect to receive more notifications in the weeks leading up to your chosen date. This makes sense, as people’s plans tend to solidify as their planned date approaches, and will cancel their booking if it’s no longer needed.

If the parks you’re looking at are particularly popular, spots might also be getting booked by others before you get the alert. Sometimes upgrading to a plan tier that scans more frequently can help.

Also, patience and persistence pays off. You may receive several alerts but not manage to nab the campsite on the first go. That said, many users report success after a few missed chances.

Act on notifications immediately—spots go quickly!

If you’d like, this video: “How Do I Get More Campsite Alerts” and this one: “Why Don’t I Receive Campsite Alerts” also contain some recommendations.

Want more ideas for improving your odds of finding a website? Check these 10 tips for setting up a camp alert that gets you a campsite reservation.

Do you provide a direct link to the campsite?

We do this whenever we can. Some parks have a discrete permalink for each campsite. In these cases we provide the link. Unfortunately, some reservation systems don’t offer this functionality.

We can’t provide direct links for reservation systems that don’t have permalinks for individual campsites or campgrounds (because there’s nothing for us to point you to). In these cases, the link we provide will take you to the reservation system home page.

When I get the alert, how long do I have to book the site?

That’s not something we control. That said, if you receive an alert we recommend clicking on the link contained in it as quickly as possible.

You could click and find that someone has already beat you to the spot. Or, it might sit unbooked for hours. It all depends on the campsite, how popular it is, and who else is looking for that same date.

I should stress that this year is extremely competitive. As such, I suspect newly available spots will get rebooked quickly.

Can I set a custom ring tone for Campnab alerts?

You sure can! We recommend doing this. It’s a great way to make new campsite availability alerts stand out from your other incoming text messages. Our only request: if you receive an alert from us while you’re driving, please be safe and pull to the side of the road to check it.

How to set a custom ring tone on Android devices

  • Select the conversation from us (1-877-626-0108)
  • Tap the menu icon (three dots) in the top right
  • Tap Details
  • Tap Notifications
  • Tap Sound
  • Select a tone
  • Tap the back arrow, Save, or OK

How to set a custom ring tone on iOS devices

  • Select the conversation from us (1-877-626-0108)
  • Tap the arrow (beside the phone number) to expand options
  • Tap info
  • Tap info button
  • Tap Create new contact
  • (Optional) Type “Campnab Alerts” in the Company field
  • Scroll to Text Tone and tap
  • Select the Alert Tone you like
  • Tap Done (top-right corner)
  • Tap Done again

What information do your text alerts contain?

Each text alert our campsite availability checker sends notes the park, campground(s), duration, and arrival date. We also note the site number. However, if there are multiple sites, we just say “sites”—to avoid sending a super-long text message. We also provide a link back to that park’s booking page when that’s possible (sometimes this goes to the specific site, campground, or homepage, depending on that specific booking system).

Why did I receive two alerts for the same campsite, a few minutes apart?

Typically this is a result of someone not completing their reservation. So, let’s say an alert comes up. You and another person both receive the same notification, but they act faster than you. This means that by the time you get to the booking page, the opening is no longer available.

If they change their mind and don’t complete the reservation process, that campsite toggles from Unavailable to Available—and it’ll probably get spotted when your scan next runs. Or, if that person is slow to complete their reservation, it might get released from their cart and also become available.

The other scenario that causes this to happen is when a booking system has some kind of error that causes a campsite to toggle from available to unavailable out of error. This doesn’t happen often, but we’ve seen this a few times over the years.

There’s a spot available but I didn’t receive an alert. What happened?

This is typically due to a discrepancy between your scan parameters and the availability. For example, if your search is for a minimum of 3 nights and the availability is only 2 nights, you won’t be alerted. Sometimes a filter (let’s say vehicle length) filters out that opening. Or it might be a matter of not having the right campground selected.

If you think there’s an error, carefully compare the opening with your scan (you can access it from your scans screen). Odds are you’ll find something different between the two. If you’re still convinced there’s an issue, let us know. We can investigate and see if something is awry—and potentially fix that issue.

What if a natural disaster affects a park? Will I still get alerts?

As tragic as it is, forest fires, water shortages, seasonal floods, and other disasters affect parks. These situations arise suddenly and change quickly. As such, even if a park’s website makes mention of such a disaster, their booking systems might not reflect these issues.

As our scanning service references data from these booking systems, there are limits to what we can monitor. Campnab effectively looks for when a campsite switches from Reserved to Available. It has no way of knowing if a disaster or local policy might prevent you from booking that campsite. (Also, we scan far too many parks to monitor this information manually.)

As such, any scan you set up will continue to monitor on your behalf—and produce alerts as the system observes them.

Resolving issues

Why aren‘t I receiving text messages from you?

Most times when this happens, it’s because the member responded STOP to the text messages. Doing so prevents all text messages from being sent to you. So, first, check if you did this. If you did, just respond UNSTOP to that text message and we’ll once again be able to send text messages to your number.

If this is not the case, there might be a carrier problem. You can check with your carrier to see if text messages from us are being blocked. Alternatively, you can email us and we can look into the issue and help get it sorted.

Why haven’t I received any alerts yet?

You want a campsite, and the sooner the better, right? We get it! (Seriously, we do.) That said, we don’t control the inventory—we only look for openings. So, aside from providing suggestions for getting more alerts, there isn’t anything we can do.

We encourage you to be patient. If it’s January, and you’re looking for an opening in July, you might have to wait a while. Most people’s plans change closer to their arrival date. So, stay calm and cross your fingers. Campsites do become available. FWIW: We’ve sent more than 350,000 alerts since we launched.

My queries have gone quiet. Do I need to refresh them?

You shouldn’t need to do anything. Sometimes there are periods where people’s plans are in flux and fewer/more cancellations come up. Additionally, we tend to find that there are more cancellations as the date approaches and campers’ plans solidify.

That said, if you think something’s wrong, we’re happy to look into your scans and see if there’s an underlying issue. Just send us an email and note which scan you’re concerned about. We’ll then check it and confirm that it’s working, or resolve any issues.

Why do I get alerts for reserved campsites?

Another camper probably beat you to it. Some sites (e.g. Yosemite) are in high demand, and get booked in minutes.

This also might relate to the plan you are on. If your scans run every 15 minutes, and someone else’s run every 5, they have a 10 minute head start on you.

So, when you receive an alert, act on it immediately. If you keep missing out, perhaps consider upgrading to a higher-frequency plan.

Looking for more tips on booking a hard to get campsite? Read this post for some additional tips.

I need help! Who do I talk to?

We can lend a hand. You can start a chat session and one of us will answer your questions. (If we’re online, we’ll respond immediately. If not, leave your email when prompted to ensure you receive our replies.)

Why am I not receiving campsite alerts?

There are several reasons you might not be receiving alerts. It could have something to do with the park. Perhaps their booking window isn’t yet open. Or, the campsite might be closed.

Alternatively, there might be an issue with your scan. Perhaps your minimum duration is too long. Your scan criteria might be overly specific or infrequent. Or, you might be scanning too far ahead—and just need to wait a while.

In some rare situations your phone provider might ​be blocking texts, or, there might be a problem with the scan. Looking for more detail on the above points? This video titled “Why Don’t I Receive Campsite Alerts” might prove helpful.

I was notified of a two-day opening, but the park requires a three-day booking on long weekends? Why did you notify me?

Our system effectively looks for campsites that have switched from unavailable to available. Campnab doesn’t factor in local policies for that park/region—as there’s no practical way for us to do so (especially across so many thousands of parks).

As such, the onus is on you to research the park’s booking requirements and policies. (Of which there are many, and some of them are sort of weird.) Once you’re familiar with these, you can use that knowledge to inform how you set up your campsite scan.

Other questions

Are bots to blame for all of the campsites being booked?

The short answer: Probably not. A few years back, some private companies reserved spots en-masse, and then made them available for resale. Those services were unethical and didn’t last long. (You can search for these services and find that their websites are now inactive.)

Most parks require you to create a personal account to make reservations. These reservations typically can’t be transferred to others, which thwarts resellers’ efforts. (In some areas, the park will check your identification upon arrival to ensure that it matches the booking information.)

The real problem is that camping is popular and there are only so many spots. (Consider Yosemite, which is visited by millions of people a year, but only has hundreds of campsites.) Campers know this—and an army of them is ready to book, on opening morning. This means spots at popular parks get snapped up instantly.

Campnab could be classified as a bot. That said, we don’t book anything. We only notify people about openings. Want to read more about bots and camping? Here’s an article we wrote: Are Bots Ruining Camping at Popular Parks?

Or, you could watch this video: “Let’s Talk About Camping Bots”. In this video, Eric K. looks at what many think bots are, and why such a possibility isn’t a significant concern. With that out of the way, he examines what the more likely issue is—and how we might remedy it, together. 🤙

What are the alternatives to Campnab?

Sites like Boondocks Welcome, Campertunity, and Hipcamp allow you to search for camping on private lands. You can also camp on public lands (but first check with the Bureau of Land Management to learn what’s involved). There are also many private campgrounds to consider. You can check this article on Campnab alternatives for more options and added detail.

Is Campnab on social media?

Yes, but we aren’t doing much there—because we’re building Campnab and spending time outside in the sun. If you still want to connect, you’ll find us on FacebookYouTubeTwitter, and Instagram. One more thing: if you nab a campsite through Campnab, perhaps take a photo of your trip and tag #campnab in it. We’d love to see where our service helped take you!

I represent a parks board. Can you monitor our region?

We’re certainly eager to pursue these sorts of partnerships—and bring Campnab to more people. That said, it does take us some time to adapt the system to new regions. To discuss your region, and how we can work together, email your request to us, chat with us, or call one of the Erics at 604-683-2250.

Are you “powered by recreation.gov”?

Campnab is not affiliated with, endorsed by, maintained by, or in any way officially connected with the parks we scan—nor their technology providers. That said, organizations like recreation.gov do allow third-parties to access their data through programs like their Recreation Information Database (RIDB). We’re grateful that we’re able to build upon services like these, and in turn help people go camping.

Should I tell my friends about Campnab?

Totally—we’d love that! Join our Affiliate program, and use your custom link. We’ll pay you $3.00 when they purchase a single scan, or $7.00 when they subscribe to a Campnab membership.

Do you work with influencers?

We don’t do much of this, as we prefer for word-of-mouth to spread more organically. That said, we do operate a small ambassador program. It allows us to partner with a handful of campers who share their stories online (typically through video).

This is a very low-key setup in which they get access to our system and provide feedback. We also welcome them to share their unvarnished Campnab experiences (be they good, bad, or mediocre).

If you’d like to apply to become a Campnab ambassador, we welcome you to send us an email noting why you’re interested in partnering. (Please include links to your YouTube channel and social profiles.)

Why is it so hard to book a campsite?

We can’t say for certain, but we have some hunches. First, a lot of us work on screens all day. This leaves us craving time outdoors, in the fresh air. Part of this also relates to nostalgia. Those of us who grew up camping want to share the experience with our kids.

Every time a campsite opens for reservations, it is slammed by thousands upon thousands of campers ready to book. They are signed in, have their campsite selected, and immediately click Reserve. It’s also worth noting that a lot of sites can be booked for long durations.

If you just run the math on how many spots are available at a campground—and how many people are ready to book—you see why they sell out so quickly. Some tour companies and employers enlist their staff to click en masse—in attempts to secure any reservations possible.

One big issue is that folks often book more than they need. Last week, a fellow mentioned to us that he typically books 23 days at Killbear and then cancels the ones he doesn’t want. This just illustrates how many “booked” campsites might not get used.

The pandemic only makes this worse, as many who’d otherwise travel internationally are now looking for domestic options. This means a lot of folks who’ve never camped before are planning to this summer. (One RV dealer we recently spoke with noted that their January 2021 sales were 300% higher than in an ordinary year.)

So, this year will be tough for camping. That said, we bet that once the pandemic passes we’ll see numbers normalize somewhat—and supply will be more available. (Fingers crossed!)

What doesn’t Campnab do?

Campnab doesn’t give you an advantage when parks open for reservations. Campnab doesn’t immediately find sites the moment you sign up. Campnab doesn’t control the supply of available campsites. Campnab doesn’t book the campsite for you. Campnab doesn’t resell camping reservations. Campnab doesn’t guarantee you a reservation. The only thing Campnab does is help you spot cancelled campsite reservations. The rest is up to you. Here’s a video with more information, titled: “What Doesn’t Campnab Do?”.

Can I sell my camping reservation through your site?

Nope—we don’t reserve or sell campsites.

Depending on where you live, you might be able to sell it on Craigslist or Kijiji. (You can check the parks’ website to see if this is permitted.)

If you do, we recommend selling for no more than what you paid. We say this for two reasons. The first is that it’s the right thing to do. The second is that charging more than you paid might make others very angry.

Alternatively, you might be able to transfer your reservation to a friend or fellow camper. Some parks do allow this. Here’s a (hopefully still accurate) list of which parks do/don’t allow transfers.

The other thing you can do is to go back to your parks’ website, and cancel your booking there. You’ll likely be eligible for a partial refund, depending on their policies and how close you are to the arrival date.

Canceling is a good thing to do, as it means that someone else who wants the site will put it to use. This is just good karma—especially as there’s so much demand this year. Additionally, the pandemic has been hard on many. By canceling your reservation you help someone else get outdoors, which is a gift.

UNABLE TO RESERVE A CAMPSITE?

Get notified when a sold-out campground has availability

Tell us when, where, and how long you want to camp for. We’ll notify you (via SMS) when a suitable spot opens up at that campground—so you can nab that sold-out campsite reservation!

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