Anyone who’s tried to find and book a campsite on public land knows the struggle. Without an all-in-one metasearch engine — think Kayak or Expedia — for campgrounds, searching for campsites was a painful, time-consuming task. Now, with the release of its new mobile app, Hipcamp has streamlined the process, making it easier than ever to book right from your phone.
By the numbers, Hipcamp is impressive. With more than 300,000 sites available, it claims to be the largest resource of its kind in the United States. That number includes public park campsites and private campgrounds, making it easy to zero in on the site that fits your needs. Most impressive are the niche options available for specific types of camping. Hipcamp curates lists for lake camping, beach camping, pet-friendly campsites, and glamping (glamour camping) options. Like Airbnb, many of Hipcamp’s sites are unique and destination-worthy in their own right like this off-grid tiny cabin in Oregon, California’s The Sanctuary Treehouse, and this rustic campsite on a vineyard in Minnesota.
For at least a decade, most campground-booking engines around the country were siloed, closed off from one another. That made it almost impossible to do a quick, location-based search for, say, all available campsites in Yosemite this weekend or the best beach camping near Savannah, Georgia. Instead, it usually involved an arduous process of searching dozens of sites, all with different layouts, requirements, contact forms, payment systems, and owners. Even today, some systems aren’t online at all, forcing would-be campers to pick up the phone and — brace yourself — call the reservation office (the horror!).
There’s no shortage of peer-to-peer options for campers looking to reserve a temporary stay on their own secluded patch of Earth. Most, however, tend to cater to a specific niche. GlampingHub, for example, is the country’s largest booking engine for upscale camping, where campsites typically offer most, if not all, the comforts of home. On the other end of the spectrum is FreeHouse — a site dedicated to disconnected, off-grid accommodations where nature-lovers can expect a proper digital detox far from civilization. Hipcamp is unique with a comprehensive catalog that offers luxury and barebones accommodations, plus everything in between.
The Hipcamp app is free to download for iOS, and the company promises an Android version is in the works. Users can also book through the Hipcamp website. It’s free for campers to register, and money only changes hands when a site is reserved.
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