California Is Updating Its Camping Reservation System After Tons of Complaints

    After a major outcry over changes in how California state park campsites are reserved, the California State Parks Department is changing course.

    Last August, the state launched a new website called reservecalifornia.com, where campers would go to book campsites. Previously, the California State Parks Department had used a website called reserveamerica.com — the same website used by most other states in the country — to handle its reservations.

    Under the old system, campsites would open up for reservations at 8 a.m. on the first of the month six months in advance. For example, reservations would open on February 1 for all dates in August.

    On reservecalifornia.com, it was a little different. Campsites were open to book exactly six months in advance — so February 11 for August 11, February 12 for August 12, and so on. But campers found that the website also allowed people to extend existing reservations, which meant that someone hoping to reserve a campsite would find all the sites were already booked before he or she even had a shot at snagging a site.

    Many campers had problems with the new system. When the TV station KSBY covered the change, the story’s comments were flooded with people reporting problems.

    “Absolutely terrible! The problem is that once you have a reservation, you can modify it every week for $7.99 … FOREVER,” one user wrote. “Clearly someone is taking advantage of their ‘awesome’ new system. It’s been going on since day 1.”

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