The pandemic really brought out everyone’s inner camper. Public campgrounds booked up for the entire summer super fast. And private campgrounds are also surprisingly full. So what can you do when you want to plan a camping trip at the last minute?
There is an alternative to booked out campgrounds and the risk of not getting a first-come-first-served site: Hipcamp. It works just like Airbnb. People can list their property for campers to reserve. Some are fancy, others just a patch of grass. The listings clearly state what is available (water, a fire pit, toilets, showers) and what sort of camping is acceptable (RVs, small tents, etc.).
Folks with listings on Hipcamp seems to be a bit more focused on marketing than traditional campgrounds so I find a lot more information and pictures on there. Also Hipcamp has reviews so you can see what other people thought of the options.
I ran a search on the July 4th weekend, near some popular destinations in Washington, and I see a number of attractive options.
The same search on all of Washington State Parks turned up zero options for those two nights.
I’ve only used Hipcamp once so far. For the last minute Memorial Day weekend trip. And our campground was nicer than most state and federal campgrounds I’ve seen. A couple bought the land four years ago and built a small home for themselves and seven very private campsites separated by dense hedges of salmon berries (which sadly were still a few weeks from being ripe).
The camp included a composting toilet and they provide potable water filtered from the well. The hosts also offered us eggs from their chickens, and hosted a sing along at the larger group fire pit (each campsite has a smaller private fire pit as well). Paul was the friendliest camp host I’ve ever met. All this for $30 per night.
I’ve already got another Hipcamp booking, for a Saturday in July when nothing else was available. And in the future I will be looking at Hipcamp alongside public campsites for my camping reservations.