Summer is upon us, and many of us are clamoring to break out of our routine city lives and disconnect from the technology that keeps us tethered to the world. But it’s not always easy to use that same technology to find the perfect place where we can truly become one with nature. Turns out, finding a campsite based on specific search criteria can be rather difficult.
But Eric Bach and Alyssa Ravasio are on a mission to help people enjoy the outdoors more frequently through Hipcamp, a search platform providing both public and private campground accommodations. Finding information online about federal, state, and local campgrounds, even in popular recreational areas like Lake Tahoe, can be challenging. This lack of information online inspired Bach and Ravasio to create a one stop shop for people to discover and book awesome campsites on public and private land. Through manual research, they’ve created the first comprehensive, searchable database of campsites across the country.
Photo by Colin Delehanty
Launched in 2013, Hipcamp puts all kinds of information that campers will find useful in one place, even tips from other campers. What might normally require hours of slogging through government websites, forums, Yelp reviews, and Flickr images to piece together details on amenities, permitted activities, and what the landscape of a site actually looks like, is now clearly presented on a campsite page.
Users can tailor their searches based on what’s important to them, like finding places with picnic tables, running water, and RV hookups, or those that feature a particular landscape like an ocean or lake nearby and offer activities like biking or surfing. Paired with reviews of on-ground experience and user-generated photos, the site’s data filtering makes it easier to go camping. You can even create a profile to save all your favorite campsites!
Many of the pages also link out so you can find more information and book your campsite, and Hipcamp is working on continuing to streamline the process with a feature that will enable users to book directly. Right now, booking directly on the website is the number one request from users. The company is advocating for a more open system to help people connect with their parks through a coalition called Access Land, which is made up of Hipcamp, the Sierra Club, REI, and Code for America. They hope to open up the camping industry like the rest of the travel industry has through Kayak for flights and Orbitz for hotels, so you’ll find more bookable accommodations via Hipcamp.
Photo by Sarah Vaughn
Hipcamp is the only place you can go to find information about national and state parks and forests listed in one spot online. According to Treehugger.com, the site is expanding on its coverage of 17 states, 1,004 parks, 4,206 campgrounds, and 143,635 campsites in an effort to get more people outside.
But Hipcamp is also bringing in undiscovered territory through their new Private Land Program, in which landowners are invited to rent their private land to campers, similar to how people open up their apartments and homes to tourists using Airbnb. This will introduce a new income stream for landowners and create opportunities for campers to explore uncharted, less crowded territory. For example, farmers in California could both preserve their land and diversify their income by providing private camping experiences. At the moment, Hipcamp is even offering $250 to landowners who sign up on their platform as well as anyone who refers a landowner who signs up.
Photo by Vic Garcia; All photos courtesy of Hipcamp
Hipcamp makes accessing America’s campsites easy for nature lovers by putting a wealth of information into one simple, searchable website. Plus, experiencing amazing areas of the U.S. through public and private camping destinations helps people connect with nature, and ultimately build a better understanding of why we need to protect our unpillaged land. Sounds like it’s the perfect time for getting a jumpstart on those summer road trip plans!
Read more Eco features here.