You are here

Yosemite National Park Officials Instituting Reservation Program Changes To Stop Campsite Scalping


With hopes of bringing an end to the scalping of campsites, Yosemite National Park officials will require that visitors show some identification to claim their campsites, and won't allow reservations to be transferred to anyone else.

Campsite scalping has been a growing problem in Yosemite in recent years, with reserved sites being offered for sale on Craigslist. The other day park officials announced three changes to bring this practice to a halt:

* All visitors checking into a campsite will have to show identification upon arrival at the Campground Reservation Office. Currently, campers do not need to present any form of identification to secure their reserved campsite. However, this new identification policy is being implemented to ensure that the person who arrives at the campground office is the same person who made the campground reservation.

* Campground reservation holders will no longer be able to change the name of the person on the campground reservation. Previously, the original name on the reservation could be changed online on the reservation contractor's website. This would not change any components of the existing reservation. However, this change precludes the ability to change the name on a reservation once the reservation is made. There is a $10 cancellation fee for any reservation that is cancelled. Further, the same reservation under a different name is not guaranteed. 

* The final change to the campground reservation system will be implemented later this summer. This alteration will change the way in which cancelled reservations are released back into the system. Currently, once a reservation is cancelled, the campsite is put back online to be purchased. However, under the newly implemented system, the campsites that become available can only be reserved by calling the campground reservation phone number. There is no date available for this change.  

All campsites reserved in Yosemite National Park are reserved through a contractor, Active Works. The website is . They can also be reached at 1-877-444-6777. The park is implementing these changes to ensure equity and fairness for visitors wishing to make a campsite reservation within Yosemite National Park.


I had no idea this was going on, but it makes sense.  Anything that is an in demand commodity can be and will be bartered whether legally or illegally.  Glad to see the park service taking a pro-active approach. 

I wonder how many other parks see this.  We have noticed many sites can be hard to get particually on busy weekends like around holidays.

Is this policy being done at all parks or just Yosemite?

I was writing to the NPS and various groups about this three or four years ago when I found blocks of Yosemite campsites being sold on eBay. It was infuriating to me how impossible it was to fairly acquire reservations because of the level of scalping going on. I'm so glad they finally instituted these changes. I hope it helps.

I hope that they will be able to bring a program like this to the Half Dome reservations soon.  It really hurts to see the reservations being sold on eBay and Craig's list for shamful amounts.  The Mount Whitney lottery system still appears to be fair, but I understand that it may go to a Internet reservation system soon.  I hope this doesn't become a Ticket Scalping event also.
Folks will always pay a fair amount to have the priveledge to use the parks popular venues.  Lets try to make if fair to all and not a "Super Bowl" type of promotion that only the "Rich" has the priveledge to enjoy.

Stupid capitalism. It's so unfair that people can make money by selling NPS campsites that they've legally acquired. Only the NPS and its monopoly contractor are allowed to do that.

While I support the implementation of these new rules, this will also produce some inequitable results.  For instance, say a group of people are going camping.  The person whom made the reservation has to back out.  The rest of the people cannot go because their name does not appear on the reservation.  That's unfair.  Also, say a group of people are going camping and the person whom made the reservation has to show up a day or two later, or they are just late.  The rest of the people cannot go until the person whom made the reservation is there.  That's unfair.  Or how about your best friend gives you the reservation because they cannot go.  I can't go because my name is not on the reservation.  There are many circumstances where the transfer of the reservation are completely legitimate and warranted, but because of the new rules, an unfairness occurs.

I think it's well understood that there are legitimate reasons why someone might want to be able to transfer the name on a camping reservation that doesn't include reselling. However - the situation has been so out of hand that I'm guessing as many as half the reservation nights in Yosemite Valley during the peak season were initially reserved by those looking to resell. I believe the justification for this change was the hope that scalpers might consider it futile and simply cancel the reservations (minus the $10 cancellation fee), which would release it back into the available reservations.

I have heard of some suggestions that might be feasible to modify the reservation format. There could be additional names added to the reservation at the time it gets secured. These names would probably not be the same as a stranger contacted via Craigslist that a scalper might persuade to repurchase a reservation. That might allow a little bit of flexibility to allow people in the party to provide the ID if the primary on the reservation can't show up early (or at all).

Seriously though - if your best friend can't go, it's possible to cancel. That results in a full refund (minus the $10 cancellation fee) and someone interested in staying overnight can inquire at the campground office.

Stupid capitalism. It's so unfair that people can make money by selling NPS campsites that they've legally acquired. Only the NPS and its monopoly contractor are allowed to do that.

   I've heard of people attempting to resell or transfer entrance fee receipts. That's clearly a no-no even though the receipt was "legally acquired".

The resale of a federal campground reservation is a violation of NPS/FS/BLM/TVA/Bureau of Reclamation/Army Corp rules. Anyone who repurchases such a reservation runs a risk that the reservation will not be honored and always has. I wouldn't be surprised if some of the more brazen attempts to resell (including listing the dates and site numbers) have resulted in reservations not being honored. All the NPS would have to do is match such an advertisement with a reservation transfer. Have a ranger go to the suspect campsite and talk to the occupant, and it's easy enough for someone to simply admit (not knowing it's a violation) that it was repurchased. Subsequently, it's easy enough to boot a party from a site.

Get real, this has been going on as long as the park has had a presence
on the net. Has it ever struck you as simply egregious, that for so many
years you have needed to poke around to find a date that has
availability, when they could of simply told you what dates are

No they want you to guess like playing Battleship.

Exchange on the telephone:

G3- miss!

H5- hit but only for two!

I need three-Sorry!

What other dates would have three?

When would you like to come?

How about when you have room for three!

I need a date!

Add comment


This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.

National Parks Traveler's Essential Park Guide

Recent Forum Comments