State parks to take campsite reservations

Overnight visitors to North Carolina's state parks will be able to reserve a campsite in advance starting next spring.

The State Division of Parks & Recreation has signed an agreement to let Infospherix (formerly known as Reserve World) handle online and toll-free telephone registrations for the state's 2,929 campsites. Details – such as how far in advance you can make reservations and what happens if you cancel – are still being worked out.

But Charlie Peek, public information officer for state parks, says all that should be settled by year's end, paving the way for reservations systemwide by April.

For years, visitors to state parks in Virginia, West Virginia, Tennessee, South Carolina and other nearby states have been able to reserve campsites in advance. In North Carolina, though, it was first come/first served. That meant if you were leaving after work Friday for a weekend at, say, Stone Mountain State Park, your chances of scoring a campsite were slim.

Starting next spring, though, you'll be able to bring up the state parks campgrounds online, go to your park of choice, click on the camping area, then examine it site by site. Need to be near the bathhouse? You can make that happen. Need to steer clear of sites with RV hookups? You can make that happen, too. You'll be able to make reservations online and by phone, via an 800 number.

Peek said a segment of campsites will be left for walk-up registration. Those few facilities that have taken advanced reservations in the past – the state recreation areas, including Falls and Jordan lakes as well as the cabins at Morrow Mountain and Hanging Rock – will continue to do so.

Reservations for picnic shelters and community buildings also will be available online and by phone.

There will be a $3 surcharge per reservation for the service.