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Re: Failed reservations attempt!!!

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Failed reservations attempt!!!
April 15, 2009 07:44AM
So it's my first time trying to reserve a campsite for myself and some friends. I'd would just like to express my frustration at the whole system. I feel that it is nearly impossible to get anything with it. Me and my girlfriend were prepped and ready for the 7am rush. Both, with our laptops and phones, we had the list of campsites that we were trying to go for. She was calling at 6:50 and I had multiple copies of the reservation window open with all campsites read to be booked..........6:59:50 (refreshed internet time)....Heart thumping........I start clicking away....7:00:00.......<loading>.......<loading>........<loading>....<loading>....7:00:30....Unavailble.....Unavailable......Unavailable......... 7:01:00........that's it. Everything is booked. Goodbye camping trip...... It was really disappointing to see it all go away like that. It's like I never even had a chance with their system. Its like a combination of internet lag and dumb luck to get anything.... Well If anyone has any tips for next time please let me know or maybe alternate destinations for Aug 15. I would greatly appreciate any suggestions. Now back to bed for me.
Re: Failed reservations attempt!!!
April 15, 2009 08:18AM
I hear you...but I'm not sure what other system could be better??? Before there were online reservations, it was worse. I don't even bother trying the valley...I got my Tuolumne Meadows reservations for the next weekend, so I'm happy. But at 7:10, that weekend was also sold out.

You could try going to TM on your designated weekend, because half the sites are first come first served. Also 3 or 4 others along the Tigoa Road...same thing.
avatar Re: Failed reservations attempt!!!
April 15, 2009 08:51AM
It's always helpful to have a high-speed internet connection - preferably wired if you're looking to reduce lag.

I got shut out two months ago. Back then there seemed to be some sort of software glitch that made it difficult to figure out which sites were already booked. I felt helpless as I kept on seeing sites supposedly available for my selected dates, but eventually I kept on seeing "inventory not available" when I tried to book them.

The other thing is that there is an incredible supply and demand phenomena working here. It's probably at least a 5:1 ratio of requests to available campsites, coupled with people having overlapping dates requested on the same sites.

What would be nice (and there are the software tools to do this) is a precise count-down timer to give the user a precise indication of when to start. You should read the "Campsite Reservations FAQ" post from last month. I posted the Recreation.gov FAQ on campsite reservations, including the Q&A that included questions asking if people could get a jump start by setting their computer clocks forward.

http://yosemitenews.info/forum/read.php?1,7536

Last month I got a site for late July. I had actually requested my first choice with the campsite page selected and the dates selected. It was all the stuff that was recommended to me a month earlier. It was a "non-premium" site in an interior loop (the low numbered sites nearest the entrance are apparently the most popular). I waited about 40 seconds before finding out it was unavailable. My backup plan was to quickly request the dates for any campsite in Upper Pines (the Upper Pines page was already open with the dates selected) and clicked on the first one to catch my eye. It was maybe 50 seconds past 7 AM when I was able to secure the site. My heart was racing and I was prepared to be disappointed.
avatar Re: Failed reservations attempt!!!
April 15, 2009 10:35AM
Maybe have a look at a less popular site like Yosemite Creek or Porcupine Flat, or go for Tuolumne Meadows - that's the 2nd largest campground in the US Park system, and last year it was completely first-come first-served from June to mid-July or so, then 1/2 reservations, 1/2 first-come. On July 5 2007, the campground was about 1/3 empty.
avatar Re: Failed reservations attempt!!!
April 15, 2009 01:03PM
Faux,
Take a look here if you haven't already:

http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/nrcamping.htm

Tamarack Flat is , I think, the best of the "no reservations" campgrounds. It is overlooked by most people until later in the day as a more or less last resort place. There sites are large and spaced far apart. It's not too far from anything and there is a great trail the heads south out of the campground following the old road that was the main route to the valley floor many decades ago. A doable day hike from the campground is out to the top of El Cap. about 7.5 miles one way with about +2K' going.



Old Dude
Re: Failed reservations attempt!!!
April 15, 2009 05:48PM
Yes it is very frustrating. But of all the reservation programs that have been in effect, and then changed, I think this is the one that is the most fair. I've been ( In the last 25 years) through the old wait in line for Ticketron, the call ins 8 weeks ahead of your starting date, which worked pretty well, then the 15 th of the month 5 months ahead of time, which took hours , then the really slow internet reservation system , and now a little better internet reservation system. Losing 1/2 of the campground sites after the great flood years ago didn't help. I keep hearing they are going to build another campground down by the El Capitan picnic ground, but haven't seen anything conclusive yet.

With Yosemite Lodge now at $210/night in the summer the campsites are a great deal. I don't know what the numbers are for summer reservation attempts, but in talking to people all over the world, I woudn't be surprised if the hits on the reservation system in the two first minutes on the 15th of the month for summer reservations have to be at least 30,000. So in effect it's almost like a lottery to get sites. The secret might be to go for the least desirable sites (Upper Pines) and have multiple friends and computers at your disposal. During the old phone in system I used to go into work early and round robin 5 phones at a time. Attempting to get a phone reservation under the current system is a total waste of time. Your only chance is the internet website. I would like to see them go back to the old system, make your reservation 8 weeks before your starting date. This doing 30 days worth of reservations on one day, 5 months ahead of time, is pretty screwy.

I was lucky enough to come up with 5 nights in Lower Pines in a nice spot starting 6/8. Just luck!
avatar Re: Failed reservations attempt!!!
February 16, 2011 08:50PM
Quote
mtn man
Yes it is very frustrating. But of all the reservation programs that have been in effect, and then changed, I think this is the one that is the most fair. I've been ( In the last 25 years) through the old wait in line for Ticketron, the call ins 8 weeks ahead of your starting date, which worked pretty well, then the 15 th of the month 5 months ahead of time, which took hours , then the really slow internet reservation system , and now a little better internet reservation system. Losing 1/2 of the campground sites after the great flood years ago didn't help. I keep hearing they are going to build another campground down by the El Capitan picnic ground, but haven't seen anything conclusive yet.

If they build that, it might be closer to the campground in Star Trek V:





I still think a lottery system would be fair. Recreation.gov hosts one for boating permits for the Boundary Waters Canoe Wilderness Area, and Grand Canyon NP operates one for non-commercial float trips down the Colorado River. I've seen lottery systems work well for for sporting events like the US Open golf tournament and the NCAA Final Four. Implementing a system like this could give an equal chance for those applying by the WWW, by mail, or by phone without speed being the primary criteria.

Other than that, I've said that I think a nonspecific site selection reservation system could also work. They do that for the TM campground, and I've seen it work for some popular Forest Service campgrounds. Right now it's up to random chance that someone else doesn't book a specific first choice site. Good reservation software could make it work based on site types. That way, people wouldn't be fighting for individual campsites and wouldn't have to wait until the system takes up to a minute to show unavailability before moving on to a different choice. Such a system could "take a number" depending on order that the request is made and assign in the order received. It would still be a race, but one that isn't compounded by the randomness of someone else booking a site before you get to it. The real problem is also that you could get someone else trying to book dates that overlap (like you're trying to June 20-25 and the other guy is trying for the same site on June 23-27).
Re: Failed reservations attempt!!!
February 15, 2011 11:33AM
Ahhhh! I hear your pain! My husband and I tried this morning at 7am for July and SAME THING! We started refreshing the page at 6:55am and at 7am the ENTIRE valley was booked! I think we made the mistake of wanting a specific site. I guess next time I'll try just the dates and see if that helps.
I called the people and complained. I was actually crying on the phone! SOB!
Just to note, I camped at Tamarak and it was awesome. White Wolf is great too. I have a hike in site at Hodgon Meadow...super fun with my 2 year old and 5 year old! UGH! I'm hoping for some cancellations...
Re: Failed reservations attempt!!!
February 16, 2011 01:48PM
There is a reservations hut in the valley. There are usually always cancellations each morning. There is a line you can stand in, and usually get one of the cancellation spots in the valley. I've gotten a site in the valley day of, this way. I've also attempted, and didn't get a valley campsite, and just went to a first come first serve site. I never had any problems with first come first serve sites.
avatar Re: Failed reservations attempt!!!
February 16, 2011 03:43PM
Quote
swmphotos
I never had any problems with first come first serve sites.

Just don't show up on a Friday at 5pm and expect to find a site.
Re: Failed reservations attempt!!!
March 26, 2011 10:24PM
I had issues with first come first serve in the Summer months. The valley gets so crowded that it is near impossible so I usually just don't count on it then.
avatar Re: Failed reservations attempt!!!
February 16, 2011 04:38PM
5am at either the campground reservation hut, the wilderness permit office, or the camp 4 kiosk, during summer, is probably too late!
Re: Failed reservations attempt!!!
April 01, 2011 11:54PM
5AM is too late? It is hard trying to get there earlier when we aren't there the night before. Catch 22.
Re: Failed reservations attempt!!!
April 04, 2011 03:02PM
Ideally, you have a few nights in the valley already, then just go to Camp 4 to connect. It is very difficult during the summer months.
Re: Failed reservations attempt!!!
February 16, 2011 04:29PM
I've seen that line. If you are doing this during the summer plan to be in line at 5 a.m. And, if you are lucky and get a Valley site, plan to do this every morning you are there as usually you'll only get a site for one night at a time.
Re: Failed reservations attempt!!!
February 16, 2011 08:02PM
Wow! Thanks for the advice! I'm going mid-week already so I might try that. We are going to try next month also, as my trip falls over July 15th. It's funny because I worked in the park for 5 summers and never had to deal with this crap. I sure was lucky to just wake up in the glorious place every day!
avatar Re: Failed reservations attempt!!!
February 17, 2011 01:48AM
Quote
mountainmama
Wow! Thanks for the advice! I'm going mid-week already so I might try that. We are going to try next month also, as my trip falls over July 15th. It's funny because I worked in the park for 5 summers and never had to deal with this crap. I sure was lucky to just wake up in the glorious place every day!

I should say 5am on a summer Friday or Saturday. Midweek isn't as bad.
On the other hand ... 5am on any day, even if early, is better than too late and ending up with no where to sleep for the night!
Re: Failed reservations attempt!!!
February 17, 2011 08:14AM
Quote
mountainmama
Wow! Thanks for the advice! I'm going mid-week already so I might try that. We are going to try next month also, as my trip falls over July 15th. It's funny because I worked in the park for 5 summers and never had to deal with this crap. I sure was lucky to just wake up in the glorious place every day!
Where did you work?
Re: Failed reservations attempt!!!
February 19, 2011 08:55PM
I worked one summer at The Loft in the Valley, three summers at White Wolf and one summer at Glen Aulin.
Re: Failed reservations attempt!!!
February 19, 2011 08:58PM
I did reserve a walk-in site a Hodgen Meadows, for what that's worth. I have a 2 year old and a 5 year old, but don't dig crowds, so that might work out fine. We can't move every night, so I won't even bother trying with the 5am line, I just want to enjoy myself once I'm there. I will try again in March if anyone has any advice!
Re: Failed reservations attempt!!!
February 17, 2011 10:05AM
It is a letdown not to get your reservations. Keep watching for cancellations. If I would've been successful on Tuesday with the rest of my family, I would've cancelled a whole week in June. (I'll be using those reservations now, thank you very much.) And some one mentioned that you need a high speed connection... I failed with high speed WiFi and was successful last month with one of the slowest connections on the planet.

Realize the comments up on top are from two years ago. The site changes every year. You need to familiarize yourself with the site beforehand.

It has changed drastically over the years...I, too, worked in the valley. That was in 1978 and I have managed to camp in the valley every summer since, except for 2007. First, we could just show up, even on Memorial weekend and get first come/first served sites. Then it was the phone calls. I still made phone reservations when they were first available online. One year, when the website crashed, I stayed on the phone with a reservationist until noon and was successful in getting two campsites! But now, I think that you can only be successful online.

Sites need to be specific. Some, as in our group, are trying to get sites large enough for their RV's, some with slides. (Last year we got three 35 foot long sites and one 24...this year, just got the one.)

Ha...I have more "butterflies" in my tummy the day I try to make reservations than the day we go to camp, (Although on the day we left last year, I was a bit nervous because Tioga Pass didn't open until we got there...)
Re: Failed reservations attempt!!!
April 02, 2011 10:55AM
I get an adrenaline kick too. You could also grab 2 or 3 sites around your dates and move around... not ideal, but pack lite.
Re: Failed reservations attempt!!!
April 04, 2011 10:43AM
There are always other times of lodging. I just book something for my parents. There is a thread in here with a summary of other options.
Re: Failed reservations attempt!!!
April 17, 2011 03:10PM
Hello. I see that the original post if 2 years ago, but I had to chime in, for anyone having a hard time. I think the NPS has gotten much better.

This year will be the first year I've been to Yosemite in probably 3 or 4 years. I use to go every year, but I had the same problems, I couldn't push speed dial fast enough...etc.
On April 15th (of this year), I overslept and didn't get up until 7:30 or so and thought the same thing as original poster "damn it I missed it again this year", but I logged on the NPS site anyway (now about 7:45) and was surprised to find quite a few, in Upper Pines (my last choice, of course) during the week of September 12th.

Just my take, I'm thinking the the website gets bogged down with so many people looking at the same sites, so it gets confused. JUst based on my own experiences and with what I've read above, I think that the "available" sites get stuck in que (with 10 people trying to pay for that one site), so it doesn't show up as available. Mind you, it's not supposed to do that, but I'm thinking it does. I'm also thinking people go into panic mode and book two sites at a time and weed out what they don't want later. I think my first guess is the most probable cause.

Maybe the key is to wait a few minutes out and try the site... Just an idea...



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/17/2011 03:12PM by Red Lipstick.
avatar Re: Failed reservations attempt!!!
April 17, 2011 03:56PM
Quote
Red Lipstick
Just my take, I'm thinking the the website gets bogged down with so many people looking at the same sites, so it gets confused. JUst based on my own experiences and with what I've read above, I think that the "available" sites get stuck in que (with 10 people trying to pay for that one site), so it doesn't show up as available. Mind you, it's not supposed to do that, but I'm thinking it does. I'm also thinking people go into panic mode and book two sites at a time and weed out what they don't want later. I think my first guess is the most probable cause.

I don't think that's the way it works. It's likely a system similar to an electronic ticketing system. ReserveAmerica which provides the service used to be owned by TicketMaster. Once you "select" the site and dates, it should lock in those sites as long as you do so before anyone else does. At that point you would have a certain amount of time to complete your transaction (credit card, etc) before the system releases those dates back into the inventory. What likely slows it down is that it has to be able to handle multiple requests for the same sites simultaneously and then play traffic cop. Couple with that thousands of people accessing the system for a specific place at the same time. There are a bunch of things happening at one time that are out of the ordinary for a system that doesn't typically handle volume requests.
Re: Failed reservations attempt!!!
April 18, 2011 08:50PM
YPW that's what I was saying or at least trying to. I noticed that some I had in que, would disappear, when I'd go back and then, later, reapear. smiling smiley



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/18/2011 08:56PM by Red Lipstick.
Re: Failed reservations attempt!!!
April 18, 2011 08:54PM
Actuyally, Aug/Sept is when I usually go, but the last few years have been really hard to get, even during then.

I rememeber some like 7 or 8 years back, I called after 10:00 a.m. and actually got through and there were sites available, for June. I think a lot of it is over crowding. I also think that "R.V. America" has something in on the system....just saying.
Re: Failed reservations attempt!!!
April 17, 2011 05:34PM
I was on the site on April 15, too, hoping to get some of the campsites that were opening up in North Pines for earlier than Aug 15.

Yes, there were lots of sites available for the AUG 15-SEP 14 time period, later than usual. Heck even for Labor Day weekend. I think it's those darn Craigslist guys who put a kink in the reservation system in January and February...too many people getting reservations for the peak times, hoping to resell them for a profit.
avatar Re: Failed reservations attempt!!!
April 17, 2011 06:16PM
It is possible to go to Craig's List and get the particulars of those selling sites, turn them in to the reservation people and they will get yanked.



Old Dude
avatar Re: Failed reservations attempt!!!
April 17, 2011 06:18PM
Quote
mrcondron
It is possible to go to Craig's List and get the particulars of those selling sites, turn them in to the reservation people and they will get yanked.

Yes, but what really needs to happen is something to defeat the bots that are grabbing these reservations.
avatar Re: Failed reservations attempt!!!
April 17, 2011 06:38PM
Agreed. All that would take is some money. Our friends in Washington don't seem to like that idea even though it is a quality of life issue.



Old Dude
avatar Re: Failed reservations attempt!!!
April 17, 2011 06:46PM
Quote
mrcondron
Agreed. All that would take is some money. Our friends in Washington don't seem to like that idea even though it is a quality of life issue.

I doubt it'd take much to add a CAPCHA to the system.
avatar Re: Failed reservations attempt!!!
April 17, 2011 07:12PM
Would that cost more than ten cents?



Old Dude
avatar Re: Failed reservations attempt!!!
April 17, 2011 09:17PM
Quote
eeek
Quote
mrcondron
Agreed. All that would take is some money. Our friends in Washington don't seem to like that idea even though it is a quality of life issue.

I doubt it'd take much to add a CAPCHA to the system.

They'd just use the bots to lock in the reservations first, then get human input to enter the codes for successful entries. Or perhaps require CAPTCHA first before being able to select?

Ever tried stuff like MasterCard's "Overwhelming Offers" system that awards discounts for stuff purchased on MC? That's really a race to see who can use a mouse and type the fastest to secure a discount. I can occasionally do it in 7-8 seconds, but most offers are gone in 3 seconds.
avatar Re: Failed reservations attempt!!!
April 18, 2011 01:01PM
Quote
y_p_w
They'd just use the bots to lock in the reservations first, then get human input to enter the codes for successful entries. Or perhaps require CAPTCHA first before being able to select?

It'd be before selection (or just after will a fairly short timeout). It's not perfect but it'd be a simple way to stop a lot of the abuse.
avatar Re: Failed reservations attempt!!!
April 18, 2011 01:12PM
Yosemite battling pest problem: Ticket-scalpers

The problem is starting to gather some media attention.
avatar Re: Failed reservations attempt!!!
April 18, 2011 02:58PM
Quote
y_p_w
Quote
eeek
Quote
mrcondron
Agreed. All that would take is some money. Our friends in Washington don't seem to like that idea even though it is a quality of life issue.

I doubt it'd take much to add a CAPCHA to the system.

They'd just use the bots to lock in the reservations first, then get human input to enter the codes for successful entries. Or perhaps require CAPTCHA first before being able to select?

Ever tried stuff like MasterCard's "Overwhelming Offers" system that awards discounts for stuff purchased on MC? That's really a race to see who can use a mouse and type the fastest to secure a discount. I can occasionally do it in 7-8 seconds, but most offers are gone in 3 seconds.

I saw this and laughed out loud! - Yes, the Overwhelming Offers are very overwhelming when you can't even get a legitimate shot at them! I finally gave up on the program!

For campground and half dome reservations we have resorted to going to the computer lab where my husband works and logging on separate computers (two each) in order to have a shot. It does make a difference with the faster connections. So sad that we have to resort to this strategy as many people don't have assess to these types of computer systems.

Robin



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/18/2011 04:45PM by robinjayp.
Re: Failed reservations attempt!!!
April 19, 2011 09:56AM
With this continuing discussion, I feel EXTREMELY lucky that I did get reservations!

Slo-mo dial-up vs the bots!Pounding head on desk
Re: Failed reservations attempt!!!
April 19, 2011 01:29PM
avatar Re: Failed reservations attempt!!!
April 19, 2011 07:11PM
I would imagine that just like doing online gaming on your PS3 that internet speed connection counts when it comes to getting reservations.

But can I play devil's advocate here for a minute? I've paid scalpers for baseball, football and basketball tickets before, so I am no stranger to scalpers and I am happy with what I paid and happy with the product. So how much are guys on craigslist or ebay charging for prime camping spots in the Valley? Sure, I bet it is a lot more than it would cost from the Park, but what are you getting? You are getting a camping spot for a few days to take your family on vacation in one of the most beautiful spots of the world. I gotta be honest, if backpacking and getting away from the general public wasnt my choice drug, I would be more than happy to overpay to get a spot in the Valley to camp. But I guess that is just me. Hah, I guess I'm lucky I like strapping a heavy pack to my back and walking miles uphill.
Re: Failed reservations attempt!!!
April 20, 2011 12:17PM
I once got on Ebay and saw 5 nights, in June or July(now that I recall, I believe it was May), go for $600 bucks (3 or 4 years ago, probably)...I believe it was a pay now system. I seriously considered it because I was sooo frustrated with the whole damn NP system...but now I stop to think, they(the crooks being the cause) are probably the very reason the system is this way...in reguards to bots. I never gave it much thought, those scalpers probably use programs...how lame.

The only reason I go in August/September because it has been (in the past) slightly easier to get...although the last few years, I couldn't even get it in those months.
I once got reservations for the week after July 4th and it was a site, I wanted, in North Pines. That was wayyy back in 2003. I haven't been able to do it since...so frustrating. I have such a hard time planning vacations, these days, with my son's school and husband's work in mind. The whole planning is about as rare as a solar eclipse. It looks like my husband won't be going this year and the saga continues.... Here's to June/July reservations! Good luck to all!



Edited 5 time(s). Last edit at 04/20/2011 12:26PM by Red Lipstick.
Re: Failed reservations attempt!!!
April 20, 2011 07:51PM
my two cents at least regarding TM:

I do this every year (June-ish ... or early July-ish):

I leave my house in Santa Rosa 4:00am on the dot ... arrive TM campground desk at 10:00am ... there's has always been something available to walk up and get on a first come - first serve basis ... I do always notice, however, that a few hours later in the day (# of hrs varies) everything's gone ..

But that's TM ... loooong way from the valley ... not exactly the best jump-off location for valley sight-seeing ... but I bet some folks do it ... there is, of course, that shuttle bus thing ...

TM probably earns mention in the Guiness BOWR, for the campground that one must DRIVE THE SLOWEST AROUND! The potholes are breathtaking! Yeah man, it's like being on one of those mechanical bulls!

I joked with a ranger last year: "Hey! You're never gonna get speeders around here! hahaha!"

She said: "Yeah, Ha! we like it that way!"
avatar Re: Failed reservations attempt!!!
April 20, 2011 08:20PM
Quote
Anvanho
The potholes are breathtaking!

Have you driven the road to Yosemite Creek Campground?
avatar Re: Failed reservations attempt!!!
May 06, 2011 12:18AM
That's exactly what we did last year on July 1. It worked great for us. We got a perfect spot way in that back, not near anyone. Just like I like it.
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