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With the ever-increasing popularity of camping (and RVing in general), new camping-related services seem to be popping up every month or two. Vetting each one isn’t easy, especially since properly determining the value of any service means actually using it. But that’s just what we’ve done with Campnab.
In today’s post, we’ll tell you what we learned about the Campnab service in our research, what our personal experience with the service was like, and whether (as a result of our experience) we think Campnab is worth using.
What is Campnab?
Campnab is a service that allows you to monitor cancellations at popular State, Provincial, and National parks throughout the United States and Canada. The service actually runs real-time scans of your selected park(s), to monitor for any cancellations that open up.
This is a fantastic concept and, if it works as it’s designed to work, can open up a world of wonders for many people who would otherwise miss out. The overwhelming demand for spaces at these much-desired locations has created the near-impossibility of visiting on less than 6-12 months’ notice.
Why is it So Hard to Get a Campsite?
Some of the most incredible wonders of this world are tucked into the State, National, and Provincial parks of North America. The most popular parks require reservations as much as a year in advance of your visit, due to the demand. So, if you couldn’t (or just didn’t) make a reservation at a particular park early enough, you wouldn’t be able to get a site at that park. Period. End of story.
And that’s what people do – they make their reservations months in advance of a planned visit, and that’s why it’s so hard to get a campsite in any of these parks with less notice.
But here’s the problem for many of us…
It’s not easy to commit to a travel destination a year in advance. Yeah, sure – we know – lots of people do it. But life happens. Every day. And plans change. Who knows how anyone’s life will have changed a year from now? If a global pandemic hasn’t shown us that everything can change in a heartbeat or two, then we haven’t been paying attention.
So, the fact is that “Plan A” often requires a change to “Plan B” (and sometimes even to Plans C, D, E, and F, before plan G actually happens). And this is where Campnap comes in – on both sides of the equation.
How Does Campnab Work?
Let’s look at an example:
Somebody made a reservation at Zion National Park nine months ago for ten days from today. Their plans have changed so they cancel. Campnab scans the online reservation system for us at our request and notifies us that a site just opened up that will accommodate our 43-foot motorhome. We grab it, and ten days later we find ourselves experiencing the wonders of Zion National Park.
Here’s how it works:
- Sign up for a plan on Campnab’s website
- Identify the park & dates you’re looking for and tell them the size campsite you need
- The system scans and watches for sites to open up due to cancellations
- You receive a text message on your phone when the system finds one
- Return to the park’s booking system and nab your now-available site
That’s how it’s supposed to work. And what a FANTASTIC concept, if it does work, right? But – does it really work?
Is Campnab Legit?
Turns out it is! Campnab has been around for four years now, and the example we noted above is our own real-life experience with Campnab.
Zion National Park happens to be one of our favorite places on earth. We’ve even camped there in the winter, as we shared in this post and video back in 2017. More recently we enjoyed hiking Angels Landing, one of the best hikes in Zion National Park, involving a 5-mile round-trip with a 1,500′ elevation gain – not for the faint of heart, but what an experience! You may have seen our footage from the peak in Season 3, Episode 5 of The RVers.
Peter’s first visit to a national park was to Zion, and it sparked in him a lifelong love of the outdoors that has brought so many amazing life experiences since, all over the globe.
In fact, a love of Zion was what initially sparked our interest in full-time RVing… a spark that’s turned into a decades-long lifestyle. So, this national park holds a very special place in our hearts, and we’ve been wanting to get back there.
More recently, we were in Utah and our upcoming plans changed, leaving us with some time to fill about ten days from then. If only we could get into Zion. We were so close – and yet so far, knowing how far in advance reservations need to be made for this indescribably beautiful destination.
Enter, Campnab. We’ll give it a try, we thought – what have we got to lose?
Campnab did its thing and in no time flat, we had a reservation for a campsite for our Class A motorhome, right in Watchman Campground. Just ten days away! Unheard of!
Well – not anymore, because now you’ve heard of it, and it’s real.
The Campnab service worked extremely well. And, for the cost of a mere 10 bucks, we had an amazing experience camping at Zion as always.
So, our answer (based on our personal experience), is a resounding YES – Campnab is legit. Our experience was seamless, the result successful, and as a bonus, we got back to one of our all-time favorite national parks on short notice.
At the time of the writing of this post (October 2021), Campnab has the capacity to scan 3,200 parks, 7,000 campgrounds, and hundreds of backcountry permits. With over 300,000 campsites in their directory (all from parks in the United States and Canada), they’re constantly working to add more, and by the time you read this they will probably already have done so.
How Much is Campnab?
There are a couple of ways to use Campnab’s services.
You can pay only when you use the system, using their pay-per-use option. Within this option there are three tiers, each with their own price point. The difference is in how frequently they scan. You can pay for a scan that runs every hour, every 20 minutes, or every 5 minutes.
Pay-per-use scans range from $10 – $20 each.
Alternatively, you can opt to buy into a plan – and the plans are also based on a tier system. So, if you’re on a plan, your scans will run every 15 minutes, every 10 minutes, or every 5 minutes, depending on the tier you’ve chosen to join.
Membership plans start at $10/month and offer frequent campers more options.
If you try the pay-per-use service and decide you want to switch to a plan, you can do that at any time, and the fee will be prorated accordingly.
Does Campnab Book Campsites?
No. It’s important to understand that Campnab does not book campsites for you. They simply alert you to the canceled reservations that open up, and then it’s up to you to “nab” that reservation by contacting the park (either by phone or using the online reservation service the park offers).
Campnab isn’t selling you a reservation for a campsite. They’re finding you an opening based on a cancellation. They don’t buy up campsite reservations and resell them, and they don’t work for the parks. They’ve created an ingenious scanning system that may be able to find you an otherwise unlikely reservation – but there’s no guarantees. If there’s an opening, Campnab is likely to find it.
The service also benefits the parks because they’re not left with an open campsite due to a cancellation.
We had a great experience with Campnab. But, if you’d like to check out what Campnab reviewers have to say, Campnab has some reviews posted here.
If you’d like to give Campnab a try, use this link to sign up and give it a try.
As a caveat, not everyone will have the amazing experience we had every time they use the Campnab service. If you’re hoping for a campsite for a particular week and no campsites open up at the location you’re interested in during that week, then obviously you won’t be able to make a reservation. Campnab has no control over that.
All in all, though, we’re fans of the service and appreciate having it available to help with last-minute planning. And we think you will, too!
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