What is Walk Up Camping?

What is walk-up camping?

All the popular campsites, either have a long list of people waiting or an unnecessarily complicated booking system. Wherein, the walk up camping doubles your probability as no prior reservation is required. The campsite availability depends on a first-come and first-serve basis.

Before we begin to explore more about walk-up camping let’s clear one doubt, is it not the same as walk-in camping? So, what is walk-up camping? I am assuming at least for once you have tried to book a campsite and you know the pain.

Go on to learn more about walk-up camping!

What is walk up camping

How does a walk-up campsite work?

If you have tried to look for campsite booking online there is a high chance you have been suggested walk-up camping. All walk-up campsites will be filled by and before the afternoon. So get there as early as possible.

But, walk-up camping availability is controlled by a campground or national park. If there is no walk-up available then either they do not allow walk-up camping or the site is unavailable at that particular time of the year.

Three key points that explain how walk-up campsite work:

1. Go to your campsite as early as possible

To make sure you get the best site for walk-up you have to reach your destination as early as possible. All walk-up camping sites are likely to get filled before lunchtime. So getting there early is the only way to grab a place for you.

Check the timings of your campsite online and target to be present there a couple of hours before the campground authority allows people in. If the chosen ground is among the popular ones you might see people lining up even before the check-out time.

2. Make a campground shortlist you might need back up

Do thorough research and shortlist few campsites that are in the same direction and you would like to visit. If you fail to manage a spot in the first campground that you targeted, then you can go some extra miles and find another spot in the nearby camping site.

You have to be patient and positive enough to change your destination and make it to the next camping site.

3. Keep your attitude flexible

If you arrive late for any unfortunate reason then keep your attitude flexible. If you find a place that is not ‘oh so good!’ don’t be disheartened. Settle for what you have got.

Chances are that’s the only spot left. And you never know when you might lose what you have for the sake of finding a better area to set up your tent.

The bottom line is if you do not make it in time then do not keep your mind fixated on finding the ideal spot. Be flexible and adjust.

Walk-up vs. Walk-In camping

Both walk-up and walk-in sound similar. Both are known camping methods and it can be confusing at times. Then again their meaning is far more different.

Let’s look into the differences.

  • Walk up camping in simple term is to find a campsite that works on come and take what is available basis. There is no need for a prior reservation.
  • Whereas, walk-in camping sites are those where you have to walk to reach your campground. All walk-in campsites, in general, includes walking a short or moderate distance, sometimes even a quick hike depends on the location. But, in all cases above you have to carry your camping gear to your site.
  • Some walk-in sites are also available for walk-up camping.

Tips to make walk-up camping trip successful

1. Be willing to walk

Walk-in sites may open up so be willing to go on your feet. If all the drive-up spots are already taken then the authority might turn the rest of the campground for walk-in camping.

So your walk-up might require walking. So it is best if you keep your gear light so that carrying your gear does not become tiring.

2. Camp mid-week

Why mid-week and not on a weekend?

The answer is simple. Just like amusement parks and restaurants walk-up sites stay overly crowded on the weekends. Similarly, it is easy to secure a spot on a weekday.

And not only that, you might end up getting the best spot and enjoy a day in a less noisy environment.

3. Ditch the holidays

Try to avoid going on a walk-up camping trip if it is a holiday. More people will show up. So it decreases the odds of you getting a place in a walk-up campsite.

4. Watch the weather

If the weather is sunny bright and it has caught your eye then chances are you are not the only one. People will prefer to go on a walk up camping when the weather is pleasant. So it is better to ditch the idea.

Rather choose a day when the weather is not going to attract much of a crowd. You can actually enjoy camping in the rain if you know what gear to carry.

5. Drive few extra miles

Popular walk-up campsites that are close to the city are likely to be overcrowded throughout the year. So the further you drive from the city the chances of you getting a perfect spot in your walk-up ground increases.

So leave home early, drive few extra miles and make your camping trip successful.


  • Never refuse a site offered to you.
  • If you miss any of your gear at home, do not leave the site since you might lose it altogether.
  • Not all campgrounds are walk-up grounds, so be sure to check online.
  • Showing up early is probably the most important aspect to walk up camping. The early bird gets to camp.


Hope the above information was helpful and you have a clear idea about what is walk-up camping. Now, if there is a nearby spot that is on your mind for a long time, follow all the tips given above and buy yourself a wonderful time.

Happy camping!

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