Let the bots find the campsite for you.
This post was updated on March 3, 2022.
Getting a campsite reservation can be a challenge for campers everywhere, especially in popular campgrounds.
But don’t give up if your dream campground is fully booked: use a campsite cancellation tracker to score a campsite, even in a sold-out campground!
Campsite trackers find available campsites by using bots that scan campgrounds for cancellations.
When a campsite opens up, the bots are the first to know. And they pass the information to you through campsite finder apps that give you first dibs to book the campsite.
I put the leading campsite availability checkers to the test in this review of the best campsite tracker apps.
My findings, which have been updated for 2022 to show new features and pricing, are below.
My top pick among campsite trackers is fan-favorite CampNab, an all-around best value among campsite finders and the winner of my test.
CampNab is loaded with features and offers a wide variety of plans. I also found it to be the most transparent of the trackers I tested, with information on scan intervals, pricing, and campsites easily found on its website, so you know what you’re getting for your money.
Since this review was first published in May 2021, CampNab has added more features in response to requests from users who are becoming more sophisticated as camping gets more competitive.
CampNab takes user input seriously and has an improved interface and more refined searching as a result. Users can now filter for features such as electric hookups and ADA accessibility (to date, sadly no pet filters) in addition to being able to search for specific campsites by number or campground loop.
A new copy feature allows users to copy search parameters and quickly apply them to new scans – a convenience the most exacting users are sure to love.
The website has also added the ability to search for coveted backcountry permits, which allow you to camp in a park’s interior, away from roads and other campers.
Scans are easy to follow and tweak in CampNab’s dashboard.
I also like that its plans offer concurrent scans instead of single-use scans: when one CampNab scan ends, you can swap it out with a new scan without increasing your total.
CampNab does offer single-use scans, however, I suggest avoiding those as they fall short in the value category: At $10, the cheapest single-use scan costs the same as the entry-level monthly plan that gives you two more scans (for a total of three) and scans six times as much – every 10 minutes instead of 60.
So, if you only need one scan, opt for the lowest-priced “good” plan, which you may cancel anytime.
CampNab’s plans offer the best value among apps in this review.
I signed up for the “good” plan for my test and found a spot in a specific loop at sold-out World’s End State Park just two weeks before the Memorial Day weekend. Score! I booked the site a few minutes later.
CampNab also passed my Yellowstone National Park test, as it offers scans of the often sold-out Mammoth Campground, the only campground there open year-round. You can fine-tune scans to target a specific site – a key feature many avid campers will love.
Plans start at $10/month for 3 concurrent scans and go all the way up to $90/month or $800 a year (annual plans cost 25 percent less than monthly). Skip the less economical, pay-as-you-go options.
Advantages of CampNab
- Competitive pricing
- Large variety of plans, from single-use to year-round campers
- Top performer in my tests
- Easy signup and easy-to-use website
- Scan intervals are disclosed
- You can choose specific campsites and loops
- Campground maps and listings are better than those found on many government websites. Use them even if you don’t use the service!
- Great user reviews (on their site, but I plunged the depths of the internet and found rave reviews there, too)
Disadvantages of CampNab
- No free trial
- Can’t scan a bank of time with one request (although the “flexible dates” option broadens your search window by two days.)
- Hard to know which plan to choose; takes trial and error
- No mobile app
Wandering Labs is a no-frills option that started as a free service but has been moving toward a profit model. It was started by a couple who travel full-time in their Airstream.
The website’s “Donate” button has been replaced with a paid “premium” membership plan. Free scans are still available, but with limited functionality, making them more like a free trial.
Is Wandering Labs legit?
Wandering Labs has gotten some good reviews. In my tests, I had mixed results with Wandering Labs.
For my initial scan, I created a Wandering Labs versus CampNab test, plugging in the same World’s End campground request. CampNab was the clear winner: it sent an alert and I was able to book our site while the Wandering Labs scan kept running, delivering no alerts within our booking window.
That made me think I must have booked before the next Wandering Labs scan ran. But it’s hard to know for sure because Wandering Labs doesn’t offer set scan intervals. Instead, they vary according to the request – sometimes by quite a bit.
Your best bet is to experiment with this tool before signing up for a paid plan. Keep in mind that Wandering Labs’ free searches have two big limitations.
The first is that they expire in a week, which in my experience is a short window when you’re waiting for cancellations.
The second is that alerts are sent via email instead of text messaging. Because seconds can truly matter when you’re vying for the country’s best campsites, this is a definite disadvantage.
After my initial test of Wandering Labs, I continued to experiment with scans and got great results, including for Yellowstone! I originally gave this tool three stars but decided to bump it up to four after receiving multiple alerts for my requested campgrounds.
Probably the best feature of Wandering Labs is flexible date searching: you can scan an exact date or multiple days – or even months! No other tracker allows you to set such wide date parameters.
Wandering Labs’ premium membership costs $30 a year and gives you up to 500 text alerts and unlimited “faster” scans, although the intervals vary. I’d bump up my rating by a star if Wandering Labs provided clear, uniform scanning intervals; that is ultimately what these apps are selling, and I think it’s important to know what I’m paying for! 🙂
Wandering Labs passed my Yellowstone National Park test.
Advantages of Wandering Labs
- Unlimited requests on paid plan
- Free trial of basic scans
- Best options for flexible dates
- Easy signup, no account needed
- Shares logs of scans, an interesting feature, although note that the logs don’t show all scans
Disadvantages of Wandering Labs
- Texts only available for premium plans
- Scan frequency varies
- Minimum price for texting alerts is more expensive than comparable options
- The barebones website doesn’t inspire confidence
- No mobile app
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Campsite Assist is a newer addition to the campsite finder world.
This tool does a good job providing clear information about pricing and offers single-use options only – users can purchase one scan or buy packs of multiple scans. No monthly plans are available.
Campsite Assist is a solid choice for a laser-focused, single scan at the most desirable campgrounds because it offers more scans per hour than other tools, at three-minute intervals.
That speed comes at a cost: the cheapest three-minute scan is $14.
Those seeking less expensive, single-use scans would be better off with other options, as the value options for Campsite Assist give you longer intervals than competitors.
Campsite Assist also sells cheaper scans with longer scan intervals. Here is the 2022 pricing:
In a CampNab versus Campsite Assist comparison, CampNab came out on top for being the cheaper option that found more sites. The Campsite Assist scan I purchased did not find me a campground in the month that it ran 13-minute scans. During that same time period, I received alerts from both CampNab and Wandering Labs for the same request.
When this review was first published, Campsite Assist didn’t pass my Yellowstone test, but it has since added the campground to its roster, yay!
Another new feature is the ability to scan for a window of time in addition to specific dates, a nice improvement. These “matrix” scans cover up to a week. If you’d like your search to cover a longer period, you’d be better off using Wandering Labs because you wouldn’t have to reset your scans.
Matrix scans cost more and run less frequently. Here is the current 2022 pricing for Campsite Assist’s matrix scanning. Note that the time periods refer to how long the scanning request lasts (not the window of time being scanned).
- $25, scans run every 15 minutes up to 6 months
- $21, scans run every 45 minutes up to 4 months
- $17, scans run every 90 minutes up to 3 months
- Fastest scanning available
- Easy to use platform
- Offers multiple pricing options
- Discloses scan intervals
- No free trial
- More expensive than other options
- No membership plans
- No mobile app
UpCamp is a mobile app available in the Apple store and rates lowest on my list of campsite finders.
I found the app slow, difficult to use, and missing many campgrounds, including the World’s End State Park campground I used for my test, and Yellowstone National Park.
Information is scant on the app, and the log-in process falls short. Users who choose to bypass the login on their first visit will have a difficult time finding it. I had to remove the app and re-download it to sign up! That’s an issue for me because I like to learn about an app before giving over my contact details.
Prices have increased over the past year.
UpCamp no longer offers its $5.99 single scan. Scans are sold in bundles that start out for $14.99 for three single scans.
UpCamp doesn’t sell memberships or reveal the frequency of its scanning – a major red flag.
- Only mobile app in the group
- Limited number of campgrounds
- Scan frequency not disclosed
- App is slow and buggy
- Low value for the money
- Pricing options are a bit hard to find. To spare you the hassle of downloading the app to check pricing, I’ll break it down here:
- $14.99 – 3 scans
- $19.99 – 5 scans
- $29.99 – 10 scans
I hope this article is helpful and that you will find the campsite of your dreams this season!
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