If you’ve ever tried to plan a national parks vacation on your own, you’ve probably leapt over hurdles and jumped through hoops—and you might have still missed out on the campsite you wanted, or been told that guiding services were completely booked, or found yourself waiting in long lines at inopportune times to see an attraction.

Organizing RV rentals, campsite bookings, activity reservations, and all that comes with a national parks road trip is a tricky process that requires savvy maneuvering. If you’re looking ahead for your 2021 summer vacation, we recommend booking a trip no later than Thanksgiving—because by then, many trips are sold out.

Here are the top three reasons to book your vacation up to a year in advance with a travel expert like Tracks & Trails.

1. Very few sites for many more people

The National Park Service maintains just over 1,400 campgrounds, with about 27,500 different campsites. Almost half (40 percent) of those campsites are clustered in only six parks. Plus, some sites are first-come, first-served, which means not everything is reservable in advance. And many national parks’ sites are filled to capacity in peak seasons.

With almost 330 million visitors (see below) and finite NPS acreage, you don’t have to be a mathematician to understand why it’s so hard to reserve a campsite in a national park. There’s a lot of competition!

If you specifically want to book an RV campsite, your odds become much slimmer, as not every park has amenities like RV pads or full or basic hook-ups.

2. Increased demand for campsites in 2021

In 2019, almost 328 million people visited America’s national parks to soak in the endless outdoor recreation opportunities, from hiking and camping to fishing to horseback riding—that’s a 3 percent increase from 2018.

The coronavirus closures caused many thousands of camping reservations to be cancelled this year. Assuming conditions improve by early 2021 and parks fully open in spring, people will flock to national park sites in an attempt to recover their lost family vacations. Add the postponed 2020 vacations into the pre-planned 2021 vacations, and it’s not unreasonable to assume that next year’s visitation numbers will surpass those of 2019.

3. More competition for RV rentals

We’ve already reported that RV rentals skyrocketed this summer as families looked for ways to safely take vacations during the pandemic. Because so many families are understanding the benefits of RV camping trips as a way of following social distancing guidelines while enjoying the beauty and inspiration found in the national parks, Tracks & Trails’ bookings for 2021 have soared. In fact, RV rentals are already unavailable for some locations, such as Yellowstone, for summer dates more than a year ahead.

Demand is extraordinarily high for RV rentals in the summer of 2021 —and it’s not slowing down.

Why book with an expert like Tracks & Trails?

First-time RV travelers often find the planning process to be exhausting; there are so many details to iron out so far ahead that it gets overwhelming—and the last thing you want to do is lose the joy of organizing a vacation!

Tracks & Trails has been planning personalized national park RV vacations for more than 20 years. With our insider knowledge (we visit these parks ourselves every year!) and long-term relationships with suppliers, we:

1. have memorized every park’s campsite booking dates;
2. can select the best campsites in each area;
3. have strong relationships with leading guides and outfitters who provide the best service;
4. and ensure that clients secure the perfect RV for their family.

We’ve also gleaned countless tips and tricks from years of organizing trips, like which local restaurants are worth the splurge and which to skip; the must-do hikes and activities in every park; the uncrowded “hidden gems”; and many more.

Take advantage of our insider knowledge and contact us today to get a personalized trip proposal sent your way! The booking deposit for a 2021 Tracks & Trails trip is only $500.