Coming Soon: Reservations for camping sites at state parks

Signs alerting state park visitors of reservation system coming soon to camping sites
Signs alerting state park visitors of reservation system coming soon to camping sites(Terri Russell)
Published: Jun. 9, 2023 at 4:42 PM PDT

RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - Up at Sand Harbor in Lake Tahoe there’s a steady stream of visitors ready to lay out on the beach, kayak, or go swimming. When the weather heats up though, more and more people will want to do the same.

Cars will line Highway 28 parked on the side of the road or wait early in the morning to get inside the state park.

“We have cars lining up at 7:00 in the morning, that causes traffic that causes traffic issues outside the park,” says Nevada State Parks Deputy Administrator Jonathan Brujes. “Sometimes we can love our parks to death and this park always goes to capacity in the summertime.”

A changing tide is coming to Nevada State Parks. Signs--literally to prepare visitors for the inevitable.

A reservation system will soon be implemented for Nevada State Parks. But it will start first with overnight camping spots impacting about 20 parks statewide.

“There will be an option for first come first serve,” says Brunjes. “But we want people to know ahead of time. So, they are not caught off guard that we are moving toward a reservation system; that they know it is an option for them. So, again this is all about planning ahead for your trip and knowing you have a spot.”

Beginning on October 1, 2023, Washoe Lake State Park will have a reservation system in place. Brunjes says while they are recommended, reservations are not required.

“I say it is an incentive,” says Brunjes. “But it also again a way to pre plan to plan ahead, so you know where you are going and again have a guaranteed spot.”

When will Sand Harbor be brought into the reservation system?

Brunjes says more public hearings, and administrative codes will need to be changed as this park is for day use only and has no camping.

When it does happen reservations can be made three days in advance. He says the move will mean no more long waiting lines. If a visitor has a reservation he or she will be let in and have a parking spot.

After 11:00 in the morning, Brujes believes early visitors will start to leave, and spaces will be available for others with no reservations who arrive later to Sand Harbor. But at the earliest Sand Harbor won’t be on a reservation system until perhaps this time next year.

This fall though in Northern Nevada, a visitor can play it safe and make camping reservations at Washoe State Park or throw caution to the wind and just show up to see if anything is available.

Beginning October 1. 2023 if the visitor is lucky enough to land a campsite at Washoe State Park without a reservation, he or she can check the next day to see if another campsite is still available, if there is, the camper can stay another night.

That routine can continue for 14 days.