Yosemite opens new lottery for sites at one of its campgrounds

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You can register until February 6 for chance to camp in North Pines

SAN JOSE, Calif. — In an attempt to address “frustration and disappointment” over the Yosemite reservations process, the national park this year is testing a lottery for spots at one of its campgrounds.

Through 8 p.m. Pacific time on Feb. 6, potential campers can submit their names at the Reservations.gov site for early access booking of North Pines, with arrival dates from July 21 through Sept. 14.

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On Feb. 10, 640 selected applicants will be emailed a time slot to make a reservation online, starting the following week.

There is a nonrefundable $10 fee to enter the lottery, and campsites cost $36 a night.

When the early access period is over, any remaining North Pines dates will be open for general reservations starting March 15.

North Pines is in Yosemite Valley, along the Merced River.

The seven other reservable Yosemite campgrounds will remain on the general reservation system, in which spots for peak season become available five months in advance, on the 15th of each month.

The park’s news release warns that winning a lottery spot does not guarantee the desired site and dates. It advises winners to have alternative dates in mind and to check updated availability as their booking time approaches.

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The pilot program is an attempt to address allegations of unfairness under the current reservation system, in which campsites frequently sell out within minutes of becoming available. “We regularly receive complaints from users saying they were unsuccessful because they are not computer savvy, their computers or internet connection are not fast enough, or that bots (automated computer systems) got all the reservations, or that some users receive preferential treatment. The early access lottery pilot is an attempt to address these concerns,” the Yosemite release said.

The system might be expanded to other campgrounds, depending on the pilot’s results.