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Reservations Coming To Needles District Campground In Canyonlands National Park


You'll soon be able to reserve a campsite in The Needles District of Canyonlands National Park/NPS

Campsites in many national parks are becoming harder and harder to snag as visitation to the parks increases, and some of the hardest sites to land have been in the Squaw Flat Campground of Canyonlands National Park due to its remote location and first-come, first-served policy. That is changing.

Beginning Wednesday you'll be able to reserve a campsite in Loop A of the 26-site campground via According to park officials, you'll be able to reserve a campsite for dates from March 15 through June 30 and again from September 1 through October 31. Sites in Loop A will be available first-come, first-served all other times of the year.

Loop B of the campground is open spring through fall; all sites are first-come, first-served.

Due to increased visitation over the last few years, demand for campsites at The Needles District during the spring and autumn months has grown significantly. Visitors often drive the 45 minutes from U.S. Highway 191 to the campground only to find all sites already occupied. Offering reservations for Loop A will allow visitors to plan ahead and ensure that they have a campsite upon arrival, park officials said in a release Friday.

Visitors can make reservations on beginning January 11. Campsites are $20 per night, $10 per night for Interagency Senior, Access, Golden Age, and Golden Access pass holders. In addition, a $10 non-refundable reservation fee will be charged when booking a campsite through


This is a terrible decision. Camping and traveling should be a liberating, spontaneous experience. Deciding where to go next and how long to stay is one of the joys of road-tripping. Now, like in other National Parks, visitors will have to plan months ahead if they want to stay in the lovely "A" loop of Squaw Flats. And knowing that sites can be reserved months ahead, larger groups can plan to meet up there . Beer pong Labor Day weekend anyone?  Hey, let's reserve at Squaw Flats for fall break. Don't forget your blue tooth speakers and guitars. Say good-bye to the remote, quiet Squaw Flats experience.

Thanks for doing your homework and properly identifying the Squaw Flat Campground. A number of other outlets are running the NPS announcement as is; incorrectly calling the campground "Needles Campground".

Makes me nostalgic for those simpler days when we could find a campsite in most any park without having to have a reservation.  We have camped at Squaw Flat and been the only ones there.  And makes me sad that future visitors now have to plan so far ahead.  The spontaneity of a camping road trip is lost.  

I only have 10 days a year to visit the national parks which means showing up and finding no place to camp wastes a significant amount of my annual vacation.


At such a remote location at it is even more helpful to know that you have a place to lay your head at the end of the day  


 I think it is a good compromise they have hit upon to make some sites reserve a bowl and some sights on a walk in basis      



That's how it's identified on the Canyonland NP website, regardless of how we old-timers know it.


The Needles Campground

Fee: $20 per night
26 sites available:

Loop A is open year-round. Beginning January 11, you may reserve sites for March 15 through June 30 and September 1 through October 31. Other times of the year, Loop A is first-come, first-served.
Loop B is open spring through fall. Sites are available first-come, first-served.

Bathrooms, fire grates, picnic tables, tent pads.
Water is available spring through fall.

The campground typically fills every day from late March through June and again from early September to mid-October.

The Needles has three group campsites for groups of 11 or more.

There's a reason coming in due time to the name change...

Make no mistake. The ultimate objective of is to be a (the) paywall between the public and our public lands. Besides campground reservations they also control permits and lotteries for river trips and limited-access permits for wilderness (both big-W and little-w) in more and more places. In the Forest Service, they are now stretching the definition of "reservation" beyond recognition. At an increasing number of FS campgrounds, you can't pay the camping fee on-site at all. You have to "reserve" and pay online (credit card only) to, including the "reservation fee" - even if you are already there and have found an unoccupied site, unreserved and available and maybe you're already parked in it! This started with the Mendenhall CG in Alaska. It's now spreading throughout the USFS and mark my words the NPS will be following suit before long. That means not only that spontaneous, "where shall we stay tonight?" trips will no longer be possible, it means that only those with a smartphone and a credit card will be allowed to access public lands. This will be another factor driving the penetration of cell service into remoter and remoter places - otherwise "how oh how can we get access to "reserve" our campsite/access permit?" has been run by The Active Network, a multinational corporation. Last year the contract was awarded to Booz Allen Hamilton, another multinational corporation. That's being appealed (probably by TAN), but it's nothing more than coyotes fighting over a dead rabbit. Either way, the public gets screwed.

Sorry Kbenzar, can't buy in to your paywall conspiracy.  While reserved campsites might be the bane of the spontaneous traveler, it is the godsend for the traveler that likes to have a planned iternary.  I lamented this past summer about Great Basin not taking reservations.  With it being in the middle of nowhere, being refused at the gate was not an option.  I didn't go.  The best option is having a mix of reservable and non-reservable sites.  But I do agree that if you arrive to an empty and unreserved spot, you should be able to claim it.  I suspect communication and money collection logistics may play a role in the unwillingness of the NPS or FS to allow that to happen.  Surmountable, but not without expense.   Now whether the res fee should be $4 is a good question.  That is a 40% premium for most places.  Seems like a reservation system should be able to be run on a much thinner margin.  I can tell you, Trivago isn't making 40% on their bookings.  

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