Yosemite National Park is testing out a lottery system to reserve campsites: How to apply

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Visitors take in the view of Half Dome from Yosemite National Park's Glacier Point in this file photo from July 6, 2020.
Visitors take in the view of Half Dome from Yosemite National Park's Glacier Point in this file photo from July 6, 2020.

Yosemite National Park is testing out a new lottery system to level the playing field for coveted campground reservations, which are typically snatched up within minutes online.

"Hopeful campers take days off work and recruit family and friends to simultaneously try to make any possible reservation," Yosemite posted on its website. "Still, many are unsuccessful year after year, causing frustration, disappointment, and feeling the system is flawed and unfair. 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 park hopes a pilot Early Access Lottery at its popular North Pines Campground will provide "a more equitable experience" as park demand continues to grow.

Interested applicants have several weeks to enter the lottery at their leisure, for a nonrefundable $10 fee. Results will be chosen at random by computer. Successful applicants will be given a set time to book a reservation within a window of peak dates before they are released to the general public.

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How the lottery works

Applications are currently open at Recreation.Gov. They close at 11 p.m EST on Feb. 6.

It costs $10 to apply. Only one entry is allowed per person.

Results will go out by email on Feb. 10. Applicants will also be able to see results on their Recreation.Gov account at that time.

Roughly 640 people will be chosen.

Each person selected will have the chance to make one reservation for arrival between July 21 through Sept. 14.

Reservations will cost $36 per night.

Any reservation spots that aren't claimed will be opened to the general public later on. Typically, reservation blocks open up on the 15th of each month, five months in advance.

The lottery is only for North Pines Campground. Depending on how the pilot goes, the lottery system may be expanded to other campgrounds.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Yosemite National Park tests lottery system for campsite reservations