Texas Parks and Wildlife set to debut new reservation system
Texas state park visitors will have access to a new online reservation system in early 2019 that could simplify their next outing.
The new features will allow visitors to reserve a specific campsite, purchase day passes in advance and buy or renew a park pass online. Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Marketing Manager Thomas Wilhelm said the goal of the system update is to bring ease and accessibility to park goers.
By next year, visitors will be able to go online or use their mobile devices to search and filter for sites by specific parks and site types. Wilhelm said the system will have pictures and descriptions of every single campsite and show all available reservation options to select from, similar to a movie theater with pre-selected seating. Users can view congested areas of a park to aid in their decision-making process, or to coordinate large groups to be adjacent to one another.
TPWD will also be changing their reservation window.
“Currently you reserve your sites up to 11 months in advance,” Wilhelm said. “We’re shrinking that down to 5 months because a lot of younger people and families can’t plan trips 11 months in advance.”
He said some visitors would not have the option of visiting the most popular sites with the larger reservation window.
“All of the good sites would be taken before they even started planning,” Wilhelm said. “So by reducing that reservation window, we’re making it fairer for all different types of users to get into the parks.”
The option to pay for a day entrance pass ahead of time, or buying or renewing a pass online, will also be available within the new system. Wilhelm said these online add-ons help address a problem faced by some visitors and reduce the number of people turned away at the entrance due to capacity limits.
There are about 15 state parks that turn away visitors on a frequent basis, including popular parks such as Enchanted Rock, Brazos Bend and Garner, a TPWD news release stated, but the new features will give visitors a chance to purchase day-use entry tickets in advance to ensure access to state parks before their arrival.
Wilhelm said there will be a learning curve for park visitors with the reservation system, but ultimately the update will open the door for more of the public to utilize the state parks. He said it will also provide new data insights for the department.
“The advance day use will be new data to us because before, just like customers, we couldn’t really plan for what the demand was going to be other than customers showing up,” Wilhelm said. “We’ll be able to at least have an idea of how many to expect and…know when that inventory is sold out.”
The online system will be operation in early 2019, but those interested can opt in on the TPWD website to be notified of when the system goes live.