Reservation system planned for state parks


First Posted: 1/5/2009

RALEIGH A new reservation system is in the works for facilities at Pilot Mountain and other North Carolina parks.
The state parks system will introduce the full-service Internet- and call center-based reservations system later this year for its nearly 3,000 campsites as well as picnic shelters, cabins, community buildings and other facilities, according to the N.C. Division of Parks and Recreation.
The system, to be phased in by July 15, will allow visitors to reserve campsites at most state parks for a visit of a single night or more, and campsites and facilities can be reserved as quickly as 48 hours beforehand.
A reservations system has been the most-requested amenity in recent years by park visitors, who are increasingly Internet savvy when it comes to planning their leisure time, said Lewis Ledford, director of state parks.
It will not only help citizens get more enjoyment from their state parks, Ledford added, but help the parks and rangers manage ever-growing visitation.
In 2007, the systems 37 state parks and recreation areas had a record 13.4 million visitors.
Infospherix, a Clarksburg, Md.-based company, has a contract in place to develop and manage the reservations system. Infospherix operates similar systems in several states, including Maryland, Michigan, Ohio, Georgia and Pennsylvania, and maintains duplicate toll-free call centers in Maryland and Indiana.
Beginning April 22, people will be able to make reservations for visits on July 15 and thereafter in any of three ways: by visiting a new Web site to be linked from the state parks system site (www.ncparks.gov); by calling a toll-free, 24-hour telephone number; or by visiting state park offices or visitor centers. There will be a $3 surcharge per nights stay or per reservation to support the reservations system.
Reservations wont be required for a campsite or picnic shelter at a state park if the facility is available, and at many parks, some campsites will be set aside for walk-in registration. Without a reservation, campsites and other facilities are offered on a first-come, first-serve basis as in the past.
Only a few parks now allow reservations and those are limited to week-long stays at campsites. Many regular visitors make those reservations for favorite campsites and picnic shelters in early January. That option will still be available this year, and reservations made up until April 22 will not be affected by the change.
Eventually, this state-of-the-art system will allow us to offer other services to visitors, such as gift cards and camping essentials, Ledford said. The system also will give state parks officials information about visitor preferences and demographics.
Updates on development of the new reservations system will be available at the www.ncparks.gov Web site.

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