Campers planning to visit Lake Livingston State Park in the Pineywoods can now select a specific campsite while making reservation under a one-year pilot program introduced recently. The site-specific reservations policy is unprecedented in the Texas State Park system, which has always operated on a first-come, first-served basis when securing a campsite.
So far, park officials give the pilot program positive marks. During the first two weeks of its implementation on Jan. 13, 528 reservations were made for the 10 screened shelters and 34 full-hookup, 50-amp service campsites participating in the program. In total, the state park has more than 170 campsites and 10 screened shelters.
“We wanted to explore new options to provide the best possible park experience while ensuring better access for late arrivals,” says Sheldon Kauitzsch, assistant park superintendent. “This pilot was driven in part by past visitor comments and a recent survey of park users that overwhelming confirmed they wanted this option.”
An internal Texas Parks and Wildlife Department team spent a year researching the site-specific reservation issue, talking to other organizations that use that system. The team learned that 48 other state park systems take site-specific reservations.
One of the keys to implementing the site-specific reservation program was the development of an interactive park map of the campgrounds that includes two photos and a brief description. Visitors to the park’s website can “click” on a “map” button that allows them to virtually see and then reserve in advance a specific screened shelter or one of the campsites.
“It provides a visitor who has never been to our park the ability to see the sites beforehand,” Kauitzsch explains. “The RV owner, for instance, can find out the orientation, slope and measurements of the campsite, where the trees are located that might interfere with slide-outs and the location of sewer drops.”
For late arrivals and those who find their reserved campsite has an issue that can’t be resolved quickly, the park also has set aside an additional three “local” campsites to accommodate them. A post-launch survey is in development that will provide customer feedback about the new campsite reservation system.
Once a website visitor selects a campsite or shelter, the individual can“click” on an online reservation website link to finalize the transaction. Reservations also can be made by calling (512) 389-8900.
The park entrance fee is $5 for persons 13 and older. Campsites range from $10 to $25 per night. Screened shelters rent for $30 per night.
Lake Livingston State Park covers 635 acres on the southeastern shore of 83,000-acre Lake Livingston about 75 miles outside Houston. It opened to the public in 1977 and is popular with anglers, campers, hikers, horseback riders and mountain bikers. For more information, contact the park at (936) 365-2201. To find out about other Texas State Parks, call (800) 792-1112.