(CNN) — Sometimes, it’s tough being popular. Just look at the National Park Service. Record numbers of pandemic-weary visitors have shown up at many national parks during the pandemic.
California’s Yosemite National Park is so popular during peak summer season that it’s now testing a pilot program for campers: A winter lottery in which winners get a chance to make early reservations.
They’re trying this at just one especially coveted campground in the park — North Pines Campground. The lottery started on January 18 and lasts through February 6, so there’s still plenty of time to enter. They’ll release the lottery results on February 10.
The summer camping dates under the lottery are from July 21 through September 14. There is a $10 nonrefundable fee to enter the lottery.
The early access will be offered before the traditional on-sale dates. If there are any remaining spots, they’ll be available on the usual on-sale dates, which is five months in advance on the 15th of the month, the park says.
Why a lottery system?
Visitors admire the view of Yosemite Falls in the distance.
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
One economics phrase can sum up why they’re doing this pilot program: supply and demand.
Spots can sell out in minutes online, the park said.
Yosemite said it wants to “create a better experience that reduces confusion and frustration for the highly competitive reservation process” and “offer a new method for reserving campsites at this high-demand location for a more equitable experience.”
How to apply for the lottery
Recreation.gov will randomly select roughly 640 applicants, Yosemite says.
Successful lottery applicants will receive an early access date and time on February 10. The early access period when they can make a camping reservation will be from February 18 to March 10.
You can apply only once, and winners will be notified by email.
Record visitors at national parks
Big Bend National Park is in Texas along the Rio Grande with Mexico.
Big crowds aren’t an issue just for Yosemite.