California State Parks Help You Find Camping Online

Beleaguered state parks find time to innovate amid budget cuts

By Jackson West
|  Tuesday, May 11, 2010  |  Updated 4:15 PM PDT
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California State Parks Help You Find Camping Online

David McNew/Getty Images

Firefighter extinguishes flames near Camp Pendleton in 2007. Marines are now battling a blaze on the base south of San Diego.

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Looking to enjoy some of California's justifiably renowned sunshine and vistas? Then look no further than FindRecreation, a new website from the California State Parks.

The site won't just help you find state-run parks, but city and national parks in the area as well. Just type in your address, set a distance you're willing to travel, and whether you're looking for a park, campground or hiking trail.

For instance, the recently reopened Rob Hill Group campsites in the Presidio mean you can pitch a tent right in San Francisco.

The site is great at finding parks -- what it doesn't do is tell you how to get there, except by driving. For instance, you could easily take the 76 Marin Headlands Muni bus to campgrounds at the foot of the Golden Gate Bridge on a Saturday and head home on Sunday.

Also, it doesn't make it particularly easy to make reservations -- for that, you still have to go through ReserveAmerica online. So there's still room for improvement.

But it's a great new tool to encourage getting outdoors, and from a beleaguered state parks service that has been hit hard by budget cuts.

Jackson West wonders if the parks couldn't earn a little revenue from iPhone and iPad app sales.

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