Although America's great national parks and national forests are prepared to sleep 300,000 campers any night from now through September, many thousands will be turned away. Neither national parks nor national forests reserve camping space in advance. July and August are the crowded months, and the campsites along the route to the Seattle Fair will be the most crowded of all. To avoid disappointment, camp midweek, and aim for lesser-known parks.
In addition to the national parks, there are more than 1,000 state parks and forests, and many of these will take reservations. But they are apt to be crowded, too—New York state turned away 100,000 people last year. For a list of state camps and reservation information, write for the Campers Reference Guide, SI, Camping Council, 17 East 48 Street, New York 17, N.Y. Also good: Hammond's Guide to Campsites, a paperback available at bookstores for $2.50.
Private camping areas can be found almost everywhere. Their rates are higher—ranging from $I to $2.50 a day—but they are often worth it. An up-to-date list of them, Private Campgrounds USA, can be had for $1 from Camping Maps USA, Box 862, Upper Montclair 19, N.J.
Campers often rent their equipment. Prices vary, but a two-man tent is about $10 a week, and sleeping bags (with clean liners) and propane stoves can be had for about $3.50. A family of four can rent all it takes to "smooth it" in the woods for around $35 a week. Herewith a selected group of suppliers who specialize in camping gear: BOSTON, Hilton's Tent City, 272 Friend St. CHICAGO, Easy Camping, 1789 West Howard St. DETROIT, Cobb Canvas Co., 2720 West Fort St. NEW ORLEANS, Foster Rental Service, 3505 D'Hemecourt St. NEW YORK, Morsan Tents, 10-15 50th Ave., Long Island City. PASADENA, Bradley's, 99 East Colorado St. SAN FRANCISCO, Sullivan Awning Company, 245 South Van Ness Ave.