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Go online before you go camping

Have you ever wanted to scream after jumping from one website to another in a futile search for an open campground?

Alyssa Ravasio has. And she was incensed enough to do something about it.

The young San Francisco entrepreneur and UCLA grad signed up for a grueling bootcamp to learn computer coding and set to work developing Hipcamp.com, a website and soon-to-be mobile app aimed at making it easier for people to get outdoors.

An outdoorswoman who grew up in Corte Madera camping, hiking and exploring nature, Ravasio CQoften found herself trying to make plans with multiple websites open, flipping back and forth from review sites like YELP to individual county, state and U.S. Park service sites, hunting and pecking for information.

The problem is that they all have their own sites, many with big information gaps. Booking opens up months in advance, she said, and people grab camping spots not even knowing if they can or will use their reservation, making it appear there is no availability.

"It's super fragmented. There is no site that lists everything in one place," Ravasio said. There is the central site Reserve America, but it is not comprehensive and a lot of people don't know that, she added. Online sites also miss the walk-in camps which may well have availability.

She and co-founder Eric Bach CQare doing all the research themselves and so far have uploaded complete profiles of 28 parks, most in the greater Bay Area, including Salt Point, Austin Creek, Sugarloaf Ridge, Hendy Woods, Samuel P. Taylor amd more. Users who checked in last Wednesday could see that Henry Coe, Pinnacles, Austin Creek and China Camp, among others, all had last-minute camp sites available.

Ravasio, 25, who previously was on the founding team of two startups, is adding parks as fast as possible and plans to have every park with camping profiled on Hipcamp this year. After that? The entire country.


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