Sometimes the most essential piece of gear for a big adventure is something completely intangible: a camping, hut, or cabin reservation. If you hope to visit some of New England's most iconic destinations this summer—including Baxter State Park (and Katahdin, pictured), Acadia National Park, and AMC huts atop the Presidential Range—consider booking your trip now. Right now you can have your pick of days, even holiday weekends. A few months (or even weeks) from now, you won't.
Acadia National Park
Maine's national park offers two drive-in campgrounds—Blackwoods and Seawall—both of which can be reserved up to six months in advance through Recreation.gov, the comprehensive reservation site for recreation on most federal lands. As of January 15, ample sites were available through July 15, including every weekend. To reserve a site in remote Duck Harbor Campground on Isle au Haut, you'll need to contact the park directly after April 1.
Baxter State Park
Baxter State Park opens its rolling reservation system for summer camping Tuesday, January 18. Reservations can be made up to four months from a given date (July 1 opens on March 1, for example) by mailing in a completed reservation form. You cannot book reservations online, though you can check current availability. You can, however, book reservations online or over the phone within 14 days of arrival—it is often worthwhile to check availability, especially if you have flexibility with your exact dates
You must make reservations for both drive-in and backcountry campsites. The park's most spectacular—and coveted—backcountry campground is Chimney Pond, which nestles at the base of Katahdin and tends to book almost instantly. (The single site at Davis Pond—a key overnight location for backpacking trips—is another crucial spot to reserve early.)
Perched above treeline along the spine of the Presidential Range, AMC's Lakes of the Clouds Hut (right) and just-renovated Madison Spring Hut (below) offer eye-popping scenery and convenient overnight locations for a multi-day adventure on the Northeast's highest mountains. They are also two of AMC's most popular destinations. Reservations are now open for the entire 2012 season; several weekends are already full (or close to it) at Lakes of the Clouds. Make a reservation now.
AMC of course offers a range of other lodging opportunities, including six more huts in the White Mountains, wilderness lodges in Maine, and several lodges in New Hampshire locations, including Mount Cardigan, Pinkham Notch, and Crawford Notch. If you motivate to make your reservation now, you can have your pick of days this coming season.
White Mountain National Forest Cabins
One final mention: The White Mountain National Forest offers three public cabins for overnight use, most notably Doubletop Cabin. You can book them up to six months in advance through Recreation.gov.
“Equipped” is an AMC Outdoors blog, written by Matt Heid.