A new camping website, www.Hipcamp.com, should be a hit with Texas outdoors enthusiasts. The name is intended to draw a younger audience that can freely interact with other hip campers while they narrow down the best Texas campsites.
Hipcamp was conceived out of frustration in 2013, when co-founder Alyssa Ravasio spent hours visiting California state and national websites, searching for the perfect seaside camping getaway. She found it in Big Sur.
Until she arrived at the campground, Ravasio did not know that this particular stretch of beach featured terrific waves, just right for surfing. Ravasio is a surfer, but she did not know about the surfing potential at the campground and failed to take her surfboard.
She figured there had to be a better system of getting complete information to campers, hikers, surfers, birders, rock climbers, river runners, et al., and what better way than a website with reviews from actual users?
Hipcamp is now in Texas, a state that Hipcamp co-founder Eric Bach considers underrated when it comes to the outdoors.
“A lot of people don’t give Texas credit as being an awesome place to get outside, but we’ve found that it absolutely is,” Bach said. “Texas’ outdoors scene is growing, and we’ve gotten a ton of demand from users.”
Hipcamp consolidates on one website Texas state parks, national parks and National Forest Service campgrounds throughout the state. Bach said the plan is to add U.S. Army Corps of Engineers parks, county parks and private campgrounds.
Once you’ve found the campground that offers what you want, Hipcamp links you to TPWD or other website to make the booking.
Input from users is where Hipcamp is distinctly different from government websites that serve as a portal to the outdoors.
“The combination of our intuitive interface, written content and user-uploaded photos and tips helps make us a more useful resource than the government websites,” Bach said.
I looked at the Hipcamp listing for a state park that I know well. It mentioned a hot spring that I know does not exist, and there was no mention of the endangered golden-cheeked warblers that nest in the park and are certainly of interest to birders.
Within an hour of emailing that information to Bach, the hot spring was removed from the website and the warblers were added.
By contrast, TPWD’s home page this week still featured stories on the “2014 Hunting Season Forecast” and how to “Avoid Common Deer Hunting Mistakes.” Except for properties that hold managed-land deer permits and are still hunting does, deer season is over. The wheels of progress turn slowly at a government agency.
In the meantime, Hipcamp relies on outdoors enthusiasts called “voyagers,” who act as ambassadors both for the Texas outdoors and for Hipcamp, contributing photos and tips about every park they visit.
Bach said Florida is the next state for Hipcamp. “We’re in the process of expanding to many more states,” he said. “We should have most of the U.S. covered by the end of summer. We’ve had a lot of demand and are excited to help more people get outside.”
Hipcamp does not receive a booking fee for campgrounds. Bach said he and his partners are still working to develop a plan on how to profit from the website.
Big striped bass at Lake Texoma have undergone a resurgence in recent years. Impounded in 1944, the Texas-Oklahoma border lake has seen many changes.
Tim Patton, professor of biology at Southeastern Oklahoma State, will talk about these changes from 10 to 11:30 a.m. Saturday during the Second Saturday program in the visitor center at Hagerman National Refuge, 6465 Refuge Road in Sherman. For details, visit www.friendsofhagerman.com or call 903-786-2826.
Feb. 19-21 — Pond Boss VI Conference and Expo at the Hilton Dallas/Rockwall Lakefront hotel in Rockwall. Seminars and vendors for building and managing small water fisheries. Visit www.pondboss.com or call 903-564-6144.
Feb. 22 — Quail season ends statewide.
Feb. 28 — North Texas Chapter of Safari Club International banquet and auction at Embassy Suites Outdoor World in Grapevine. For tickets and details, visit www.scinorthtexas.com.
Feb. 28 — 10th annual Shilen Rifle Swap Meet, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 205 Metro Park Blvd. in Ennis. Tours of Shilen rifle barrel factory, open to vendors and gun enthusiasts. Vendors should call 972-875-5318 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Feb. 28 — Winter crappie fishing regulations at Lake Fork and Lake O’ the Pines end. Daily bag limit for crappie reverts to statewide limit of 25 fish at 10-inch minimum size.
Feb. 28 — Cabela’s King Kat 2015 Tournament Trail begins at Lake Tawakoni. Visit www.kingkatusa.com.
March 14 — Fly Fish Texas, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center in Athens. Visit https://tpwd.texas.gov/calendar/fly-fish-texas.
March 14 and 15 — Special youth-only Rio Grande turkey season in the South Zone.
March 21 — Spring season for Rio Grande turkeys begins in the South Zone.
March 28 and 29 — Special youth-only Rio Grande turkey season in the North Zone.
April 4 — Spring season for Rio Grande turkeys begins in the North Zone.