5 Tips for Choosing the Perfect Family Camping Site


Remember Nature

The ideal family campsite helps you enjoy nature's benefits while protecting your family from its dangers.

Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Shade. If it's warm, trees for shade are great. In cooler weather, pick a site that's sunny in the morning and shady later.
  • Wild animals. In bear habitats, observe rules about food storage, trash disposal and no snacks in the tent. In some bear-prone areas, tents and cooking outdoors are prohibited. Raccoons and wild ponies wreak havoc on food and gear left on picnic tables.
  • Snakes. A site near big rocks or fallen trees might seem fun, but be careful: Snakes love hiding places just like those.
  • Mosquitoes. If you're camping at the beach, for example, a breezy site near the ocean can be good, even if there's not much shade. Mosquitoes gather in more sheltered areas.
  • Poison ivy and other harmful plants. Don't choose a site bordered by poison ivy or poison oak. Areas of tall grass may have ticks and chiggers. If you have small children, check for poisonous mushrooms.
  • Drainage. Choose a relatively level site, but make sure it drains. A flat area can make pitching a tent easy, but if it has any depression, it may turn into a puddle or pool if it rains.
  • Hills. In cold weather, hilltops get icy winds, while frost and moisture settle into low areas. Choose a site midway up a hill.
  • Trees. Leaning trees or hanging limbs can crash down on you.

No, nature isn't that scary. In fact, it can do wonders for your camping trip. Look for wildflowers bordering a site (but don't pick!). If you're near the woods or stream, be quiet at dusk or dawn, and you might see a deer. Do some stargazing if you choose a site away from artificial light.

As long as you respect nature, you can enjoy the pleasures of the outdoors. After all, isn't that why you're camping?

Related Articles


  • Backcountry Attitude. "Choosing the Perfect Campsite." (Jan. 27, 2012) http://backcountryattitude.com/choosing_perfect_campsite_html
  • Berger, Karen. "Choosing a Campsite." GORP.com. (Jan. 25, 2012) http://www.gorp.com/hiking-guide/travel-ta-camping-hiking-sidwcmdev_057991.html
  • Camping Blogger. "Choosing the Best Camping Spots." (Jan. 24, 2012) http://www.campingblogger.net/camping/choosing-camping-spots.html
  • Greenberg, Peter. "National Park Family Camping Tips." (Jan. 26, 2012) http://www.petergreenberg.com/2010/07/29/national-park-family-camping-tips/
  • Kaboose.com. "Choosing a Campsite." (Jan. 25, 2012) http://travel.kaboose.com/road-trips/camping-guide.html
  • Pete's Family Camping Site. "In Search of the Perfect Campsite." (Jan. 26, 2012) http://home.gwi.net/~spectrum/camping.html
  • Tread Lightly! "Tread Lightly's Tips for Responsible Camping." (Jan. 27, 2012) http://www.treadlightly.org/page.php/responsible-camping/Recreation-Tips.html


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