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?
- 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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