Roughing It Right: Tips for Choosing the Best Campsite in the Great Outdoors
Camping in the woods is awesome, but it also takes some planning and preparation. One of the most important things you have to do is figure out where to put your tent or park your rig. You want to find a spot that is safe, comfy, and scenic, but also respectful of the environment and other campers. Here are some tips on how to find the best campsite when staying overnight in the woods.
Camp on Public Lands
One of the easiest ways to find a campsite in the woods is to camp on public lands run by the US Forest Service or the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). These lands have a lot of camping options, from campgrounds with basic stuff to dispersed camping areas where you can pick your own spot. Camping on public lands is usually super cheap or even free, and you can enjoy some of the most beautiful and secluded places in the country.
To find a campground or a dispersed camping area on public lands, you can use online stuff like Recreation.gov, The Dyrt, or apps like iOverlander or Campendium. You can also check out a guidebook or a map, or ask a ranger at a local office. Some popular areas may need reservations or permits, so make sure you check the rules and regulations before you go.
Choose a Flat, Shaded, and Dry Spot
Once you have decided where to camp, you need to look for a good spot for your tent or vehicle. Ideally, you want to find a flat, shaded, and dry spot that is close to water and firewood, but not too close to the trail or the water source. You also want to avoid low spots that may get flooded or cold, branches that may fall on your tent, and areas with lots of roots or rocks that may make sleeping hard.
If possible, use an existing campsite that has been used by other campers before. This will reduce your impact on the environment and help keep the area natural and beautiful. If you are camping in a dispersed area, look for signs of previous use like fire rings, cleared ground, or flattened plants. If you have to make a new campsite, choose a hard surface like gravel, sand, or dry grass.
Keep a Safe Distance from Water and Wildlife
One of the best things about camping in the woods is being close to nature and wildlife. But, you also need to be respectful and careful of your surroundings. As a general rule, you should camp at least 200 feet away from water sources and trails. This will protect the water quality, prevent erosion, and let wildlife drink water. It will also give you more privacy and peace from other campers.
You should also be aware of any potential wildlife dangers in the area. Some animals may be interested in your food or trash, so you need to store them properly in bear-proof containers or hang them from a tree. Other animals may be angry or territorial, so you need to avoid their homes or keep a safe distance from them. If you see any wildlife, do not feed them, approach them, or bother them. Just watch them from a distance and enjoy their company.
Follow Leave No Trace Principles
Finally, when camping in the woods overnight, you should follow the Leave No Trace principles. These are seven guidelines that help you reduce your impact on the environment and respect other visitors. They are:
- Plan ahead and prepare
- Travel and camp on hard surfaces
- Throw away your waste properly
- Leave what you find
- Be careful with campfires
- Respect wildlife
- Be nice to other visitors
By following these principles, you will not only find the best campsite for yourself, but also leave it better for others.
Camping in the woods overnight can be an amazing adventure if you know how to find the best campsite. By camping on public lands, choosing a flat, shaded, and dry spot, keeping a safe distance from water and wildlife, and following Leave No Trace principles, you will have a fun and awesome experience in nature.