It’s camping season! If you’re anything like us, you’re looking forward to night time skies filled with stars, roaring fires with the smell of roasting marshmallows, and of course, warmer nights that mean you can sleep outdoors. If you are headed out with a tent and sleeping bag, ready for an adventure, you’ll need to know a couple of things about WHERE to pitch that tent, because we all know, not every camping spot is created equal.
1. Follow regulations. Many states and parks have regulations of where you can camp. Make sure to follow them so we can keep our lands clean. Often times these restrictions will tell you how far from roads, trails, and water sources you should camp. Also remember to clean up after yourself and to leave the spot better than you found it by picking up any trash left from previous occupants.
2. Choose a level and shaded site. Sleeping on an incline is no fun, and a hot stuffy tent isn’t either. This also includes shade from wind. Having a tent flap in the wind all night leads to a poor night’s sleep. If it is a windy area, make sure to pitch your tent with the foot facing into the wind. It will help minimize the noise as protect your tent. It also helps the tent withstand any large gusts.
3. Watch for overhead dangers. Rotting trees or powerlines could be dangers. Avoid pitching your tent below these items. In addition, look for trees that may drop sap. You don’t want the sticky mess on your tent.
4. Choose a spot that has good drainage. Should it rain, low areas could fill with water and flood your tent. In addition to good drainage, use a tarp or a footprint under your tent. It should be the same size as the base of your tent and not extend out farther than the edges. This will help keep water from sitting directly under your tent as well as help to protect the floor from sticks or rocks puncturing it.
5. Inspect the area before pitching your tent. Look for hidden rocks in the ground. You don’t want to puncture your tent. Check grassy areas as well as bare. It may look nice and soft, but a misplaced rock will lead to a long restless night of sleep.
6. Choose a good location that is close to a water supply, fire pit, etc. Think big picture for all of the activities you are likely to do. Do you have room to cook and wash dishes? What about access to drinking water? What about restrooms? You want to be close enough to use them, but far enough to avoid smell and foot traffic.
7. Set up in daylight, if possible. You are more likely to spot dangers in the light, as well as less likely to disturb any neighbors. If you do have to set up at night, do your best to set up quickly and quietly. Sweep the ground and nearby area for dangers such as rocks, sticks, and even animals.
Setting up a tent usually comes down to preference and area, but it’s always a good idea to check out your area before you pitch your tent. What other ideas do you have? Any tips or tricks to add to the list?