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Sleeping under the stars in the crisp mountain air, reeking of campfire, waking up each morning with dew on your pillow, and eating enough smores to make you ill are all ingredients for a successful camping trip. In an effort to make your next trip better than the last, we thought we’d share a few tips for choosing the perfect campsite.
1.Know about the area you are headed:
Do your research. Read about and call the location you are planning to camp at in advance to make sure there are no regulations, fees or closures that you may be unaware of. The worst experience is getting excited for a trip followed by an epic let down due to poor weather conditions, avalanches, etc.
2.Stay away from the trails:
When hiking around in the mountains, whether camping or not, when I see people’s campsite’s set up directly off the side of a trail, I always wonder, what were they thinking? Don’t these happy campers get tired of people passing them by and interrupting their serene days and nights in the mountains? Is this really where they want to be? Or did fatigue set in and this is where they ended up plopping down? Don’t fall into this trap, keep going until you get to a truly worthwhile place to set up camp, it will be worth it.
3.Find a flat, smooth area for the entirety of your tent:
This may seem obvious, but there have been many times when I’ve thought my tent was in a flat spot only to find my tent was bigger than I estimated. Then, at midnight when I finally lay down for the night, my head is much lower than my feet, the bodily incline making for a less than ideal night sleep (cue all the blood rushing to your head). It may be impossible to choose a fully flat spot, but try your best and set up your tent strategically so you can be comfortable in your living quarters.
4.Find some shade:
You may want some sun in portions of your campsite, but unless you like to be woken up at the crack of dawn (which some of you might), I would recommend getting your tent in a place that has some shade from the sun so that if you’re lucky, you might be able to sleep past 5 am.
5.Consider proximity to water:
You don’t want to be too close to water, otherwise other campers will disturb you while retrieving water, the water could rise up or you could even have some unexpected run ins with wildlife. “Leave no trace” principles recommend being 200 feet away from water. With that in mind, when you need water to gather for filtering, to use for cleaning, etc. you also don’t want to be a mile away from it, so find a happy medium.
6.Consider the size of your stake out:
Make sure the spot you choose is large enough for you and your homies to both pitch your tents, cook your food, and relax without bumping into each other when strolling around. Also, be considerate of other campers and don’t take up an unnecessary amount of space.
7.Arrive to your site before bed:
If you don’t arrive to your site until dark, then not only is it going to be more difficult to set up site, but you may choose a spot that is less than ideal due to a lack of full vision. You should try to get to your destination 2 hours before the sun goes down in order to have ample time to get setup and enjoy the night.
8.Assess the surroundings above you:
Make sure that you don’t pitch your tent under a tree that looks like it could be dead, or in an area where there are large branches on the ground which could indicate that something could come crashing down on you unexpectedly during the night.
9.Choose a scenic view:
Choose a spot that isn’t cramping your or another camper’s space. This way when the morning comes and you unzip your tent, you won’t be looking straight into another person’s face or a porta-potty.
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