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backpacking angeles national forest

What to look for in a campsite

Wouldn’t it be nice to just roll up on a spot and think “Yep, this is the perfect spot to camp!” Well, from my experience, it doesn’t happen THAT often. There are several things you need to take into consideration- the toilet situation to the sleeping situation- here are 7 things you should consider when picking a camping spot:

  1. Bathroom situation– Whether your at a campground or backpacking in the woods, this is something to consider. Let’s start with the campground- if your lady wants to be near the restroom or you have kids, try looking online at where the bathrooms are situated and book accordingly. Are the regular flush toilet restrooms? Then you can handle being pretty close to them. However, if they are port-a-potties or ground toilets, consider the smell that will linger when your cooking your dinner at night- especially on a hot summer day- yuck! Even without toilets this is something I consider when backpacking. I will pop a squat if I have to but not if every hiker on the trail can see me. I like to camp at a spot near trees, bushes, or large rocks so I have a nice cover!
  2. Too close for comfort- If your in a campground that is first come first serve, don’t camp right next to someone if there are open spots- try moving over a few and give them their space! I find the best place to camp is on the end so you only have one group of neighbors instead of two!
  3. Recent weather and Mother Nature- The last trip we went on was right after a big rainstorm. We noticed rockslides all around us. This made us consider camping away from the mountain- there could be a rock slide at anytime and could fall right on us! Look around and be aware of your surroundings! If you’re near a river or lake, don’t forget about all the little creatures that love water- mosquitos, spiders, even bats ! Move inland a little bit to avoid fewer bug encounters.
  4. Sleeping arrangements– When picking out your perfect spot think of the ground- don’t pick a spot that’s on top of an ant hill, slopping downward, or rocky. Pick a place that has good access for going in and out of your tent, soft ground, and flat land.
  5. Current weather– The last trip we went on had unexpected wind gusts. We had our heart set on this certain spot and when we got there we tried setting up our tents. One gust came through really strong and blow our tent out of the ground- stakes and all! Frustrated, we continued to use the spot the rest of the night because frankly, it was midnight and we didn’t want to pack up all our stuff and find a new spot. We wished we would have found a spot with some wind blockage and tougher dirt to secure our stakes.
  6. Hiking trail cautious– If there are popular hiking trails near by, by cautious of the starting route. If you camp near one, you will have hikers passing by your site from sunrise to sunset- and sometimes when you want peace and quiet, this can get on your nerves.
  7. Courteous to others– If you like to have a few cocktails and play some music, have some respect for your other campers. Don’t party next to a family or play music late in the night. Plan ahead and camp away from everyone! If you’re going to a reservation-only campground, pick a spot away from everything- bathrooms, camp host, hiking trails, beach access- anything that will stir up trouble. Get an end spot so you aren’t in the middle of everyone. If you are backpacking, find a spot away from the trail.

I know you’ve got ’em- what are some good tips for picking out the perfect camping spot?