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The 3 Essentials of a Great Camp Site

Updated on January 5, 2011

I've been into camping for awhile.  I do it for the experience.  Facing new challenges and seeing new things has always been high on my list of priorities.  Initially when I began camping my choices where hit or miss, but now I consistently find great campsites.  What I've learned is you can boil a great campsite down to the following three essentials.


Scenery needs to be your top priority when choosing a place to camp.  We all have different tastes.  Some like the ocean, some like the forest, and others the desert; but whatever your preference the scenery should be appealing to you.  There is something about seeing a pristine piece of nature that awakens something inside you.  I have found a good way to scope out scenery before you go is do a search of your preliminary camping choice in google images and see what comes up.  Doing this has led me to discover some beautiful places like Buffalo National River, Greyson Highlands State Park in VA, and Providence Canyon State Park in GA.


In my opinion there is little reason to go camping to enjoy the scenery if there are too many people there to hear yourself think.  Mt Mitchell NC was like this for me.  The place is breath taking, except for waiting in line to enjoy the vistas.  In order to really take full advantage of the beauty around you, you need to find some solitude.  Typically this means you have to be willing to hike.  My default is I look for a wilderness area.  I have found that sometimes you can find a wilderness area within a larger protected area.  For example there is the Ponca Wilderness Area inside the Buffalo National Scenic River; the Wilderness Area on the north end of Cumberland Island National Seashore; and also the Nordhouse Dunes Wilderness inside Manistee National Forest.  While these larger protected areas are major outdoors enthusiast destinations, their wilderness areas get very little traffic.


I have made this mistake before.  All the scenery and solitude in the world won't matter if you've picked a poor time to go.  This should be common sense, but I have made this mistake so chances are you will too.  What is an example of bad timing?  How about Denali National Park in the rain, or the Everglades in the Summer, or Ft Davis State Park in 103 F actual temperature with 118 F heat index.  Pick a good time of year to go.

Keep this in mind though:  what seems to be a good time to you will also seem like a good time for other people too, so you'll have to balance this with solitude.  This can be easily done.  For example, the best time of year to visit Lake of the Ozarks State Park is in the summer.  But it is busy in the summer.  Winter is a terrible time to visit.  But if you go in October you can still enjoy pretty good timing and still get the solitude to enjoy the scenery.  Keeping these tips in mind can help ensure a good experience every time


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