How to pick a good campsite

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Picking a good campsite is one of the most important components of a fun camping trip.

There are a number of variables that factor into whether or not you will have a successful camping trip, but none is more important than the campsite.  Picking a good spot to pitch your tent involves evaluating a variety of criteria.  Here are some tips on what to look for and what to avoid.

Find the flat, high ground

The best terrain to pitch a tent on is ground that is flat and high.  Not only is sleeping on an incline or decline uncomfortable, but it will also hinder drainage if it rains.

Avoid tall grass and thickets

Knee-high grass may look cozy, but it's a haven for ticks, chiggers, snakes and other pests.  If possible, pitch your tent on a dirt base or at least in a place that's not overgrown with foliage.

camping site tent
Tent at a traditional camp site

Find a stellar view

Nothing is more relaxing than a campsite with a breathtaking view.  Look for elevated spots that give you an outlook over mountain vistas or lakes.  Also, a camping spot next to a gurgling creek will add an extra dash of peace and tranquility to your camping experience.

Grab some solitude

For most campers, one of the reasons they flee to the great outdoors is to get away from many of the stressors of everyday life and soak in nature.  Such a form of peaceful reflection can be difficult to achieve if you're in the midst of packs of other campers.

If your campsite is more crowded than desired, ask the ranger if there are any 'primitive' spots in the outlying areas, where you can get a little more peace and quiet.  Also, consider backpacking a bit deeper into the woods, where you're least likely to bump into others.   Lastly, avoid camping near traills that hikers will be frequenting.

Utilize nature

If you are backpacking deep in the woods and running low on water, try to camp close to an identifiable clean water source.  If you're going to be making a fire, it's a good idea to check and see if there is sufficient wood around.

Be safe and follow the rules

If you're in a designated campground, make sure the spot you're occupying is a marked camping spot.  If you're in the wild, make sure to avoid unstable terrain where a landslide could occur.  Also, avoid camping under cliffs, where rocks could fall.  You should also avoid camping under the limbs of trees that appear dead. If you're camping next to a river, make sure your campsite is above the watermark and not susceptible to a flash flood.

The bottom line on campsites

Picking a camping spot shouldn't be a neurotic process, but it's important to make sage decisions when deciding where to spend the night.  If you follow the guidelines above and use common sense, you're bound to find a killer camping spot and have a great time.

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