Guides & Tips

6 Tips for Camping in National Parks

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by Alyn Dune

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Some of the most beautiful places in the United States have been turned into national parks to preserve their beauty. Naturally, their beauty is what makes national parks such popular destinations for sightseeing, biking, hiking, and camping.

If you plan on camping in a national park, there are a variety of trip essential items that you will need to bring along, such as a tent, sleeping bag, a rugged hard cooler, first aid kit supplies, and similar things.

Along with these items, here are six tips to remember when camping in a national park.

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Source: Kevin Capretti/Shutterstock.com

Research Things Beforehand

Before deciding where you want to go camping, it is wise to research the conditions you will be experiencing before you find yourself in the middle of them.

Not only does this mean that you should research the typical weather for the month that you plan on going, but it is also important to look at any potential amenities the park offers, reviews left by other campers, and similar elements will impact your experience.

After all, depending on how you envision your camping experience, you may want something more comfortable or an adventure that is a bit more “natural.” Thus, researching the park and different campsites is important to get the best experience possible.

This leads us to our next point.

Carefully Choose Your Campground

As touched upon a moment ago, many national parks have a variety of camping areas. Each will offer different views, amenities (or be closer to or farther from various amenities), features and other things that will be of interest to you.

For example, some campgrounds will have bathrooms or grilling setups, while others will be much more barren and natural. Some sites will have bear containers for your food while others will leave the task of keeping food safe up to you and other campers.

Therefore, it is essential to research the various campgrounds that a park has to offer and select the one that most closely aligns with the type of camping trip you are looking to take.

Additionally, if you have a hard time finding such information online, you can always call the park and speak to someone who will be able to better inform you of the situation.

Make Safety a Priority

No matter the park or campsite that you select, it is critical to prioritize safety. When camping there are a number of things that can go wrong such as a sprained ankle, cuts and burns or even a bear or other wild animal wandering into your campsite.

Make Safety a Priority
Source: Pierrette Guertin/Shutterstock.com

Again, while some campsites will have bear containers for food, not all will. Purchasing a durable rolling cooler is a great idea, especially one that is certified bear-resistant.

At the same time, depending on how developed (or not) your campsite is, you will also want to bring along essential items like flashlights, first aid kits and similar items.

Make Reservations

As touched upon earlier, national parks are extremely popular destinations for camping, sightseeing and other activities. Therefore, reserving a spot at a campsite is highly advisable, even during the off-season.

Doing this will help to ensure that you can guarantee a spot for you and your friends or family for the entire duration of your planned adventure. You might even get a discount out of it, too.

Fortunately, this can be done quite easily as the National Park Service offers a program called Reserve America, which allows campers to book and pay for their campsite online.

When reserving a camping spot, it is wise to do so six months in advance.

Check in with Park Rangers

When you arrive for your trip, it is wise to check in with park rangers. Doing so will enable you to ensure you are checked into your campsite and to get any questions you might have answered by someone who works at the park.

Check in with Park Ranger
Source: Joseph Sohm/Shutterstock.com

If you aren’t sure where to go when you arrive, just head over to the visitor’s center for any information you might need.

Abide by Common Camp Etiquette

While it is important that you and your family enjoy your camping experience, it is important that you help ensure that everyone around you is having an enjoyable time as well. This means that you should keep in mind some general guidelines of camp etiquette, including:

  • Keep noise to a reasonable volume
  • Do not bring alcohol
  • Keep trash stored safely so that it does not attract wild animals
  • Be mindful of your light at nighttime

Soak in The Beauty of The National Parks

Going camping in a national park can be a wonderful, memorable experience. However, getting the most out of your trip means that you will need to put in a bit of research time on the front end.

Be sure to follow these tips when planning your next camping adventure.

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