1. Reserve Campsites As Far In Advance As Possible. Most campgrounds on Recreation.gov open up reservations 6 months (10AM EST) to the day prior to arrival and the popular campgrounds will sell out within minutes. For example, if you want to start your camp trip on July 7, then reservations opens at 10AM EST on January 7. Many National and State Parks are on the same reservation schedule. Yosemite’s campground reservations are on a slightly different schedule. If you miss out and the campground sells out, you can try our Campsite Assist service. It will send you an alert when a campsite becomes available through cancellation so you can try and reserve it.
2. Gearing Up. No need to spend a lot of money on your gear until you decide that camping is for you! You can always rent tents, trailers and RVs, as well as sleeping bags and other basic items. Or you can always borrow from your BCFFL (Best Camping Friend For Life). Also remember to purchase your firewood at or near the campground. Don’t bring in wood from outside the area that may have bugs or nasty little creatures that will infest the forest with diseases and pests.
3. Dry Run. Make sure to practice setting up your tent and playing around with your lantern, stove and other gear before you hit the road.
4. Organize. A happy camper trailer is an organized camper. Make a list of what to bring including your gear/equipment, food, clothing, first aid, sun block, toiletries, etc. Definitely include some warmer clothes (even in summer) because it does cool off at higher elevations or even along the coast. Also make a list of things to do and sights to see on your trip. And don’t forget the fun stuff for crying out loud (fishing pole, bocce ball, marsh mellow sticks, that one book, etc.).
5. Last in, First Out. When loading up the wagon, put your essential items in last (like your tent, sleeping bag and piano). That way you can easily pull those out and get started setting up your camp.
6. Food Prep. Sure you can always roast a delicious hot-dog over the fire, but also bring pots/pants, utensils and camp stove (propane fuel) to cook Aunt Emma’s stew or a pot of coffee in the morning. Also pack all perishables in a good ice chest and use ice blocks instead of cubes (blocks last longer).
7. Store Your Food Properly. Campgrounds in the high-country usually have bear-proof lockers. Make sure you put all food, ice chests and smelly stuff (deodorant, lip balm, toothpaste) in the bear box. More than one camper has had their camp trashed by bears because ice chests or other food items were left out. You can also store in your car/trunk. Just make sure it is covered with a tarp so the bears can’t see it.
8. Don’t Forget The Little Comforts. Remember to bring your favorite pillow or comfy booties to slip on in the middle of the night when nature calls.
9. Keep The Noise To A Minimum. Be respectful of other campers and wildlife. Keep the tunes and campfire stories on the low down.
10. Pack It In. Pack It Out. Last but not least, make sure you give your camp a once over before you leave to pick up any trash or gear. This is especially true if you’re doing any backcountry camping.