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How to Choose a Campsite


Before setting up your tent, remember these six keys to choosing a safe and comfortable campsite.


Find a site away from low-lying places that could fill with water during a flash flood. Stay away from valleys, canyons and banks of small, shallow rivers. Avoid camping near lone trees, mountaintops, high ridges and other likely lightning targets. Don’t camp near dead or dying trees; the wind could blow them down on you. Higher ground can be dangerous if you see signs of erosion.


Make sure your site is large enough for members of your camping party to set up their tents and cook their meals.


Make sure your site has good drainage, natural ground cover and enough sunlight for visibility.


Respect the privacy of others. Trees, bushes and the shape of the terrain can screen your camp from trails and neighboring campsites.


Check ahead of time with public parks, forest and reserves. They can issue any permits you will need. Never camp on private property without permission.


You’ll need plenty of water for drinking, cooking and cleaning. Public water supplies are the safest and can be found in most frontcountry campsites. Water from streams, rivers or lakes should be properly treated before use.

16 Comments on How to Choose a Campsite

  1. Favorite Cousin // June 8, 2022 at 11:17 pm // Reply

    I’m not a camper but I have a question you might be able to help with. It’s important to be near a watercourse but often those watercourses are at the bottom of a slope. Is there a way to ensure my site is protected from a rainstorm? I have had unfortunate experiences with this in VT.

  2. how do you know the rocks are going to fall

  3. Look up to make sure there are no hanging branches or dead trees above the campsite.

  4. 👌👌👌 // December 26, 2019 at 3:43 pm // Reply

    Don’t set up your tent near big rocks that could fall.

  5. Timecat108 // July 28, 2018 at 7:39 pm // Reply

    Avoid Animal Homes as well. Wouldn’t want a bear roaming through your stuff.

  6. Scoutmaster Frank // February 13, 2018 at 10:56 am // Reply

    Do not pitch tent under overhanging limbs. My cousin went on a family camping trip. His aunt pitched her tent under some overhanging limbs. One broke off overnight, crushing her. She did not survive. Rare occurrence, but it did happen.

  7. Look for a site that has grassy or dirt/sandy area large enough for your tent to be on, if its rocky you could potentially damage your tent. Also be aware of ground vegetation under your tent. Its no fun to find you’ve accidentally set up on a cactus especially with your bare feet or hands. Shade is often good to have especially in the southern climates.

  8. If another group has a camp already set up, give them plenty of distance.

  9. Great tips!! Another tip for thosr that may sleep walk..use fishing string and a small bell to let others know when a scout is up and getting out of tent.

  10. Camp on durable surfaces, designated sites. Leave no trace.

  11. At LEAST 200 feet from a water source, and 200 feet from the trail.

  12. Shade?

  13. how to set a tent up

  14. another thing is you don’t want to pitch your tent near a fire pit

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