Lets Go Camping !
There is a reason why “the great outdoors” is described that way. Man’s natural and primitive needs are fulfilled by spending quality time outside. Camping offers us the opportunity to revel in the original form of the world, enjoy both solitude and great companionship and develop a sense of survival and accomplishment. You can hike a mountain ridge with a hundred mile view in all directions, watch a brilliant sunset on the lake or enjoy the view of a rainbow from the rain shelter of a tall pine. Weather your idea of camping is backpacking in true wilderness, car camping to the local state park or traveling the country in a thirty foot RV, the feelings can be equally wonderful. As with most aspects of life, proper preparation will prove to be immensely helpful. Remember the boy scout motto – Always Be Prepared!
Where to go camping? One of the great things about planning a camping trip is the vast number of places you can choose from. Throughout the US and Canada there are many National Parks, National Forests, State Parks, Wilderness Areas and private campgrounds that will offer the type of experience you are looking for.
National Forests – One our favorite places for hassle free camping are National Forests (www.fs.fed.us) These can be easily researched on the web, as can just about any camping area. One of the great things about National Forest Campgrounds is that they offer a wide variety of beautiful natural settings. Some National Forests can be surprisingly empty even in the middle of the summer. They are also generally inexpensive and many offer “dispersed camping”. These are remote areas where you can camp (often for free) in an unestablished campground. This is ideal for those looking for some peace and quiet. Accommodations will be very minimal but you may find that you have located a truly great place to camp. Be sure to check with the National Forest you are going to visit if you plan to camp this way to get full details.
Both National Forests and National Parks are generally located in some of the most spectacular and scenic areas. Parks such as Yellowstone, Yosemite and Rocky Mountain National Park are wonderful places to visit but they do offer slightly different experiences then National Forests.
National Parks are established primarily for the benefit of visitors to enjoy. 275 million Americans per year visit these parks so you will not be alone unless you make a point to get off the beaten path. (www.NPS.gov) will provide helpful information on National Parks. National Parks and the National Park Service are set up and maintained by the Department of the Interior while National Forests are run by the Department of Agriculture and the campgrounds and other recreational services are a non-profit component of this department.
To really learn about the great history of National Parks you may want to watch Ken Burn’s series The National Parks: America’s Best Idea. This six part documentary series was filmed over six years in such locations as Arcadia, Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon, Yosemite and the Everglades. Along with being a story of these great places it is also a story of the many people involved in this “Great Idea”. Strongly recommended.
It is a great idea to conduct a lot of research to fully understand the area you are going to visit. Print out the important information you find and bring it with you as later this can be very useful. With the help of the Google Earth program you can actually see the place you will be camping.
Another idea that can provide some very useful information is to call the ranger station for the camping area you are planning to visit. If you are planning to enjoy some fishing on your camping trip it is also strongly recommended that you call the local area fishing shops before you go. They will have much more fishing information then the campground employees. The folks working in the local fly/fishing shop are invaluable and will often share vital information with you. Details about water level, best ares to fish and what flies or bait to use will be offered. You can repay the favor by visiting the store when you are in their area. Even though calling the campground, Forest or Park office is very useful for camping information, the people working there generally know absolutely nothing about fishing! Very surprising – but true! This odd fact was recently emphasized in northern Maine. While checking into a campground located directly on the West Branch of the Penobscott River. Renowned for great fishing, the woman working at the campground was asked “so how has the fishing been?” The response was “Fishing? What do you mean by fishing? …oh, actually trying to catch those things?”…… Needless to say this person did not offer any recommendations on what type of flies the landlocked salmon and brook trout were currently hitting!
One other lesson that can be learned from the Boy Scouts is the Outdoor Code. With this in mind you can always have a fun, enjoyable and responsible outdoor experience.
The Outdoor Code
—-I will do my best to—
Be clean in my outdoor manners
Be careful with fire
Be considerate in the outdoors,
Be conservation minded.