One of the dilemmas faced by newbie campers is choosing a campsite. How do you know what makes a good campsite if you’ve never been camping before?
Whenever Jason and I visit a new campground, we always scope out the “best” campsites on the property. I carry my handy camping journal to jot down notes about each campground, the site we’re staying at, and possible sites to reserve for future trips.
What do we look for when choosing a campsite? Here are three of our top criteria:
When we go camping, we want to 1) feel like we’re deep in the woods and 2) camp without the obvious presence of strangers. We look for campsites that are wooded and that are concealed from the campsites around it. When you go camping for relaxation, the more secluded the site the better.
Another benefit of seclusion: Our dogs have fewer things to bark at. Neither Bailey or Naya are big barkers, but when something gets them going, it’s hard to stop them. When we can’t easily see other people or dogs walking past our campsite, it makes for a much more pleasant experience for all involved.
2. Proximity to Facilities
This is a little less of an issue with a camper, but we’ve always preferred campsites that are close to a bath/shower house. The last thing I want to do is walk halfway across the campground in the middle of the night just to go to the bathroom.
Our camper has a wet bath, so the whole bathroom is the shower with a toilet in the middle. It’s a tight squeeze and while I might be able to shower in it, Jason will not. We’ll still choose a campsite close to a bath house for showering.
The layout of a campsite is an overlooked, but very important quality. Where is everything — from the tent pad to fire ring — situated?
Our favorite campsite in Door County’s Peninsula State Park has the perfect layout. The tent pad sits at one end of the site, the fire ring sits at the other end, and there’s just enough space to put up a screen room in between. And while there is room for these three living spaces, it’s not so large a site that you feel too spread out. It fits everything we need within the perfect amount of space.
Compare this to our site at Ottawa Lake in the Kettle Moraine State Forest. It was a huge site (bonus?), but everything was really spread out. Our camper was parked in the driveway (at the end of which was the tent pad), but the fire ring seemed like it was in it’s own campsite. I know I don’t want the fire ring right next to our flammable tent or camper canopy, but I also don’t want to feel like our little family of four is camping on two separate sites.
Feeling at home while camping is part of the fun, and certain things about a campsite can make or break a trip. We’ve been lucky to love most of the campsites we’ve stayed at. I can’t wait to see where our home away from home will take us next!
What do you look for in a campsite?