How To Choose The Perfect Campsite

The time has finally come! You have arrived at your campsite. The kids are already running around going crazy and you are left with picking out the perfect campsite and setting up your new home away from home. The problem is, how do you know what a good campsite is? What do you even look for when choosing where to lay your head……well here are 5 tips to aid you in choosing the perfect campsite.

1. The Perfect Campsite Is Level, Level, Level!

One of the most important things about picking the perfect campsite is making sure that it is level. This is important for 2 reasons:

  1. Sleeping. The worst thing in the world is trying to sleep on an un-level surface. The truth of the matter is that in today’s world most all of us are accustom to sleeping on a nice Serta mattress that gently caresses you to sleep…..not so in the great outdoors. You really want a good nights sleep when camping, so pick a good level spot to lay your head. You want to make sure that your feet aren’t above your head or your head isn’t below your feet……both of these are going to leave you with a headache when you wake up. 
  2. Weather. Nothing can ruin a good camping trip faster than a flooded tent. Make sure to pick a nice level spot that will insure rainwater will not run into your tent if the weather takes a turn for the worst. Ex, a hill side would probably not be the best of choices when choosing a the perfect campsite. While it might be a million dollar view, if a storm rolls in, you might be enjoying the view ankle deep in mud and water.

2. The Perfect Campsite Is Big Enough For All Your Gear.

If you will be camping in a campground with predetermined camping spots, make sure to choose a spot with a big enough are to hold all your gear. If you’ve brought along chairs, a camping stove, folding table and a bug screen you will definitely want a place to set this up. Make sure that when you pick your campsite it will give you enough room to set your tent far enough away from your campfire to avoid catching your tent or supplies on fire (check out this post on building a campfire for more info.)

3. Arrive And Set Up Your Perfect Campsite Early.

If you have been camping enough times this situation will sound familiar. You get bit by the camping bug on a Friday evening after work in early spring. Your new tent you got for Christmas has been sitting in your garage all winter just begging you to give it a shot. You think, “What the heck, let’s do this thing!”. You arrive at your campsite after dark, you have a flashlight so you think you’ll have enough light to pitch your tent, besides you’ve put a tent together before, I mean how hard can it be!

Well, after and hour of frustration from setting up your tent in dark trying to find the poles, stakes and tarp, Now it’s time to build a fire. This is a bad situation and typically starts the whole camping trip on a sour note. Not only have you missed out on a great opportunity to relax and enjoy the nature, but you are also frustrated and probably a little cold and a lot of tired.

One of the best tips for picking the perfect campsite is to arrive early when it is still daylight. Trust me, setting up a tent in the daylight hours is about one gazillion times easier than it is trying to set one up by flashlight. Those poles must be scared of the dark or something because they just do not seem to work when the sun goes down. Start the trip off on the right foot and plan accordingly to arrive with plenty of time to pick out your perfect campsite before the sunlight expires for the day.

4. The Perfect Campsite Is Out Of The Wind.

Wind is not really a campsites friend. It can blow hot embers from your campfire all around, blow trash everywhere and even knock down your tent. When choosing your perfect campsite it is very important to try and choose a spot that will be oout of the wind as much as possible.

One of the best options is to choose a spot that is close to timber. Trees provide excellent shade in the hot days of summer, they also provide a good windblock in the event the wind really starts to howl. Cottonwoods, evergreens, oaks and willow trees provide great windblock. If you are lucky enough to be camping near a wooded area, take full advantage of the shelter and protection they can provide.

If choosing a campsite close to timber is not an option, your best bet is to position you campsite and your tent away from ridge tops or open areas. Also, position your tent door 90 degrees opposite the prevailing wind (Ex. If the West wind is going to be most prevalent in your area, place your tent door facing to either the North or the South.). This will minimize the effects of the wind from filling your tent and possibly blowing it around and destroying your campsite.

Sidenote: Always stake down your tent to avoid damage from winds!

5. Choose The Perfect Campsite That Is Close To Your Water Source

If you are camping at a predetermined campsite with a watersource, you want to make sure you are close enough to the water that you do not have to travel a great distance to bring it back to your campsite.

A lot of campsites around the country have been outfitted with plumbing. This is super convenient if a water faucet is close by. This will provide you with a steady supply of clean potable water to use for drinking a cooking a cleaning purposes.

If you are going for a more primitive camping experience, choose a campsite that is within 100 feet of the water source. This will allow you to minimize the amount of energy you will expend hauling water back and forth from the water supply. It’s a bad deal when it’s time for your morning cup of coffee and you have to walk 1/4 mile just to get some water to boil. Again, make your camping trip an enjoyable experience and pick a campsite close to your water source.

Bonus Tip: The Perfect Campsite Optimizes The Sun’s Warmth

As a bonus tip for you for reading this far, always position your tent so you can maximize the Sun’s warmth. In most situations (except in cases of windy conditions) if you are camping in the northern hemisphere, position your campsite and tent door so that it will face south. This will allow the maximum amount of sunlight to enter your campsite and warm you up on those cool mornings. Plus, there is nothing better than getting a front row seat to an uninterrupted sunrise to start your day!

If you follow these tips, this will make your camping trip a successful one. Camping is all about the little things and little choices. Choosing the right campsite will make your life so much better when you are out in the great outdoors!

Let me know your tips on choosing the perfect campsite in the comments section below. I definitely look forward to seeing what good tips you can offer to other reader of How To Camp Out!

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