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How to Choose a Camping Location

Deciding where to locate your campsite is a little less challenging when you keep the following tips in mind.


  • Step 1: Explore the area Explore the area thoroughly while there is still plenty of daylight.
  • Step 2: Look for positive features Look for resources that make camping easier and avoid dangerous landscape. Make sure there is a nearby source of water. Be on the lookout for potential hazards such as overhead branches and loose rockfall.
  • TIP: Consult a topographical map to see where the wind and rising heat will likely come from. If you don't have a topographical map or don't know how to read one, remember that warm air rises, so higher locations will be warmer at night.
  • Step 3: Consider weather extremes Give some thought to how the site will fare in weather extremes such as high winds, flash floods, and electrical storms.
  • Step 4: Look for previously used campsites Seek out campsites that have been used by others in the past. Don't camp on top of sensitive vegetation or plants that are endangered or threatened, and vary your routes to your water source and the latrine so that they don't damage the site.
  • Step 5: Consider local conditions Choose a site that provides a natural response to local conditions. Seek out the shade of the forest in summer, and a site some distance from water in mosquito country. Now you're ready to head for the back country.
  • FACT: John Wesley Powell was given authorization in 1884 to begin the first systematic topographic mapping of the United States.

You Will Need

  • Daylight
  • Previously used site
  • Responsiveness to local conditions
  • Topographical map (optional)

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