Wondering where to go camping? The answer depends on where you live and how much time you have!
I have camped for 40 years, in just about any type of setting you can imagine: national park, state park, county park, dispersed National Forest Land, BLM open space, wilderness areas, reserviors, 14er base camps, private campgrounds in big cities, back yards, beaches, roadsides, cow pastures, fairgrounds, and hay lofts.
Destinations are endless, which makes knowing where to begin sometimes overwhelming. If you are the methodical type you can begin by making long-term goals based on your interests. For example, you can make a goal from any of the following:
- visiting every National Park in the lower 48 states
- visiting every one of your State Parks (then move onto the next state)
- visiting each designated National Seashores
- Visiting each National Waterway
Historical destinations are great too. I live near the Oregon Trail which is full of history. Not far is the Lewis and Clark Trail. What about civil war battlefields? You cannot actually camp on these historic sites, but you can camp nearby.
One of my future goals is to drive all the scenic byways in the U.S. Each state has designated portions of their back roads as scenic, usually for good reason. Not sure where to start? Drive the scenic byways of Colorado.
I know people who travel/camp to take part in special events and to follow hobbies. Some follow the craft show trail, others the gem shows or gun markets. How about making your camping destination a favorite dog show or a music festival? Not all events have space for campers, but many do. Camping is always available somewhere near where you want to go. You may spend a night in a KOA or similar, but it always comes with hot showers, laundry facilities and hot coffee in the morning. Such a stopover is a great way to get rested and refreshed for the next adventure and a time to replenish ice and other supplies too.
If you are not at all methodical, and you just want to get in the car/van/camper or on the motorcycle and go…just do it. There are no camping laws that say you must have a destination. Wandering is a truly wonderful way to live for a while. Just be sure to pack recreation maps and a water bottle.
The third way to determine a camping destination is a hybrid of the first two. Head to a scenic destination as a base camp, then take off from there and explore. This is perhaps my favorite. I love to wander but I also like knowing where I will be that night.
By the way, you can make reservations in National Parks and many other destinations at reserveamerica.com
Does all this talk about National Parks and back roads leave you in despair because you don’t have camping gear? Camp in your back yard! Throw a blanket over the clothesline for a tent or just sleep under the stars. Make smores over the BBQ or microwave. Camping is a mindset that includes adventure and being outdoors.
My current goals
- I love to see migrating birds. However, since birds migrate in the chilly, often snowy spring or fall months, I am too cold in my current van set-up. Over the summer I will settle on a camper of some type, maybe a travel trailer that is rated as comfortable in “4 seasons”. I will then go to prime bird migration areas for a few nights at a time.
- Another destination goal: all camping areas within a 200 mile round trip of my home. See this link and this link for the first two in 2012
- I also want to camp my way up to Alaska and see the National Parks there
- My other camping destinations: 5K venues. Most races are in the cities, however I can camp nearby.
Next Topic on Camping: WHEN to go camping. For some of us that question is more important than where.
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