You wake up at dawn to witness the wilderness coming to life as the sun rises high in the sky to brighten the world. You sigh with deep contentment as the smell of pine trees fills the air. Suddenly, between the 150-foot Eastern white pine trees, you spy the cerulean blue of an alpine lake. Somewhere in the distance, coyotes howl.
Last night, after you set up your tent, you settled into your camp chair and gazed for hours at the sky sparkling with millions of diamonds studding the velvety sky. Finally, retiring to your cozy sleeping bag, you fell asleep within minutes, exhausted by your long trek to this secluded wood.
Camping is a return to a simpler way of living. It renews your long-forgotten relationship with the great outdoors. Within days, you feel more alive than you can ever remember feeling. As the weight of your urban struggles to make a living fade away like a dream, a natural sense of wide-eyed wonder awakens within you.
When you go camping, every moment of a fresh day is an experiential delight.
How to Plan a Trip
Here are some brief guidelines on how to unfurl your adventure:
Decide Where to Go
The National Park Service manages more than 84 million acres of land and a total of 392 national parks spread across the country. Most allow camping, though a rare number won’t let you sleep under the stars.
Some favorite national parks to rest your head on a camping pillow include Slough Creek Campground in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, where you can go fly-fishing, skirt past lumbering bears, and meet lonely wolves; Joshua Tree National Park in California, where you can marvel at two distinct types of deserts, the Mojave and the Colorado ecosystem; and Tuweep, Grand Canyon, National Park in Arizona, where you can stare down from the edge of your campground to the Colorado River thousands of feet below meandering like an endless blue ribbon shimmering between the sheer cliffs.
Pack Your Favorite Foods
It’s best to take dry foods like nuts, chips, rice crackers, and dried fruits, unless you have a soft cooler, in which case, it’s a good idea to take veggies, like carrots, broccoli, radishes, kale, and bell peppers…as well as fruits, like oranges, apples, grapes, and watermelons.
Take materials to build sandwiches, like bread, butter, hummus, cheese, lettuce, onions, tomatoes, pickles, and deli meats for those times when you’re famished. Also, take ingredients for S’mores, such as marshmallows, chocolate, graham crackers, and cookies, for those times when you desperately need a treat.
It’s also wonderful to brew a hot beverage in the early morning, so tuck some tea bags and packets of instant coffee into your oversized backpacks.
Get the Right Gear
Here are some things you need to add to your camping checklist:
- For sleeping, take a tent, sleeping bags, pads, and pillows.
- For lighting, take headlamps, flashlights, and lanterns, along with an extra supply of batteries.
- For outdoor furniture, take camping chairs and tables.
- For hygiene, bring water, hand sanitizer, and other zero waste products so you leave only footprints in the woods like toothpaste tablets and bamboo toothbrushes
Can You Still Go Camping?
One concern you might have about camping is whether you can still camp during the Coronavirus pandemic. Will national parks and their facilities still be open?
Since the situation changes, it’s best to get National Park Service updates about the park you’re interested in visiting.
Many national parks remain open during the time of the Coronavirus pandemic, but you do need to follow CDC guidelines and recommendations from local regulators and state health authorities on safety information.
Camping Calms Your Mind and Renews Your Spirit
Camping is a chance to experience nature more intimately, refresh your perspective, renew your hopes, discuss your aspirations, and spend quality time with your spouse, children, family, or friends.
America has vast tracts of unspoiled public land and you have many choices of where to go. Trails abound above the timberlines and close to the sea. So pore over maps, read guidebooks and pull your camping gear out of storage. An alpine lake basin, a beach trail, and a deciduous forest await you.