With summer comes longer days and the growing urge to pack your gear and head out into the wilderness to commune with nature. If only 48 million other people weren’t having the same thoughts! If your ideas of summer camping don’t mesh with sharing nature with the crowds and straining to hear birdsongs over the shouts of children playing, it’s going to take a little planning to pick your ideal camp spot.
Fortunately, it is possible to find those lesser-known locations, so here are a few pointers on how to go about your search!
Summer Camping Near Your Favorite National Parks
America’s national parks are true gems. For many people, the ideal warm-weather vacation includes taking in one of these beauties. There’s a good reason Yellowstone, Yosemite, and Glacier are the three most popular national parks, and they’re particularly appealing in the summer. This means the crowds flock to these locations. Luckily, you don’t have to forego a visit to a national park altogether.
But if you want to find a summer camping spot on the quieter side, you need to expand your search.
Camping in the Surrounding National Forests
When folks plan their trips to the national parks, they seek out on-site campgrounds first. If they can’t reserve a spot there, they look for nearby private campgrounds. These places tend to have a lot of amenities, an appealing factor for many tourists. Fewer campers look to the national forests as an alternative place to camp because they lack the extras you find in private campgrounds or even in many state parks. Most national parks are surrounded by national forests or have one or more nearby.
The US Forest Service (USFS) operates campgrounds within many of them. If you don’t mind fewer conveniences during your summer camping trip, check out the USFS campgrounds near the park you want to visit. Campground services vary widely, and you may have little more than a designated camp spot and access to pit toilets, but you are likely to also have space to spread out, fewer crowds, and more of the peace and quiet you seek.
Dispersed Summer Camping on Public Lands
Another option to get you further away from crowds is dispersed camping on public lands. You can legally set up camp in many of our national forests or lands operated by the Bureau of Land Management in locations that aren’t established campgrounds. Often, dispersed camping sites have designated spots but not always. They are also usually free.
However, some free, public camping spots can get super-crowded in the summers, with RVs and tent campers packed in like sardines. You may need to do some research to find out how popular and dispersed your options are.
Summer Camping Off the Beaten Path
You can tick a national park off your list and avoid the crowds by heading to one of the least-visited but still amazing national parks. Not surprisingly, a few are in Alaska, so those might be quite a trek (but what an experience it will be!) However, others are conveniently located in the Lower 48, and they’re in beautiful locations.
Look Beyond the Obvious
While places like the national parks are trendy, and we certainly recommend visiting as many of these locations as you can in your lifetime, you can broaden your horizons by looking beyond some of the most obvious summer camping destinations. There are options far from the crowds.
Choose the environment you’d like to spend time in, decide how far you’re willing to travel, and then look at a map to see which regions or states might fit the bill. After choosing a general vicinity, hop on an app, such as Campendium, to find campground locations in the area. Read the descriptions and reviews to determine if the campground or site meets your criteria for the ideal summer camping spot.
Summer Camping Preparedness
The key to beating the summer crowds is ensuring you’re prepared. It isn’t likely that you’ll find a campground that is chock-full of amenities, with sites that have privacy, in the middle of the natural surroundings you desire. Some of the most ideal sites are in more remote locations, which is great unless you aren’t set up. Here are a few preparedness tips:
- Make sure your vehicle (whether it’s a car, truck, van, or RV) can handle the road to the site. Don’t just rely on reviews if you’re dispersed camping. Scout ahead when you arrive at your summer camping spot.
- Be prepared for the weather conditions you may find at your desired location. Without built-in amenities, you need to know that you’re equipped to deal with changes in temperature and precipitation.
- Consider bringing along a power supply. With a portable solar panel, you can power any necessities you need. If you’re in a camper van, trailer, or motorhome, installing solar panels opens a whole new world of possibilities for your summer camping.
- Know your limits. Getting away from it all and escaping the crowds on your summer vacation can be a great experience, but knowing what you can or can’t handle is essential.
It is possible to beat the crowds when you go camping this summer, but it’s a great idea to start planning early. It’ll give you more time to find that perfect spot. When you find it, you might want to keep it a secret.
Where to Find Solar Panels Before Your Summer Camping Trip
Consider solar power if you’re looking to head out for a summer camping trip and want to escape the crowds. At Unbound Solar, we believe getting in touch with nature is good for people and — ultimately — good for the planet.
Using solar to supply your power gives you the freedom to get off the beaten path when you camp. Check out our portable panels. If you have any questions or need help finding something that works for you, reach out. We’re happy to help!