Ten Tips for First-Time Tent Campers

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The desire to spend time enjoying the outdoors is greater than ever, and many new visitors are seeking solace in nature and the spirit of adventure with a camping trip for the first time. With summer camping season almost upon us, check out these tips from Recreation.gov to plan your trip, make reservations, and prepare with the proper gear. We hope you enjoy your first camping experience!

Ten Tips for First-Time Campers

An infographic listing ten tips for first-time tent campers


  1.  Where to Camp: Make your trip a memorable one by planning an outing that meets your comfort and experience levels - that might mean starting with a camping trip closer to home. Have back-up options in mind as you plan for your trip. Carefully review the location's Need-to-Know information to learn about conditions or guidance that may impact your plans.
  2.  Make a Reservation: While some campgrounds have walk-up sites, they aren't guaranteed to be available. Make your reservation online and plan ahead by reviewing site details, allowable equipment, and provided amenities.
  3.  Pack Light, But Smart: Make a checklist so you don't forget any gear and try to pack items that serve more than one purpose. PRO TIP: Bring earplugs, nature can be louder than you'd think!
  4.  Plan Your Meals: Plan a menu for each day of your trip. Measure your ingredients and prep meals before you arrive to save time and for easy clean-up. Ensure you have utensils, plates, and cups - and if you're cooking, a campstove, pots, and pans.
  5.  Check Your Gear: Whether you choose to rent or purchase equipment, make sure you test all your gear before your trip. Avoid spending hours figuring out how to set up your tent for the first time when you arrive with a few trial runs at home.
  6.  Don't Forget the Essentials: Review the campsite amenities on Recreation.gov to see if picnic tables are available. As a good rule of thumb, pack a chair for each member of your group, and if needed a table for food prep, eating, and games.
  7.  Arrive at Check-In: Check your reservation for the check-in time and plan to arrive at your campsite by then. Arriving right at check-in ensures you have plenty of time to unpack and set up, and helps you avoid pitching your tent with a headlamp in the dark.
  8.  Bring the Fun: Pack a football, frisbee, deck of cards, or other games you can enjoy around the campfire or for rainy days. Check Recreation.gov to see what activities are available near your site.
  9.  Be a Courteous Camper: Be a smart and respectful camper by following all posted rules and guidelines. Pack out what you pack in. Leave No Trace principles apply in your neighborhood, local park, and all public lands. Don't leave trash on the trails or at your campsite, and respect fellow campers and our outdoor spaces.
  10. Manage Your Reservations: Plans change, we get it. If you are unable to take that planned camping trip, make sure to cancel or modify your reservation to allow others the opportunity to enjoy the experience.

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