How to Choose a Great Campsite-Panergy
Look for a previously disturbed spot
Ideally, when you start driving on public lands looking for camping, you want to try and find a campsite that’s already been created.
These spots are usually really easy to see.
Look for a rock ring fire pit and an area that’s been matted down from a tent.
Sometimes you can even see potential camp spots on the satellite view of a map on your computer or phone.
This is really helpful as you’re planning a camping trip. I like to get a sense of what’s available before I even leave home.
Then, when I’m on the go, I’ll use the Gaia GPS app on my phone to help me adjust as needed.
On the app, I download maps for offline use, and then I can see satellite views even when I don’t have service.
2) Find flat and firm ground
This may seem obvious, but it's worth mentioning because you'll definitely feel it at night if the ground is not flat.
Even the slightest slop can make for an uncomfortable night sliding off your sleeping pad!
Next, you want the ground to be somewhat firm.
In other words, avoid pitching your tent on wet squishy marshland.
3) Consider water drainage
If you arrive at camp on a beautiful sunny day, you might not think to consider rainfall, but you should.
What if it rains a lot on your camping trip?
Where is all that water going to drain? Where will it pool?
These are places where you want to avoid setting up your tent.
This is especially important if you’re camping in the desert where the flash flood potential is high. You need to take flash floods seriously.
The rocky desert landscape does not absorb water well and all that water runs down into washes.
It can go from nothing to a lot really quickly, so make sure you avoid these areas.
When you arrive at a potential campsite, look at the ground and surrounding landscape at large and think about where water is going to drain.
4) Look up and around you
This is a simple but crucial consideration.
When most people arrive at a potential campsite, they naturally start looking down at the ground.
This is great, but it’s just as important that you look up and around you too!
You want to look up and all around your campsite for standing dead trees or large dead branches that could potentially fall on your campsite.
These trees are sometimes called widowmakers, and you definitely don't want one falling on your tent while you're sleeping.
When you arrive, take a walk around the potential campsite. Look at the trees from different angles and make sure they look healthy before you pitch your tent.
Standing dead trees are typically different colors and they generally look unhealthy compared to the rest of the trees in the forest.
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