This is another article I wrote for CampHelp.net. The site will be up soon.
Selecting a campsite for your tent or trailer is pretty easy to remember. When you arrive, my advice is to Look Up, Look Down, and Look All Around:
Look Up – I always look at the trees around the campsite, checking for dead limbs or branches, a tree leaning into another one (dead fall) and at rocks and ledges that may be above me for stones that may tumble during a storm or in the night. You want to make sure the area overhead and to the sides is clear of any dangers that may blow down on top of you in a storm. Wind is often strong in the mountains and tonight may be the night when that limb decides it’s time to fall off that tree.
Look Down – Look at the lay of the land, specifically where water could flow during rain. You don’t want to camp in a ditch or in a low point because it will be wetter and colder (cool air sinks). Typically, a higher and more level point of land is best for tent or trailer. Don’t camp too close to a cliff either, as you could be blown, washed (or just roll) off the ledge onto those shark teeth rocks below. Do remove rocks and sharp sticks from under the tent for a comfortable night’s sleep and plan to return the area to the pristine natural surface you found as you leave.
Look All Around – Look around you for signs of trails as you don’t want to camp where wildlife or people could blast through unexpectedly. Look for enough space to pitch your tent but don’t camp so close in dense trees that you have to cut anything to make your tent fit. Try not to camp too close to your neighbor for your privacy and theirs. Look for beautiful views and quiet spaces. Also look for some trees or tall rocks to be around your site to help reduce winds.
While tent camping is usually associated with backpacking, it is not always the case. This is where CaRV camping works well, with a flat and developed camping site, maybe even a pull-through parking space with plenty of clearance above, below and around. The car can carry all your gear and food and gives you an escape to go try that little cafe you passed on the way in to enjoy a dinner instead of cooking one. CaRV camping in a tent/trailer/RV at a State Park or National Forest is a great way to just get outdoors and enjoy the peace.