As more and more campers across the country pledge to join us in the Great American Campout, we want to share some alternative methods of camping that offer a new experience for new and experienced campers alike.
Pros: Save time on packing – just bring your whole home camping. RVs are spacious and equipped with places to cook, sleep, and relax. They are convenient for extended travel; some people even live full-time in RVs and travel regularly.
Cons: Not all campsites allow RV camping due to their size. The cost to own an RV may be high due to low fuel mileage and maintenance costs.
Pros: Travel trailers have plenty of room for activities. They can be equipped with amenities similar to RVs: running water, electricity, beds, etc. Also, since they require a separate vehicle to move them, you will be able to easily leave to and from the campsite in your pickup truck.
Cons: Driving with a trailer attached to your vehicle can be cumbersome and requires extra care. Some larger travel trailers require heavy-duty trucks to tow properly. Truck campers are also typically small, so only 1-2 campers will fit comfortably.
Pros: Camp in style! Glamping gives you the best of both worlds: outdoor adventures with indoor sleeping conditions. For people with allergies or fears, this introduces the great outdoors more gently and provides some peace of mind.
Cons: Because of the luxurious nature of glamping, it is often more expensive than other forms of camping.
Pros: Yurts are portable and can be spacious enough for fireplaces, electricity, plumbing, even doors. They have low ecological footprints, and can provide a stable shelter for long periods of time.
Cons: Yurts can take a day or two to set up properly, especially if you want to include amenities like heating and plumbing, so they should be used for longer trips (unless you’re renting.) Because they are essentially cloth homes, they can be rather expensive.
Pros: You can save time and energy because your main living space is already set up for you. They provide greater shelter from the elements, but can still be set up sparsely to give you the full outdoor experience.
Cons: Cabin and lodging in certain campsites can book up fairly quickly, especially in the summer and fall. Make reservations sooner rather than later.
It doesn’t matter how you camp, so long as you do. Remember to follow Leave No Trace rules wherever you go.
Pledge to camp this summer! For each camper, $1 will be donated to protect the great outdoors for all Americans, up to $100,000. You will also be entered to win the Ultimate Campout Prize Pack.
Share with us your favorite way to camp!
With the warm summer months upon us, National Wildlife Federation is celebrating our annual camping event, the Great American Campout, to connect people to the great outdoors and wildlife. It is the perfect opportunity to gather your family or friends, gear and trail shoes and find a great camping spot. For those of us (like myself) in the Southeast, if the summer elements prove too much, now is a great time to begin planning your fall getaways.
The Southeastern U.S. is full of spectacular places to camp; if you are curious about where to go camping, consider pitching your tent in the richest forest that the United States has to offer—the Longleaf Pine. These forests are home to an abundance of plants and many species of wildlife such as the endangered gopher tortoise, Bachmans sparrow, fox squirrels, and many more.Due to development and conversion to dense trees plantations, only approximately 5% of longleaf forests remain. We have compiled a list of public lands where you can find longleaf pine in its historic and natural range—from the eastern plains of Texas to Florida and all the way up to the Carolinas.
“When you look at the forests explorers like de Soto and Lewis and Clark described, they talk about very open areas that were easy to walk through. What they saw were longleaf pines and blue stemmed grass that was very open and very beautiful. And that’s what foresters have recreated in Kisatchie.” -Jim Caldwell, Kisatchie National Forest Public Affairs Officer
Black Creek, Mississippi’s only National Scenic River, runs through the De Soto and is the perfect location to canoe or kayak down the river bordered by the pines. Beneath the pines and plentiful hardwoods lies the perfect habitat for deer, turkey and quail, among others. Campgrounds that are sure to be scattered with the fallen needles from longleaf include Big Biloxi and the Long Leaf Horse Trail (daily rates required).
“Big Thicket is a place of discovery, a place to wander and explore, a place to marvel at the richness of nature.” – National Park Service
Popular preserve activities include hiking, bird watching, canoeing and hunting. While camping is allowed in Big Thicket, there are no designated campsites, so be prepared for the true primitive experience of making your own!
Visitors can enjoy hunting, fishing, camping, hiking, horseback riding, canoeing, mountain biking and OHV trials in Ocala National Forest. Ocala hosts multitudes of camping options including camp and primitive camping, rental cabins for large families and small groups, and RV camping.
“Immerse yourself in nature inside the Ocala National Forest. Visit in the early morning, as mists rise off the ponds and lakes, to hear a symphony of birds stirring to sunrise. Explore the longleaf pine islands and scrub ridges for unusual plants. Sit silently in your car along a back road to watch mama bear and cubs lumber across the sand. The Ocala is a landscape of living wonders.” –US Forest Service
A multitude of recreational opportunities exist in this natural area, including: hiking, biking, canoe trails, boat launches, and even a rifle range for the avid sportsman. This national forest is a convenient destination stop as it is situated between two popular cities, Myrtle Beach and historic Charleston. Camping is allowed in developed campgrounds and in designated primitive sites.
The park offers fantastic camping opportunities in both the front country and backcountry. While camping is available year-round, individuals visiting during the wet season (June through November) should be aware of potentially strenuous and uncomfortable conditions, while the dry season (November to March) is the “busy season” due to the warm winters.
The forest has several designated recreation areas that offer any number of activities, from fishing to target shooting to camping. The newly renovated Open Pond Recreation Area is the largest recreation area in the Conecuh. Be sure to stop for a picnic overlooking the scenic Cypress ponds while you are here!
Pledge to camp this summer! For each camper who pledges, $1 will be donated to protect the great outdoors for all Americans, up to $100,000. You’ll also be entered to win the Ultimate Campout Prize Pack.
I personally enjoy pledging to camp each year and finding new areas to explore. If you find yourself under the stars and starburst of pine needles of the longleaf pine, be sure to take a photo and share on social media with the hashtag #campie or email to email@example.com. NWF would love to see and hear about your stories and experiences!
Consider campsite/visitation fees, reservations and seasonal restrictions vary from site to site–check for detailed information on each particular location before visiting.
Happy planning and camping!
Your own backyard can be home to an pretty amazing diversity of wildlife, especially if you create a wildlife-friendly landscape with our Garden for Wildlife program. When you camp in your yard, you might glimpse the neighborhood fox, hear the trilling of noctural treefrogs, spot a giant silk moth, hear the hoot of an owl, or just have fun catching fireflies.
Pledge to camp with as part of the Great American Campout and then read on to find out how you can make your yard more inviting to local wildlife so they will “camp” in your yard with you this summer:
Along with setting up shelter or “tents” for wildlife in your yard, provide wildlife with food and water sources plus places to raise young to make your yard a NWF Certified Wildlife Habitat.
Once you have all the necessary requirements, certify your wildlife habitat!]]>
National parks are great places to visit, and many offer gorgeous locales to participate in the Great American Campout.
Learn more about the following seven parks in the USA Today guide Saluting National Parks. Click here to download a free digital copy, and check out these and other sites across the country that offer great opportunities to camp! Who’s ready for a camping adventure?
Why You Should Camp Here: Crater Lake National Park is Oregon’s only national park, but one can easily see why the pristine, pure blue lake and stunning cliffs draw so many visitors to its gates. The park is open year-round and visitors can swim in the lake, fish for trout and salmon, hike along the Pacific Crest Trail, and cross-country ski or snowshoe in the winter.
Visitor Information: The park is only closed in extremely inclement winter weather. Visitor information: 541-594-2211.
Why You Should Camp Here: Over the river and through the woods to Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area we go! The Cumberland River and its tributaries run through the Area, providing 90 miles of waterways in which park goers can go whitewater rafting and canoeing. The park also has places for rock climbing, horseback riding, mountain biking, and tent, RV, and lodge camping.
Visitor Information: Big South Fork is open year round, although one of the campgrounds is closed in the winter. For more information, call 423-286-7275.
Why You Should Camp Here: If you are a fan of water sports, this park is for you! Instead of roads, Voyageurs National Park is connected by interconnected waterways. Camp visitors use boats, kayaks, and canoes to travel to campsites. Also the park is celebrating its 40th anniversary with a new, more efficient reservation system for campsites.
Visitor Information: Voyageurs National Park is located at 360 Minnesota Highway 11, international Falls. Visitor Information: 218-286-5258.
Why You Should Camp Here: The Grand Canyon is one of USA Today’s Top 10 National Parks. It offers breathtaking views and a variety of activities from taking free interpretive classes and treks with rangers to camping in lodges or campgrounds. This historic park area is larger than Rhode Island so there’s a lot to explore!
Visitor Information: The park is open year-round, however camping reservations are useful because the park can attract more than 4.5 million visitors each year. Visit nps.gov/grca for more information.
Why You Should Camp Here: To see glaciers, of course! There are over 1,000 glaciers in Glacier Bay Park – as well as ample fishing and birdwatching opportunities. Since Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve is located on a bay, visitors can venture onto the water and kayak throughout the bay area during their camping trip.
Visitor Information: The visitor’s center is open from late May to early September. Visitor information: 907-697-2661.
Why You Should Camp Here: Grand Teton National Park offers some of the best mountain views in the nation. There are more than 200 miles of trails and plenty of places to take a dip in the Snake River. One of the most scenic areas is Schwabacher Landing, the highest peak in the park which provides lovely photo opportunities. Visitors can choose to stay in one of the five campgrounds, rustic cabins, dude ranches, and lodges.
Visitor Information: The park is open year around. Visit www.nps.gov/grte for more information.
Why You Should Camp Here: Assateague Island is a great beach camping destination. Visitors can choose to either camp on the bay side or ocean side and have a taste of the Chesapeake or the Atlantic. Assateague is most known for its wild horses and famous Chincoteague Wild Pony Swim and Auction held in July. Horse camping is even available for visitors from April to October.
Visitor Information: Camping reservations are needed from April to October. Click here to find out more camping information.
As you’re planning which national parks to visit this summer, take the pledge to camp! When you do, $1 for each camper will be donated to protect the great outdoors for all Americans, up to $100,000.]]>
It can be difficult to capture the awe of the night sky with photos, but a few tips will hopefully make it easier.
The NWF Atlanta office celebrated Great Outdoors Month by hosting its 4th annual Great American Backyard Campout at the Outdoor Activity Center in Southwest Atlanta with help from partners, the USDA Forest Service and the West Atlanta Watershed Alliance. Over 45 families poured in as volunteers from Keeping it Wild and Georgia State University stood ready to lend a helping hand; helping many first-time campers pitch their tents and get comfortable in the outdoors.Some children learned to identify trees with Trees Atlanta, took bird walks with the Atlanta Audubon Society, and learned about our wildlife neighbors from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, while others talked with scientists from Morehouse College to learn about insects.
Participants enjoyed the outdoors while exploring the benefits of yoga with the help of Breathe Balance Energize! And of course, the Backyard Campout wouldn’t have been a hit without tunes from Radio Disney that kept everyone grooving. It seemed that the Atlanta campout was the place to be – even Ranger Rick stopped by to check it out.
The Atlanta campout was jam packed with outdoor activities, prizes, and fun through the night. The night hike to historic Bush Mountain, African storytelling and drumming were a highlight of the experience. The night was capped with an amazing live nocturnal insect exhibit facilitated by the USDA Forest Service.
Overall, the campout was a hit. When participants were asked “How was it,?” the children bragged about all the new things they learned about the outdoors. Parents can’t wait until the next opportunity to get their families outdoors!
A video clip of this year’s campout can be found Atlanta’s Channel 2 WSBC special coverage of the 2014 Great American Backyard Campout.Look for other upcoming events in Atlanta >>
Elayne Elliott is a sophomore at Emory University studying Environmental Science. Prior to interning with the NWF Atlanta office, she was an active volunteer with East Michigan Environmental Action Council and a core member of their youth program, Young Educators Alliance. Following her undergraduate degree, she hopes to go to graduate school to study the relationship between pollution levels, chronic illness, and geographic location. More information about Elayne’s background and interests is available on her blog at elayneelliott.com.]]>
Though the kittens are small, they will grow to be more than 80 pounds and will have the ability to take down deer. David also brought a beaver kit (a young beaver), baby llama, vervet monkey, and an African warthog. The African warthog, Violet, was quite adventurous trotting around the set and foraging on her knees for grapes.
Click here to view the embedded video.
David also made an appearance on Fox News to promote National Wildlife Federation’s Great American Backyard Campout. The Coleman Company sent their amazing Instadome tent, Nimbus warm weather sleeping bag, and aluminum deck chairs to complete the campout set.
One of the fun things about backyard camping is the experience to encounter nocturnal wildlife. On this segment, David brought a beaver kit, a fox, and an eagle owl. Though the impressive eagle owl is native to Europe, American campers will be able to encounter American species like the great horned owl or barn owl during their campout.
Watch the second segment below and take the pledge to campout with this year’s Great American Backyard Campout on June 28!
Click here to view the embedded video.]]>
In other news, NWF celebrated World Turtle Day with our Facebook community by sharing photos of turtles and the company they keep. Photos were chosen from past entrants to our National Wildlife Photo Contest, which is now open!
May 29 – “This bill is a blatant attempt to rollback many of the hard-won gains for wildlife in the Farm Bill, supported by 251 members of the House and signed into law just three months ago,” said Aviva Glaser, Senior Specialist for Agriculture Policy at the National Wildlife Federation. “Instead of building off the success of the Farm Bill, this funding measure takes us two steps back. Programs to conserve wildlife and boost our rural economies cannot achieve success unless given the full funding promised in the recently passed Farm Bill.”
May 28 – The Great Lakes are one of eight priority regions across the country that will receive funding as part of a new $2.4 billion, 5-year program in the recently passed Farm Bill. The Regional Conservation Partnership Program, as it is known, targets conservation funding on agricultural land to areas of greatest need. The new program will also fund state and national conservation projects to improve soil quality, water quality, and wildlife habitat through a competitive, merit-based process.
In the Great Lakes region, federal conservation efforts will focus on reducing harmful algal blooms that are caused when manure and excessive fertilizer flow off of farm fields and into rivers, streams and the Great Lakes. Toxic to people, pets, and wildlife, algal blooms can close beaches, kill fish, harm drinking water supplies, and hurt local businesses.
May 22 – The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) today announced that it has selected the United States to host the 2016 World Conservation Congress (WCC). After a lengthy selection process, the IUCN has chosen Hawai’i as the site of the next WCC, making 2016 the first time a U.S. location will host the conference since the IUCN’s founding in 1948.
“This is truly an historic moment for the U.S., for Hawai’i and for conservation globally,” said Les Welsh, National Wildlife Federation’s Associate Director for the Pacific. “It also represents a huge opportunity to bring the world’s attention to Hawai’i’s rapidly disappearing native flora and fauna, and to the many important climate and conservation issues we face throughout the Pacific.”
May 21 – Today, Congressman Ron Kind (D-WI) and Senator Mark Udall (D-CO) introduced legislation aimed at connecting children, youth and families with the outdoors. Supported by the Outdoors Alliance for Kids (OAK), the Healthy Kids Outdoors Act would support state, local and federal strategies to reconnect Americans with nature, improve children’s health, and support future economic growth and conservation efforts.
“Our nation’s kids are out of shape, tuned out and stressed out, because they’re missing something essential to their health and development – a connection to the natural world,” said Kevin Coyle, vice president for education and training for National Wildlife Federation. “We applaud Congressman Kind and Senator Mark Udall for introducing legislation to reverse this trend by getting kids and families outside on a regular basis.”
Fox News: Wounded wildlife pose dilemmas for intervention
“It depends on the circumstances in each case, and often it depends on how man has affected the situation,” said Doug Inkley, a senior scientist with the National Wildlife Federation.”
NBC News: Michigan lawmakers step up fight against nuke dump
“Andy Buchsbaum, director of the National Wildlife Federation’s Great Lakes office, endorsed Pavlov’s measures and said burying nuclear waste so close to Lake Huron was “a shockingly bad idea.”
Natural Life Magazine: Plant a Pollinator Garden for Biodiversity, and Attract Butterflies, Bees, and Hummingbirds
“If you’re committed to maintaining a habitat for pollinators and other wildlife, you can apply for wildlife habitat certification (and the associated bragging rights) through the National Wildlife Federation. Even planting a small area of pollinator-friendly plants may provide critical refueling for some migrating butterfly or bird, or a hard-working bee, so plant and then sit back and enjoy.”
Daily Journal: Environmental groups sue Army Corps, questioning efforts to manage Mississippi River
“We don’t want to stop navigation by any means whatsoever. We are trying to keep the public safe,” said Melissa Samet, senior water resources counsel for the National Wildlife Federation, a plaintiff along with the Prairie Rivers Network, Missouri Coalition for the Environment, River Alliance of Wisconsin, Great Rivers Habitat Alliance and the Minnesota Conservation Federation.”
Bloomberg BNA: House Votes to Approve Compromise Advancing Water Infrastructure Legislation
“Adam Kolton, with the National Wildlife Federation, said the bill didn’t do enough to “sort out the beneficial projects from the boondoggles.” He said it also “hurts taxpayers again by increasing subsidies for the already heavily-subsidized navigation industry.”
The success of Mapp’s work has been honored by invitations to the White House for its America’s Great Outdoors initiative and to sit in on Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move!” think tank, along with several other accolades.
The award will be presented at the National Conservation Achievement Awards Gala on April 30, at the Renaissance Washington Hotel in Washington, D.C.
Mapp’s love of nature was instilled at an early age. Although she grew up in Oakland, her parents had a ranch in Northern California where she learned to hunt, fish, farm and love the environment around her. She participated in Girl Scouts and, when she was older, went backpacking with Outward Bound. Through these experiences she learned to love camping, mountaineering, rock climbing and road bicycling.
Discovering later her love of technology, Mapp quickly began to use the Internet to uncover more ways to connect with people and nature.
As she graduated from UC Berkeley, all of these pieces began to form a bigger picture for Mapp, and in 2009 she founded Outdoor Afro. Outdoor Afro uses social media and the Internet to reconnect African Americans with nature and with each other through outdoor recreational activities.
“I never will forget when I found the Women Mountain Bike & Tea Society called Wombats—women getting together as women to mountain bike.”
According to its website, Outdoor Afro disrupts the false perception that black people do not have a relationship with nature, and works to shift the visual representation of who can connect with the outdoors.
Mapp has said she was inspired in college by “the power of images to tell stories in a way that levels the playing field.” African Americans, she told Backpacker magazine, “need to see that these places belong to us, too.”
Beyond supporting diverse participation in outdoor recreation, Mapp’s work also explicitly advances conservationist goals. A U.S. Census Bureau report from 2008 projected that by 2042, people of color would collectively become the majority in the United States. With this estimate in mind, Mapp has observed, “If we want our parks and wilderness to survive, we need enthusiasts in this population.”Rue Mapp also serves on National Wildlife Federation’s California Advisory Council, and in September of 2011 she was honored as National Wildlife Federation Action Fund’s Wildlife Champion of the Month. Be sure to check out her full interview with NWF Action Fund.
We hope you will join us at NWF’s National Conservation Achievement Awards Gala, April 30, to celebrate Rue Mapp’s incredible achievements!
Learn more about NWF’s National Conservation Achievement Awards Gala >>
Knowing what to bring can be a bit overwhelming, especially if you’re a camping with kids.. It’s always good to prepare ahead of time, rather than wait for the day before or even the day of your trip. Growing up, my family and I would go camping a few times a year with my friend Gregg’s family that we are close with. My mom and his mom, Karen, would get together a few weeks before and plan out everything we needed, the grocery list, and what sort of meals they’d be cooking while we were away. Pretty soon, they had a standard list that was used every time we went camping. Having a list can really help, Destination Nature has their own “don’t forget” list, too. Here it is:
Everyone had such great ideas on what to bring, it was hard to narrow them down! Here are a few other responses that can help you prepare your own packing list:
And of course, my mom couldn’t keep this one a secret…
Because, yes, I LOVED playing with my Barbie’s and having a small kids tent for them to live in while we were camping gave me a little fort away from home, and kept the boys from messing with them when I wasn’t looking!
Let’s be honest, we could go on and on for days about all of the amazing camping foods and recipes we’ve all acquired over the years and through our food boards on Pinterest; which made it even harder to narrow down to just a few. Have you ever heard of “Cooking in a Sack?” I sure hadn’t until StephJem Pyles gave us the lowdown on how it works:
Check out some of these other awesome camping foods, maybe you’ll be inspired to try them out, too!
I would have to say that catching fireflies is probably one of my favorite things to do when I’m outside. There’s just something enchanting about watching them light up your jar at night for a few minutes and then letting them go again. But sometimes catching fireflies isn’t enough to catch the attention of our little ones running around the campsite or the kids that like to point out that there’s “nothing to do” on repeat.
What are your favorite camping activities? Share with us in the comments below or on our Facebook Page!
I can’t count how many times my parents have had to clean up a scraped knee, pull out a tick, or pile on the anti-itch cream when I would accidentally run through the only poison ivy by our campsite. Something is bound to happen, but it helps to be prepared.
With so many great ideas for camping safety, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t have a safe and fun time whether you’re camping in your backyard, or at a local park. Buddy systems, whistles, and flashlights at night are great starts. Remember to always have your first aid kit well stocked before you go. You never know when that gauze or small band-aid will come in handy!
Camping with kids doesn’t need to be a big to-do; it should be fun and exciting for everyone in the family. If you’re not ready to take the little ones out into the woods for a camping trip, pitch a tent in the comfort of your own backyard. It’ll get them excited about the idea of camping and they’ll become more eager to go camping again in the future. There was always an adventure to be had when I was camping as a kid, sometimes their imagination is all they need when out in nature. Being prepared and having awesome snacks definitely helps to make camping with kids easy. For more information about Be Out There, www.beoutthere.org.