Where not to camp?

Knowing where and where not to set up your tent can save you a lot of hassle and grief, not to mention eliminate risk of injury while camping.

There are several things to keep in mind when setting up your campsite, such as a few areas where it is simply not practical or safe to camp. When setting up in these areas you pose a risk to yourself and your equipment, so keep in mind these considerations to carefully scout out your campsite before settling in.

Dry ground is always recommended for a campsite, preferably high ground – though a marshy area may seem only slightly damp now, with a rainfall or two conditions can quickly change. Don’t set up camp anywhere where water may pool in foul weather.

Though a slight incline may seem tolerable at first glance, hilly areas can be dangerous and irritating to sleep on. When lying on a hill, your blood circulation will gather at the lower end of your body. If your head is pointed down, the result can be harmful and dizzying. If you must camp on an incline, lie with your head pointing uphill. Lying sideways may result in the occupants of a tent being gathered on one end by morning, or worse, slipping out from under an unsecured tent, so use care when being obligated to sleep in hilly areas. At the same time, it is worth mentioning that you should not camp on top of a hill – there you will be more exposed to wind and the elements. Try to find a common ground that is safe from potential rock falls and flooding. Also, remember that hot air rises, so valley areas are more susceptible to frost and misting, particularly in the late nights and early mornings.

Areas near water are where you are most likely to encounter animals. Though it may seem convenient to be near a stream, you run the risk of having hunting animals wander into your camp, which can become even more complicated if you’ve left food unprotected. Streams can also be very dangerous during heavy rain; they quickly become swollen and your campsite may flood.

Don’t pitch a tent under lone trees or ones with any amount of dead branches. In a storm or even high winds this can be extremely dangerous, as dead wood can fall onto you or your tent, and of course in a lightning storm a lone tree will attract bolts. Take advantage of their shelter but allow yourself plenty of room all around.

Pitch your tent, if possible, with the opening facing east and on the north or south side of shady trees. As the sun rises in the east, you will gain maximum heat in the mornings, and the trees will shelter you from the sun as the day wears on. If you know the direction the prevailing wind blows from, you may also want to take this into consideration.

To avoid insects, stay away from mossy areas. The best place to camp is always the driest place, if possible avoiding exposed hilltops or shady valleys. Camping on a knoll at the bottom of a hill will offer you both shelter and peace of mind that you will not be in danger of being flooded out. Mud and rockslides can also be a danger in some areas!

Keeping these tips in mind, you should have no trouble selecting a suitable campsite. Stick to flat, dry ground and all in all your camping experience will be far safer and more enjoyable.

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