Camping Vacation Ideas

Camping vacation ideas are a cheap and easy way to get outdoors and relax. The places to go camping are endless. It all depends on how much luxury you need or rather how much luxury you are willing to go without.

But doing away with all the modern conveniences is half the fun. Sleeping out under the stars is a truly wonderful experience and it will do the whole family good to get away from the TV and the video games for a while.

An excellent vacation idea for camping is in one of our National Park system. You can enjoy the natural beauty of the land that has been preserved for us all.

When you set your camp, you need to be careful about the location. If you are out in the open, don’t camp near a lone tree. If a lightning storm comes up that tree will act like a lightning rod. You don’t want to be nearby.

When you set up camp on your camping vacations, never do it in a dry creek bed or similar low spot. Rainstorms can produce deadly flash flooding. Choose a spot on higher ground. Look for where the water will flow if a heavy rain comes up. Camp on the spot which looks like it will stay dry.

You don’t want to camp in the middle of the home of critters. Before you set up camp and pitch a tent search the area for signs of life. This means holes in the ground which can indicate rabbits, snakes, ants or other burrowing creatures.

Ants will also make mounds which sometimes are quite large. Steer clear of ant mounds no matter how small they are. There are even some types of bees and wasps that live in the ground. So after you check the trees, look for holes in the ground.

Campfires require dry kindling to start. If you want to be prepared for wet weather or emergencies try bringing a plastic bag filled with dryer lint. This makes an excellent fuel for starting a fire when dry kindling is not available.

Other useful fire starters are candle stubs and waterproof matches. You can make your own waterproof matches by dipping ordinary matches in nail polish, shellac or melted paraffin.

Avoid all cotton clothing when outdoors in the winter. Cotton absorbs moisture thereby keeping it close to your body. This is not good in cold weather. What you need is man-made “poly” type fibers. These will wick moisture away from the body and provide needed insulation.

Camping vacations are a great opportunity to participate in all the outdoors activities that we love. If you've never tried it before then now is the time this extremely popular vacation idea and find out what you are missing.

It's the only way to pitch a tent when camping.

Camping Vacation Ideas #1: A couple of years ago, our family purchased a small Jayco pop-up camper. My wife and I both used to camp with our own families when we were children and during these tough economic times, we thought camping would be something we could do with our own boys who are ages 8 and 5. 

While we initially were trying to find enjoyable activities that didn’t break the bank, we were pleasantly surprised at how many amenities the campgrounds offer these days. One of our most enjoyable camping vacation trips was to the Jellystone Campground in the Gatlinburg, TN. While technically in Cosby, TN, the campground is literally minutes from Gatlinburg and nearby Pigeon Forge, TN. 

The property is family owned and operated which makes it a very family friendly destination. All types of campsites are available, from tent camping to pull thru sites with full hookups. We went during Spring Break last year which was outstanding. There is a beautiful stream that runs through the entire property. 

There’s nothing more enjoyable than falling asleep to the sounds of a stream after a full day of activities. There were lots of activities at the campground, as well as, many things to go see and do. 

Our two favorites were Dollywood and the Great Smoky National Park. At the National Park we saw over 40 deer, countless turkeys, beautiful birds, and all kinds of wildlife. The highlight was when my wife captured a picture of a beautiful deer jumping over a wooden fence. Quite simply, it was just a wonderful place to go and spend quality time with everyone in our family at an affordable cost. - Jason from Mobile, AL


Camping Vacation Ideas #2: I love to get outdoors and away from the city every once in a while. Camping is always a good idea, but not all camping is the same. Even though I love to go camping, I still want it to be a vacation and not a survival experience out in the wilderness. 

My favorite place to camp for a week is definitely Ocracoke Island in North Carolina. Teeter's Campground is where I usually set up my tent in the early spring. 

The island itself is so small that it's just a short drive to town and once you get there, you will want to travel on foot. I mentioned the island is small, but the 13 restaurants you have to choose from are fresh and delicious. Howard's Pub is my flavor of choice.

There are some neat things to do in town but I prefer to stay on the beach or take a walk on the Hammock Hills Nature Trail. Nothing helps you escape the city life like walking on the same ground Blackbeard did. - Nick from Ohio


Camping Vacation Ideas #3:   Great Sand Dunes National Park Camping - My favorite vacation activity is camping in our Coleman popup tent trailer while visiting our country's National Parks. I love the feeling of being close to nature and camping in our tent trailer provides an opportunity to do just that with most of the comforts of home. 

One of our favorite places to vacation is the Great Sand Dunes National Park in the San Luis Valley of Colorado. The Great Sand Dunes has a wonderful first-come-first-served camp ground nestled amongst the pines and overlooks the dunes as well as the beautiful Sangre De Cristo mountain range. 

Featuring the tallest dunes in North America, a climb to the top provides you with a breathtaking view of the valley. There are also many hiking trails in the area as well as an interesting visitor center. - Tracy from California


Camping Ideas Vacation Ideas #4: Our family's favorite vacation idea is to take a weekend to go camping and canoeing. There are a number of family-friendly campgrounds within a short distance from our home, many of which have canoes available to rent for those without. The kids love to explore the sandbars and little inlets along the river, and every trip is a learning experience. 

Of course, campfire cooking can be an adventure, but who doesn't love s'mores? It doesn't get cold enough to freeze the rivers here, so this is something that we can do any time of the year, though summer is a favorite. 

Of course, we always come prepared with mosquito repellent and sunscreen (no matter what time of year), along with whatever comforts we need. Many campgrounds have electrical service available to selected campsites, so we can take a small fan to keep relatively cool on hot evenings. - Susan from Alabama


Camping Ideas Vacation Ideas #5: Shenandoah National Park camping is a great outdoor vacation idea. There are four areas. You can reserve a spot up to six months ahead. Shenandoah’s campground sites that are not reserved are available on a first-come, first-served basis. All sites have a small reasonable charge per night.

The Shenandoah National Park camping areas have sites for families up to six people. There are also generator-free sites. You may bring pets but they must be leashed. Unfortunately for RVers, there are no RV hookups available.

For backcountry Shenandoah National Park camping you can go just about anywhere in the park. There are almost 200,000 acres of wilderness open to wilderness backcountry camping. There are over 500 miles of hiking trails to use as you explore this beautiful protected wilderness.

The park has a “leave no trace” policy so make sure you understand what this entails before you come. You need a permit for backcountry camping.

The Shenandoah National Park camping areas are:

  • Mathews Arms Campground is open mid to late May through October. If you are coming into the park from the north, this is the closest campground. There is easy access to a nature trail and to the tallest waterfall in the park, Overall Run Falls. There are 167 camping sites in Mathews Arms and it is open late May through late October. Two miles away is the Elkwallow Wayside campstore. The other three campgrounds have a campstore on site.
  • Big Meadows Campground is the most secluded of the four. All the major hiking trails and three of the park’s waterfalls are close by. There are 223 camping sites in Big Meadows and it is open late March through late November. Big Meadows is the largest treeless area in the park and is known for its wildflowers and blueberries. It’s about in the middle of the park near the Byrd Visitor Center. Horseback riding is available about 5 miles north at Skyland.
  • Lewis Mountain Campground is the smallest of the four campsites and also offers campers the most privacy. It only has 32 sites and it is open mid April through late October. There are trailer sites as well as cabins here.
  • Loft Mountain Campground has 202 campsites and is the biggest of the four. It’s located on Big Flat Mountain and is popular with campers for the great views of the park. Big Run Wilderness is nearby and it has hiking trails and a couple waterfalls. This campground is open late May through late October.

Long distance hikers with a backcountry Shenandoah National Park camping permit can use the trailside huts. There are eight of them located along the Appalachian Trail as it winds through the park. They are spaced about eight to fourteen miles apart along the trail. These trailside huts are operated by the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club.

Camping in Shenandoah National Park is a good vacation idea to enjoy all the outdoor activities of the park. Hiking is the popular and the rangers offer guided hikes. This is a good way to find out about highlights of the park. You can rent a GPS unit from the rangers at Byrd Visitor Center. All the streams in the park are open for swimming and for catch-and-release fishing.

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