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Camping Etiquette

Campers in general tend to follow common sense rules of campground etiquette. Many, however, are unaware of the possible repercussions of their actions if they ignore these general rules. As a camper you should be aware of these etiquette guidelines and how they ensure an enjoyable trip for the campers around you as well as for your own family. Here we will list these guidelines for you. Some are simply un-written rules of polite campers while others are actually state law. Either way, if you follow the information listed here, you will be sure to have a memorable experience in the outdoors, as will the other campers you encounter on your trip.

Leave Only Foot Prints, Take Only Pictures

You may have heard this term before. This is the single most important rule every camper must follow to ensure our beautiful parks and forests can be enjoyed many years from now for the sake of our children and our children´s children. If you brought it in with you, bring it out with you. If it was there when you arrived, be sure it´s still there when you leave. DO NOT burn your trash! Bring along enough plastic garbage bags to take your trash out with you. This is not solely for our benefit as campers, hikers, climbers and fishermen. This simple rule protects the wildlife as well as the integrity of the ecosystem, in which we are only guests.

Respect the space and privacy of other campers

This one is straightforward. You wouldn´t tromp uninvited through your neighbor´s back yard so why would you tread on their campsite. Keep your distance and respect the privacy of those around you. If you have ever had a group of hikers stomp right past your tent before you got up for your morning coffee you can understand why this policy is an important one to follow.

If you want to party do it at home

You would be amazed by just how far sound will travel through a campground. Once the sun goes down, keep conversations quiet and radios off. Campers typically like to get up very early to set out on their outdoor activities, and therefore, head in early at night. Many public campgrounds have "quiet hours" laid out in park guides and posted at the park entrance.

Only burn what you bring

It´s OK to use a handful of twigs and pine needles for kindling. And it´s perfectly acceptable to find a few good hot dog and marshmallow roasting sticks for the kids. Aside from that however, it is best to leave fallen timber where it lies. Not only do downed trees and limbs provide shelter for animals but it also aids in the growth of new plant life. If you plan on having a campfire, bring plenty of firewood with you or purchase some on your way.

Keep campfires small

Only build your campfire as large as your cooking needs require it to be. Campfires are meant to be used for heat and light. They are not meant to impress the neighbors. Campfires are dangerous and should be kept well within the limits of your control at all times.


Douse the fire completely before retiring to your tent or leaving the campsite. Smoldering coals can ignite a fire hours after the flames have burned out. If you do not pack water along with you and intend to use a fountain or pump located on site, be sure to bring a large container to fill with water and keep it near the fire.

Pack away your food

This will not only prevent pests such as ants, raccoons and skunks, it will also protect you and your family from more dangerous wildlife. Never leave food unattended. Pack it up tightly in a cooler and plastic bags and store it in your car. Do not string your food up in a tree. Doing so will keep the bears from reaching your food but it does not keep the scent of the food from attracting the bears. Bears are still attracted to it, they just cant get to it. So now your food is protected from the bear, but the bear is still there isn´t he?

Drive slowly

The dirt roads and four-wheel-drive trails winding through campgrounds are usually very narrow and have many blind turns. With the trees and forest growth, it can be very difficult to see a hiker preparing to cross your path. You shouldn´t be in any rush while on your vacation so observe the speed limit. Parks will usually limit the speed through campgrounds at 15 mph. If a speed limit is not posted assume it is no higher than that.

Follow the rules set forth by the park you are visiting

Different parks may have very different rules. Be sure to familiarize yourself with the regulations set by whatever park you will be visiting before you go.

If you follow these simple rules of camping etiquette you will be sure to enjoy your time outdoors. And so will your fellow campers.