Summer is at our doorstep, and the excitement of longer days is making it impossible to think about anything other than golden sunsets and the smell of pine trees in the morning. Whether you’re headed for a designated campground, a dispersed camping adventure or far into the wilderness - it’s time to get outside, camp and explore.
NOTE: There are strict fire restrictions currently in place in the Eastern Sierra (HQ for Ridge Merino), and in many areas across the west due to extremely dry conditions. Make sure you know the restrictions in your area before you go anywhere.
When planning a camping trip, keep in mind that staying in a designated, developed campground is the best way to protect our public lands by creating the least amount of impact. If this is the route you choose, you will often need a reservation beforehand. Check out recreation.gov or reserveamerica.com for available spots in your area. Some sites only allow tent camping, while others allow vehicles, though usually only up to a certain size.
Designated campsites are great for families who want to have a secure food storage option and safe campfire. Many sites also have potable water and bathrooms.
If campgrounds are full and you are considering dispersed camping (the term used for camping outside of a designated campground), make sure to do your research and learn how to properly partake in this adventure. Dispersed camping is recommended for experienced campers who understand the principles of leave no trace. It’s not for everyone, and it definitely takes your responsibility to the next level. Reservations are not needed for dispersed camping. Make sure you are familiar with the area, as some larger, or non-4 wheel drive vehicles may not be able to make the trip due to undeveloped roads or other obstacles.
Dispersed camping comes in many forms, car camping is one of the more comfortable ways to do it.
Then of course, there is the granddaddy of them all: backpacking and camping in the remote wilderness. This experience requires even more planning and skills but for many, has the best payoff. Make sure you have the proper permits and always let friends/family know (generally) where you plan to go and how long you'll be gone. There are no services available when in the backcountry so be prepared for anything: extreme weather conditions (hello Merino wool base layers!), potential emergencies and wildlife encounters. Stop by your local visitor center to get more information and find out what you need based on where you'll be exploring.
CABINS, RV PARKS AND MORE
For those who want to experience nature - but only so much - there are a variety of options that don't require "roughing it." You can rent an RV, a sprinter van or a cabin. You'll need a reservation, but thanks to sites like HipCamp, an AirBnB-style reservation site, you can find your next adventure based on whatever level of comfort you need, wherever and whenever you want to go.
Disconnect from the daily routine and stay at a remote cabin with your friends.
Whatever style of camping you choose, keep in mind the summer months can deliver brutal heat during the day, but temperatures can still plummet at night. Always bring along lightweight, packable and odor-resistant layers and common sense.
When considering what type of camping is right for you, be honest with yourself and know your limits. Above all: be responsible and respectful wherever you go.
Words // Lara Kaylor
Photos // Josh Wray, Nick Cahill, Dakota Snider