I don’t know about you, but I am more than ready for a little time away from home and to get outside in nature. The camping season is upon us. But this year it’s going to be different. You all know the restrictions we must follow to keep ourselves, and everyone else, safe because of COVID-19. Social distancing, face masks, overloading hand sanitizer, and all that fun stuff. Camping seems to fit the bill pretty well, being out in the fresh air, with defined space for each tent. And (according to NPR) it truly is a low-risk activity. But that doesn’t mean it’s ok to completely let down our guard when camping. Here are the best safe camping tricks for the post COVID era.
Camp During the Week
If you can, do your camping on weekdays instead of weekends. There will be fewer crowds around because most people are working. The attractions in and around the campground will also be quieter during the week for the same reason. It will be far less likely to come across an overcrowded nearby attraction. Or have to wear a mask on hiking trails because of too many people.
Look for Campgrounds with Big Sites
Some campgrounds are already well designed for social distancing because their campsites are large and well-spaced out. Often with rows of trees between them. If you can find campgrounds like this, book there. And some campgrounds have walk-in sites. These are set further away from everything and you must carry all your gear in, instead of parking the car right next to your tent. But these sites are generally bigger and more spaced out than standard campsites. Consider booking one of these if they are available.
Book Two Spaces
If you can’t find campgrounds with big spaces, or if the place you have your heart set on doesn’t have them, and you can afford to pay a little extra, book two spaces side by side. Then, if possible, put your tent or camper in the middle.
Avoid Drop-In Booking
Try not to just head to a campground and book what’s available. You just can’t know what kind of space you will get, how small it is, or how close to the neighbors it will be. It is better to book ahead so you know what you are getting into.
Look for Lesser Known or Alternate Campgrounds
Don’t go where everyone else goes. This year it will probably be better to avoid the most popular camping places. For example: Instead of booking at a well-known place like Yellowstone (which is so popular you need to book months in advance to have any chance of getting a spot) look for campsites at the National Forests around it. There is far less competition for these camp spots, yet the landscape is just as beautiful.
Try Remote (Rustic, Primitive, Backcountry) Camping
This is a great way to get a lot of space to yourself without a lot of competition for sites. If you aren’t familiar with the term, it means camping away from everything. Generally deep within a National Park or Forest. You have to carry everything with you and hike to find your campsite. There are (usually) no facilities, no running water, or no electricity… but also, a few other people. This is certainly not something to undertake lightly and without preparation. But if you want to really camp away from it all, this is the best way to do it.
And, of course, continue to practice caution in the places where people gather. Be sure to follow the local area rules and regulations for safety. When entering an enclosed public space, like a bathroom or lodge, wear a mask. Wash or sanitize your hands afterward. Maintain at least 6 feet from other campers around you. And if sharing tools with other campers be sure to wipe them down afterward.
But most importantly, enjoy your summer camping escape!
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