By Michelle Thompson & Louis Juers
Overwhelmed with camping options? That’s understandable! There are so many different types of tents, equipment and accessories that you can get lost in the options. But Arizona State Parks and Trails wants you to get out in nature, so we’ve prepared a list of best-kept tips and tricks to make your next camping trip a success. Plus, we have a long list of places where you can get away from it all – for a night or a whole weekend!
You’ve heard it before: Be prepared. Nothing can derail a well-planned camping trip like not getting the tent set up, which can make anyone cranky. That’s why we recommend setting it up at home first (you can even take a test run by camping out in the back yard!). You’ll be comfortable with the set-up process, and when you find your perfect camping spot, it will be a breeze to get your home-away-from-home ready to go.
Speaking of the perfect camping spot, make sure you choose wisely. Pick a flat spot out of any flood dangers, with no overhead hazards – check for dead branches, leaning trees or loose rocks. Make sure there isn’t anything sharp under your tent; you don’t want a pointy rock or sharp branch poking through your sleeping bag. When you set up, think about the view from the front door. Won’t it be great to wake up to a gorgeous sunrise over the lake, or to see the moon rise over the mountains as you head to bed?
When you’re packing for the camping trip, take a quick peek at the weather predictions. Once you know what to expect from Mother Nature, you’ll be better able to pack the right clothes, bedding and accessories. Make sure you plan ahead for wet socks or cooler nights, or even a surprise rain shower.
Make sure you use tarps or a ground cloth to keep your tent dry and cozy. Angle your tent stakes away from the tent for a better hold, and tie down all guy lines. You never know when you might have a strong gust of wind, and it’s better to be tied down in advance than struggling in the dark! After you set up, put all the extra tent items back in the tent storage bag and put it in the corner of your tent. It will be easier and quicker to pack up when you’re heading home. When you roll your tent up to leave, make sure it’s dry and roll it as tight as possible around the tent poles. This means it will fit in your storage bag without a struggle.
Arizona Family Campout
Tips are great, but if you still feel like you need a little help? The Arizona Family Campout Program is a one-weekend adventure designed for families who have little or no experience camping. The award-winning program provides tents, sleeping mats and introduces families to the new adventure of camping at an Arizona state park.
Throughout the weekend, families will learn how to set up their tent and how to prepare breakfast, lunch and dinner outdoors. Additional activities (depending on the park) may include: astronomy, hiking, fishing, archery, geocaching, animal demonstrations, campfire stories, birding, and more. Families will give back to the park by participating in an environmental service project to help the rangers beautify the park.
Family Campouts are held each spring and fall. The program fee is $90 for a family of four. Registration is limited. For more information, specific dates, and to register, please visit azstateparks.com/family-camp.