Camping is one of the greatest ways to get out and enjoy nature. The first thing one must do when heading out with your tent, though, is to know where you are going to be able to set it up.
As you set out on your adventure, you want to know there is a destination within a reasonable amount of miles. Tenting will require a bit of set up time, and you want to reach an area with enough time to set up for the night.
There are a lot of campsites around the country but can you put up a tent in a park?
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Is Sleeping in a Public Park Illegal?
For the most part, it is not legal and probably not the safest to put up a tent in a park located within a large city. There are a few parks with designated camping facilities, but most city parks are intended as day use only.
If a park allows tenting, it will have a sign posted directing you to the area allotted to put up a tent. If you do not see any signs, you can contact the parks department in the city to ask where you would be allowed to tent.
Is Camping Allowed in National Parks
Tenting in a national park can offer you an epic adventure. Putting up a tent in a national park allows you to truly capture some of the most amazing views nature can offer.
You can also experience the yip of a coyote as you gaze across a dark, starry sky to the rise of the sun across a silent dewy morning. Putting up a tent in a national park can truly put you in tune with nature.
Many of the national parks have modern campsites which are easily accessible by car. These campsites have modern facilities which offer water and electricity. National park campsites also provide a place to shower, and some even have small convenience stores on site to re-stock supplies.
These campsites may have designated areas where tents are allowed to be set up. Check with the park ranger to make sure you can set your tent up in a site before you settle in.
National parks also offer backcountry camping, which can only be done with a tent as you have to carry all of your gear in on your back.
The requirements for backcountry tenting vary from park to park, but the general rule is what you carry in, you carry out. All trash must be taken with you, and you must dig an appropriate latrine for human waste.
Some national parks allow you to camp where ever you can find a suitable location, and others designate where you have to go.
If you plan to tent in the back-country of a national park, you should always tell someone where you are going and when to expect you back.
Some national parks provide trip logs at the entrance or ranger station where you can enter your arrival and expected departure. Make sure you take plenty of water and are aware of upcoming weather conditions.
Tents in a State Parks or Local Parks
Many states have fantastic state and local parks where you feel as though you’ve found the same grandeur of the national parks. These parks offer some of the best tenting and camping facilities as the national parks and provide water and electricity.
Backcountry tenting is not as common with the state or local parks, and you may have to stay in designated areas. Check with the park rangers before setting up your tent as it may be restricted where your tent can be pitched.
Tenting in a National Forest Parks
A lot of campgrounds give you the same feeling as parking your car at the local market. All campers are placed side-by-side, and there are usually a lot of people in the area.
Tenting allows you to get away from this type of experience, and when you choose to put your tent up in a national forest park, you have the ultimate tenting opportunity.
There are millions of acres of public lands that are available for recreation and enjoyment, and the Forest Service supports a policy of dispersed camping.
Dispersed camping allows you to set up your tent outside of designated areas at no cost. There are a few guidelines and regulations you are required to follow, which you should be aware of before heading out.
Dispersed tenting means you are further away from the crowd, and it also means you are further away from aide should you need it.
Dispersed tenting gives you an advantage over the designated campsites by offering you an adventure with solitude and peace, but it also has a few drawbacks.
You will have to know the fire permit requirements in the area where you are heading. At certain times of the year, and in individual national forest parks, you are required to purchase a fire permit.
You will also need to bring plenty of water or have the means to purify your drinking water. Other factors to keep in mind are the upcoming weather conditions and have a way to dispose of human waste while in the forest.
The rules and regulations in a national forest are meant to control actions that will cause damage to natural resources and facilities. These rules also control unreasonable disturbances to the area or unsafe conditions:
- Extinguish all fires before leaving. Ensure you have a means of putting out a fire before starting one.
- Respect the forest and leave no trace you have tented by taking all trash out with you.
- Burn only downed or dead material. Do not cut live trees and brush.
- Make sure there are no ‘bans’ in place regarding the starting of a campfire.
- Check for information on how to store your foods while tenting to prevent harm to wild animals and yourself.
- Flooding is not common in many national forests; however, spring snow melts, or heavy rainfalls can cause streams, ponds, or other water sources to increase and flood.
There may be other regulations to follow. You should always check the guidelines and restrictions of an area before setting up your tent. Knowing the rules will keep you safe and ensure you have an enjoyable experience.