Camping is one of America's favorite outdoor activities for good reason. You can commune with nature, reconnect with your kids, and tell scary stories around the campfire. But before you load up the car with tents and marshmallows, you have to find a site. Here are a few ways to make your trip a little smoother, by finding the perfect camping location.
The best place to begin is your local state park. Call the park first to secure a permit, and to check for site availability. These state-run parks are usually ideal no matter what your level of camping experience. You can choose to rough it with a site that has the bare minimum of amenities, or you may even find a park that has electricity, and your own private bathroom facilities. Be aware that this is still a wildlife setting. State parks contain bears, snakes, and other dangerous creatures. Don't assume that just because it is under the jurisdiction of your local wildlife department, that they will have somehow eradicated all threats.
If you want an authentic camping experience, there is no better place to find a camping location than anywhere that is removed from civilized communities. Grab a map, and choose a location that is as far off the beaten track as you can get. Just make sure the site you choose is not private property. It is also a good idea to find a spot that still has cell phone reception. In case of an emergency, you still have to have some contact with the outside world.
Another great place to find a camping location is closer than you might think. It is the safest place for your kids, and you can use your own bathroom. It is of course, your own back yard. You know who operates the camp grounds, and if there is a sudden onset of inclement weather, it's not that far of a trip to your own bed. Your own yard is also a great choice if this is your kid's first experience on a camping trip. They might not enjoy it, and this way, you can still sleep underneath the stars, while your kids rest in their own bedrooms.
Which ever method you use to find camping locations, the best thing you can do is be safe. There are dangers no matter where you camp. Remember that storms, floods, and wild animals can surface at a moment's notice. Be prepared for all eventualities, and don't forget to pack extra socks!