Skip to main content

Young couple holding their feet on a fire with a lake in the background.

Maximilian Sarnow/iStockPhoto / Getty Images

If you’re car camping

Take a good look at the online campground map. Don’t want to haul your water jugs far? Find one near the marked taps. Families might want to be within shouting distance of the playground or close to the shower building. Check how far it is to the beach – do you really want to drive down every day? “Radio free” areas mean you don’t have listen to other people’s music and, hopefully, parks will open “pot-smoke free" campsites in the future.

In the back country – look down

Lie down and see if the ground is level. You don’t want to roll into your partner or the tent wall all night. If you’re stuck with a slope, ensure your head is higher than your feet. Pick a spot that’s far enough away from the campfire/cooking area, too, because creatures will come scrounging at night. Stay above high-water marks and try not to pitch your tent beside a marsh, as the bugs will be legendary. If there’s no outdoor toilet, keep at least 30 metres from the water’s edge to avoid contamination. And never pitch your tent in a dry river bed: flash floods happen.

How to limit your phone use on vacation

Five travel tips from a million-mile frequent flier

Also in the back country – look up

You’ll need weather and wind protection – is there a boulder you can pitch beside? Healthy trees can help but look out for dead limbs that may come crashing down. Campsites near rocky slopes may mean rocks could fall on you. Is there shade you can use? Or would you rather be woken up by the sun warming your tent? And in bear country, you’ll have to find a tree with a sturdy branch 100 metres away to hang your food barrel.

Story continues below advertisement

Do your research

If you’re visiting a park for the first time, search out online reviews. Someone somewhere has already done your homework and posted travelogues, YouTube videos and detailed reviews of the best spots on the best lakes. Study the official park website, but also find its local non-profit “friends of” group; these useful websites offer a less corporate, more collegial and informative look at the area.

When you’re in a pinch

Sometimes, you just need a flat piece of ground on the road trip to that back country access point. Camping on crown land is free, but where it’s allowed varies from province to province. Plus, don’t overlook RV campgrounds – there’s typically a decent patch of grass for tents at a much cheaper rate than the RV spots. And at least there’s a flush toilet nearby.

Live your best. We have a daily Life & Arts newsletter, providing you with our latest stories on health, travel, food and culture. Sign up today.

Related topics

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.
Comments are closed

We have closed comments on this story for legal reasons or for abuse. For more information on our commenting policies and how our community-based moderation works, please read our Community Guidelines and our Terms and Conditions.

Cannabis pro newsletter