Top Camping Tips for Beginners (And Camping Poster Art to Get You Inspired!)
Are you ready to go camping this fall? We compiled the best camping tips for beginners and advanced adventures alike, and we sprinkled in camping poster art and art of the outdoors to get you inspired!
Organized Camping Ideas
We’ve got some great camping tips in the following sections that we’ve learned from our own experiences camping and backpacking across America's natural lands, but we’d also like to tip our hats to the National Park Service. The NPS is a truly professional resource on how to enjoy the wilderness safely. To help make your adventure a safe and fun experience, the NPS prepared a few sections of wisdom on camping.
Further, the NPS has access to critical, federally-organized statistical data on which aspects of camping Americans are most likely to struggle with. They prepared five articles on these key points. They are:
1). Safety information about campfires.
2). Information on maintaining personal hygiene and health while camping.
3). Propane camp stove safety and how to dispose of propane canisters safely.
4). Safe river crossing information for backcountry backpackers.
5). How to purify water safely and where to get safe drinking water.
Those five articles cover a lot of the basics regarding camping safety, and in the following sections, we’ll pass on our two cents regarding how to have a great time camping!
Best Camping Tips
Summer may be over, but folks are still looking for cool camping hacks and top camping tips. For many, autumn is the best season for camping due to a drop in temperature and less congested campgrounds. For those who are just getting started, here are some of the top camping tips for beginners if you’re going out for your first trip this autumn:
1). Watch the weather. Weather patterns change rapidly in most parts of the U.S. during autumn. Try to keep your camping schedule flexible and plan around the weather.
2). Test your equipment before you leave. If you bought new equipment for your camping trip, like a water filter or camp stove, make sure you test this equipment BEFORE you head into the wilderness!
3). Bring a first aid kit. We can all hope for the best camping trip, but the wilderness can be a harsh place, and accidents do happen. Bring a first aid kit, just in case.
4). Be mindful of early sunsets. It’s easy to forget how early the sun sets in autumn. It will likely be dark long before you’re ready to crawl into your sleeping bag for the night, so bring headlights, flashlights, and a camp lantern.
5). Eat, drink, and be merry! Camping should be enjoyed, and eating well and drinking plenty of water to stay hydrated will help your body acclimate to the cooler weather and exposure to the outdoor elements. So eat, drink, and be merry!
Sleeping Tips for Camping
As we head into the cooler months, the number one question on everyone’s mind is, “What are the best ways to stay warm in a tent?” Or, “What are the best ways to stay warm while camping?” From our experience camping in autumn, here’s what we’ve found:
1). Pack a cold-weather sleeping bag. Ensure your bag is rated well below the temperatures you expect to encounter on your trip.
2). Invest in a good tent. Cheap tents can be scooped up at an outlet store for $50-$100, but they don’t last long. Spend the extra dollars on a tent that will hold up through the elements and serve you well for seasons to come.
3). Splurge on a good sleeping pad. This one goes without saying, and your back will thank you later! Further, ensure you buy a sleeping pad that is insulated for cold weather, one that will keep you warm and prevent the cold ground from sneaking up and chilling your bones.
4). Plan to dress in layers. Rather than bringing extra-heavy cold weather clothes, bring a variety of clothes you can wear in layers. This way, you can add or subtract layers as the weather changes.
5). Bring rain gear so you stay dry at night! For many parts of the nation, autumn signals a stormy season, the preview of winter. With that in mind, bring waterproof footwear, rain pants, a raincoat, and a rain fly for your tent.
Tent Camping Ideas
If this is your first time camping with a tent, here are some tried and true bits of advice we’ve found workable over the years:
1). Bring a tarp! Sounds silly, maybe, but laying a tarp down on the ground and setting up your tent on top of it can act as additional insulation between the cold ground and you, and it helps keep moisture out of the tent.
2). Plan for wind. A windy day can make for a tent that moves and shakes at night, which isn’t fun for anyone. Try to set up your tent in an area protected from the wind, and be sure to use your tent stakes to secure the tent to the ground.
3). Bring a needle, thread, glue, and duct tape. These items are almost always neglected when folks pack for a camping trip, but a tear or rip in a tent in the middle of a camping trip can invite rain, insects, or even animals into the tent. Bring a simple repair kit, just in case.
4). Invest in a heavy-duty rainfly. Some tents (particularly the cheap ones) come with a substandard rainfly that is either not waterproof or does not reach down to the ground. Bring an aftermarket fly or an extra tarp and several tie-downs.
5). Rope, rope, rope. Whether it’s used for hanging food up in trees to keep it away from wildlife, or whether it’s used to make a clothesline, hang a tarp over a dining area, or tie down a pesky rainfly or tent, having a length of rope makes tent camping that much easier.
Best National Parks for Autumn Camping
The autumn season brings cooler weather, a stunning panoply of leaf colors, and a significant drop in park visitation thanks to the end of the summer holiday and a resumption of grade school and college semesters. That means autumn is a great season for camping in the National Parks!
Here are a few of our favorite National Parks for camping in fall:
1). Acadia National Park. This one is a clear choice. Thanks to its location in the northeast, Acadia National Park in Maine is arguably the best National Park for fall colors.
2). Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This is our “backyard park,” as we say, because it’s just a couple-hour drive from our poster art studio in Nashville. GRSM may be the most-visited park on the roster, but visitation drops during autumn, and the fall colors in this park rival those of Acadia National Park.
3). Shenandoah National Park. Covered in deciduous trees, Shenandoah National Park in Virginia is another obvious choice. There are about 70 different scenic overlooks in this park and hundreds of miles of hiking trails, mountain bike paths, and scenic byways.
4). Rocky Mountain National Park. They might not have the autumn colors of the east coast, but several western parks are spectacular during autumn. Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado sees a drop in temperature and visitation during autumn, the aspen trees turn a beautiful gold, and the elk herds become more active during the autumn rut.
5). Death Valley National Park. This is not one folks would typically think of as a great “autumn park.” But the reason why Death Valley National Park in California is a good autumn choice is because the temps drop low enough that the park is comfortable for camping! And Los Angeles is just a few hours away, making it an easy choice for west coasters.
Five Backpacking Tips
Here are a few of the best backpacking tips and tricks we could think of that have served us well when we’ve visited National Parks:
1). If you’re going to Great Smoky Mountains National Park this autumn (or any park with elevation changes, for that matter), be mindful of the changing temperatures! Great Smoky Mountains National Park is much colder at higher elevations during autumn than at lower elevations. Bring extra layers of warm clothes if you plan on backpacking in the park's higher elevations.
2). Break in your boots before you go! The biggest mistake beginner backpackers make is they launch a trip with a brand new pair of hiking boots. Talk about blisters for days! Rather, wear your hiking boots daily for a week or two leading up to your backpacking trip. Your feet will thank you later.
3). As the summer season closes and autumn officially begins, several National Parks change their schedules and allowances on which parts of the various parks visitors can enjoy. Make sure you research your National Park thoroughly before you go, and follow all National Park Service rules and regulations for the autumn season.
4). Be mindful of (and prepared for) wildlife. Wildlife becomes more active in many parts of the U.S. during autumn, as mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians are frantically preparing for winter. Because of this, risks for human-and-wildlife encounters are higher. When backpacking in National Parks in autumn, bring bear spray if you’ll be in bear country, and always be aware of your surroundings.
5). Always tell someone where you’re going! Backpacking differs from camping because you're hiking from location to location and you're truly “roughing it.” Please make sure someone at home knows where you are, your itinerary, and when you plan to check in with them. That way, if something goes wrong, your loved one can act fast and arrange a rescue.
Camping Poster Art to Inspire Your Autumn Adventure!
Are you ready to see some great fall colors and get the campground all (or mostly) to yourself now that school is back in session? We sure are! Everyone at Anderson Design Group loves the wilderness and America’s public lands and nature preserves. Our artists, creative directors, writers, editors, managers, and office staff go out on expeditions to the National Parks every year, partially because we love to visit these places and also because we're seeking inspiration for future poster art. To see some of the art inspired by our adventures, check out our 63 Illustrated National Parks Collection for hiking and backpacking inspiration, and peruse our Lake and Lodge Collection for camping inspiration.
Until next time, I hope to see yah on the trail or at the campground!
Anderson Design Group Staff Writer