Wecome To RVs and OHVs

This blog is all about RVs (recreational vehicles) and OHVs (Off Highway Vehicles), camping, and survival
and how they work together to provide wholesome family fun and great learning opportunities.
Many posts are intended to familiarize novice campers and RVers with RV systems and basic camping and survival
skills. But even experienced RVers and campers will enjoy the anecdotes and may even benefit from a new
perspective. Comments, questions, and suggestions are encouraged.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Choosing the Ideal Camp Site

No doubt we'd all like to experience the "ideal camp site".  So how do you find one?  First of all, there is no unique "ideal camp site".  What is ideal is going to be different for different people and different for anyone at different times.  If  you're looking to escape summer heat, the ideal campsite will be cool -- mountains or beach.  If you want solitude, it will be remote but if you desire companionship and social interaction it will be a place with lots of other people with interests similar to your own.  For hunting or fishing it needs to be where you have access to appropriate game.  For OHVs you'll need plenty of trails or open riding areas nearby

If you have an RV and prefer the convenience of hookups, your ideal camp site will necessarily be in a comfortable RV park with ample amenities.  But are you looking for an overnight stop long the way to your destination or is the site itself your destination?   If you're looking for an overnight stop the ideal place will be near your route, easy to get in and out of, and inexpensive.  If the site is your destination,  you'll be more concerned about its ambiance and amenities.  If  your outing is geared toward special outdoor recreational activities, the ideal site is going to be one that gives you convenient access to those activities.  OHV riders will need a place with access to OHV trails or open riding areas.  Fishermen will need well-stocked lakes or rivers. Boaters will need launch facilities for their watercraft.  Hikers and mountain bikers will need trails.

If you prefer boondocking or are at least willing to explore off-grid camping, you will find many more options.  Factors to consider may include how remote you want to be, how long you are prepared to stay, and how far you are willing to drive to reach your goal.  If you're seeking peace and quiet you will want to avoid primitive camping areas that serve as staging areas for OHV activity or places that attract raves or other party groups.

Tent campers will want to choose camp sites that are suitable to their style and expectations.  If you enjoy hiking and backpacking, your ideal camp may be miles off the beaten track, but if you bring a lot of equipment with you you're going to want a site you can drive right into.  You will usually want a shaded, grassy site with a fire pit and picnic table.  Access to an attractive lake, beach, or stream is a  plus.

Time of year may color your selection as well.  In hot summer months you will probably want a shady site to give you some relief from the glare of that hydrogen fusion furnace 93 million miles away we call Sol.  In cooler times you may enjoy a sunny sight that will warm your tent or RV.  Desert camping is usually uncomfortably hot in the summer, so mountain, forest, or beach destinations are more ideal in hot weather.  Conversely, mountains and forest areas may experience harsh weather in cooler months when desert areas will be moderate and attractive.  Mountains also tend to make their own weather so you may not be able to rely on the regional forecast.

The composition of your camping group will also affect your choice of an ideal camp site.  A couple seeking some quiet time together will have different needs than a family with young children who will require access to playgrounds or other sources of entertainment or a large group of OHV riders who want to camp and ride together.

If you are seeking peace and quiet you will probably want to avoid popular state and federal parks, especially on holiday weekends or during the summer vacation time.  Look for smaller venues, such as local or county parks.  Activity can vary a lot at private parks.  Some are fairly remote and quiet, some are highly used and foster a lot of social interaction.  If you enjoy a lot of social interaction, by all means get reservations at a popular location during a busy time.

Finding the right site within an established campground might take a little exploring.   In most cases, not all sites are equal.  Some might be downwind of the restrooms or near a high traffic road or adjacent to a noisy group area.  You might be able to choose a camp site from a map when you make your reservations.  If not, you might have to physically explore the available options when you get on site.  Some common criteria for choosing the best site are level and adequate parking, clean, level space for tents, minimum traffic, close proximity to resources you want to use, not too close to restrooms or dumpsters, convenient access to water faucets, shady (especially in the summer!), proper fire pit, picnic table(s), pavilion or shelter.  Sometimes  you can peruse a map of the campground and pre-select  your campsite based on the information available on the map.  Other times the host will assign you a space or you may be given an opportunity to choose an available site at check-in.

Finding the right site when boondocking will either require familiarity with the area or doing some exploring.  You will need a spot that is accessible to your vehicle(s), reasonably level, away from traffic (roads, trails, etc), shady, large enough for your group, and fire safe.  In rainy weather or if there is an chance of rain, avoid depressions or washes that may be subject to flooding.  Because maneuvering large motorhomes or trailers can be cumbersome, try to check out your proposed destination ahead of time using a more nimble vehicle but keep a wary eye out for obstacle or clearances that might present problems for RVs.  It will be a lot easier to avoid or get out of difficult situations in a car or truck, especially it if has 4WD.  If I'm going to an OHV staging site neither I nor my companions have already been to I like to "pre-run" in my 4WD pickup.  Failed to do that just once and got my motorhome and trailer stuck in a rather unpleasant situation.  Fortunately,  several of the off-roaders in a nearby camp were also professional truck drivers and had a big 4WD pickup to drag out my trailer while one of the maneuvered my 40' motorhome out of its sandy trap and back to where we could hook up the trailer and drive out another way.

The bottom line is, only YOU can determine what is the ideal camp site for any given outing and it will very likely be different from trip to trip depending on many factors.  You may feel like returning to a spot you previously enjoyed, but consider whether there are mitigating circumstances that might change your experience.  Some things to consider are the time of year and the size and make up of your camping entourage.  If  you really loved the fall foliage you might be disappointed in visiting at a different time of year.  A nice little camp site that was perfect for you and your significant other might not work when you bring another family with children.  A site that offered great camaraderie and companionship during the active season might be less rewarding in the off season unless you bring enough companions with you.  If you realize that finding the ideal site means matching YOUR current needs rather than adopting some external definition, you should be able to select the right place very time.  Hopefully each time out will be ideal!

Get it right!

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