Camping is a chance to get away, but in most cases, you're still surrounded by other people. And all those people are looking to enjoy their vacation time, as well. To ensure other campers enjoy their experience as much as you, it's important to follow the unwritten camping rules. Here are 10 to remember on future trips.
Follow Standard Procedure
1. Clean your site: Don't leave a dirty site for the next campers. Leaving trash in an otherwise pure, natural space is frowned upon, and most campgrounds will charge you for leaving garbage or other items behind. Remember the motto: take out what you bring in.
2. Put your fire out: Because you can endanger those around you, this is one of the most important camping rules, regardless of where you go. Be sure to put out your fire before bed, before heading out for the day, or when you leave the site at the end of your stay. The general rule of thumb is to make sure the coals or ashes are cold.
3. Clean up after your pets: Whether you're at your campsite, walking through the campground or hiking on a nearby trail, always clean up after your pets. Be sure your pet doesn't go to the bathroom on someone else's campsite, either.
4. Don't wash your dishes in the bathroom: Most campgrounds have specific rules about this. Not only does dishwashing take up the small space people have for bathroom use, but it's unsanitary; dirty dishes should not be in the sink where people clean their face and hands.
Be a Good Neighbor
5. Don't cut through campsites: Unless you know your neighbors, avoid cutting through anyone's campsite. People pay to be at the campground, making the site their personal space for the duration of their stay. Don't intrude just to save a few minutes on your walk to the bathrooms.
6. Respect quiet hours: Nearly every campground has quiet hours, usually from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. These are put in place for those who need to get a good night sleep or are camping with children. Voices carry in the still of night, so be respectful of this time. Be mindful of your early morning routine, as well, which can be just as disturbing.
7. Use lowlights: When driving through the campground or unloading your car in the dark, turn off your headlights and use your lowlights. For those around you, the bright lights can disturb sleep. Once you arrive at the campground, use lanterns and flashlights.
8. Keep your pet on a leash: Camping rules for pets differ at each campground, but with food, little kids and animal allergies most people will agree that they don't want your pet wandering around their campsite. Keep your pet on a leash at the campsite, on the trails and around the campground.
Go Above and Beyond
9. Leave extra wood: If you have no use for it at home, leave your extra firewood. With fewer things to pack, this is one of the camping rules that benefit you and those who use your site after you.
10. Put everything back: If you moved the picnic table, or other items on the site, move them back. And, if you created holes or trenches fill these in, they can be dangerous for new campers.
While some of these camping rules are considered standard at most campgrounds, others simply come from experience. Be sure you follow these unwritten rules, and any others you learn along the way, if not for yourself, for your fellow campers who are looking to enjoy their time away, too.
Jessica Sanders is the Associate Online Editor for ReserveAmerica.com. After many years of camping and hiking in the Northeast, she's exploring what the West has to offer and sharing all of her knowledge with you. She's a s'mores master, campsite connoisseur, writer, runner and lover of all things outdoors.