Every year, millions of people going camping. Research shows that in 2011, 42.5 million people went camping. Many of the times, these outdoorsy folk bring their friends and family along, too. In fact, campers include their friends on their trips 70% of the time, and in 2011, 534.9 million days were spent on family camping trips.
Whether you’re an experienced camper taking your loved ones out on a trip or you’re about to go on your first camping trip, there are certain etiquette rules that you should follow. Many campgrounds often post their rules and regulations, making it clear to all what can and cannot be done, but there are also some unspoken rules, too.
Here are a few suggestions on important camping etiquette to take with you on your next trip.
Leave No Trace.
One of the most well-known (yet unspoken) rules of camping is to leave no trace. Whatever you take to a campgrounds should leave with you, including your trash. It’s rude to leave anything that might detract from the outdoors experience of those who come to the campgrounds after you. Once you’re all packed up and ready to leave, take 10 minutes to police your campsite, and go through your checklist to make sure you have everything with you.
Clean Up the Campsite.
Leaving a campsite as you found it is generally expected, but it’s also nice to try to leave it even better than how you found it. It’s not the most necessary thing, but it’s always nice when people police the grounds and try to find old pieces of trash and other debris so that they can throw it all away. If you have kids, pay them a penny or a nickel a piece for each piece of trash they find. For just a couple bucks, the campgrounds will be spotless.
Be Careful of Your Firewood.
Firewood can be a touchy subject with some campers. Firstly, don’t bring your own firewood. You may have some that have been seasoning for a while, but it’s best to leave it at home, because you may inadvertently bring insects and other diseases with you that could harm the ecosystem. Secondly, leave some firewood for the next campers. Finding firewood is hard to do in the dark, so when the next campers arrive and are all set up, it’s nice to have firewood already there.
Remember, these rules are largely unspoken. Breaking them won’t get you kicked out of a park, but it will likely upset others. So if you just remember to be kind and take care of the campgrounds, you’ll be fine.
In 2013, Americans went camping for a total of 516.6 million days, and brought their friends and family with them about 70% of the time, many of whom likely had never even gone camping before.
If you’re one of those friends and family who’s about to tag along to the campgrounds for the first time, don’t worry. Winter camping is a lot of fun, and since it’s starting to get pretty cold out, you’ll likely go cabin camping, which is one of the easiest forms of camping.
That being said, you do have to pack well. Here are a few tips to help you prepare for your first cabin camping trip.
Keep Your Activities in Mind.
Research shows that 87% of campers participate in multiple outdoor activities. In other words, you’ll likely go hiking, play sports, catch fish, and more, so you need to be prepared. Pack boots, sneakers, sweats, jeans, and every sort of clothing you think you’ll need. It’s better to over-pack than it is to under-pack, after all.
Find Out What the Cooking Arrangements Are.
You’d also be wise to find out what the cooking arrangements are. If the cabin has a full or partial kitchen, you shouldn’t have as hard of a time with your menu. Check to see if it has a fridge, otherwise you’ll have to bring a cooler and keep your meats and things cold that way. If there is no kitchen, you’ll need to be able to prepare your food over a campfire.
Ask If the Park or Facility Has Family Activities.
Some campgrounds have all sorts of fun family camping activities available for their campers. They might have educational hikes, scavenger hunts, nature centers, and more. It’d be a shame if you found out about these activities late and lost the chance to check them out.
Cabin camping is a lot of fun. Just be sure that you plan accordingly.
Christmas season is upon us and what better way to get in the spirit than heading to a light show at some of your favorite campgrounds? Experience thousands of lights at four of our Jellystone Park locations during the holiday season! See what each has to offer and plan a trip before it’s too late!
Nashville, TN: The Dancing Lights of Christmas will be at Nashville Jellystone Park until January 3rd. Drive thru the park and listen to music that dances with the lights. With new displays added this year, there will be hundreds of thousands Christmas lights to enjoy! Bring the whole family for $25/car and get in the holiday spirit!
Caledonia, WI: With more than 1.5 million lights, Wisconsin’s Christmas Carnival of Lights will be a show that you won’t want to miss! Enjoy the comfort of your own car as you drive around Caledonia, WI Jellystone Park and enjoy time with your loved ones. The light display closes on December 31 so make sure you plan your trip before it’s over!
Eureka, MO: This light show is open every day from November 13 to January 3, so there are plenty of opportunities to make sure you visit at least once! Shimmering lights, animated scenes and a tunnel of dancing lights are just a few things you can expect from Santa’s Magical Kingdom at Eureka, MO Jellystone Park. At just $20/car, the whole family can come along!
Larkspur, CO: Featuring 250,000 lights, Jellystone Park in Larkspur, CO brings a lot of hype to a small town during the holiday season. Stay warm inside your car as you drive through a 100 ft tunnel, candy land, and more! Illumination Light Show is open daily until January 3rd, and open weekends through January 24. Don’t miss out on starting a tradition and bonding with your family! This light show will not disappoint.
So you want to go family camping, but aren’t sure what sort of camp grounds you should be looking for. On the one hand, you want the real experience, but on the other hand, that might be a bit much for your kids. It’s totally understandable. You want to rough it, but not too roughly.
To help you find the right campgrounds for your next trip, consider the following.
- What sort of camping do you want to do? Do you want to go tent camping, cabin camping, RV camping, or some other type of camping? Whichever one you feel compelled towards, start your search there. Some camp grounds offer all three choices, while others may only offer one type of camping. For example, if you want to go RV camping, you should consider looking for RV camp grounds.
- Ask your friends where they go like to go camping (if they do like to go camping). There’s nothing better than a word of mouth recommendation, because they’ve been there. They’ve seen it. They’ve done it. They know what it’s like, and they can give you the inside scoop on whether or not to there.
- Consider whether or not you want camp grounds extras and if they’re available. After all, if you plan on camping with children, you’re going to want to have plenty of things for the kids to do. After all, almost 70% of tent campers have one to two-night outings, which means they’re going to need plenty to do, and while 87% of campers participate in multiple outdoor activities, kids may not quite enjoy the same things as more adult campers. Fortunately, there are camp grounds with playgrounds, fire pits, electricity, restrooms and all the other amenities that kids may go crazy without.
There’s a reason why family camping vacations are one of the most popular ways Americans relax, as evidenced by the fact that in 2011, they spent 534.9 million days camping altogether. It’s because they’re one of the most fun ways to bond and spend time together as a family.
It’s understandable why some don’t “get” winter camping. After all, the most popular parts of camping don’t seem to be too conducive to winter.
Consider the fact that the most popular type of camping is by tent, as 86% of survey respondents said, while 33% said they preferred cabin camping; 30% backcountry/backpacking; 26% drive-up campsites; 24% RV; 11% camped in a backyard; and 8% slept under the stars. What’s more, about 70% of tent campers — the majority of the majority — have one to two-night outings. Plus, 92% of people say that hiking is their favorite camping activity.
All that being said, wintertime family camping is a whole different experience in and of itself, and that’s what people don’t get about winter camping. Of course winter camping can also be done in milder temperatures as well but there is something to be said about camping in crisp clean wonderful air.
Everything is still and everything is quiet during the winter. There’s not the usual background, woodland chatter you might hear during the summer, and if you are camping in the snow, this beautiful blanket quiets the area. Camping in the winter can be an incredibly peaceful, tranquil, and quiet experience — even more so than nature usually is.
Going wintertime family camping is also like taking an adventure to a whole new world with your favorite people. Sure, you’ve probably gone camping before, or at least been in the woods, but in the winter, the snow changes everything. It looks like an entirely different place once it’s been frosted with snow.
Most importantly, there are some camping activities you can only do in the winter, like build a snowman, have a snowball fight, go snow shoeing, try ice climbing, or even ice fish. If you don’t go winter family camping, you may never get as good of a chance to take advantage of the icy weather.
If you’ve never gone wintertime family camping before, do yourself a favor and go. Granted, these colder months may not seem too conducive to the outdoor experience, but once you go, you and your family may experience a new and wonderful experience together.
Summertime usually means festival season, especially for music fans. In addition to featuring the hottest headlining acts and letting guests rub elbows with rich and famous attendees, music festivals are also the prime time for camping, and they have plenty to teach campers of all types.
No matter which camping sites you choose, whether they’re public campgrounds, where 70% of campers converge, or family camping resorts with cabin rentals, you can use these common sense tips for festivalgoers, too:
- Dress appropriately. Sure, you’ll need your cutest flower crowns and most boho chic outfits if you’re headed to Coachella, but it’s probably not necessary if you’re going hiking and fishing instead. A survey of campers found that 87% of them participate in more than one outdoor activity on their excursions, with hiking as the most popular, according to 92% of respondents.
Make sure that you and your family members have appropriate outerwear for the outdoors, no matter which season you choose to go camping. That means breathable cotton and comfortable hiking boots for the summer and heavier clothing for the winter.
- Figure out how you’ll be getting clean. Whether you’re camping out at Lollapalooza or going backpacking at your favorite state park, you’re sure to get sweaty, muddy, and just all around dirty on your trip. While that may not be a problem for you if you’re surrounded by other unclean concertgoers, it might be uncomfortable after a long day of hiking.
Before you go camping, figure out what resources you’ll have to get clean during your stay. Some camping sites will have showers available either in a central location or in your very own rental cabins. In some cases, however, you might be washing up in a nearby lake or stream. Either way, stock up on some deodorant and dry shampoo and find ways to keep cool.
- Don’t be afraid to explore your “glamping” options. Delaware’s Firefly Music Festival announced its lineup at the end of November, and with it, they also gave music fans the chance to sign up for some exclusive glamping options. Glamping, or glamorous camping, involves staying in anything from RVs to cabins and sometimes even hotels, all while still allowing you to enjoy the outdoors as much (or as little) as you would like.
When you plan your next trip, figure out just what your family will need to stay comfortable. Many camping sites offer cabin rentals, which have ample room for the whole family. You can also drive up or rent an RV for the weekend, which can offer creature comforts like cable and WiFi, too.
Above all, plan your trip in advance! The more work you do ahead of time the more you can enjoy relaxing and/or roughing it on your next camping trip.
Many of us RVers brave the winter in our rigs, and there are plenty of Jellystone Parks open throughout the chilly season to accommodate us, but for many more, winter means putting the ol’ rigs into storage. But, it’s not as simple as just parking them in the garage. When it comes to our RVs, we need to properly prepare them for winter storage so we don’t have any issues come springtime. When we’re ready to dust them off and take them out for another season of warm weather fun, we want them to be ready to go with minimal maintenance and preparation. Here are some steps to follow to get your rigs ready for a safe winter hibernation:
If your RV isn’t a tow-behind and has an engine, you’ll want to change the oil, top off all the fluids, and fill up the gas tank with some fuel stabilizer. Make sure to idle it for a few minutes after adding the stabilizer to distribute it through the fuel system.
Cleaning your RV is a very important step. First, you’ll want to make sure to get any trash, food particles, and food items out of the inside to reduce the chance of destructive pests making a home in your rig throughout the winter. Second, use your time cleaning the outside to inspect all the seals and roof seams for cracks or deterioration. Water damage is extremely costly, so it’s best to prevent it from happening in the first place. Making any necessary repairs before winter storage will save you a ton of money and time in the future.
The next thing you’ll want to do is check all of your electrical and gas appliances to make sure they’re working properly. You’ll always want to examine the propane lines for leaks before and after a long storage period. If you smell or suspect a leak, a simple way to find it is to use a spray bottle with soapy water. After you ensure the lines are all in order, fill up your tank and close all of the valves. If your tank isn’t removable, cover it to prevent rusting.
Now it’s time to winterize the water system. This usually involves draining and cleaning your holding tanks, flushing out all of your plumbing, and then pumping antifreeze into your pipes to protect them from frost damage. For this process it’s best to refer to your owner’s manual because it varies widely depending on your make, model, and amenities, but this guide can definitely help.
The last thing you’ll do is charge and unhook your batteries (negative charge first.) Clean off any corrosion with a solution of baking soda and water, and consider removing it and storing it indoors if it will get too cold throughout the winter.
As always, when it comes to expensive investments, always check your owner’s manual for any additional recommendations, and also print up this storage preparation checklist to make the process easy and pain-free.
Boats and PWCs
If you haul a boat or personal watercraft behind your rig, you’ll want to prepare it for winter storage as well. This will always start with a thorough cleaning. Prepping your engine for winter storage will vary widely depending on your type of watercraft and the type of engine it has, but at the very least it will involve cleaning the engine with soap and water (especially important for any outboard engines,) changing oil and oil filters, topping off fluids, and either unhooking your fuel line and running it until it shuts down or filling up the tank with a fuel additive. Almost all marine engines will need fogging oil sprayed in the cylinders and on all the fittings. As with any motorized vehicle, if it’s not going to be started and ran every month or so, you’ll want to charge and unhook the battery. Here is another maintenance preparation checklist you can print off to have on hand while getting your marine machines ready to stow away.
Exploring Camp Jellystone’s vast menagerie of amazing parks is fun no matter how you do it. For those of us who enjoy them with our RVs, we want to be able to come back year after year, so make sure to prep them well for winter so there won’t be any problems when it’s time to spend another summer season romping around our amazing continent!
AJ Earley is a travel junkie, freelance writer, and root beer float enthusiast from Boise, Idaho.
Summer may be over and some parks may be closed for the season, but that doesn’t mean the fun has to stop at Jellystone Park! We have 27 locations that are open year round and quite a few that are open through November as well! Whether you’re looking for a weekend of fun and planned activities or looking to relax and sit around a campfire, you can find it at Jellystone. Here is a list of campgrounds open in November and December and their list of activities. Come join us for a weekend of camping! Please note: not all parks schedule activities during the off season.
Elberta, AL: There are no scheduled activities, but the campground is open all year.
Cobb Mtn, CA: There are no scheduled activities, but the campground is open all year.
Larkspur, CO: Enjoy Illumination Light Shows every weekend in November and every day after Thanksgiving! Also, enjoy making holiday memories with Cozy Christmas, happening the first 3 weekends in December.
Montrose, CO: There are no scheduled activities, but the campground is open all year.
Madison, FL: Nov. 6-8: 25% off veteran’s reservations for Veteran’s celebration. Nov. 26-29: Thanksgiving celebration with a full Thanksgiving lunch. Dec. 30- Jan. 1: Winterfest-Enjoy fireworks, snow, hayrides and more! Buy 5 nights get the next 2 free!
Bremen, GA: There are no scheduled activities, but the campground is open all year.
Millbrook, IL: There are no scheduled activities, but the campground is open all year.
Portage, IN: There are no scheduled activities, but the campground is open all year.
Scottsburg, IN: There are no scheduled activities. This campground is open until Nov. 30.
Lawrence, KS: There are no scheduled activities, but the campground is open all year.
Cave City, KY: Veterans may camp free one night from Friday, Nov. 6 through Wednesday, Nov. 11! This park is open all year.
Robert, LA: Nov. 6-9: Celebrate Ranger’s Birthday with cake and ice cream! There will also be outdoor fun and safety training. Nov. 13-15: Inviting all veterans and all current military to camp at Jellystone Park for free this weekend. Campsites and cabins are 40% off this weekend. Nov. 20-22: Social Media Friends Weekend! For those who stay connected, enjoy 60% off campsites and cabins! Nov. 25-29: Thanksgiving, Christmas celebration, and Anniversary party finale! Holiday activities Wednesday-Sunday. Annual Potluck Thanksgiving on Thursday. Santa visit on Saturday night, then the bears go into hibernation until March 2016!
Sturbridge, MA: Dec. 5: Annual Toys for Tots and Teens Dinner! Everyone is invited for a free spaghetti dinner. Please bring a new, unwrapped toy for each person in your party to donate. Must RSVP.
Hagerstown, MD: There are no scheduled activities. This campground is open until Nov. 29.
Frankenmuth, MI: There are no scheduled activities. This campground is open until Dec. 31.
Forsyth, MO: There are no scheduled activities. This campground is open until Nov. 15.
Pelahatchie, MS: There are no scheduled activities, but the campground is open all year.
Tabor City, NC: Nov. 6-8: To honor veterans, we will be making cards to mail to a veterans hospital. There will also be lazer tag, crafts, a scavenger hunt, and more. Nov. 27-29: Thanksgiving & Hibernate the Bears Weekend. We will celebrate with Thanksgiving themed events. Join us Saturday as we tuck the bears into bed for a long winter! Dec. 26- Jan. 1: Five for Three Event!= Camp with us for 5 nights and only pay for 3.
Marion, NC: Nov. 2-8: Turkey Trot week. Trot through the nature trail in the morning then unleash your creative talents and transform a pumpkin into a colorful turkey as part of the weekend activities. Nov. 9-15: Time to tuck in Yogi Bear and Boo Boo for a long winters nap.
Mill Run, PA: There are no scheduled activities, but the campground is open all year.
Milton, PA: There are no scheduled activities, but the campground is open all year.
Swansea, SC: Nov. 6-8: Bedtime for the Bears! Enjoy crafts, scavenger hunt, pajama party, and more! Nov. 27- 29: Thanksgiving in the Park! Carolina vs. Clemson game. Dec.31- Jan 2: New Years Celebration! This park is open all year.
Gatlinburg, TN: Nov. 7-8: Last chance: Non-Scary Halloween! Enjoy hay rides, dressing up, pumpkin carving contests, site decorating, and more! Nov. 26: Celebrate Thanksgiving with a feast! Bring a side dish and enjoy the meal. All leftovers will be donated to a food kitchen.Nov. 28- Nov 29: Join us for Thanksgiving crafts along with fun and games. This park closes on Nov. 30.
Memphis, TN: There are no scheduled activities, but the campground is open all year.
Burleson, TX: Nov. 6-29: Gobblin’ Good Times Weekends- enjoy activities during weekends in November! Nov. 30- Dec. 25: Decembear to Remembear! Ring in the Christmas season with planting magic Christmas trees, holiday crafts, and festival of lights fire truck ride! Dec. 26- Jan. 1: Celebrate the new year with Yogi Bear and Boo Boo. There will be activities, laser tag, hey rides, and more! Adult party included too!
Canyon Lake, TX: Nov. 6-8: Veteran’s Day Weekend. If you have served, you get a free night on us! You also get to eat for free at our pancake breakfast on Sunday! Nov. 13-15: Bear Fest Weekend Nov. 20-22: Renaissance Weekend Nov. 23-29: Park-wide pot-luck! Dec. 4-6: Winter Wonderland Weekend Dec. 10-13: Christmas Special BOGOPO- Pay for 1 night and stay for 3 nights! Dec. 14-20: Christmas Around the World- Make crafts and learn about how different cultures celebrate the holidays.
Fredricksburg, TX: Nov. 6-8: Veterans Day Weekend- Help us honor our veterans and fallen soldiers. Tons of fun activities planned. Discounts for Veterans and Active Military! Nov. 13-15: Hibernate the Bears Nov. 20-22: Renaissance Weekend Nov. 26-29: Pot Luck dinner for Thanksgiving! Dec. 4-6: Wine Weekend- Join for a weekend full of wine tasting, family activities, and fun! Dec 11-13: Decorating weekend Dec. 18-20: Merry Christmas!- Celebrate with us at Jellystone! Dec. 25- 27: Happy New Year! Help us celebrate with fun activities!
Tyler, TX: There are no scheduled activities, but the campground is open all year.
Waller, TX: Nov. 26-29: Celebrate Thanksgiving with train rides, planned activities, and photos with the bears. Dec. 4-6, Dec 11-13, Dec. 18-20: Christmas weekends- Special holiday events, photos with Yogi Bear and Santa Claus, cookie decorating, Christmas games, and more!
Wichita Falls, TX: There are no scheduled activities, but the campground is open all year.
Emporia, VA: There are no scheduled activities, but the campground is open all year.
Gloucester Point, VA: Nov. 6-8: Miscellaneous Mischief Nov. 13-15: Early Thanksgiving and Hibernation Celebration
Many grandparents envision RVing with their grandkids as an ideal way to spend quality time together. But how do you handle teens who are glued to their mobile devices? What do you do with younger children who don’t like hiking or eating semi-charred hotdogs over an open fire? Get all the tips and creative ideas you need from the just-released eBook, RVing With Grandkids.
This free resource helps grandparents, (or any adult RVing with kids!) have all the resources they need to create wonderful, outdoorsy memories. Going camping for the first time? Wondering if you should take the family pet? Want some ideas on keeping kids engaged while hiking? Need help with indoor activities if it rains? No worries! RVing With Grandkids is your one-stop resource for anything RV-related. There are even suggestions on what to do if you don’t own an RV.
Silvana Clark, a frequent speaker at RV conferences across the country, states, “RV camping with children is the ideal way to expose them to the great outdoors. They still have the comforts of a cozy bed and indoor plumbing while being able to attend Jr. Ranger programs and explore creeks and trails.”
Tent camping at area campgrounds may be preferred by 86% of campers, but for some people, camping in tents can get a little old. Tents might be ideal for backpackers in the middle of nowhere, but for those looking for family camping adventures, they can be difficult to set up and sleep in when little ones are in tow. Tent camping also offers few amenities. Those who are fans of “roughing it” might love it, but those who want to enjoy nature without braving the elements may find themselves dismayed by the lack of creature comforts found out in the wilderness.
Choosing from cabin rentals at a favorite camp resort, however, can be a better option for those who need to keep themselves and their children happy. Cabin rentals are the preferred camping accommodations for one-third of all campers, beating out camping at a drive-up campsite (26%), in an RV (24%) or in a yurt (2%). Here are three things that families are sure to love about renting a cabin at your favorite camping resorts:
- Cabins give you access to vital utilities: Most campers get by with a few lanterns and a campfire once the sun goes down, but that’s not always convenient for family activities. Today’s cabins are more than bare-bones structures. They often come equipped with electricity, heating, water, and more, so you can have all the comforts of home away from home. Having those amenities might also help you get to enjoy your camping trip longer. A typical tent camping trip only lasts for about one or two days for 70% of those campers; the more comfortable you and your family are, the more you’ll want to stay on your camping trip.
- Renting a cabin is easy when staying in a family-friendly resort: Some campers prefer to stay in more basic cabins in the middle of nowhere, and they usually have to purchase and maintain these properties themselves. Those who want more short-term accommodations without the hassle can rent a cabin instead at their favorite campgrounds. Families can also choose to stay at resorts that offer plenty of family-friendly activities, including anything from hiking and swimming to fun at a water park. With 87% of campers participating in more than one activity while camping, these resorts offer plenty of fun for campers of all ages.
- Luxury cabins make camping trips special: Are you more of a fan of “glamping,” or glamorous camping? If your idea of communing with nature means having a WiFi hotspot or a gourmet kitchen, then it may be time to take your camping rentals to the next level. These cabins also come with enough space for the whole family, so everyone can spread out in his or her own bedroom.
Don’t let your family camping trip be more difficult than it should be. Choose cabin rentals at your favorite campground locations to make your vacation comfortable and one of a kind.