Introducing Hipcamp, the Website That Makes Your Next Camping Trip a Click Away

May 26, 2015

There are countless websites that help travelers book flights and hotel rooms at the click of a button, making it easy to go pretty much anywhere you want.

Anywhere, that is, except on a camping trip. And when finding the right camping site can take hours of painstaking research and planning, sifting through seemingly endless websites for information on amenities and activities, it’s often more work than it’s worth to book a camping trip. Despite the fact that Americans spent a combined 516.6 million days camping in 2013, it’s still surprisingly tough to search for the right campground.

A new website called Hipcamp aims to change all that, making it easier than ever for you to book a family camping trip at campgrounds all across the country.

According to a March 30 Mother Nature Network article, Hipcamp fundraisers Eric Bach and Alyssa Ravasio came up with the idea for a website that gathers all the information one would need to know about a campsite in one place after experiencing the aforementioned frustrations.

Hipcamp’s greatest strength is that it contains information about public campgrounds — national parks, state parks, national forests and the like — in one convenient place. When 70% of campers do so at a public campground, this is an indispensable tool. Users can filter their search based on the amenities, services and activities they desire from a campground.

“We make it easy for users to filter through campgrounds based on what matters most,” Bach said. “We’re bringing the world’s public campgrounds online, unlocking private lands for camping and working overall to increase access to the outdoors.”

Currently, Hipcamp only offers its service for campgrounds in California, Oregon, Texas and Florida, but plans to eventually expand to all 50 states, Mother Nature Network reports. The site has searchable information on 351 parks, 1,985 campgrounds and 52,597 campsites.

Ultimately, Hipcamp encourages people to get in touch with the wonders of nature by making it significantly easier to do so. The average camper goes on five trips throughout the year — and now you can do so at the click of a mouse.

Would you use Hipcamp to book a camping trip? Have any other tips or hints for people looking to schedule their next family camping excursion? Let us know in the comments below.

How to Safely Set Up a Campfire to Avoid the Dangers of Wildfire

May 26, 2015

With the weather finally beginning to warm up, it’s time for camping season to get off to a start. It’s virtually guaranteed that millions of Americans and their families will go camping at least once this summer — in 2013, Americans spent a combined 516.6 million days at campgrounds for an average of five trips per person!

And because about 70% of campers will spend at least one or two nights in the great outdoors, it’s a given that there will be plenty of people visiting the nation’s campgrounds looking to roast some s’mores over a roaring campfire.

However, campfires can easily become dangerous if the right precautions aren’t taken, especially in the dry, windy spring months. In Ohio, open burning, or lighting a fire outdoors without a chimney or stack, is the top cause of wildfires.

To make sure you and your family are able to safely enjoy some quality time by the campfire during your next family camping trip, be sure to follow these three crucial campfire safety tips:

Build your campfire in the open

In order to keep your campfire from accidentally lighting a nearby brush, shrub or tree on fire, it’s a good idea to set up a campfire in an area with at least a 10-foot radius of open ground around it. Always make sure the fire is supervised by at least one person as it burns and keep a reliable source of water at hand.

Check the weather

Before you and your family make the trip to your campsite, take a glance at the weather forecast for the duration of your trip. Large campfires can burn for as long as a day or two, and if windy conditions are ahead, you don’t want to have a fire burning.

Know how to extinguish a campfire

Did you know that improperly extinguishing your campfire at the end of the night can create the perfect circumstances for a wildfire? Rather than simply letting the fire die down, you should be thoroughly soaking the fire in water and stirring the ashes to put out any remaining embers.

Have any other questions about staying safe at campgrounds? Ask us anything in the comments section below.

How to Bring Your Dog Along on Your Next Family Camping Vacation

May 26, 2015

Family camping vacations might be the most popular way for Americans and their families to escape the hectic distractions of the modern world and spend some quality bonding time together. In 2013, we spent a combined 516.6 million days at campsites all across the country, and the average camper takes five trips throughout the year.

If your family includes a dog, you probably want to bring your canine friend along for the ride. In addition to including your pet on your family fun, he or she will benefit immensely from the extra exercise and fresh air.

Want to include your dog on your next family camping vacation? Be sure to follow these three pointers for a fun-filled camping trip everyone will enjoy:

Preparing for your trip

Before you even book your next camping trip, be sure to find out whether or not the campground allows dogs. It’s a good idea to make yourself familiar with the campground’s specific rules on pets before you embark on your camping vacation. Make sure your dog is up-to-date on all his or her vaccinations; you may want to have your dog vaccinated against tick-borne diseases like Lyme disease or mosquito-borne heartworms, as well. Lastly, be sure your dog has a collar or harness with an identification tag.

Packing for your dog

If there isn’t a source of drinking water near your campsite, be sure to bring plenty of water for your dog — and never allow your dog to drink out of standing bodies of water like ponds. Bring along enough dog food and treats to last the duration of your trip, as well as bedding and toys. To keep your dog safe and healthy in the event of an emergency, pack a first aid kit and bring along a copy of his or her veterinary records.

Camping with your dog

There are countless ways to enjoy the outdoors with your dog during your family’s next camping trip. From playing frisbee to going on a hike together — 92% of campers go hiking regularly — there’s no shortage of ways to keep your dog entertained. Just be sure to keep your dog on a leash or lead at all times so you don’t disturb your fellow campers, and to always clean up after your dog.

Have any other tips or tricks for bringing pets along on a family camping vacation? Let us and your fellow readers know in the comments below.

Three Life Hacks to Take With You on Your Next Camping Trip

April 30, 2015

With the start of peak camping season just weeks away, millions of Americans and their families will soon be flocking to the country’s numerous campgrounds and camping resorts en masse. Camping might just be one of the most popular activities for the American family — in 2013, we spent a combined 516.6 million days camping!

And while camping in tents is certainly the most popular way to go camping — 86% of campers choose to sleep in a tent when camping — many people struggle with the concept of “roughing it.” But with a little ingenuity and creativity, you can make any camping trip a little easier, breezier and more comfortable.

Here’s a look at three of our favorite “life hacks” to use during your next camping trip:

Bring a homemade fire-starter kit

No camping trip is complete without sitting around a roaring campfire and roasting some marshmallows to make s’mores, especially when campers bring their friends along on their trips 70% of the time. But starting a fire from scratch isn’t exactly easy for those unequipped with wilderness survival skills. To easily start a campfire anywhere you go, soak some cotton balls in a pill jar of petroleum jelly. Whenever you need to start a fire, simply take one of these cotton balls out and light a match.

Baking soda: the magic ingredient

Baking soda has a huge number of surprising uses, especially while you and your family are camping in tents. You can use baking soda to brush your teeth, soothe upset stomachs, relieve minor burns, as a deodorant, absorb moisture, and myriad other uses. Bring baking soda on your next camping trip — you’re guaranteed to use it at least once.

Keep the bugs away naturally

If you’re concerned about the chemicals of store-bought bug repellents but can’t stand the thought of letting yourself fall victim to mosquitoes and ticks, simply mix 1 part tree oil and 2 parts water in a plastic spray bottle. You’ve just created a natural, effective bug repellent.

How Camping Trips Are Increasingly Offering the Comforts of Home

April 30, 2015

Camping has long been known as one of the few remaining ways for families to escape the distractions of everyday life and get a little more in touch with the incredible beauty that nature offers. That’s why visiting camp sites is only growing more popular by the year. In 2011, 42.5 million people went on a camping trip, spending 534.9 million days at campgrounds around the country.

And while going camping in tents is by far the most popular way to enjoy the outdoors — 86% of people surveyed said they go camping by tent — a growing number of people are choosing not to “rough it,” instead choosing to bring some of the comforts of home along with them.

So the next time you and your family go to your favorite camp sites, keep these camping amenities and innovations in mind — they’ll help you enjoy the natural world in comfort:

Insulated tents

A new innovation in tent camping offers campers a warm, cozy place to sleep at night without compromising the authenticity of their camping experience. According to PSFK.com, the Thermo Tent is an insulated tent that keeps in warmth, keeps out the cold and even muffles the sound level from outside — perfect for light sleepers.

Electricity-equipped cabins

According to a recent C and G News article, today’s campgrounds are upping the amount of electricity their cabins are equipped to provide in response to growing demand from campers with electric devices that need to be charged. By staying in a cabin, everyone in your family can keep their various devices charged at all times — and you don’t have to worry about the hassle of setting up a tent, either.

Luxury camp sites

For those who want to take their camping experience to a new level of home-like comfort, there’s the growing trend of “glamping.” At luxury camping resorts, campers can choose from a variety of different luxurious accommodations where they can rest after a long day of hiking. From yurts to vintage RVs and even bed and breakfast suites, glampers have a huge number of options.

Be sure to check out CampJellystone.com to see what 1st rate campground amenities and accommodations our park has!

Are You Ready to Live in the Woods?

April 13, 2015

Camping is a great way to connect with nature, get some fresh air, and bond with family and friends. People camp with their friends about 70% of the time, and the same number of campers stay at public camping grounds. Even if you live in a big city, finding suitable camping grounds is easy enough. Once you have found the right campgrounds, it is time to gather up your friends and pack your things for a great weekend of outdoor fun. Before you head out, double-check to make sure you have all the essentials with you.

    • Shelter – If you are camping in cabins, you don’t have to worry about bringing shelter with you. If you have elected not to rent a cabin, you will need to bring a tent, a tarp for the ground, extra stakes, and a mallet. Investing in a large duffel bag will help you keep all your tent supplies tidy as you transport them from place to place. Almost 70% of tent campers only stay out for one to two nights at a time, but if you wish to camp longer, it is certainly doable. While a sleeping bag and pillow are all you really need for bedding, an air mattress and portable pump can go a long way toward increasing your comfort at night.

 

    • Clothing – When packing clothing, it is important to bring extras in case of inclement weather or other unexpected problems. You will need one outfit for each day you will be camping, plus several spare pairs of socks, shoes, underwear, and other essentials. Be sure to bring a variety of clothes, as you will need to layer for warmth or remove layers as the days heat up. Pajamas, towels, sturdy walking shoes, and sunglasses will complete your stash of attire.

 

  • Food – While you may think you have packed everything you need to eat, man cannot live on s’mores alone. Grilling meat over a campfire is a lot of fun, but if you will be camping for a long time, make sure you bring enough ice to keep any perishables you bring nice and cold. Canned food is your best bet for dinners, and don’t forget to bring plenty of bottles of water. Put travel safe cookware, utensils, and plates in your bag as well.

While this list covers most of the essentials, you will also need flashlights and batteries, matches or lighters, sunscreen, and bug spray. If your camping grounds have shower facilities, you will want to bring bathing supplies as well. With the appropriate supplies, you are ready to hit the trails for the camping trip of your dreams.

Gearing up for Spring Camping Adventures

April 8, 2015

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The 2015 camping season has arrived, and it’s time to plan some great escapes for your family! It’s also the perfect time to buy some new gear that will make this year just a bit more fun and functional.  We have used and abused each of these great products and recommend them for their style, their value, or their utility–and in some cases all three.

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Camp Casual 12 Piece Dish Set (List Price $49.99)

We get oohs and ahhs every time we serve food on these fabulous, retro dishes. A 12 piece set includes 4 dinner plates, 4 salad plates, and 4 bowls. With a variety of colors and RV art, they bring tons of style to a campground picnic table. The dishes are super sturdy and dishwasher safe, which is great if you happen to love them so much they wind up in your home kitchen. And, yes, we are speaking from experience.

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Nightstick Dual-Light with Dual Magnets (List Price $32.00)

Why do we love the Nightstick Dual-Light with Dual Magnets?  Let me the count the ways.  The flashlight/floodlight combination is perfect for walking around the campground at night because you can illuminate the path ahead of you and the ground at your feet.  The dual magnets also make this perfect for changing tires or working “hands free” underneath the camper.  Attach it to the fridge when your done so its easy to find next time you need it.

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Estwing Leather Sportsman’s Axe (List Price $44.99)

Every camper needs an axe in their camping kit–so why not buy one that’s beautiful and built to last?  Estwing makes tools that you will be able to pass on to your children. Their Sportsman’s axe is “forged in one piece with a genuine leather grip” that is incredibly comfortable to hold.  This spring gear guide pick will make chopping kindling for the campfire fast and fun. Skip the el cheapo and buy your camp axe from a company that’s been proudly manufacturing tools in the U.S.A since 1923.

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Toas-Tite Grill (List Price $31.99)

Looking for something other than marshmallows to snack on around the campfire this season? The Toas-Tite is the ultimate campfire cooking tool, simply because the possibilities are endless. You can keep it simple by toasting ham and grilled cheese sandwiches or jazz it up by making mini chicken pot pies and pulled pork pockets. Basically, if you can put it between two pieces of bread, the Toas-Tite will turn it into something delicious!

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Spot It Gone Camping (List Price $13.99)

This is our favorite traveling card game for two reasons: it is fun for people of all ages and any number of people can play. Spot It is a memory game and a speed game at the same time, so your family will probably get a little loud and rambunctious trying to find the match and win a pair of cards. The cards come in a small, sturdy tin that can easily be stored in your car or RV. Game on.

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My Mayu Lightweight Rain/Outdoor Boots (List Price $57.95)

Weather happens, and the last thing our family wants is to be stuck inside on our camping vacations. These My Mayu boots are the best piece of kid gear we have discovered in a long time. Comfortable and lightweight, your little ones can run and play just like they would in regular sneakers. Only difference? Feet will stay warm and dry even if you happen to have puddle-jumping professionals. When they start to make these for adults, we will be their first customers.

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L.L. Bean Trail Model Rain Jackets (List Price $49.95 to $79.00)

These rain jackets are another piece of rain gear we won’t leave home without. The material is light and breathable, so we don’t get uncomfortable on warm, rainy days. The hoods stay up nicely without being cinched and tight. And they do the job…even after a long hike on a rainy day, our entire family stays bone dry.  L.L. Bean’s legendary return policy lets us buy with confidence.

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Camping World Collapsible Container (List Price $13.99)

Every RV owner knows that a messy camper can suck all of the relaxation out of your family vacation.  The number one reason why our RV used to end up being such a mess?  Dirty clothes on the floor!  But not anymore. Now we throw all of our dirty laundry into this sturdy and affordable collapsible container made by Camping World.  When its not in use we collapse it and use the plastic clasps to keep it small and storage ready.  We liked using this product in our RV so much that we bought another one for home.

Stephanie and Jeremy Puglisi are the co-hosts of the RV Family Travel Atlas podcast, which is available for free in the iTunes store, and on their blog.

More Americans Are Discovering The Joys Of Glamping

April 8, 2015

Dallas Buyers Club and True Detective actor Matthew McConaughey and Brazilian model Camila Alvarez tied the knot semi-recently in 2012. It is not necessarily their decision to finally get married that made headlines (the couple had, in fact, already been together for years, and they currently have two children); what everyone can’t stop talking about is how they got married. McConaughey and his new bride chose a glamping theme — something most people hadn’t heard of at the time, but is now an emerging and rapidly growing trend.

What Is Glamping?

Glamping is a mash-up of two words: glamour (or glamorous) and camping. In other words, glamping refers to any sort of luxury camping — from campgrounds with luxury amenities, such as resorts and clubhouses, to tent camping or tent rentals with non-traditional, luxury features, such as air-conditioning. Glamping may entail tent camping, cabin camping, RV camping, or even yurt camping — and comforts and extravagances may include chandeliers, cable and/or satellite television, saunas, fully-functioning kitchens, and more. Although it is an emerging trend and it may entail slightly different experiences in different campgrounds, glamping has a single, unified goal: to enable campers to enjoy the great outdoors and/or be fully immersed in nature, without sacrificing everyday or even high-end comforts.

Can You Go Glamping In the Winter?

The answer is yes — and, in fact, some people may even prefer glamping to more traditional camping during winter months. At the very least, most winter glamping will come along with fireplaces, electric fireplaces, heaters, and/or wood-burning stoves. Some campsites, such as campsites in Sweden, are taking it even further and renting out luxury igloo tents with wifi, showers, Apple TV, in-pod massages, and breakfast in bed.

Just about 43 million Americans went on a camping trip in 2013 — and that number is likely to increase, thanks to increased family camping and increased glamorous camping or glamping

Four Fabulous Locations Across the Country to Consider for Your Next RV Camping Trip

March 16, 2015

Going camping in an RV is one of the most popular ways that American families choose to spend their time in the great outdoors — in fact, almost one-fourth of people, 24%, say they prefer this way of camping! RV campers also enjoy some of the longest, most enriching camping trips — an amazing 28% of RV camping trips are for five nights or longer.

Looking for somewhere truly unforgettable to spend your next family camping trip? If you and your family are looking for the best in RV camping, you might want to start planning now — camping season is starting soon, and spaces at these sites are going to start filling up sooner than you know! Here are our four favorite places across the U.S. that offer the absolute best in RV camping sites:

Williamsburg, VA

Colonial Williamsburg is rich with history — and rich in opportunities to enjoy the stunning outdoor scenery. Almost 1 million visitors take a trip to Williamsburg each year for its incredible re-enactments and living colonial village that looks and feels just as it did in 1776. Williamsburg, along with the neighboring historical landmarks at Jamestown and Yorktown, are all an easy drive for most people who live on the East Coast. Visit our website to see our other Jellystone Park locations in Virginia.

Horse Thief Lake, SD

Horse Thief Lake is just two miles away from Mount Rushmore, one of the most impressive sights in the whole country. There are a handful of different sites for RV camping, and they all offer easy access to Mount Rushmore. In addition, attractions like Jewel Cave, Harney Peak and the unparalleled hiking trails of the Black Hills National Forest are all close by.

Vicksburg, MS

Vicksburg has it all — a historic waterfront with amazing views of the Mississippi River, plenty of fishing and much more. Vicksburg offers plenty of places to go camping with your RV — and there’s even a casino nearby, if the kids are staying home. If you are looking for an RV park in MS, check out our site to see which of our two parks are close to you.

Where are some of your favorite RV camping sites that you and your family have visited? Feel free to share with us and your fellow readers in the comments below!

Could Your Next Trip to Wisconsin's Campgrounds Have a Corporate Sponsor?

March 16, 2015

We’re familiar with sports venues and various events that are named after their corporate sponsors — but what about camping sites?

If the state’s proposed two-year budget passes, a trip to state parks and public campgrounds in Wisconsin could soon mean visiting a corporate-sponsored camp resort.

According to a March 3 Duluth News-Tribune article, Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s proposed budget would cut all funding to Wisconsin’s state parks — and the State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is considering selling the naming rights to these campgrounds as a way to generate revenue.

The DNR is also considering finding revenue from alternate sources, such as increasing entrance and camping fees for the state’s 46 state parks, 14 state trails, four recreational areas and two national scenic trails. Camping in public campgrounds such as state parks continues to be the most popular choice for campers — 70% of campers go camping in these public camping sites.

Walker’s budget would also put a halt to conservation land purchases for the next 13 years and cut 66 jobs in the DNR, in addition to stripping much of the agency’s authority to create policies.

A few other U.S. states have turned to the idea of corporate partnerships for their parks and camping grounds, but no state has been able to cover the cost of these parks’ upkeep with these funds, according to BringMeTheNews.com.

The budgetary issue will be studied over the next two years before a final decision is made, DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp said.

Despite the Wisonsin parks system’s budgetary woes, it can’t be denied that camping is becoming more popular than ever for Americans — in 2013, we went camping for a collective total of 516.6 million days, up from 515 million camping days in 2010. In 2014, more than 15 million people went camping in Wisconsin alone.

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