The Problem with Public Camping

Ah, camping! The great outdoors! Campfires and s’mores and roasting hot dogs. What more could you ask for? Well, a lot, actually.

Don’t get us wrong, sometimes we like to load the car up with our Coleman grill and drag out the queen-sized air mattress. We might even bring steaks to grill! No need to worry about a place to sit or unload your camping gear as there are usually picnic tables provided!

Here’s one of our fully-stocked picnic tables, getting a breakfast workout! Bacon, eggs, and toast. We also have a six-person Steel Creek Coleman tent. Room to stand up and put your pants on in the morning? You bet your bottom dollar, there is!

We love this particular campground, nestled back beyond gravel roads and centered within the gorgeous AEP Recreation Lands. We even got lost on our very first venture out here. There are a lot of side roads and minimal signage, so it helps to have well-documented directions when making the trip.

It’s a lovely area that we still consider our stomping grounds when we feel the need to load up and head out without much planning. There is an abundance of wildlife in the area as well, as we’ve spotted a large variety of critters and birds on our camping trips.

Being filled with multiple campgrounds within a short distance of each other, it’s also quite popular! I can’t count the number of times we tried and failed to land the campsite pictured above. 98% of the time, it’s taken, leaving us to keep driving and try to find a spot where we won’t have a large, rowdy group of people camping right on top of us. So, find another spot, right? True, we can usually do so without too much effort depending on when we arrive, but that open site we find that offers a bit of seclusion? It typically has another site next to it.

Maybe it will remain empty or maybe we’ll have the loudest, drunkest neighbors you can fathom. We’ve been on both sides of the fence. Sometimes the company will be pleasant and other times I’ll want to load everything up and just call it a trip after the first night. This is part of the reason I started researching ‘dispersed camping’ in the first place, which ultimately resulted in backpacking trips.

Sweet, empty, delicious calories!

I don’t know about you, but when we’re camping, we’re mostly sitting around looking for the next snack or meal to devour. Like to sip a little of the sauce while you’re camping? We have unlimited space for those six-packs and bottles of liquor! There could be hiking trails in the area, but I’m too bloated to notice. By the way, when do we eat again?

Did you see that cave we passed a few miles back that opened up to a giant waterfall? Of course you didn’t, you were too busy cramming Doritos down your gullet and playing Gin while you were drinking it. No worries, we like to indulge as well, but we also like to push ourselves physically and the unknown factor for what we might come across while backpacking. Just don’t say we didn’t warn you when you’re purchasing a size up in pants! Trust us, we’ve been there.

There’s accomplishment, solace, and peace along the trail. Most of these things are very fleeting while stuck in a public campground. Not to mention, we just flat out feel healthier when backpacking, both physically and mentally.

There’s a connection with nature that is hard to explain without actually getting out there and experiencing it for yourself. We’ll never completely ditch our car camping adventures, but we will wholeheartedly recommend taking it a few steps (or miles) further.

Hopefully we’ll see you out there on the trail! If you have your own reasons for backpacking, please let us know below in the comments. Reading stories from other backpackers is what landed us on this journey in the first place!

7 thoughts on “The Problem with Public Camping

  1. This is why I have a hard time convincing my husband to go camping. Unfortunately, backpacking isn’t an option for me but there are some good quiet spots on Vancouver Island – during the week in June at least. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  2. We live in the Lake District (UK) and our campsites are fairly busy all year round (apart, perhaps, from the depths of winter!) We pack our bags and head up into the hills and we have the place completely to ourselves – it’s fantastic!

    We also spend a lot of time in Scotland where there is more space and fewer people, it’s a wild-camping playground up there with awesome scenery.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This sounds great! You have to appreciate when you land a spot that is completely secluded from everything and everyone. There’s something to be said for waking up to nothing but the sounds of nature itself.

      A trip to Scotland may be in order one of these days, sounds like there are some really peaceful locations to pitch a tent.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. We’ve pretty much called time on car camping, for the reasons your post stated! One exception is Green Point campground on the west coast of Vancouver Island (especially if you can get one of the little walk in spots) perched above miles of Long Beach – walk more than five minutes and it is quiet, and PNW rugged in all weather (often rain!)

    Liked by 1 person

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