cloudhiking - maps and adventure guides

Site Links


Contact Us









Friends' Links

Appalachia & Beyond

Family Wilds


Marking My Territory

Outcast Hikers


703 National Park Campgrounds 2012-09-14

Jenny Lake Campsite

During our summer '12 trip we stayed in 12 campgrounds and 8 National Park campgrounds. We had reservations at some of the campgrounds and chose first-come-first-served sites in others. Since we were tent camping, we were always looking for loops or areas of the campground that favored tent camping.

While staying at several of the National Park campgrounds it surprised us how the campground rules differed from campground to campground. We had assumed that all the campgrounds would have similar rules, but that was not necessarily so.

For example ...

In Mather Campground in Grand Canyon, there were no food storage restrictions. There are no bears in the area, but the ravens skillfully scavenged unattended food left on the picnic tables. Oh, we never saw anyone from the Park, other than maintenance personnel, on the campground roads.

Whereas at Jenny Lake Campground they do not allow food, water containers, coolers, or anything else that even looks like it might contain food outside of the bear boxes. Everyone must keep a clean campsite, no exceptions.

But, then at Jenny Lake Campground they allow showering (with the small water bag, solar showers) at campsites.

At Rocky Mountain National Park, they didn't allow showers. At the Moraine Park Campground, this year they installed an outdoor shower facility. We had been told that campers could not use solar showers, because the scented soaps and shampoos attracted wildlife. Hmmm, that was maybe not the case, but was the excuse told to us in the other RMNP campgrounds.

It was also interesting to find which rules were enforced at each campground and which were not. Even though almost all of the campgrounds had rules that restricted tents to the sites tent pads, we never saw the rule enforced.

Then at the Bryce Canyon, Sunset Campground the host enforced a rule only allowing tents within 20 feet of the site's fire grate. We saw someone ticketed for violating the rule and we possibly would have been ticketed too, if we had not seen the host while pitching our tent. The fire grate at our site was further than twenty feet from the vehicle parking space. A flat, hardened, and well used, camping space (they did not have tent pads at the campground) was less than ten feet from the vehicle, but further than twenty feet from the fire grate. The host would not allow us to pitch our tent on that spot.

We love camping in the National Park Campgrounds and understand that each campground is different. They have different facilities and environmental concerns. However, it seems that standard principles could be set that would still allow for the differences in the individual campground.

But, why not just let each Park have their own rules?

A camping trip allows users to experience nature by living in the outdoors. With the outdoor experience comes a responsibility to take care of the land we love and to have the least impact possible. The next campers to the site, should not see any evidence that the previous campers were ever there. Perhaps establishing a "Leave No Trace" type, set of principles, could help govern all Park campgrounds and set standards as to the correct do's and don't's of camping. By having a unified set of principles it would be easier for campers to learn how to better care for the land and to be better campers.

More on camping to come ...

Happy camping trails


Name (required):

Comment (required):

Please Introduce Secure Code: