For those of you who panic at the thought of setting up camp in a remote area of the woods surrounded by wild animals, we’ve got some news to put you at ease. Like tents, not all campgrounds or state parks are created equal. As listed in the Pocket Ranger® app, state parks offer everything from primitive camping to cabins with full amenities, so “roughing it” is more so an option than the rule. Here’s a quick refresher of most commonly used camping terms to get you started planning your next trip!
The most commonly recognized upgrade to tent camping is the cabin. For many it conjures images of crackling firewood, hot cocoa and, well, all the comforts of home. Wooden cabins typically have hardwood floors, covered porches, fire rings and full kitchens. If you’ve never braved the outdoors, perhaps a cabin is an easy introduction to outdoor life.
Aesthetically, yurts resemble teepees, but with myriad of additional amenities. It falls somewhere between roughing it and glamping. Yurts have high ceilings and a dome skylight so you’ll not only feel like you’re indoors but also keep warm as though you were. Many yurts have heaters, electricity, kitchenettes and beds. A yurts’ structure gives it the lure of the wild without the drawbacks of having to brave the elements.
Tents come in thousands of shapes and sizes, so beginners beware: an overwhelming afternoon of shopping looms ahead. The important thing to consider when purchasing a tent is where (if you’re hiking for hours to get to camp then lighter is probably best) and when you will be using it (insulation is key when camping in the wintertime). Also, remember to consider the number of people you’ll be camping with. Purchasing a tent for two when six buddies are along for the ride is not ideal. Choosing the appropriate shape, size, material and weight will guarantee a good night’s rest.
Depending on the state, some parks will offer lodges. These are often for large groups and feature many of the same amenities that cabins do.
Don’t let the name fool you. Primitive camping spots don’t just mean a patch of dirt you’re allowed to pitch your tent on. Many include picnic tables in surrounding areas and may or may not have access to water and electricity. Primitive sites seldom require advance reservation and can be used on a first-come, first-served basis. Check the app for campground description or call your local state park for details.
Full Facility or Full Hook-Up
Popular among the RV crowd, full facility camping offers electricity, water and circuit hookups for varying RV sizes. Most facilities also have picnic tables, parking areas, fire pits and/or grills and few have outdoor showers. Due to limited availability, full facility campgrounds recommend making reservations prior to your visit.
Backcountry or Dispersed
Not for the inexperienced camper! Many areas allow campers to set up camp on public lands and designated sections of the park not designed for organized camping. Restrictions may apply.