Tips for finding the perfect campsite

By Joanne Lemna  | 
Feb 09, 2016

061505_gorv_day2_7989.jpgMany Canadians enjoy heading out from the suburbs and into the wonderful variety of natural landscape we have to enjoy. Most of us have fond memories of camping with family members and friends. Roasting marshmallows over an open fire, exploring the nearby trails or lakes, and all the "fun" of setting up and takedown of a campsite are just a few experiences many of us share. Camping is a great way for families and friends to get out and have some fun - and the best trips start with the perfect campsite.

If you ask a seasoned camper what makes the best basecamp for all your activities, they'll be sure to tell you that the ideal spot will let you enjoy your surroundings, have access to amenities you want, and still be a safe place to sleep at night. They'll also probably tell you that everyone's favourite campsite is a little bit different! Some people love quiet shaded spots for the summer, while others like being in the full sun next to a busy beach or playground.

What does a good campsite have?

  • a relatively flat surface
  • big enough for your tent or RV
  • campfire area
  • picnic table or area to set up tables
  • proximity to amenities such as water taps, bathrooms, store, et cetera (you'll have to decide how
  • close you want to be and what amenities you want access to)
  • proximity to activites such as playgrounds, beaches, lakes, trails, et cetera
  • trees for shade and privacy 

So how do you find your perfect campsite? You may have to try a few times to find the right campsite for you, but to start, consider these tips: 

#1 - Do Your Research

Want to find the perfect campsite? Then start your search at home, long before you go out. For one, if you're staying in a campground, many book up far in advance or have a limited number of first-come, first-served sites available. Second, the internet is a great tool to check out the campground as well as individual campsites before you go. You can find campsite maps, amenities, availability, and even more information. There are also tons of reviews available online through Google, TripAdvisor, forums, and facebook groups. A few good websites include GoRVing and the Alberta, BC, and Saskatchewan Provincial Park websites and the National Park website.

#2 - Book Early

If you've got a spot in mind - book it! Many campgrounds (including national and provincial parks) can be booked online. You can also call or email to make your reservation. Keep in mind that some campsites get pre-booked six months in advance, so planning ahead and booking early can be key. Don't worry if you can't get a reservation - first-come, first-served spots are available, there may be cancellations, and you can check out our tips to help you find a last minute campsite.

Most campsites will require an arrival date, a potential departure date and a reservation deposit, typically through a credit card. While booking your site, remember to ask about the campground’s amenities and what the popular activities are in the area—such as hiking or fishing.

#3 - Scan the Campground

If you're going to a first-come, first-served campground, you'll want to arrive as early as possible so that you can drive through and find your ideal spot. Many other campers try to arrive early in the day to choose their spot, but each camper is looking for something different. Talk to the office to see what's still available and ask for their recommendations if you're not sure which site to choose.

#4 - Find the Amenities

Once you're at your campsite, make sure you figure out where all the amenities such as the bathrooms and water taps and garbage containers are. It'll help you be more oriented and comfortable in your campsite. Remember, you don’t want to be stumbling around in the dark trying to find the toilet, or taking a wrong turn with a bag of garbage in-hand. By finding these amenities now, you can sit back and enjoy the rest of your stay.

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