Wilderness Basics

When choosing a campsite, it’s possible to keep comfort in mind and care for the environment at the same time. The San Diego Chapter of the Sierra Club provides the following tips adapted from their own course textbook, Wilderness Basics, 4th Edition on how to select the best campsite possible for your wilderness adventures.

  • Choose designated or previously used campsites, when available
  • Set up a minimum of 200 feet from lakes, streams, and trails
  • Camp away from areas subject to runoff or rockfall, or below rotten trees
  • Look for sites on sandy areas or forest duff rather than those covered by vegetation (avoid delicate areas, such as alpine meadows, altogether)
  • Consider the effects of wind and the position of the sun as it rises the next morning
  • For a warmer campsite, stay on higher ground
  • To avoid insects, choose a breezy spot
  • Under your tent or sleeping bag, remove small rocks and twigs, but avoid wholesale grading (and when leaving a campsite, return rocks and twigs to where you found them)
  • Use a lightweight sleeping pad under your sleeping bag (don’t cut branches for bedding)
  • When camping in popular areas, don’t crowd other campers; leave sound equipment, pets, and other reminders of the civilized world at home

--Adapted from Wilderness Basics, 4th Edition by the San Diego Chapter of the Sierra Club (The Mountaineers Books, May 2004; $19.95 paperback).


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