Lessons in Selecting a Campsite

In the early 1980s, my future wife and I would take extended summer car camping/road trips around the country. There was never more than a loose itinerary, governed only by a few scenic goals, usually national parks, and how far we felt like driving that day. We went north to Acadia and Nova Scotia, west to Yellowstone and Glacier, and south to the Grand Canyon and the Great Smoky Mountains. There were countless smaller parks thrown in along the way too.

Michael Wilson Feeding Ducks

On the return leg of one of these trips, we stopped at the campground in Cape Hatteras National Seashore. The site there consisted of a concrete pad in a large open field. You could hear, but not see the ocean because of the sand dunes, and the gulls and mosquitoes were both like hungry vultures; one squawking for a handout, the other just taking it. The sun was blazing, so we decided to bail out, and headed for the nearest private campground featuring wooded sites. We were assigned a site, set up camp and headed back to the beach.

After about two hours, huge, dark clouds began to form and we dashed back to our car just as a torrential downpour began. Thirty minutes later we arrived at our campsite again to discover that ours was situated at the low spot in camp, and had collected about six inches of water around the tent. Then, as now, we used a Eureka Timberline 4. Fortunately, these tents feature a bathtub floor, which prevented the puddle from entering our tent. It did not however, stop the ducks from enjoying their new swimming hole.

Campsite Lessons Learned:

Check that you are not setting up camp in a spot where rainwater might encroach, and bring enough crackers for the ducks if you don’t.

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Campmor

  • Loved this article! We do a lot of camping at Turkey Swamp park in NJ, and if you get one of the lower sites at the bottom of the E or A loop and if it rains, your campsite will look like the picture in this article.

  • Loved this article! We do a lot of camping at Turkey Swamp park in NJ, and if you get one of the lower sites at the bottom of the E or A loop and if it rains, your campsite will look like the picture in this article.

  • Loved this article! We do a lot of camping at Turkey Swamp park in NJ, and if you get one of the lower sites at the bottom of the E or A loop and if it rains, your campsite will look like the picture in this article.

  • Jessa

    I did my PhD research on Cape Lookout National Seashore and I once had to explain to a group of teenage campers that they probably wanted to move their tent. They had gotten on the island around 5 and just had finished setting up as I was walking back to my campsite from being out in the field. They were indignent about the idea that their perfect site was not so perfect, but the next morning I noticed they were above the high tide line…I just wonder if they had moved it before the high tide at midnight or after…
    Sometimes it is good to take a little friendly advice – that’s my biggest lesson!

  • Bdauster

    I have camped many times at Cape Hatteras, several times in the closed Frisco Campground adjacent the small airport. One time we were asked to leave the campground due to impending weather by rangers who said we had to leave our gear behind and go now. We threw what we could in the car and drove to a designated spot but tossed some heavy items in our 1970’s era Timberline two-man tent. We were allowed to come back within the hour but the storm had passed through. When we returned, many tents had been swamped or overturned. Our Timberline had been pushed forward from winds in the rear of the tent. Fully intact and in place, the aluminum poles were completely bent and lurched forward so that you could not enter the tent. Within the hour, the tent was dropped, poles rebent, and back up it went. Hatteras is magnificent but it defines powerful wind and water with no place to hide.

  • FloridaHolly

    Since retiring and moving to Florida, I’m not a really big camper anymore. But I can appreciate having a tent that doesn’t let the water (or the ducks) in. Now my outdoor time is mostly spent on the beach. Although in a couple of weeks, I’m off to Yellowstone. I loved the article!

  • FloridaHolly

    Since retiring and moving to Florida, I’m not a really big camper anymore. But I can appreciate having a tent that doesn’t let the water (or the ducks) in. Now my outdoor time is mostly spent on the beach. Although in a couple of weeks, I’m off to Yellowstone. I loved the article!

  • Rundal

    Several years ago,my brother and I went camping in Big Bend National Park,where we had both camped many times before.We took our Timberline tent with us ,instead of my geo-dome tent and I’m glad we did.There were 2 groups of people next to us who had those big free standing geodisc-dome tents.Will we start putting up our tent and tie it off and then put a wind-blocker up next to the tree by our tent.The other group of people kind of snickerd as we put the wind blocker up.The leader of their group said that their tents would stand up to any kind of wether no matter what,and since they cost “10 times as much as our(mine) cheap tent” they were not going to stake it down or put up a wind blocker.
    Well,you can probably guess what happend,we throw all of our gear inside our tent and go off for a nice long walk,while they set up their tents and throw some sleeping bags and some gear in theirs.We set out going our way and they head down to the river for bird watching and then the fun begins.Our trail takes us up and over looking the whole campsite and while we are climbing up the trail my brother looks out and sees 2 white dome style tents,go bouncing,with gear across the campground and right into a huge pile of cactus,next to the sign that says Welcome to the Rio Grande Campground.
    Needless to say their tents were full of holes,lots of them,but they still stayed intack,no poles broke,but they did bend.That night my brother and I sleept very well,while the other group slept in 2 holy tents.

  • IM GETTING READY TO DO THE ATTRAIL AND IM IN NEED OF A GOOD USE TENT DONATED TOO ME CAN ANY ONE HELP A TWO MAN FOUR SERSON YOU CAN CONTACT ME AT donniewhitten@Rocketmail.com

  • NEED HELP WITH A GOOD TWO MAN FOURSERSON TENT ,CAN ANY ONE HELP ME WITH THIS ,NOTE.CAN ANYONE DONATE A TENT TOO A HOMELESS VET.IF YOU CAN HERES MY EMAIL ADDESS donniewhitten@Rocketmail.com

  • Customer

    Bdauster: You gotta love those timberland tents.. Great car camper tents. Good for hunting as well.

  • Kami00kami

    Great photo!