Polite Camping: 9 Tips

I really like camping out in the sticks — dispersed, dry camping where I have to haul in all my own stuff (including water), use my porta-potty, and haul out all my trash. But, on holiday weekends, (like Labor Day this weekend) all the traffic from ATVs and trucks can make me nutsy, so I head to a campground.

But, there’s nothing worse than camping in a developed campground than inconsiderate neighbors. Here are 9 tips to help YOU not be one of those people!

1. Respect other’s rights. Don’t walk through another camper’s site — walk around it. Most public campgrounds (in Arizona at least!) have paths between sites to the bathrooms, trash, etc. Use these paths and enjoy the stroll!

2. Be noise aware. I have no problem with shouting children having fun during the day — I love to see families out camping! However, noise like radios, generators, yelling for no reason, and fighting is really rude. You should also obey the campground’s quiet hours. Voices, radios and other noises carry further than you might think on a quiet evening. (A good rule is to tone down the noise as the sun sets.)

When Nicole and I went camping a few weeks ago, a huge group of women came in. They were up to all hours of the night drinking, yelling, throwing wood on the fire and just being obnoxious. The camp host was fantastic, asking them to be quiet, but no such luck!

3. Pack out what you pack in. You should leave your campsite cleaner than you found it. If the campground has campground hosts, they are responsible to keep the campground tidy– NOT to clean up after wild parties! Many campgrounds have trash service that you should use, making sure to close the lids tightly to keep animals out. Recycle when possible — many campgrounds have recycling programs.

4. Keep your pets under control. If you camp with your dog (or cat!), keep Fido contained and clean up after him, just like you do in a city park. Before tying him to a tree, make sure it’s permitted. (I prefer collapsible pens.) If your dog likes to bark, like Lily does, then make sure you keep it under control. Lily barks when somebody walks by and then stops — if she continues, I put her in the trailer.

Lily loves to camp AND she loves to bark!

5. Don’t cut living trees for firewood. In Arizona, most of the time, any downed (dead) wood is good to use, but not necessarily the dead wood on a living tree. California has completely different rules so know the campground’s rule on finding your own wood or buying it.

6. Clean up after yourself. Campground facilities exist for the benefit of all campers. Help keep them clean!

7. Be water respectful. Do not clean fish or wash dishes in lakes or streams. Waste water (grey or black) should not be dumped in a lake, stream, or on the ground. If the campground offers potable water (drinking water from a faucet), know the rules of what you can and can’t do at the spigot. Most of the time, this means no washing ANYTHING at the spigot.

8. Know and respect the campground’s rules. Even if you don’t understand the reasons for them. The rules have been established to protect and respect the rights of campers, the campground, and the environment.

9. Be considerate with your generator. If you’re going camping, CAMP! Get out of the RV and enjoy nature. If you’re going to use your generator (we’ve got one, so you know I approve of them) be sure to be considerate of others.

A few summers ago, my folks went camping at Rainbow Campground in Arizona’s White Mountains. For the last three days, a HUGE RV pulled in beside them and ran the generator non-stop! My folks ended up leaving a day early because of the noise and smell.

Readers Weigh In:

  • Are there any campground etiquette issues I’ve missed?
  • What particularly makes you mad when your neighbors don’t (do)?

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