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Choosing A Campsite For Setting Up A Tent

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No matter what you’re doing out in the woods all day, you want to find a campsite for setting up a tent to get a good night’s sleep. You’re probably already thinking about the new adventures tomorrow will bring.

But you also know that if you don’t rest well, you won’t enjoy it half as much.

There are a lot of things to think about when it comes to setting up a camping tent in the bare wilderness.

What about your location? Maybe you’d like the sun to rise on your face, or not.

Keep reading to learn how to find a prime location in the forest.

The Guide To Choosing A Campsite For Setting Up A Tent

Setting Up a Tent

If you’re new to camping and this is your first time setting up a tent, the first thing to consider is the time of day. You want to make sure you have plenty of time to assess the campground and set up the tent before dark falls.

What you should look for in your assessment:

Select a smooth g​​​​round
Choose the site close to restrooms
Look for cooking/fire spots
Preferably near to running water
Select the site near to shade/trees
Find a private spot
Make sure you are safe
Look for other amenities
Set up an area for cleaning
Be away from pathways to maintain privacy

Smooth Ground

The first thing to look for when selecting a campsite for setting up a tent is the ground where the tent will sit. Make sure it’s level and clear of sticks or debris that could damage your camping tent, sleeping pad or sleeping bag.

You’ll also want to make sure you’re sitting on high ground. You don’t want to wake up in the mud because your campsite is sitting downhill.

Close to Restrooms

Obviously, if you’re out in the wilderness you’re not looking for restrooms. But make sure there’s a spot to heed to the calls of nature. Some public trails have restrooms every few miles. You just may want to push it twenty extra minutes to find something closer.

If you’re setting up your own toilet, look for stable trees and soft ground.

Cooking/Fire Spots

What’s a campsite without a campfire? It’s not a sufficient campsite. You’ll need a campfire for cooking and s’mores of course!

The campfire should be set away from the tent to keep smoke and embers clear. You also need to pay close attention to the trees, shrubs, brush and dry grass or leaves that may be close by.

Make sure to clear a space for the campfire that won’t pose danger to the surroundings.

Running Water

The only way to survive in the wilderness is with plenty of clean, fresh water.

If you’re on a hiking trail with public water access you might find drinking fountains and other water sources. You may want to set your campsite up close to water for cooking and cleaning.

If you’re really far up in the hills, make sure you’re always close to clean, running water like a river or creek source.

setting up a tent


Always keep the fire in mind when selecting a campsite with a lot of trees nearby or above.

You may like to use trees to hang garbage to keep it from the bears. Or maybe you’ll hang a hammock in the woods and relax with nature.

It can get hot or cold quickly depending on the time of year.

Shade or no shade can make all the difference in the temperature at your campsite.


Depending on where you’re camping, there could be a lot of campers setting up their tents for the night, too.

If you’re a social person, maybe a campsite near other campers won’t be so bad. But always make sure to be respectful of other campers.

If you’re an early bird or a night owl, you may want to find a more private spot.


We have a lot of options to keep us safe. While most campers try to leave their mobile devices tucked away during their time in the forest, it’s still a good idea to carry one.

Make sure you find a spot that has service!

You need to be prepared in case something goes wrong or there’s an emergency. Don’t get caught in the forest without a signal.

Other Amenities

Sometimes you can’t have it all because the campsite is too small. Or maybe you’re just a light camper and you don’t think you need any extras.

Here are a few things you might forget about when setting up a tent at your campsite.

Area for cleaning

Campsites get messy and dirty. Restrooms may be available to rinse off small items. But you may want to find a campsite that has a picnic table or other areas to set up space for cleaning things off.

A small Tupperware can serve as a sink dish for reusable tableware or other things that fall in the dirt. You may want to hang a clothesline to dry socks or air out your hiking backpack.

In any case, don’t forget someplace to dust off your hiking boots!

Area for garbage

You’ll probably want to keep your garbage as far away from the tent and campsite as possible. This will help with smell, flies or other bugs, raccoons, and bears.

If there are garbage cans available along the trail ways or other areas, you may want to find a campsite further away from those areas.


Pathways will be louder than remote areas, especially if there are restrooms or community trash nearby. Pick your campsite for setting up a tent away from trails. Also, try to stay away from areas that may be considered public areas to avoid interruptions and maintain your privacy.

What’s Your Preference?

No doubt, finding the perfect campsite for setting up a tent is all about preferences.

You’ll want a place for everything just as you would at home to keep things from getting too messy. Camping is all about enjoying mother nature, while at the same time making sure to leave things as you found them.

The best campsite is an organized campsite. Find one with plenty of space for all that you’ll require beside your tent site.

Depending on the tent you’re using may also depend on your selection of a campsite. You’ll need to think about the size of the site and weathering restrictions like rainfall.

Ultimately, be prepared for your journeys and have fun!

How To Setup A Tent: Video


Originally posted on YouTube by Ontario Parks

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