It’s really not hard to find a campground. You can drive to any National Forest and find free spots all over the place. You can hike in most any wilderness area and plop down wherever you like. Why then do people choose these spots?
Okay, if you have young kids who have never slept outside, we can maybe understand doing it once. This really isn’t teaching camping until they have to take a poop outside, though. Young boys may actually enjoy it but if you have a daughter and you want her to love camping, she’s going to have to learn about squatting in the great outdoors. I don’t suggest they take a dump in your garden, but you do need to get them out in the woods at some time. I have friends who have to build bathrooms for their girlfriends when we’re camping in the woods. These girls were obviously not brought up right. Actually, I know some guys who do that for themselves. I don’t camp with them anymore.
The Wilds of Walmart
It’s great that the company allows RVs to park overnight in their lots. This is a great service to folks traveling who can’t find, or maybe afford an established campground. Really though if you can’t afford to pay, how are you driving that gas-guzzling behemoth to begin with? Besides, have you seen all those internet pictures of the people shopping at Walmart? I can’t imagine what the camping crowd looks like at 3am.
Not to pick on one company (Walmart is fair game though) but the term KOA Campground is synonymous with any roadside commercial camping establishment. Once again, if you can’t find anywhere else to set up, or you’re rolling in late and don’t know where else to go in the dark, we’ll give you a pass on this for one night. I know people who plan their trip to these parking lot campgrounds and actually make reservations for them. You are packed in just like sardines with your neighbors right on top of you. Your tent may be a few feet from an RV, and some don’t even allow campfires.
In Denver, Colorado there is Cherry Creek and Chatfield Lakes that are really Army Corps of Engineer’s reservoirs that allow camping. There is also Bear Creek Lake Park that is actually a reservoir but thinks it’s a creek or a lake, they haven’t decided yet. The campground at Bear Creek Lake Park is right near a highway and within sight of several neighborhoods as well. I guess this is one step up from the backyard, but really? You couldn’t drive just a couple more miles and be in the mountains?
Unlike KOAs, there are some private campgrounds that are in lovely, out of the way campgrounds. One such place is Wellington Lake outside of Conifer, Colorado. This is one of the prettiest spots on the Front Range outside of Denver. A privately owned lake with Castle Mountain in the background; the scenery is stunning. Since it’s privately owned, the fees are as steep as Castle Mountain though. The main problem though with this one and other private spots is the rules. They have a sign with a list of rules taller than me. I understand having some rules but come on: no swearing or cussing allowed? Obviously they’ve never tried to set up a tent. The good news here is no fishing license is required and you’ll be in bed early; that’s one of the rules too.
Music festivals are popular again and that’s a good thing. A lot of them even offer on-site camping whether right on the concert grounds or in another area of the festival. There is also Burning Man and the Rainbow Family type gatherings that aren’t music fests but are large gatherings of partiers. Now, the whole reason I camp out, poop in the woods, and cook on the fire is to get away from most of these people. If I’m hanging around thousands of other folks for days on end, I would prefer they shower daily. Plus, most of these festival campouts don’t allow fires, pets, or alcohol. Now, I don’t know about you but I demand at least two of those three when I’m camping.