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Choosing A Tent Site

How to Find The Perfect Camping Site

Choosing a tent site is the first step in ensuring a good night's sleep. 

wooded campsite with two tents

You've planned your trip. You've packed your gear. You've arrived at the campground. Now what?

Here's what to look for before you start setting up your tent.

Choosing a tent site

If you are camping in an established campground, your first task is choosing a campsite.

Perhaps you are booking online or over the phone. Or maybe you have arrived at the campground and are driving around, looking for a site.

Either way, choosing a tent site that is right for your family will take some time. Here are some factors to consider:

Distance to the comfort station or outhouse

Do you want to be close to the washroom or outhouse for convenience, or would you prefer to be some distance away to avoid having lots of people passing your site?

campground comfort station

Distance to drinking water

Do individual sites have their own water hookups? If not, pick a site not too far from a water tap.

drinking water tap at campground


Do you want sun or shade? An ideal site will have both.

tent in sunny campground with trees

Of course, you can't always find an ideal site. You might want to bring your own shade!


Do you have small children? Pick a site that's far away from any body of water, and away from traffic.

Proximity to other campers

Do you want to be in the middle of a crowd of new potential friends, or is privacy important to you?

Trees, rocks or bushes can be a buffer between sites.

canvas tent in treed campsite

Other considerations

Is it important to be near the path to the beach?

Do you want to be near the playground?

Do you need trees so that you can hang up your hammock?

Think about the details before you make your final choice!

You've found the perfect campsite.

empty campsite in the woods

Go to the camp office and register if you haven't done so already.

Now you're ready to find the best spot for your tent.

Choosing a spot for your tent

You may or may not get to choose where to put the tent.

Many campgrounds provide tent pads or other designated areas. Use them!

gravel campsite with picnic table

Setting up your tent on another piece of ground will degrade the site - and may get you in trouble with the campground operator!

An established tent pad will probably be smooth and level: just what you want. Don't worry about camping on gravel or hard packed ground - that's why you brought a sleeping pad!

If you do have a choice about where to put the tent...

Look for a spot that is

  • smooth and level
  • on higher ground than its surroundings (or at least not lower than the surroundings!) You don't want to be in a puddle if it rains.
  • far enough from the fireplace so that sparks won't reach the tent
  • away from potentially noxious plants (think poison ivy!)

green tent in wooded campsite

Choosing a tent site is an important skill for camping. The right spot will help to ensure a good night's sleep!

What about camping in the wilderness?

If you're ready to venture away from established campgrounds, see these tips about choosing a tent camping site in the wilderness.

Now that you know all about choosing a tent site, learn more about tents for camping.

Click here to visit The Camping Family home page.

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