If you’ve ever set out for a night in the outdoors, chances are you’re aware of the different types of camping. If you haven’t, listen up, because if someone asks you to go camping you’re going to want to know what you’re getting yourself into. From developed frontcountry campgrounds to carved out backcountry campsites and even dispersed camping, we’ve camped them all and we’re here to clear things up.
Frontcountry campgrounds are established campgrounds in national and state parks that are accessible by car (also called car camping) that your parents took you to as a kid. They're mostly managed by federal and state agencies or private companies. These grounds typically have electrical or water hookups for RVs and campers, as well as trash dumpsters, to make camping a little less wild. Campsites can be reserved in advance at most of these frontcountry campgrounds, however, if you're not one to plan far in advance, they also reserve some sites for walk-ins.
Individual campsites also often include a picnic table, a fire ring, space for tents and chairs, and parking, a perfect recipe for easy camping. While frontcountry camping isn't necessarily "roughing it" you can still spend some quality time in the outdoors while enjoying the few luxuries you might otherwise miss from home.
Backcountry camping is what some would call "real" camping. It's roughing it in the woods without any amenities such as restrooms, electrical or water hookups, tables and more. This is where your true love for the outdoors is really put to the test. There are two types of backcountry camping: designated and dispersed.
Designated campsites are located in remote areas in the backcountry and most will have shelters or spaces for tents. These campsites are essentially just shelters in the middle of the woods that anyone can use, so you can expect some like-minded adventurers set up camp next to you, as there is usually enough space for multiple tents.
Dispersed camping means you’re essentially creating your own campsite. This form of camping is most common among many backpackers and thru-hikers. Dispersed camping is camping deep in the wilderness without any amenities or luxuries, it’s just you and your gear. Choosing a campsite is important here. You can set up just about anywhere in the backcountry, but please remember to Leave No Trace (and that goes for all camping). This means you should try to set up where it might look like others have been to protect our lands and avoid making a completely new spot, or, if you do make a new spot, you should make sure you leave no trace of you being there!
*Camping outside of designated areas is illegal in some parks. Make sure you do your research and know the rules and regulations before you head for the trails.