With over 37 million acres of public land, four major wilderness areas, and thousands of rivers and lakes, you’ll never have to travel far to find a place to pitch your tent or park your RV in Idaho. Idaho has 29 state parks, over half of which allow overnight camping and have facilities for both tent and RV use. Everything from flat ground in dense forests to steep mountainous cliffs can be found here, along with campsites and yurts readily available for the park’s 200,000+ annual visitors. As the number one outdoor activity in both Idaho and the U.S., camping can be as much of a unique experience as you’d like.
Determine a Camping Trip Type
The first thing you should do is decide what kind of camping trip you’re up for. Do you want to take an RV, stay in a cabin, sleep in a tent not far from your car, or hike to a secluded spot and sleep under the stars?
This decision basically boils down to your definition of “roughing it.” If sleeping in a bed and having your own bathroom are important to you, then you should probably go the RV route. If you’re up for adventure and ready to face the elements, come what may, grab a pack and get hikin’!
Packing Essentials for a Camping Trip
Now it’s time to think about what to bring, which breaks down into five major categories: clothing, shelter, sleeping gear, food, and everything else.
Be Prepared for the Weather
Weather is the key factor for most of these, so be sure to pack accordingly. Bring clothes in layers, favoring materials that wick moisture away from your body like polypropylene, as well as warm fabrics like wool that keep you insulated even when wet. Definitely bring rain gear.
Bring Appropriate Sleeping Gear
If you forego the RV or cabin routes, shelter most commonly means a tent. Make sure yours is water-tight, but also breathable, and if you’re going to be hiking with it, make sure it’s compact and relatively light. Sleeping gear includes your sleeping bag and a sleeping pad, and even pillows if you’re car camping and don’t have to carry them very far.
Plan Camping Trip Food
Food is totally up to you, but some popular items are burgers and dogs for grilling, chili or mac ‘n’ cheese, and smores. You should also bring plenty of drinking water, no less than a half gallon per person per day.
Determine Extra Camping Supplies
As far as everything else goes, you should also bring a first aid kit for emergencies, flashlights or a lantern, trash bags, toilet paper, camping utensils if you’ve got them, a portable stove if there’s no fire pit, matches and newspaper if there one, and a cell phone for emergencies.
You can usually get wood from campground staff, but you should check on that in advance as well. You might also think about entertainment, which can include anything from a deck of cards to your vivid imagination. A flask of whiskey can be fun, too, just don’t end up being the obnoxious guy that ruins it for all the campers around you.
Camping Trip Cleanup
Finally, remember that the number one rule of camping is to leave your site exactly the way you found it or better. Pack out all of your trash, and don’t pour any toxic liquids into the ground. And, have a blast! Recharge your batteries and enjoy the slower pace of it all.