Fifteen Reasons To Choose Camping This Summer

The summer is finally with us and now is the time to start planning your vacation. Of course, you have to check the local government guidelines for health and COVID, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t make a plan to get out there and enjoy the world for a little while. You’ve been locked down and locked up for a whole year; a vacation is well deserved. However, if you’re worried about COVID, you should consider camping instead of a long-haul vacation. This way, you’re far less at risk for things being canceled at the last second!

If you haven’t considered camping before, now is the time. So many people out there love to camp, and it’s not just something that they enjoy as individuals, but something that they enjoy as a family. It can be cold, it can be wet, but if you’re traveling through the summer months you’re far less likely to be at risk of cold and wet nights under the stars. The summer nights are likely to  be drier, but that doesn’t mean that you won’t encounter nosy camping neighbors or a grass snake or two! You could talk yourself right out of buying in that heavy duty canopy, but for all the negatives of camping, there are a gazillion positives to consider. Below, we’ve put together some of those positives so you can feel good about choosing camping for your break away this summer. Let’s take a look!

Image source: Pexels

  1. You will feel so healthy when you do it. Seriously, you can’t begin to imagine how many health benefits there are with camping! Not only are you hauling yourself and your equipment through mud and bush to get to the good ground, you’re going to be working harder than usual to regulate your body temperature. You’re going to be breathing in the fresh air, filled with dewy nature and greenery. It’s something amazing to enjoy because you’re going to get so much from the natural world physically. 
  2. Your mental health will improve. Along with the physical benefits and movement of hiking and camping, the mental health benefits of being in nature are 100% worth the trip. You’re going to take your brain away from the overstimulation of screens and working hours, and that in itself is priceless.
  3. You get to watch people. A wonderful way to pass the time when you’re not immersing yourself in technology is watching people. You can see people interact and play games, watch them build fires and make tents appear from canopy and sticks. It’s like the ultimate survival show right in front of you and you’re going to love it. Sure, be discreet, but you may find that people watching leads to a little socializing – and you need that.
  4. You can go on an adventure. Camping is a huge adventure and everyone in the family can get involved with it. It’s an adventure to sleep in a tent, to hike up the hills and off the beaten track. You’re going to embark on an adventure you never had before, and you’re going to love every second of it.
  5. Relax a little and have fun. Camping is going to give you a chance to relax and have fun, and you might not have done that for a while. You can fish in the local lakes, you can climb some trees, you can even sit around a fire and melt marshmallows into ‘smores. You get to regress a little and be childlike in your activities. You may not get to do that very often, and if that’s the case, you can let loose and have fun for a change.
  6. Working as a team. Whether you are camping with family, with friends or with work colleagues on a bizarre team-building program, you get to work together as a team. Pitching a tent, for example, is considered a team sport when you’re camping. You can have fun, you can build a fire and you can enjoy working together as a team to make this camping trip as fun as possible!
  7. Spending time together. Family time is so difficult to come by. Parents work around the clock and kids are in school, studying and working part time on the weekends. You may not get much of a chance to just chill out and enjoy each other’s company when you are backed up with work and school, but a few days in the wild together is time you can build memories from. You can play silly games and splash in the water, and you can sing campfire songs and just talk together. It’s going to change your lives – all of you.

Image source: Pexels

  1. A little more space. When you are living in a town or a city, you don’t get to see much in the way of wide open spaces anymore. There is a huge sense of freedom that comes with going camping as you get into nature and you allow yourself to be in the trees and bushes. You can switch your scenery for a change, and the wilder you go, the less of a risk you will find of COVID or anything else!
  2. Appreciating those little things. Camping gives you a chance to appreciate the little things in life that you may take for granted. The things like the taste of simple food that you cook over a campfire, or wearing wellies over your pajamas as you dance in the twilight sky. Silly things like that – even the smells of the fire crackling in the warm air – it all gives you a chance to appreciate the little things in life that you don’t usually get a chance to pause and enjoy.
  3. Eating delicious food. Oh, goodness, the food you can eat while you camp! Spearing fat sausages on clean sticks and listening to them spit and crackle in the fire, and rotating your own chicken over a fire. You can make some of these delicious campfire recipes, too, and they will be etched in your memories for many years. You could go fully wild and kill, cook and eat an animal, but not many people are into spearing fish or snaring rabbits these days!
  4. A chance to learn something new. Did you ever go to cub scouts as a child? Or join in with the Girl Scouts? The skills you learn, from fishing to tying knots in rope are all skills you can use while you camp. You might even get the chance to gut a fish or whittle sticks. You can learn something new if you join up with a larger camping group, or you can put some long-learned skills to the test.
  5. Seeing the sunrise. If you choose a camping spot that has an ocean view, you will be able to wake up during the nautical twilight hours and watch the sunrise over the ocean. You can just unzip the tent and watch as the sun comes up and that’s a memory you won’t forget. You can even rest yourself on the other side and see the sun setting. All you have to do is make sure that you have a good view!
  6. You get to disconnect. The one common thing that most people have is we are glued to technology these days. Our smartphones and tablets, computers at work and games consoles beckon us. Most people have forgotten how to have fun without the addition of a screen in front of their faces, and the chance to disconnect while camping offers a huge pull to most people who want to camp.
  7. The chance to look at the stars. When was the last time you lay down and looked at the stars? Most people never get the chance to just lie in the grass and see the constellations, or spot a shooting star while you’re laying there looking at the sky. When you camp, you can take your sleeping bag outside and just lay there and see the sky open above you, looking endless and infinite.
  8. It’s all about making memories. No matter what trip you take this year, you are going to make memories that you can never get back. The memories that you make with your whole family are going to be the stuff of family legend and you can remember it every time you go camping or you plan another vacation.

Camping is very much a love it or hate it activity and it’s something you can discuss with the whole family before you go. If you enjoy camping and you’ve been before, it’s likely you’re going to have all of the skills you need, which means that you only have to enjoy yourself for a change! Taking the time to prepare and plan for this trip is half the fun, so why don’t you put everything together and start looking for locations for your next camping trip now? You can travel the summer if you have the time to take – go and chase those sunsets for a change!

The Cloisters

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The MET Cloisters

The Cloisters are a treasure of New York City. A medieval castle, with the most beautiful grounds, stunning architecture,  and glorious artifacts in the galleries and chapel. The Cloisters are an extension of the MET – the Metropolitan museum of art. The location is in the charming and peaceful Fort Tyron park, in the Washington Heights neighborhood of upper Manhattan.

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A mini getaway

A  visit to the Cloisters, almost seems like a mini getaway from the chaos of Manhattan. You don’t even feel like you are in New York City! The peace and quiet makes a visit to this unique museum so calming and relaxing.  You feel as though you have stepped back in time, and the location makes it so much more charming. As the scenery is stunning.

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What to see

The grounds of the Cloisters are so charming, and a favorite of mine is to visit the gardens. With multiple gardens on offer no trip would be complete without exploring at least one.

Cloister gardens

  • The Cuxa Cloister
  • Saint Guilhem
  • Boonefont
  • Trie

The Cloisters contains an impressive selection of chapels and halls, all with stunning architecture and art work.

Halls and Chapels

  • Gothic chapel
  • Fuentiduena chapel
  • Langon chapel
  • Romanesquet hall

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Views of the Hudson

A highlight of the Cloisters is the view of the gorgeous Hudson river. After exploring the exhibits and gardens, head to the balcony to take in these sights. These sights will also include the George Washington bridge and views of New Jersey. I have visited the Cloisters multiple times and the prettiest time to visit is during the fall to see the gorgeous fall colors along the Hudson.

Hudson river

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Fort Tyron park

Before or after exploring the cloisters, I would recommend walking through the absolutely beautiful Fort Tyron park. Considered to be one of the city’s most beautiful outdoor pieces of art.

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Getting to the Cloisters

Located in Northern Manhattan, you can take the A subway (Blue express line) uptown to the 190th street subway station. From the station you can either follow the signs to the museum, by walking through the stunning Fort Tyron park. Or take the M4 bus to Margaret Corbin Dr/Cloisters museum.

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Acadia National Park

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Maine

The breathtaking treasure of the north Atlantic coast, Acadia National Park is located in the state of Maine. Maine is the northeastern most U.S state, and is a part of the “New England” region. The state of Maine, is boarded by the state of New Hampshire to the west, the dramatic Atlantic ocean to the southeast and the Canadian provinces of New Brunswick and Quebec to the northeast and northwest. From its natural beauty, stunning views and friendly and welcoming locals, a trip to Maine is well worth it. And the magical Acadia National Park is the true gem of this charming state.

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Acadia National Park

Acadia National park is one of the oldest U.S National Parks, east of the Mississippi river! It was first established as a National Monument in July 1916, and was then changed to a National Park in 1919. The majority of the 49,052 acres of the park is located on Mount Desert Island, which is the largest Island of the coast of Maine, and is also the 6th largest island in contiguous U.S.

Acadia is the highest rocky headlands along of the Atlantic coastline of the U.S, and has a large abundance of biodiversity. Here you can explore a range of landscapes, from the rocky coastlines, to forests, ponds, marshlands, fields and mountains! A true nature lovers playground.

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Highlights and must sees

Bass Harbor head lighthouse

Visit the charming lighthouse, with views of the rocky coastline, and stay to watch a breathtaking sunset. There are also hiking options from here.

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Sand beach

A gorgeous beach that is nestled between granite mountains and rocky shores.

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Ocean trail

Walk from sand beach to otter cliff. An easy walk, with the most breathing views of the Atlantic ocean.

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Thunder hole

A natural rock inlet where you can see and hear the waves crash with a thunderous boom and high flying foam.

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Park loop road

27 miles long, this route connects the parks lakes, mountains, forests and rocky shores with many observation points along the way. A great introduction to seeing the beauty of Acadia.

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Cadillac mountain

Drive or hike the impressive Cadillac mountain. This gorgeous mountain sits at 1,5350 ft above sea level and provides stunning views of Acadia. The perfect place to watch the sunrise.

Bar harbor

A charming sea side town on Mount desert island, and is known as the gateway to Acadia. With charming boutiques and restaurants this is a popular town to visit when exploring Acadia.

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Acadia National park is a truly magnificent place. There is so much natural beauty and diversity to explore.  It is one of my favorite U.S national parks and a highlight from our travels in the United States. A true gem of the east coast.

 

Blue Ridge Parkway

Heading South

Over the Christmas/New Year holiday period we decided to drive to New Orleans for New Years Eve. We left New York City, five days before Christmas heading south. The only ‘plans’ and accommodation we had wasn’t until the 30th, so we could enjoy the drive and see where we would end up! Looking at the map of the USA, I also decided that I would love to visit the Great Smoky Mountains National Park on the way down. So we headed for the Blue Ridge Parkway.

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Scenic drive

The Blue Ridge Parkway is an absolute dream, the scenery is breathtaking.  It is America’s longest linear park, stretching 469 miles, connecting the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Shenandoah National Park. Located in the States of North Carolina and Virginia. Parts of the Appalachian mountains are also included in the parkway.  The Blue Ridge Parkway is a nature lovers dream, rich in biodiversity. There is so much variance in the fauna, flora, climate and geological features.

 

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Peaks of Otter

Before we left NYC, we had decided that we would rather camp in various National forest or State forest camping grounds, so the trip could remain relatively unplanned and be more cost effective. So the first area that we stayed at, was Peaks of Otter,  now being that this was in the middle of December and we did not do any research, the visitor center and camping area is actually closed at this time of year! It was raining and getting late, and as our car is set up for sleeping in ect we still stayed near the visitors center. The next morning we woke up to a blanket of fog, I felt that the thick fog enhanced the beauty. Peaks of Otter surrounds the Jefferson National Forest, and provides breathtaking views. You can take multiple hiking trails near the visitor center. Due to the fog being so thick, we decided to hike the shortest route, the elk run loop. This hike offers a self guided ecology walk, with displays along the walk describing the forest community, very cool.

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Overlooks

Next stop along the parkway, the Head Foremost Mountain overlook and the Arnold Valley Overlook.

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The fog had still not cleared up by lunch time! I can only imagine how spectacular these views are on a clear spring or summers day.

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Curtis Creek

For our second night, we camped at Curtis creek, a camping ground nestled in the mountains at the base of the Blue Ridge mountains. This campsite was open (Closes December 31st) and works on a first come, first serve system.  Near the camp ground, there are multiple hiking trails on offer, plus the pretty creek.

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Nantahala National Forest

After hiking during the morning at curtis creek, we drove to Asheville, N.C to spend the day there ( a separate blog post). After Asheville, we continued the journey towards the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This time, camping in the Gorgeous Nantahala National Forest. Nantahala is Cherokee for “land of the noonday sun” a very fitting name for this beautiful forest. The forest is half a million acres of pristine woodlands. A true beauty to explore. Our campsite for the night was located at Lake Santeetlah, a mountain lake surrounded by the Nantahala National Forest. A really pretty and relaxing place to camp.

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Next stop – The Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Smoky Mountains

One of my major loves of the USA is the National Parks system. As a nature lover, and with a background in Wildlife Biology and Conservation, I am in awe of all of the National Parks that I have had the chance to visit, and the system that protects them. On our drive to the south, I had to make sure that we did not miss the Great Smoky Mountains, the most visited US National Park. I do hold the National Parks pass, however the Smoky Mountains don’t require an entrance fee, one of the few parks that don’t! The Smoky Mountains is part of the Blue Ridge Mountains, a division of the larger Appalachian chain. These Mountains border between North Carolina and Tennessee and is one of the largest protected areas in eastern US. They are also acknowledged as an UNESCO world heritage site, very impressive. With its beauty and diverse range of plant and animal life, it is no wonder that the Great Smoky Mountains is a popular place to visit and explore.

As we visited during winter, parts of the park was closed, I would love to go back during the spring and/or summer to explore more of this gorgeous place.

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Rocky Mountain National Park

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Bryce Canyon National Park

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Bryce Canyon

The natural beauty of Bryce Canyon National park is incredible. The views from above and from within are truly breathtaking. The major attraction is the spectacular crimson colored hoodoos, pillars of rock created by erosion. Bryce Canyon has the largest collection of hoodoos in the world, attracting nearly two million visitors annually. Bryce Canyon is located in southern Utah, in Utah’s canyon country. A four-hour drive from the famous Las Vegas, Nevada and two hours from the beautiful Zion National Park 

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Hoodoos

The main attraction is of course, the gorgeous collection of hoodoos. The best place to view the hoodoos are from the Bryce amphitheater, which has the largest collection of viewpoints.  With four main viewpoints (Bryce point, inspiration point, sunset point and sunrise point) and access to numerous hiking trails, this is the perfect area to start a journey exploring Bryce Canyon.  

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Hiking opportunities

Bryce Canyon has a range of hiking trails from easy to strenuous. As an introduction to Bryce canyon, I would recommend beginning with the Rim trail hike, here you will be hiking the rim of Bryce amphitheater, viewing the gorgeous hoodoos from above, walking between sunrise and sunset point. Rim trail is classified as easy. Please note that the rim trail is not a loop, so the hike can range from 1 to 8 hours, depending on when you turn back around!

A step up from the Rim trail hike, would be the Queens/Navajo combination loop, this is classified as moderate and is also regarded as the most popular hiking trail. Highlights will include viewing Thor’s hammer and the two bridges. If you are looking for more strenuous hikes, I would recommend the Peekaboo loop, here you will hike through the heart of the park, with stunning views of the hoodoos and also viewing the wall of windows. Fairytale loop is another great strenuous hike, providing you with a chance to see the Chinese wall, tower bridge and tall hoodoos. Away from the Bryce amphitheater at the northern end of the park is Mossy cave, an easy hike away from the crowds.

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Bryce Canyon hiking

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Highway 63

A breathtaking scenic drive through the park. Provides a great opportunity to view some of the major overlooks, with 13 viewpoints along this 38 mile round trip. Highlights include the natural bridge,  Rainbow and Yovimpa points. If you only had one day to explore Bryce canyon, I would recommend completing this loop and stopping off at the major viewpoints.

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Mossy Cave

If you have more than a day I would recommend a visit to Mossy cave. A hidden gem at the northern end of the park. provides an opportunity to get up close with the hoodoos without descending.  It is an easy hike along a stream side to view this pretty cave. Depending on the time of year you may also see a waterfall or icicles in the cave! A peaceful hike without the crowds.

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Bryce Canyon is a truly remarkable place. The scenery is stunning and the opportunities for hiking and photography are endless. A true nature lovers playground! Photos don’t do justice, you really need to explore Bryce Canyon in person to surround yourself in this natural beauty. A unique, and breathtaking landscape. One of my favorite national parks that I have visited so far.

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Zion National Park

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Road trip from Las Vegas to Zion

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Everglades National Park

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Joshua Tree National Park

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