9 Camping Etiquette Principles All Campers Should Know

Camping Etiquette 101: 9 Unwritten Rules of Camping

Like many American pastimes and outdoor activities, there are proper rules and camping etiquette practices that everyone needs to follow.

Camping is all about getting out there in the great outdoors. Following the right rules of camping not only help you protect the environment, but they respect other campers.

Many of these rules come from experience, and some might be considered common sense. Either way you look at it, it’s important to understand them before you pack the car and head out on the road.

Follow these 9 essential camping etiquette rules to ensure that everyone, including you, has an amazing camping trip!

Leave nothing but your footprints. Unwritten rules of camping.

1. Follow the Leave No Trace Rule

This is arguably the most important camping etiquette practice that you need to understand. All campers should leave no trace behind when they pack up, regardless of whether you’re out for a hike or pitching a tent.

Anything you bring with you, you need to take back with you. Leave only your footprints wherever you go.

Clean up your garbage and throw it out at the next trash bin. Don’t take bugs, plants, or other items that belong in the wild.


2. Be Respectful of Your Lights

There are proper RV etiquette rules you should follow, too. This includes making sure your lights are on a timer or you shut them off when you call it a night.

To respect other campers, don’t leave your awning lights on all night. This can bother others around you and it’s a common complaint some campers have.

Think about it: you don’t want to be trying to sleep with your neighbor’s light glaring through your window all night. Don’t do that to others.

People on a hike. Campground etiquette for beginners.

3. Keep an Eye on Your Dog 

Dogs are always great camping companions, they’re always welcome on most campsites, and they love being outside.

But sometimes, your dog can be extremely irritating to other campers. Especially when your dog won’t stop barking. If your dog is barking constantly, you’re ruining the experience of the other campers, so make sure you’re prepared to do something to get Fido to stop.

If your dog hasn’t mastered the art of behaving, consider taking him to the dog park instead of camping until you can control his barking.

In addition, make sure you’re cleaning up after your dog, just like you have to do at home. It’s not fair to the other campers who might encounter some waste they didn’t want to step in.

Person hiking. No trace camping for beginners.

4. Go Over The Campground Rules

When you check in and register, the campground employees will give you a bit of a rundown or a pamphlet outlining the campground rules.

Sometimes some campgrounds have different rules regarding things you can bring, what you can do, and where you can park. Read these carefully and respect the campground by following their rules.

It’s also important to understand the signs and symbols your campground has set up so you can get to know the rules better.

Campsites with tents. Rules of camping for beginners.

5. Stay Off Occupied Campsites

Have you ever seen someone cutting through your campsite and instantly felt annoyed or angered? That’s how others feel, too. It’s rude and invasive.

Think of someone else’s campsite as their temporary property, and respect their space during their stay. Don’t cut through someone’s site just to shave a few minutes off your walk.

If you need to enter someone’s campsite because, say, you lost a ball or a paper flew onto it, ask the campers first.

Make sure that when you take your children camping, they’re also aware that they can’t cut through other campsites.

Person relaxing at campsite. Rules of camping help you to relax.

6. Respect Quiet Hours

For most campgrounds, quiet hours are between 10pm and 6am.

You might be there to hang out with friends around the campfire, but some other campers are there with their children and want to get some sleep.

Be respectful of the noise you make after 10pm and don’t disturb the people around you with music, shouting, or loud laughing.

This also goes for when you’re in your tent, because your tent walls are made of canvas. That’s not soundproof. Nearby campers will hear your talking or laughing and it can disturb them while they’re trying to sleep.

Campfire. Follow the right camping etiquette for a smooth trip.

7. Don’t Use Your Fire Pit as a Trash Can

It might make sense to just leave your garbage to burn. But no one wants to pull up to their campsite, that they paid for, only to arrive to a pile of burnt beer cans and half-charred paper plates.

Sometimes, we think we can just burn anything in the fire when we’re done with it, but that isn’t true. Household items, like paper plates, emit dangerous smoke when they’re burned and cause pollution that can ruin your campground’s environment.

Consider purchasing a set of reusable plastic dishes to keep with your camping supplies, or simply holding on to your garbage until you get to the next trash bin.

Tent in the woods. Always follow the rules of camping.

8. Don’t Dig Trenches For Your Tent

Sometimes we’re inclined to dig little trenches around our tent to help keep it secure. But these trenches can ruin the site for future visitors.

If you absolutely must do this, for example if it rains and you need to create a drainage system, make sure you fill them in when you leave.

Tent trenches and other holes can be dangerous for future campers, and they ruin the aesthetic of the campsite. Your campground won’t appreciate that.

Tree in the forest. Proper camping etiquette dictates leave no trace behind.

9. Don’t Bring Your Own Firewood

It’s easy to save money by bringing your own firewood, but most campgrounds won’t appreciate this. And it’s not just because they want you to buy their wood.

Bringing your own firewood can cause damage to the ecosystem. When you bring in a type of wood that doesn’t naturally belong there, you can release foreign insects and bacteria that can interrupt the natural environment.

As a bonus, that means less to pack in your car.

Picnic table in the campground. For communal spaces follow camping etiquette.

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This entry was posted in Camping, Outdoors, RVing.