“To be whole. To be complete. Wilderness reminds us what it means to be human, what we are connected to rather than what we are separate from.”
-Terry Tempest Williams
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It’s the perfect time to camp all over California—from beach campgrounds to national parks and state parks, as well as cool spots like Casa De Fruta, a longtime family fruit stand that offers RV and tent sites along with a restaurant, store, and playground. Check out this California Now podcast episode for super-scenic campground suggestions, from idyllic spots in Sequoia National Park to Jalama Beach County Park in the Central Coast region, which has windswept ocean views, cabins, and great access to its famed local burgers.
Camping is a great way to get outside with family and friends or even by yourself. You can go camping in many state and national parks, at private campgrounds, in the backcountry or even in your own backyard.
Most campsites include a picnic table, a place to park your car and a spot to pitch your tent. Many also have shared bathrooms and running water.
Part of the joy of camping is needing very little gear to exist outdoors. But it’s also nice to have a comfortable, convenient and homey campsite. If it’s your first time camping, it might be best to borrow or rent some of these things. As you become a more experienced camper, you may find that part of the fun is figuring out what to bring along to meet your needs.
While you’re packing, use this handy camping checklist to make sure you don’t forget anything important and make sure to stock up on the things you need. This is a comprehensive list, and we don’t expect you to bring along every item — though we won’t judge you if you do!
→ Mallet or hammer (for hammering tent stakes)
→ Saw or axe (for cutting firewood)
→ Small broom and dustpan
→ Cutting board
→ Ice or ice substitutes
→ Water bottles
→ Camp sink or wash bins
→ Biodegradable soap
→ Pot scrubber/sponge(s)
→ Trash/recycling bags
→ Dish towel Marshmallow/hot dog roasting forks
→ Small food-storage containers/bags/foil
→ Large water jugs
→ Large, clear plastic bins to store kitchen gear
→ Menstrual products
→ Prescription medications
→ First-aid kit or first-aid supplies (see First-Aid Checklist)
→ Lip balm
→ Insect repellent
→ Insect repellent device
→ Spare eyeglasses/contact lens supplies
→ Portable camp shower
→ Credit card and/or cash
→ Campsite reservation confirmation (if required)*
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