Modern campers, numbering 78 million in the U.S. alone, are eager to reconnect with nature, spend more time with family and friends and explore new territory.
If you are inclined to camp, here are five ideas to consider.
1. Get in to the back country.
For the purest connection to nature, make your way off the beaten path. Hike, paddle or float into a pristine location where your family can learn or hone wilderness skills. Choose a destination suitable for the ages and abilities of your crew. Encourage each person to take responsibility for the adventure, whether that be early research, carrying a small pack, collecting kindling or serving as master storyteller around the fire. Contact:backcountry.com; nps.gov
2. Connect at the campground.
KOA, the world's largest system of open-to-the-public family campgrounds, has evolved since its inception in 1962. Choose your camping style and destination from nearly 500 locations in North America and access tent sites, RV hookups, cabins, playgrounds and a range of recreational facilities. Responding to camper curiosity and desire for unique sleeping spaces, you can also reserve an authentic teepee or a train caboose. Settle in and then let the fun begin. Contact: www.koa.com
3. Go glamping.
If staking a tent is not your idea of fun, glamping, or glamorous camping, might be for you. The walls may be canvas, but the experience is anything but ordinary. High-thread-count bedding, luxury furnishings, fine dining, stunning views and uncommon outings often led by top-notch guides define the experience in locales around the world. Contact: glamping.com.
4. Connect to The Dyrt.
Thanks to crowdsourced information available on a web platform and via mobile apps, campers can check campground availability, request a reservation, and instantly book a site at facilities ranging from national parks to tent sites on private land. Decision making is aided by The Dyrt's collection of more than 300,000 reviews, photos and videos providing a more complete picture of the good times ahead. A partnership with Tentrr, a nationwide network of fully-rigged safari-style platform tents, situated on private land across the country, makes it possible to snag a reservation in some unique and scenic locations. Contact: www.TheDyrt.com
5. Sleep in a yurt.
It's fun to spend the night in a less than ordinary kind of space. Increasingly popular, yurts, a Mongolian original, fit the bill. At the Snow Mountain Ranch at the YMCA in Winter Park, your family can snooze the night away in a yurt featuring one queen bed and two sets of bunk beds, accommodating up to six people. An outdoor tent pad enables you to expand the party by adding another two persons (guests must bring their own tents). The yurts also include a microwave, mini fridge, prep table, picnic table, outdoor grill and fire ring. All yurts offer electricity and complimentary Wi-Fi. The bathhouse, located nearby, has flush toilets, handicapped-accessible hot showers, hair dryers, a coin-operated washer and dryer and deep well sinks. Yurts are available year-round and are pet friendly. Contact: www.SnowMountainRanch.org.
Lynn O'Rourke Hayes (www.LOHayes.com) is an author, family travel expert and enthusiastic explorer. Gather more travel intel on Twitter @lohayes, Facebook, or via FamilyTravel.com.