Canyonlands Utah, Needles campsite
In the years I have been travelling around the world, I have never camped nor stayed in tents. Sure there is the occasional weekend thing but to stay weeks travelling with a full set of camping equipment. Never!
Sure you might say whats the big deal for those who have camped before, but my family and my friends were in horrors when I told them I was renting a car and camping around national parks. These are people who do not camp. The closest they remotely been in were safari camps operated by some big hotel or in the army some distance century away.
Visiting the various national parks in New Mexico and Utah, you need to camp, thats the only option. The parks are situated in the deserts away from everything. The nearest motels and hotels are at least 20 -30 miles away from the parks and I had my fair share of horrid worry and torturing search for hotels in the busy Arizona national parks. That was enough and too stressful to deal with.
Borrowed a few camping equipment from my amazing friends P and J, bought a pretty comfortable tent and got all the necessary sleeping material, food and camping stove. The US national parks are pretty organised and the campsites are the closest to all the sites you would want to stay for sunset and be the first to get to the sites before sunrise. Many sites I had camped in are what you call dry camps. There are no showers, sometimes no water and only non-flushable pit toilets. The closest you go for drinking water is that 10mile drive to the visitor center. A little tough for those who prefer their beds and hair dryers and not having to shower for a few days. Living in the tropics, I need my daily showers and somehow managed getting my washing done in these sites despite.
Still this is luxury camping to me. This is better than staying in the well known roach motels in the US that are not necessary cheap either. I prefer paying the us$30 per camp versus that average us$150 a night in crappy motels that surrounded the parks.
You drive to the camp sites, set up, pay for your site in a envelope and dropping it into a box at the entrance. Sometimes I had the whole camp site to my own in less visited national parks and sometimes there is a huge rush to scoring the best site during the public holiday week. I enjoyed cooking under the stars and waking up surrounded by nature. Sometimes deers and an accidental bear would appear around me. Sometimes I had to deal with the hot summer heat in Utah and New Mexico at 100F temperatures.
Next experience to look forward to : real camping in the wilderness during mid winter.