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5 Potentially Dangerous Places to Camp

When you crawl into your sleeping bag, the last thing you want to be worrying about is your safety. However, the level of safety can vary based on where you’re pitching your tent or setting up camp.

We want you to be as safe as possible, so you and your loved ones have many more future camping adventures. As far as safe places to camp, we’ve found five dangerous places you might consider avoiding if you plan to camp.

Let’s take a look!   

Is Camping Dangerous?

Camping can become unpredictable and dangerous for even the most experienced outdoor enthusiasts. However, if you take the proper precautions, camping can be a very safe and enjoyable experience. Knowing what precautions you should take can require research as no two camping trips are the same.

The more you can camp and hone your skills, the more equipped you’ll be to handle whatever your camping expeditions throw your way. Tasks often become more manageable, and you’ll be more able to adapt and adjust to each scenario while camping.

Woman laying looking out through tent at foggy mountains
Camping is unpredictable, but when done safely can be a great experience.

What Are the Risks of Going Camping?

The weather conditions, wildlife, and even vegetation can all cause serious issues while you’re camping. Before you go, you must take the time to research any potential dangers unique to where you’re planning to go camping.

The only thing consistent about the weather is that it can be unpredictable, especially at higher elevations. The weather can change in the blink of an eye, and it doesn’t care what your favorite meteorologist forecasted. Make sure you keep an eye on the skies or have the ability to receive weather alerts.

Wildlife and vegetation can also be very dangerous and vary depending on where you’re camping. Rattlesnakes and cactus prove that almost everything in the desert can bite or stick you. However, you don’t have to worry about either in some parts of the country.

You should always proceed with caution when it comes to viewing wildlife and vegetation that could be harmful. No matter how cuddly an animal looks or delicious a plant appears, you should proceed cautiously.

Is Camping Safe for a Woman?

Camping is safe for women. Unfortunately, to feel safe, women who want to enjoy camping must take extra precautions men may not have to.

They may have to be more keenly aware of their surroundings, but they can still enjoy themselves and the great outdoors.

Woman drinking coffee in tent while solo camping
For women, solo camping is unfortunately more dangerous than it is for men.

5 Dangerous Places to Camp

If you like to live on the wild side or have a deep sense of adventure, you might want to try one of these dangerous places to camp. However, we recommend doing your research and having the proper equipment before heading out, or it could be your last time camping.

Grand Canyon National Park

The Grand Canyon is one of the world’s seven natural wonders and attracts millions of visitors annually. However, between the rattlesnakes, the 110-degree heat index, and hiking trails that descend thousands of feet into the canyon, it’s one of the most dangerous places for you to camp. It’s so difficult that the park installed access to water, phones, and a ranger station along the most popular hiking trails descending into the canyon.

Even experienced hikers can underestimate the difficulty of hiking in and out of the canyon. Rangers typically make 200 heat-related rescues in a given year. Heat exhaustion and heart attacks are two of the most common physical dangers faced by hikers.

If the hike wasn’t hard enough, hikers must look for venomous reptiles and insects throughout their trip. 

Pro Tip: Make sure to keep an eye out for these Most Dangerous Creatures in Grand Canyon National Park while camping in the Grand Canyon.

Denali National Park

Denali National Park is home to the tallest mountain in North America and is full of grizzly bears and unpredictable weather. Many climbers set out to conquer the over 20,000-foot mountain and fail. More than 100 people have died in the park over the years. 

The Alaskan wilderness and wildlife don’t mess around when it comes to adventurers. Campers must watch for sudden temperature drops, blizzard conditions, or massive avalanches. If those aren’t enough, wandering too close to a grizzly bear or its cubs can be a recipe for disaster.

There have been many bear attacks and close encounters as campers don’t take the proper precautions for storing food.

Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park provides some of the most incredible views of any national park in the United States and portions of Canada. With more than 734 hiking trails and 13 different campgrounds, the park is home to endless possibilities for adventure. However, as majestic and exciting as the park can be, it’s also off the charts regarding danger.

Rockslides and avalanches threaten hikers, mountain climbers, or drivers enjoying a scenic drive. One mistake while enjoying an adventurous activity, and you could fall more than 500 feet to your death. It happens far too frequently.

The Night of the Grizzlies, a night where grizzlies killed two women at two different campsites in the same night, is a reminder that bear attacks and wildlife encounters are equally as dangerous. 

Pro Tip: Safety should be your top concern when visiting Glacier National Park. Check out these 5 Reasons to Avoid Glacier National Park.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Great Smoky Mountains National Park welcomes 12 to 14 million guests each year and is the most visited national park in the country. Its hills, mountains, and dense forests provide the perfect outdoor playground for adventurers looking to camp, hike, ski, or enjoy equestrian activities. However, the park is not only full of an incredible amount of visitors but also many unexpected dangers.

Drivers underestimating curves and slippery road conditions cause a majority of the deaths in the park. Thick fog blankets are typical throughout the region and often cause vehicular accidents. However, campers must be mindful of black bears that can be aggressive when hungry. Many uneducated tourists feed the wildlife or don’t store their food appropriately. This results in bears looking for food at campsites throughout the park. 

During a camping trip in the summer of 2022, one family had a close encounter with a bear. It was attracted to the campsite by the scent of the family improperly storing food for their dog. A mother and daughter received scratches to the head before the father could scare the bear off, but the encounter reminds all campers never to store any food inside a tent.

Lake Mead National Recreation Area

Lake Mead National Recreation Area is just a hop, skip, and a slot machine pull away from the dazzling lights of Las Vegas. It’s the largest reservoir in the United States and has a reputation for changing colors throughout the year. Depending on the weather conditions, it could be brown, orange, or a vibrant blue. However, don’t let its beauty mesmerize you so much that you underestimate its danger. It can be one of the most dangerous places to camp and explore.

Throughout 1998, the reservoir averaged one death every week. Any body of water is extremely hazardous, and many aquatic enthusiasts don’t take it seriously. This area also has a reputation for being full of party boats where participants float on the water and drown the sorrows of their gambling losses in Vegas. However, alcohol and water activities aren’t typically a good combination.

It’s not uncommon for authorities to find human remains in Lake Mead. As water levels drop, local authorities have found bodies that someone disposed of decades ago. The identity of the bodies and how they got there often remains a mystery.

Camping Safety Tips

You and your fellow campers can do some things to maximize your safety while camping. Let’s look at how you can stay safe and avoid dangerous situations while camping.

Bring Plenty of Supplies

You want to bring plenty of food and supplies during your trip. You should have enough rations for everyone for the entirety of your camping trip, especially when it comes to water. The hotter the temperatures, the more water you’re going to need. If you plan to go hiking or do other activities during your trip, make sure you have containers you can take water in.

Some camping locations may be far from any facility for resupplying your inventory of supplies or purchasing items you forgot to bring with you. Creating a packing list can be helpful to ensure you don’t leave anything behind that you might need during your trip.

Be Aware of Weather

The weather can be very unpredictable, especially when camping at higher elevations. Have a weather radio or cell signal to receive weather alerts. Even with technology, you should keep an eye on the skies and watch for inclement weather conditions. Whether camping in a tent or an RV, finding a safe place to ride out a storm can be wise. Falling limbs during high winds can be hazardous and cause severe damage.

You’ll want to check the weather forecast when packing for your camping trip. Temperatures at night can drop drastically, so make sure you plan accordingly. You don’t want to spend the entire night shivering in your tent while trying to sleep.

Two men and dogs looking at lake next to campsite with a cloudy sky.
Check the weather forecast before you set up camp to ensure you stay safe.

Have a First Aid Kit

Having a basic first aid kit can be tremendously helpful while on a camping trip. It can help you address minor wounds and buy you some time until medical professionals can arrive should you or a fellow camper experience a severe emergency. Make sure to check the inventory of your first aid kit when preparing for a trip. You don’t want to discover you don’t have a sufficient amount of medical supplies when you go to use them.

Watch for Wildlife

Camping typically involves inserting you and your camping supplies into the home of the surrounding wildlife. You want to be familiar with what wildlife lives in the area and what you can do to ensure you don’t have any encounters with them. How you store your food and dispose of garbage can help keep wildlife away from your campsite.

However, watching for wildlife while hiking and enjoying other outdoor activities is also essential. Many hikers and outdoor enthusiasts have innocently encountered wildlife during their adventures and found themselves in grave danger. Making plenty of noise will often be enough to alert animals that you’re nearby, and they’ll keep their distance.

However, you must know how to respond should you closely encounter dangerous wildlife.

Man pitching tent next to lake at sunset
Dispose of garbage and properly store food when setting up your campsite to keep the wildlife away.

Stay Connected with Others

Letting loved ones know your whereabouts and itinerary is always a good idea when camping, especially if you’re heading out into one of the mentioned dangerous places to camp that lacks cell service. If you do experience an emergency, it might mean the difference between life and death in certain circumstances. They’ll likely come looking for you or alert rangers of a potential issue if they do not hear from you.

If you plan to hike or camp in remote areas that make it challenging to stay connected, it might be worth investing in a GPS tracking device. These devices connect with satellites in space and can send updates to loved ones regarding your approximate location. You can even set up devices to send SOS alerts to emergency contacts. At the press of a button, approved contacts can receive a text notification letting you know your last known location.

Find a Safe Place to Camp

Staying safe while camping is essential, especially if you want an enjoyable experience. You will be miserable if you spend your entire time camping worrying about your safety. Do your research on what places are dangerous to camp at, have the proper supplies, and avoid areas with known or frequent dangers.

Doing so can help ensure that you and those camping with you can make some priceless memories you’ll never forget. The more time you spend camping, the more memories you’ll collect and the easier it will become. Get out and enjoy a safe camping experience!

What are your top camping safety tips? Tell us in the comments!

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