The good. I must admit, car camping certainly has its advantages. We visit the “drive-ins” at least a couple of times a year. It
requires far less planning, you can bring far more stuff and two beautiful words “indoor toilets”. You can show up after dark, maybe after work on a Friday, and set up camp with only your headlamp to guide you. Let’s be honest, you can skip setting up the tent altogether, throw down the back seat of the car and sleep in the trunk! Campsites that are set up for car camping have all sorts of amenities like showers, electrical outlets, garbage cans and water for cooking. They are regularly patrolled by wardens to keep activities on the up and up and are able to offer assistance if you need it. All beautiful things.
Our car camping trips have taken us to Algonquin, Arrowhead and Presqu’ile provincial parks multiple times, as well as some commercially run campgrounds. These locations are not chosen by us, but rather by Fraser’s family. Fraser’s folks love the outdoors, just like we do, but now pass on the more rugged camping trips. They rock an RV. Now THAT is luxury camping! Because getting out there is just as much about connecting with your family and friends, as it is about the journey, we happily go wherever they congregate.
The bad. It doesn’t seem to matter where I pitch a tent on those tiny allotments, there is always a car driving past a foot away from my head. Also, it doesn’t smell like the great outdoors, it smells like car fumes and barbeque starter. And any yahoo with a license and access to a vehicle can come. In the backcountry, it takes a certain special someone to hike, paddle and portage in to a remote spot. You don’t usually get partiers with 2-4’s at the next site.
Now for the ugly. These places PACK visitors in cheek to jowl. Swarms of people laughing, yelling, crying, fighting, smoking, and there is food everywhere. It’s just plain overwhelming. One of the biggest reasons I go camping is to get away from it all. Get away from work and the crowds and the stress. In a lot of ways a car campground is a greener version of the city, except in the city I’m not sitting in a lawn chair next to strangers while they drink beer, blare classic rock and let their dog pee on my tires. Of course I may be exaggerating just a little bit. Although there does always seem to be one group that carries on far too long into the night while you’re trying to get some shut eye.
Having said all this, I still go back year after year. There are bicycle trails for you and the kids to explore. Marked hiking trails take you to beautiful park outlooks that are a great opportunity for the photo enthusiast in the family and it’s something different than your everyday. And ANY day in the forest is better than MOST days in the city 😉