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How to Go Camping on a Budget


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Camping on a BudgetCamping is a budget-conscious vacationer’s dream! Camping on a budget can be quite easy. In Colorado, we are lucky enough to have so many beautiful campgrounds, in some of the most beautiful state and federal parks in the country. If you are on a budget, camping is one of the best ways to get away and refresh yourself without breaking the bank!

Camping on a Budget – Campsite Costs

Camping fees for campgrounds in Colorado are usually $10-$20 per night. This may be in addition to entrance fees but those tend to be in the $10 area. Usually, camping requires an initial investment for gear. However, if you’re able to borrow some equipment, you can cut that cost down quite a bit, and just need to pack some food and water and pack a bag of clothes! If you can’t borrow equipment, like a tent, check Craigslist or a discount store. You don’t need a fancy tent, just something to keep the rain and bugs out while you sleep. If you can sleep in your vehicle, a tent is not even needed. Just make sure you have room to sleep in the vehicle along with storing most of your gear and food.  You don’t want to leave your stuff outside the vehicle for chipmunks, bears, or perhaps humans.

A great way to lower the cost when camping on a budget is to share it with friends and family. Campsites usually have a limit to them but most in Colorado is 8. That will usually cover two families easily. Splitting the cost of a $20 campsite fee between 6 or 8 people is a great way to save money. There are even a few areas that are Colorado Wildlife areas where camping is free. If you plan to go camping in any of theses areas make sure that you are aware of the regulations. There are usually no dedicated campsites or services when camping in these areas.

Camping Footwear

Camping on a Budget - Coleman Men's Jacoby Brown Vented Hiking Shoe

Camping on a Budget – Coleman Men’s Jacoby Brown Vented Hiking Shoe

Buying dedicated hiking boots isn’t necessary unless you are planning to do a lot of hiking. Athletic shoes will work for light camping. Just make sure to bring a spare pair of shoes, no matter what kind of shoes you have as your primary pair. If you only bring one pair of shoes, you’ll be stuck with them if they get wet. And that is not fun. Don’t forget to bring lots of socks too!

Camping on a Budget Food

Food can be a tricky one to tackle depending on your tastes. However, there are a couple things to keep in mind when camping on a budget. First, keep food preparation as simple as possible. Prepare food prior to your trip if you are only camping for a day or two. Sandwiches, granola bars, dry cereal, crackers, beef jerky, and trail mix are all good and easy choices. Having simple camping meals removes the need for all of the equipment needed to prepare more complicated meals. A few easy hot meals are oatmeal, cup of noodles, and hot dogs on the fire. Even if all of your meals are prepared ahead of time make sure to always at least take enough equipment to boil water. This is an essential camping survival tip.

Sleeping When Camping

Camping on a Budget - Juneau Sleeping Bag

Camping on a Budget – Juneau Sleeping Bag

If you plan to camp at a lower elevation, a cheap sleeping bag will be fine. You’ll want to invest in a warmer bag if you’ll be camping at a higher elevation, when temperatures fall below 50 degrees, or if you get cold easily. A cheap bag can be made warmer by wearing warm clothes inside the bag, by making sure you have good padding underneath the bag, and by adding a fluffy comforter to the top.  Just make sure you preserve the loft of your top layers by not choosing a heavy blanket. Loft equals insulation!

Camping Activities

What do you do once you’re set up at your campsite?

  1. Fishing gear is cheap. See if you can borrow a rod and some gear. If not, check Craigslist or you can purchase some gear cheap. Annual fishing licenses are under $40 for 16-63 year olds. Seniors are $11. You can buy a one-day fishing license for $9.
  2. Hiking is free, and the state has hiking trails all over the place!
  3. Geocaching is pretty much a treasure hunt. Feel like a kid again!
  4. Photography is a great thing to do while camping. Keep memories and find nice images for Facebook.

Must Have Even When Camping on a Budget

While you’re trying to save money, there are some things you shouldn’t go without:

  • Cell phone
  • Full tank of gas
  • Food and water
  • Clothing to layer, plus coat, hat, and gloves
  • Flashlight
  • Sunblock
  • Roll of toilet paper

These are the biggest things to keep in mind when camping on a budget. Camping is a fun and great experience. To get outdoors into nature calls to something deep within us. Whether you are an avid camper or have never been camping before these tips can help you to go camping on a budget.

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