National Parks Depot Blog » camping
Ah, the Fall… out here in California, November means that the leaves are changing, the temperatures are dropping, and the stuffy heat of the summer is nothing more than a distant memory. I’m a fall person, myself – nothing beats the feeling of waking up in a cozy bed, or relaxing in a warm apartment after a day outside. Plus, it’s easier to tolerate than the heat of summer. As I’m fond of saying, it’s always easier to put more clothes on.
Fall also means that it’s time to put the summer camping gear away, and to dust off the cold-weather bags. Fall camping, to me, means insulated tents, a thicker sleeping bag, some extra firewood, and a warm jacket that looks like a marshmallow.
I love camping in the fall. The scenery is beautiful, the parks less crowded, and the skies clearer from the occasional rain. Even my family’s tempers cool down, making a week-long excursion to the coast or the Sierras a delightful experience.
This week, though, the focus here at National Parks Depot is shifting to some Fall camping foods. Since, let’s be honest: food is one of the best parts of camping! Being able to prepare something from scratch, and making use of your limited resources is one of the coolest parts of a camping trip. Being able to create something for my family with nothing but an open fire and some supplies out of my icebox is the foundation for some of my best camping memories.
Earlier this week, though, I decided that maybe there was more to camping food than I was expecting. So, I asked some of my coworkers for other recipes. Everyone around me camps at least once or twice a year, and that means there’s a lot of tradition and nostalgia tied up in their own recipes. With this in mind, I wrote down the top 10 recipes from around the office, and put them together with some pictures in an e-book.
Some of these I’d heard of or even tried before, but others were new ideas for me. I absolutely love potatoes while I’m camping, but I’d never thought of cooking an egg in one! There’s a lot of great recipes that I can’t wait to try, and I’m sure you’ll be able to find something new as well.
Later this week, I’ll be back with my two-parter. In addition to these recipes, I also took the time to research and write down some of the most present hazards to eating while you’re camping. That post will be up on Monday, along with some recommendations on some of my favorite cooking gear from NPD. Stay tuned!
Bears are deeply misunderstood creatures. Shy, curious, and rather predictable, they are not the ferocious beasts they are often portrayed to be.
It should come as no surprise to learn that bear encounters occur often in many of our national parks. Despite the fact that bear attacks are actually pretty rare―statistically speaking, your chances of being injured by a bear are approximately 1 in 2.1 million―it's always wise to prep yourself on what to do in the event of an unexpected encounter. By understanding bear behavior and distinguishing between different types of bears, you will not only keep yourself safe, but avoid disrupting the natural environment that they live in.
More often than not, bears wander into towns and campsites in search of food, typically when their usual food source has been depleted or if they have grown accustomed to having access to human food. To prevent unwanted visitors on your next camping trip, it is extremely important that all of your food is properly stored in bear-resistant containers or storage boxes. Keep in mind that this also includes securing garbage bags and locking up scented items, such as toothpaste or scented soap. Never leave these items in your car―bears are attracted to anything with an odor and will have no problem breaking into your vehicle if they think there's food inside! By keeping a clean camp and following the food storage regulations provided by the National Park Service, you will be doing your part to maintain a safe and comfortable atmosphere for everyone.
Prevention is a major key to bear safety, however, you may find yourself in a situation where it's too late for "should have"s. To avoid surprising a bear by catching it off guard, make your presence known by speaking loudly and waving your arms. (Not too frantically―you want the bear to notice you, not view you as a threat.) If the bear still has not caught on to your presence, you may find it helpful to create noise by breaking sticks. It is common for bears to stand up on their hind legs to get a better glimpse of their surroundings; do not mistake this characteristic body language as aggressive. Remain calm, and the bear will likely retreat. Whatever you do, never ever run away or attempt to escape by climbing a tree! Bears, particularly black bears, have evolved to be excellent climbers. While they will usually avoid human interaction, you don't want to test them. Some people choose to carry bear pepper spray as an emergency deterrent; a product that has been proven to be the safest and most effective means of repelling a potential attack.
Overall, being bear aware comes down to two things: having an understanding of bear behavior and having common sense. Come prepared, be smart about your decisions, and treat the animals you meet with respect. The more educated you are on the subject, the safer you will feel the next time you see a bear in the wild.
Inspired by our previous post where we analyzed several ways to get a campfire started, we thought it would be fun to share our favorite camping recipes with you so you can put those fire-starting methods to the test in the most delicious way possible! Here are our top five camping recipes that you should definitely try out this season. (Thanks, Pinterest!)
#1. Campfire French Toast by This Lil Piglet
What better way to start your day than with the comforting taste of French toast? The aroma itself is enough to make you unzip your tent at the crack of dawn just to load up your plate. Making French toast on the go is surprisingly low maintenance and best of all, it's ready to serve within minutes. This particular recipe calls for strawberries, making it an extra sweet treat, but we bet it would taste just as heavenly if you were to substitute bananas or blackberries instead. Foraged berries, anyone?
#2. Campfire Crescent Dogs by Tablespoon.com
After a sweet breakfast, you'll probably be craving something savory for lunch. Rather than slapping together a humdrum sandwich or sticking a solo hot dog on a skewer (boring!), why not make it interesting? This simple yet tasty recipe for Campfire Crescent Dogs will take your hot dog to the next level. How have we never thought of this before?! It's almost TOO easy...
#3. No Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Granola Bars by Live Well Bake Often
It's always a good idea to bring some healthy snacks along on a camping trip. Between the s'mores and the the booze, it's easy to overindulge and accidentally leave your body without the energy it needs to explore the great outdoors. In addition to packing fruit and trail mix, how about whipping up some No Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Granola Bars to take with you? They take less than ten minutes to make and they taste so much better than pre-boxed, processed granola bars.
#4. Dutch Oven Pizza by Scouting Magazine
All right, pizza fiends. This one's for you. This recipe for Dutch Oven Pizza makes it totally possible to enjoy a slice (or two... or five) for dinner no matter how far away from civilization you are. Gather 'round the fire and savor the moment, because once everyone has a taste, it's going to go fast. So yeah, you probably won't be getting a pizza delivered the next time you go camping, but we're pretty sure this will be just as good.
#5. Skillet Strawberry S’mores by Begin With Nutrition
A camping trip is rendered incomplete without s'mores, and that's a fact. But the great thing about making them is that you can either go the classic route, or you can get inventive. This recipe for Skillet Strawberry S'mores makes it easy for everyone to share and enjoy dessert together, rather than the traditional method using individual skewers. In addition, using a skillet gives you the freedom to add extra ingredients if you desire. Just imagine the possibilities...
If you get the chance to try any (or all!) of these recipes, leave a comment below and let us know how it goes! Happy cooking!