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Camping for S’mores & Stars

by Hollis Hughes
At night, stars above a mountain range
Perseid Meteor Shower over Blue Ridge Parkway
iStock / Joshua Moore

Any time is a great time to go camping, but there are two great reasons to grab your loved ones and set up a tent outside this August. This month marks National S’more Day on August 10 and the peak dates of the Perseid Meteor Shower on August 11 and 12! With their clear dark skies, national parks are the perfect place to enjoy this beloved annual event. And do you really need an excuse to enjoy a delicious s’more?

Want to get out to enjoy the parks after dark? We asked our friends at L.L.Bean to share their tips for a great summer camping experience.

Plan Ahead

Campers at Death Valley National Park (NPS Photo / Kurt Moses)

No matter what type of camping adventure you’ve got in mind, remember to #recreateresponsibly. That means taking the time to plan ahead and visit for current park conditions. Do the research to find the right camping opportunity for your trip and check availability and reservation requirements. For the best experience, take the necessary precautions to keep your group safe while camping this year.

Bring a Friend

Dog sits next to a backpack at a campsite, a tent is set up in the background
B.A.R.K. Ranger sits at a campsite (iStock / Photoboyko)

There’s safety (and fun!) in numbers when you’re in a park after dark as you’ll want a buddy with you to share the adventure and look out for one another. Plus, s’mores are always better when you share. When you’re in the park, give others plenty of room and be prepared to cover your nose and mouth whether you’re on a trail, at your campsite, or in a parking lot. If you’re thinking of bringing Fido, make sure dogs are allowed in the park and follow these tips.

Dress the Part

a visitor watches the sun rise on a high overlook
A hiker at Hazel Mountain Overlook at Shenandoah National Park (NPS Photo)

It may be warm in the sun, but temperatures can drop after dark. Make sure you’re dressed appropriately for your day and nighttime activities — be it hiking a trail, sitting around the campfire, or laying out under the stars. Layers are key. Have a sweater or thermals in your bag so you can spend your time having fun and not shivering or sweating.

Be a Navigator

Shooting stars and twinkling stars over Joshua Tree National Park
Perseid Meteor Shower over Joshua Tree National Park (iStock / Kesterhu)

The stars have guided people for thousands of years, but today you have a variety of tools that fit right in your pocket. Whether you’re visiting a new park or returning to your favorite place, we recommend having additional wayfinding tools. To be safe, bring a park map, trail map, and compass. Going off the grid? Make sure you have GPS navigation. Want to get to know your celestial surroundings? Pack a star map or guide to identify the constellations above you in the night sky.

Camp Mess (but don’t make a mess)

Roasting marshmallows over a campfire
Roasting marshmallows over a campfire (iStock / FatCamera)

Make sure you’re packing the right foods to sustain your group according to the activities you’ve planned. Hydration is key—identify water sources ahead of time and/or bring an appropriate supply. Salty and easy-to-digest snacks like trail mix and granola bars work well for outdoor activities. Consider your camp kitchen equipment and skills as part of your meal planning and be sure to pack the tools and materials you’ll need to prepare your food. Finally, don’t forget the s’mores! Celebrate National S’more Day by enjoying the classic treat or a new twist on this campfire tradition. Most importantly, remember to leave no trace and pack up all trash, food, leftovers, and litter with you when you leave the park.

Set up Camp

Looking out of an unzipped tent door to a beach on Yellowstone Lake
View from a tent set up at Yellowstone Lake in Yellowstone National Park (NPS Photo / Neal Herbert)

Your campsite is your home away from home, so bring the right equipment to provide shelter and a bed. You’ll need a tent and a sleeping bag — both of which come in different sizes and shapes, depending on your needs. For added comfort, consider packing a sleeping pad and pillow. Camp chairs are a great way to comfortably gather around the campfire or sit back and watch the Perseid Meteor Shower dance across the night sky. Always have a flashlight, lantern, or headlamp on hand to guide you in the dark.

Ready to set up camp? A great place to start is your local L.L.Bean store to get outfitted for all your outdoor adventures. Tell us all about your favorite camping activities, s’more recipes, and stargazing events in the comments, and share your pictures with us using the hashtags #FindYourPark and #EncuentraTuParque on social media.