Creative Ways to Camp at Home

No Need to Pack Your Bags for This Adventure
Maddie EckerNPF Blog
A campsite set up indoors, with a paper "campfire," surrounded by stuffed animals (bear, raccoon), and an illuminated red tent. A small telescope points away toward the sky in the distance. Stars are projected on the walls.
iStock / RichVintage

There’s nothing better than a camping adventure complete with s’mores, stargazing, and sleeping under the night sky. Even when you can’t get to a national park, you can still camp out. Plan a weekend in with your loved ones and enjoy all the best camping activities from the comfort of your home.   

Set the Scene 

Don’t have a fire pit? Miss that iconic view of the Grand Canyon? Want to inhale the crisp scent of your favorite park? While it’s hard to replicate the crackling of a campfire, the view of a natural wonder, or the smell of a forest — there are plenty of ways to recreate some of your favorite national park moments. Set up a virtual campfire with a looping video of a campfire, light a candle inspired by a national park, and hang up your favorite photographs from your park adventures.

Cozy Up Your Campsite

Two young children sit in an illuminated tent, set up indoors. They smile and point at a glowing globe.
iStock / zeljkosantrac

First things first: set up your sleeping area. Backyard or not, all you need is a flat, smooth surface to call home for the night. Get everyone involved in pitching the tent or creating a makeshift one. Pillow forts welcome. You can make your camping pad extra comfy with yoga mats, pillows, blankets, and, to make it even cozier, an air mattress. Complete your campsite with twinkly string lights to replicate a starry night sky.   

Jam Out and Tune In

Young woman laying back in repose with her foot in the foreground, rested on an old radio
Unsplash / Eric Nopanen

When you’re setting up camp, dance along to some national park-inspired tunes. Create your own playlist of favorites or try our National Park Road Trip Playlist. Once settled, hit play on PARKTRACKS, an innovative audio experience that lets you listen to the sounds of our national parks wherever you are. Captured by the National Park Service’s Natural Sounds and Night Skies Division in partnership with NPF, PARKTRACKS will set the ambiance.

Grill Up Camp Grub

A hand reaches out to grab a toasted marshmallow off a stick, hovering over a fire, to make s'mores with chocolate and graham crackers
iStock / Stanley45

An at-home camp-out is the perfect place to test out new campfire recipes and indulge in some old favorites. And it wouldn't be a proper camping trip without a campfire meal and s'mores. Luckily, you can make these classics over a firepit, grill, or in your nearby kitchen. Try out some of our social media followers' favorite campfire treats like cast-iron skillet pizza and apricot pastries, or sample new s’mores concoctions under the stars.

Bring Out Your Favorite Camp Activities

Telling spooky stories. Leading a sing-along. Playing card games - maybe even with national park themed cards. There are plenty of ways to pass the time when you’re spending an evening or two in the great outdoors — and the same is true when you’re camping at home! For an authentic outdoor experience, and if you’re not set up outside, turn off the lights and turn on a headlamp for evening activities. Pitched your tent outside? Pack everything you’ll need to stay there! Unplug for the evening by leaving your phones in another room.

Belt Out a Tune

A group of campers, illuminated by the glow of a campfire, sing and laugh
Unsplash / Troy T

Dazzle the crowd with memorable campfire songs – croon a few classics around the campfire or come up with your own! The best campfire songs tell a story and get everyone singing along to a catchy chorus. Use the fun, educational songs from the National Park Service’s Junior Ranger Radio to inspire your masterpiece. Bonus points if you can choreograph a dance to accompany the music.

Share a Spooky Story

A woman and a young child, under a make-shift tent made with sheets, gather to watch something on a glowing digital tablet
iStock / DragonImages

Send a thrill down the spine of your camping crew by swapping scary stories as the skies darken. Check out some of the Campfire Stories from the National Park Service in 2016. If you’re feeling creative, take inspiration from Edgar Allan Poe National Historic Site’s namesake and fill your stories with suspense and maybe even a rhyme or two. Or use national parks to inspire your story – like the mysterious escapees from Alcatraz Island.

Capture the Moment

Two hands make a heart in the sun
Unsplash / Mayur Gala

Any camping experience – be it at home or in a national park – is filled with memorable moments. Snap a few pictures of the family around the campfire, a video of your new favorite campfire song, or even try your hand at astrophotography in your backyard. With good company, imaginative minds, and the great outdoors (or indoors) to inspire you, your camping experience can be cherished for years to come.

If you want to up your game in creating a national park experience at home, you can always make a virtual visit to a park, wherever you are. Plus, you can virtually swear in as a Junior Ranger with online programs from parks across the country or try out many of the activities and games created by parks. Tell us all about your favorite camping experience – in a park or at home – and share your camping tips with us on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.


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