Learn Camping Lingo to Plan the Right Trip for You - Carolina Country

Learn Camping Lingo to Plan the Right Trip for You

Plan an outdoor adventure to suit your needs

By Pamela A. Keene

Learn Camping Lingo to Plan the Right Trip for You

Since the start of the pandemic, camping and outdoor pursuits have grown. More than 10 million households camped for the first time in 2020, according to KOA’s annual North American Camping report from that year. The report showed one-third of these new campers considered it a safe way to travel and avoid crowds.

If you want to join in on the fun, learn the lingo to find the right kind of camping for you and set expectations.

Wilderness camping

Also known as backpacking, primitive or backcountry camping, hikers take all their equipment, food, water, tents, etc., to an undeveloped designated area. Permits are often required by the managing entity.

Tent camping

This involves pitching a tent, often on a maintained site in a campground that may include a grill, firepit and picnic table; typically, tent campgrounds offer community washhouses.

North Carolina is rich with tent camping spots, many of which are in state parks and offer amenities such as restrooms, showers, and electric and water hookups, as well as varied levels of access from handicap accessible to hike- or canoe-in spots. Search ncparks.gov to find the perfect spot.


Upscale accommodations in the outdoors feature semi- permanent furnished canvas-sided tent-like structures with beds, seating areas and accessories such as lamps and décor, plus access to indoor plumbing. Glamping can include safari tents on platforms, Conestoga wagons, yurts, tipis and treehouses.

“Glamping — a way to enjoy overnights outdoors with the comforts of a hotel — is gaining in popularity,” says Nathan Self, who is co-CEO of Georgia-based Timberline Glamping along with his wife, Rebeka. “It is especially popular with people who have never camped before and with older people who formerly enjoyed tent camping but now find it much more convenient to stay in a tent-like setting without all the set-up and worries about what to bring.”

Western North Carolina has several glamping options, but spots can be found in the Piedmont and eastern parts of the state, as well. Visit glampinghub.com to scout out locations.

Recreational vehicle camping

This form of overnighting involves using a self-propelled motor vehicle, a pull-behind fifth-wheel or a portable unit placed in the bed of a pickup truck.

HOA’s report found interest in RVs is at an all-time high and will continue to grow — not only with more people choosing RVs, but campers saying they will increase their trips in the coming year.

Frontcountry camping

Visitors drive their cars to a site where they can pitch a tent, park a camper or RV, or glamp. Many have electrical hookups. Those with RV spots provide dump sites to offload toilet waste.

In addition to our state parks, North Carolina has a wide variety of private and federally managed destinations, including national seashores, historic sites, military parks and the most frequented national park in the country: Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Visit recreation.gov to find your next adventure. 

About the Author

Pamela A. Keene is a freelance journalist who writes for magazines and newspapers across the Southeast and nationally.

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