If you’d rather not fight the crowds of college students to find a napkin-sized square of sand on a crowded beach, but you’d still like to enjoy a spring getaway, go camping!
On my list of favorite things: A quiet, slightly chilly morning on a deserted mountaintop with low clouds hanging in the air, hugging the green slopes of surrounding mountain peaks and valleys. A cup of steaming hot coffee, a cozy blanket, and a tangible hush that is broken only by the lone call of a hawk soaring in the distance … it is both relaxing and rejuvenating.
Of course, the quiet doesn't last very long – camping is anything but boring. Depending on your park of choice, you can hike through dense forests or go rock climbing, mountain biking, fishing, boating, whitewater rafting, tubing, and even swimming. GeoCaching is available at many state parks and is sort of a high-tech treasure hunt using your Smartphone or other GPS device. My kids enjoy their own version of "treasure" hunting, looking for rocks, feathers, fossils, gems, and panning for gold.
My kind of camping involves a camper with electricity, running water, a microwave, and a Wi-Fi hotspot, so I would never consider backcountry hiking and camping. For those who would, there are some amazing parks and national forests to consider. Of course, the gorgeous Grand Canyon is the jewel in the crown of hiking trips, but unless you live near Phoenix, Flagstaff, or Las Vegas, you may need more time for this extended hiking adventure than a quick spring break trip allows. If you are anywhere near Wyoming or Montana, the ultimate camping adventure is (of course) Yellowstone National Park. The wildlife you may encounter will be as impressive as Old Faithful – grizzly bears, wolves, bison, and elk. Another great location is Cumberland Island, off the coast of Georgia, just south of Brunswick. Because everyone arrives by ferry boat and there are limited visitors allowed per day, it is a wild, rather isolated location for backcountry camping. It also has one of the most unspoiled beaches I've ever seen – truly beautiful, and well worth the trip.
If you've never been camping and aren't sure if sleeping in a tent and cooking over an open fire is something you want to do, consider renting a camper, cabin, apartment, tepee, or yurt – many parks provide these shelters and it will allow you to "try out" camping without a major commitment, such as purchasing a tent.
We'll be heading toward the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains for spring break – crisp, cool mornings and fresh brewed coffee … for me, that's spring. Do you prefer the spring break beaches with all of the raucous fun or a remote location somewhere off the beaten path?