Last weekend we went camping down at Wellington Lake outside of Bailey, Colorado for a few days.  Just prior to leaving I read through Trail Sherpa’s 89 Tips to Elevate Any Campsite again to get some ideas.   If you get a chance to read through it, I highly recommend it.

I’ve spent many years backpacking and hiking and camping as a boy scout, river guide, mountain guide and outward bound instructor, but sometimes camping with the kids means car camping – and doing it well.  That’s what this is about.

Here are my 10 things that made our camping trip better.

1. Camping near water.  Wellington Lake is a very pretty lake.  Although it’s about 12-15 feet low right now, it’s still really pretty.  They also allow swimming and it actually wasn’t very cold.  There are a couple floating docks and a small floating trampoline.  You can also bring your own non-motorized boats.

Wellington Lake

2. A view from your campsite is a must!  They call this the Castle and it was quite an impressive view from our campsite.  This part of Colorado is really rocky and scenic.  There’s a trail up to it but it wasn’t great for small kids.

Sunset on the Castle

3. Find a nice clearing in the trees and set up your most comfortable 8 person tent for the 4 of you.  We have this great 8 person North Face tent that fits all 4 of us on air mattresses really nicely.  Because the campground allows campfires, the ground and lower parts of the trees have been picked clean of all wood and branches.  So there’s very little to do to clear a space.

North Face 8 Person Tent

4. Bring a hammock, not to camp in, but for naps and reading books (don’t forget your pillow).


5. Have a strong knife that you can really use for everything from making kindling to marshmallow roasting sticks.

Strong Knife

6. When possible, make a fire.


7. Everything tastes better wrapped in foil and tossed on the coals (Thanks AdventureTykes! More recipes here.)

Campfire BurritoCampfire Burrito Cooked

8. Have a nice hiking destination.  This waterfall in this cool grotto was a perfect destination for all of us, including the kids.  It’s on the way to the Castle, but was a perfect place to stop and spend a couple hours playing.

Hiking destination


9. Duct Tape.  Always handy to patch things that hold air like air mattresses when you discover that one had a hole.

Duct Tape

10. Enjoy the sunset!




And a bonus.  Bring a rope for a clothesline.  With kids and water, you know that some of you are gonna get wet.