How Old Do You Have to Be to Camp Alone? [Campsites for 18 Year Olds]

Are you a lover of camping and all the fun that comes with it? You might have gone camping a lot of times with your parents during your childhood with a lot of pleasant memories to recall. 

But as you grow up, especially into your teenage age, you might feel the desire to go camping without your parents, and this might either be solo camping or camping with friends. 

The question is, can you go camping without your parents just because you feel like you’re mature enough to do that? 

Will any campground allow you to spend nights there without parental supervision? Let’s find out. 

How Old Do You Have to Be to Go Camping Without Your Parents?

You need to be 18 years and above to go camping without your parents. Before you turn 18, you’re legally a minor and your parents are responsible for you, so they must supervise you when you go camping.

This is the case with national parks and most campsites across the United States. 

So, does this mean that it’s never possible to go camping when you’re under 18? Let’s see what possibilities exist for young campers who are still minors. 

Camping as a Pre-teen

Preteens can go camping at several sites without their parents, but they must be accompanied by an adult who will supervise them.

Many campsites will be open to accepting campers in their pre-teens if they have adult supervision, and it doesn’t have to be a parent.

So, if you can get an adult you trust, or go as a part of a camping group, then you have a high chance of having fun at the camping destination of your choice. 

Camping for Teens

As a teenager, you can enjoy camping alone or with other teens, whether you want to go hiking or backpacking.

However, most camps will also require you to be a part of a team that’s supervised by an adult or that you come with an adult who’ll be with you if you’re camping alone.

If you’re between 16 and 17 years old, you can join youth camping groups where some of the members are already above 18. That way, you’ll be in the company of adults and you’ll get a group camping license to enjoy some fun nights without your parents.

Whether you’re a teen or pre-teen, you can probably go with a family member who is old enough and set your tent some distance away from theirs so that they’re not in your way even though you’re both on the same campground.

Other Camping options for young people under 18

Just as there are exceptions to everything, you will find that some minors still go camping without their parents. How does this happen?

Another possibility is to look for campsites that allow teenagers to visit without bringing their parents.

In most cases, these campsites will require a consent form from parents, and teenagers will often be a part of a camping group under the supervision of camp counselors and directors who will take responsibility for campers. 

You could also go on dispersed camping at the National Forest where there is no age limit, but for your safety, you might still want to be accompanied by an adult.

Let’s look at other camping options for people under 18 years. 

1. Wild Camping

Wild Camping

Wild camping refers to camping on land that is not a designated campsite. This land could be publicly or privately owned, and it could be a farming field, a beach, or woodlands.

You must appreciate the fact that this land is owned by someone or a group of people, so you can’t camp there without getting permission from the necessary authorities.

For public lands, you’ll need to get approval from the local council and also find out the rules from them so that you don’t break any.

The beautiful thing about wild camping is that it exposes you to the beauties of nature. However, you’ll need all your camping equipment and won’t find any camping support equipment. 

2. Camping and Caravan Clubs

Camping and Caravan Clubs

Many youth camping and caravan clubs open their membership to teenagers. Once you’re 14 years of age and have passed the tests set by these clubs, you will be allowed to go camping without your parents. 

The test is designed to check whether young campers can camp alone efficiently and safely. These tests are often practical and oral, and people between 12 and 17 years can take them.

If you’re unable to pass the tests they set, you’ll have to wait until you’re 16 to go camping without your parents. 

Whenever you eventually get certified to go camping without your parents, you’ll have to follow several camping rules.

You’ll need to report to a youth leader or campsite manager when you arrive at the camp. You’ll also be given a list of activities you’re not allowed to engage in. And, you must maintain the cleanliness of the campground throughout your stay.

You’ll be unable to have an open fire without prior permission, and you’ll also have a no-noise period that spans between 11 pm and 7 am. 

The beautiful thing about joining camping clubs is that you’ll be able to pay a child rate to camp on any Camping and Caravan Club site until you’re 21. 

You can also choose to maintain your membership and remain a senior youth member until you’re 30 years old.

3. Dispersed camp in National Forests

Dispersed camp in National Forests

Unlike many other campgrounds, dispersed camping in the National Forests doesn’t have age restrictions.

However, these camps have their rules and regulations, which you must get familiar with before you go camping, and observe while you’re out camping.

4. Local Parks

4. Local Parks

Local parks offer you a camping experience that is somewhere between backyard camping and public campsites. However, they are not as safe as your backyard and expose you to more of nature because they look more like the forests.

Some local parks can allow people under 18 to spend one night on their land, depending on the age range they set as the limit. Call some of these camps and find out how old you have to be to go camping there.

You will hardly find a local park that allows minors to stay for more than one night, so bear that in mind while searching.

You’ll also need to follow the laid down rules, which vary from one state to the next.

You will come across other teens on these campsites, so be careful to avoid getting into quarrels or fights with other campers.

It is also important to get emergency phone numbers and keep your phone on in case you need to make any report, or you get into danger. 

Restrictions and Guidelines for Going Camping without Parents

Throughout the United States, the general rule/regulation for State parks, State-owned camping locations, and National Forests are that you must be above 18 to camp alone. Otherwise, you’ll need either parent or adult supervision.

However, there might be exceptions and considerations, especially if you’re close in age to 18, and are mature enough to fend for yourself.

Some state parks like the Colorado Parks and Wildlife can consider and approve camping for youths if the Park Manager deems fit to do so.

Beyond public campsites, there are thousands of private campsites across the U.S, some of which might be open to having teenagers and youths camp there unaccompanied. 

You’ll need to do a bit of research, make some calls, and be careful about the campsites you choose to visit. If possible, have an adult look into them and book the location for you, and then you proceed there alone to camp.

Final Words:

Once you’re an adult, you can go camping without your parents. However, if you’re still a minor, your chances of going camping without your parents depend on several factors, including your chosen campsite, whether or not you’re going as part of a group, and how old you are. 

Explore your options and remember that you can still have fun even if it means you must take a parent or adult with you. They can give you enough space to explore all the camping activities alone while they provide the protection and supervision you might need.