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Camping 101: Ready for outdoor fun? Always be prepared with these camping tips and ideas

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Posted: Saturday, July 8, 2017 8:30 am

Summertime means cookouts, afternoons in the park, trips to the pool — and camping.

Whether you prefer a rugged tent or a plush RV, camping is a great way to spend a couple of days away from the office (or classroom) and out in the great outdoors. But if you’ve never organized your own camping trip, it might seem a little overwhelming.

Luckily, there are plenty of campsites near Lodi where you can get away from it all — no long car rides, just a quick trip to a beautiful spot where you can relax.

What to bring

  • Tent (unless you’re in a camper or RV)
  • Sleeping bags and pillows
  • Water purifier and plenty of clean water
  • Plenty of food
  • Swiss Army knife
  • Camping shovel
  • First aid kit (including anti-histamines or EpiPens, in case of bee stings or poison oak)
  • Mosquito spray or wipes and a tick kit
  • Snake bite kit, depending on where you’re camping
  • Flashlights and batteries (headlamps are also good)
  • Toilet paper
  • Bear canister to store your food
  • Life vests, if you plan on swimming
  • A compass, trail map, or GPS device
  • Whistles, in case campers get lost
  • Washable plates, flatware and cups
  • Roll of sturdy tinfoil
  • Cooking tools, including a skillet and pot
  • Can opener

Camping tips

  • Leave your destination and plans with a friend or trusted acquaintance who is NOT on the trip. That way, if you get lost or don’t return when expected, they can notify rangers.
  • A tarp in front of your tent helps to cut down on the dirt and mud tracked inside your temporary sleeping spot. It also serves as extra protection on top of your tent in case of an unexpected rainstorm.
  • Don’t bring wood from home. It can carry new, invasive pests into your camping location. Instead, look for a place at your destination where you can purchase locally sourced wood for your campfire. Don’t gather your own wood in California State Parks; it’s a citable offense. For more information, visit
  • Be sure to bring waterproof matches! Pinecones make great kindling for a campfire, but if your campsite doesn’t have any conifers around, most camping supply stores carry firestarters.
  • Brought eggs but forgot the skillet? If you have soup or baked beans in a can, drop the eggs right into the soup to hard-boil.
  • Prepare for cooler weather. Just because it’s hot during the day doesn’t mean nights will be warm — bring sweatshirts or jackets in case it gets chilly, and rain ponchos just in case of an unexpected storm.
  • Bring along a sketchbook or camera and spend a day exploring nature.
  • Be sure you know what poison oak looks like before wandering through the woods.

Camping food

Any food that is simple to make and stores well can be camping food, but there are a few staples that help making campsite cooking easier:

  • Instant, dry milk
  • Raw sugar or stevia powder (in an ant-proof container)
  • Packages of cocoa or instant coffee (tea is also good)
  • Bottles of olive oil and flavored vinegar
  • Dried herbs and spices, including salt and pepper

Where to camp

Whether you want to be out in a lone campsite in the woods or a nice RV space or cabin for a little “glamping,” there are plenty of great camping spots within an hour of Lodi.

A maze of waterways through the Delta near Three Mile Slough and Rio Vista, Brannan Island is perfect for nature lovers, as well as boating and fishing enthusiasts. Several of the beaches are off-limits to dogs. Family, group, and hike/bike campsites, along with RV hook-ups and access (36-foot). Restrooms, showers and drinking water available.

With miles of trails along the Stanislaus River, Caswell Memorial State Park offers plenty of fishing and hiking in a riparian setting. Family, group, and hike/bike campsites, as well as RV access (21-foot trailer/24-foot motorhome). Restrooms, showers and drinking water available.

Just outside of Lodi, Jellystone has all the comforts of home without actually being at home. Cabins, tent sites, and 333 full RV hook-ups. Attractions include Wi-Fi, a dog run and park, bike rentals, outdoor movies, horseshoes, paddleboat rentals, a pool and more. Laundry facilities and a snack shop are also available.

The 400-acre lake offerings fishing 24 hours a day, seven days a week (no waterskiing, Jet Skis, wakeboarding or other water recreation allowed.) Enjoy free WiFi, horseshoes, foosball, pool and board games at the Amador Clubhouse, along with a beer bar and cafe. More that 100 campsites and 73 RV sites with full hook-up and WiFi.

The award-winning campground in the foothills offers year-round fishing and boating with more than 50 miles of shoreline. Hiking, boating, fishing, swimming, kayaking and equestrian trails are among the amenities. Campsites with tables and barbecues, water, restrooms and hot showers, RV access (hookups on South Shore only). North Shore has a year-round cafe and a summer ice cream shop.

Just under 30 miles east of Lodi, the scenic foothill reservoir with more than 50 miles of shoreline offers hiking, boating and waterskiing. Be aware of local wildlife including bobcats and rattlesnakes. The south shore has a wildlife viewing area. New Hogan has hundreds of campsites in three different campground locations, with drinking water, coin-operated showers and flush toilets. Groceries and gas are available just down the road in Valley Springs, and hunting is available nearby.

  • Westgate Landing Regional Park: 15799 N. Glasscock Road, Lodi;

On the edge of the Delta near Islemouth Slough, this 15-acre park just outside Lodi has fishing access, a 24-slip boat dock and nine picnic areas with barbecues. Developed campsites with RV access (no hook-up) and restrooms.

Stillman Magee Park in Clements and Dos Reis Park in Lathrop also offer nearby camping, but both of the San Joaquin County Parks are still closed due to winter flooding and safety concerns.

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