My wife and I have always been big campers; we have gone countless times, from coast to coast. When we were pregnant, we had grand plans about how we were not going to let parenthood slow us down. Camping with a newborn? No big deal. But our opinion on the subject quickly changed once we actually became parents.
How were we going to make parenthood work in the wilderness?
Suddenly, camping with a baby seemed very intimidating. Things that used to be second nature to us, like what to pack, seemed daunting. At home, we had so much stuff for our baby - a rocker, bassinet, changing pad, white noise sound machine, wipe warmer, baby bath tub. How were we going to make parenthood work in the wilderness?
With my keen ability to over think every situation, I, indeed, let being a new parent slow me down. But months went by and things got easier. Parenthood became as second nature as camping used to be, so when our daughter was seven months old, we finally felt brave enough to take her on her first camping trip.
We planned a trip to Yosemite National Park and, of course, over-thought every moment. We over-packed, over-planned, and over-analyzed.
But the best thing about a first camping trip is that it gave us room to improve. My best advice for someone who may want to camp with a baby but doesn't feel quite confident enough yet is to just do it! Parenting in the woods really isn't any different than parenting in your home. Your instincts still come naturally and you will still know how to care for your baby in nature. Your neighboring campsite occupants will not judge you for packing that walker that took up half the trunk space and went unused.
Instead they will ooh and awe over your adorable baby and congratulate you on being awesome, adventurous parents who camp with an infant. So over-pack and over-think, because you really can't go wrong. You are going to love the experience and all of the memories when you're done.
If you're like me, and need to know the logistics of every detail before hitting the road, there are a few important things to know when camping in Yosemite:
- Yosemite has 13 popular campgrounds that fill up VERY quickly. If you don't have reservations, make sure to get to the park early! Head over to the campground reservations building and put your name on the wait list for one of the sites in the Valley. In my experience, there have always been about ten to 15 sites available to people on the wait list. And while you wait, there are a few campgrounds within the park that have sites available on a first-come, first-service basis. The ranger can help determine which location has spots available. Plan to drive about 45 minutes outside of the Valley, but these sites are often easier to snag.
- Yosemite offers an extraordinary hiking experience for many different skill levels. Whether you are looking for a paved trail, steep climb or something in between, Yosemite Valley offers a variety of day hikes with mountainous views, waterfalls and wildlife. Pack plenty of water and trail snacks to keep the little one happy.
- El Capitan, which can be seen from many locations throughout the park, is known for it's world renowned rock climbing. After a long hike, enjoy a picnic at one of the many picnic areas within the park. Bring a blanket and a pair of binoculars to help you spot a few rock climbers on the granite wall.
Ready to see Yosemite with your family? Check out nps.gov for reservation information.
Katie W. is a stay-at-home mom who spends most of her days trying to entertain a very energetic toddler. She is also a Coast Guard spouse who appreciates the opportunity that the military gives her and her family to live in many different places across the country. She enjoys hiking, camping, exploring national parks and forest lands, and educating her little one on the natural world. Follow her on Instagram @katiebwheeler.