Categories: Guides & hacksHosting

Campground Safety: A Guide for Hipcamp Hosts

Becoming a Hipcamp Host to host campers on your land is an incredible way to share your love of the outdoors with new people. Whether you have a small sustainable farm or a wild ranch bordering a national park (or neither—excuse us while we daydream), there are a lot of things you’ll want to consider doing to make your land safe for campers. Read on for our insider tips on getting your land guest-ready with campground safety considerations.

Create and maintain a safe campground

Camper safety is a top priority for us, and we know it is for Hosts, too. Nothing ruins an outdoor trip like an accident that could have been easily avoided. Here are some simple steps you can take to ensure your guests have a good time while staying safe on your property.

Photo by Hipcamp Photographer Joleen Willis at Curtis Creek Canyon Ranch, California

Be choosy about where campers are allowed to set up camp.

Whether you offer designated campsites or dispersed camping, you’ll want to do your part to ensure no one sets up camp anywhere that could be hazardous.

  • Check for unhealthy trees and examine overhead branches to avoid any accidents or injuries due to fallen branches.
  • Keep drainage in mind, and avoid setting up campsites in areas prone to flooding. Mud may be inevitable after rain, but it’s best to minimize collected water that could enter tents or ruin gear.
  • Beach camping is nice, but sites should be at least 200 feet away from rivers and streams to avoid contamination, stay away from tide lines, and give wildlife a clear path to waterways. Higher ground also helps minimize issues in cases of bad weather.
  • Look out for the little guys. Wildlife and pollinators may be active in certain areas on your property—they’ll appreciate it if they can remain undisturbed by campers.
Photo by Hipcamp Photographer by Kelly Sparks at Texas Hill Country Camping, Texas

Set up designated spots for parking and amenities.

Try to keep tent sites away from highly trafficked roads and parking areas—this will avoid disturbances and keep cars from driving around campsites after dark when it may be hard to see campers on foot. If your land features outdoor cooking areas or fire pits, be sure to build them with fire safety in mind.

Photo by Hipcamp Photographer Marie Vanderpool at Treehouse Place at Deer Ridge, Washington
Photo by Hipcamp Photographer Rachel Dean at The Rustic Resort Wamuran, Queensland, Australia

Create even walking surfaces or consider installing railings.

Campers are going to explore (and we want to make it easy for them to get to the bathroom even in the middle of the night), so it’s best to make paths as clear and accessible as possible.

  • Take a look at your walking surfaces and pathways. To minimize falls and better accommodate wheelchair users, fill in potholes as they crop up.
  • If your property features a set of stairs or a steep hill, consider adding railings to make things a little easier.
  • Consider setting up solar lights on paths and walkways to assist campers after dark. This is especially appreciated at bathroom and shower entrances.
Photo by Hipcamp Photographer Sunni Holt at The Stables On Knox, Victoria, Australia

Stay on top of land maintenance.

Regularly check in on your camping areas. In addition to looking for unhealthy trees, you’ll want to keep an eye out for erosion, hazardous surfaces, or damaged construction such as rotted wood boards. We hope your Hipcamp earnings can help you continue to maintain and improve your land!

Photo by Hipcamp Photographer Kayla Vogt at Aculae Farms, Kentucky

Add barriers for restricted areas and communicate potential hazards on your property.

To promote campground safety and better welcome families, it’s best to fence animal pens and pools (or other deep water sources). If your land borders protected land or natural habitats, property boundary fencing may also be beneficial to prevent these places from being disturbed and to let campers know what areas are off-limits.

Setting clear visual boundaries is an important part of keeping visitors safe. Campers will also appreciate knowing if the area is frequented by dangerous wildlife such as bears, snakes, or poisonous plants.

Photo by Hipcamp Photographer Katie Corley

Practice good communication

Every campsite has its quirks—maybe you have a stream that cuts right through the campground, or a crabby old horse that isn’t interested in mingling. No matter what, communication is key in building a safe campground visitors can enjoy. By giving your guests a heads up and posting a few strategically placed signs, you can minimize the risk of something going wrong.

Add signs for things campers need most—like water and bathrooms.

Water is a must-have for campers, so Hosts should let them know where to find it if you offer it. Add signs near potable water sources (those safe to drink), but especially near ones that are not. It’s also a good idea to have signage directing guests to bathrooms or showers so they can find their way easily. Do you offer firewood or allow campers to scavenge for their own in certain areas? Make this clear.

Photo by Hipcamp Host Campbell Rodgerson at Bamburgh Under Canvas in Northumberland, England

If you allow dogs, make your rules clear.

We love pets! And we’re thankful so many of our Hosts do too. With that said, it’s important to set clear expectations with campers to keep everyone safe—including you and any animals you might have of your own. Use your listing descriptions, welcome instructions, and Hipcamp Messages to convey what is and isn’t allowed when it comes to dogs and to share what animals you have onsite. You can require that campers’ pets stay on leash at all times, and/or also designate areas where they’re not allowed (near chickens or other farm animals, for example).

Photo by Hipcamp Photographer Kimberly Crist at TinyDenCo, Colorado

Share tips and other useful information everywhere you can.

To manage expectations, it’s better to over-communicate than under-communicate. Your land description page, site descriptions, and welcome instructions are all great places to share tips and helpful information campers should know upon arrival. How far is the bathroom from the campsites? What does the entrance road look like?

This can help them bring appropriate gear (such as 4WD vehicles, a leash, or their own sun shade) and arrive prepared. In addition, you can always send campers a Hipcamp Message in advance of check-in to share last-minute reminders.

If you host remotely or don’t greet campers upon arrival, read up on our tips for hosting when you’re not there.

Photo by Hipcamp Photographer Brittany Stepp at Antelope Run Rewilding Camp, Arizona

Leave it better: Set precedents for good practices

Last but not least, one of the best ways to ensure a safe space for your guests is to foster an environment of respect—both for nature and for others. This can range from signs on the importance of respecting other guests to quick explanations on how to properly dispose of waste or protect delicate plumbing. The main reason to do this? It sets the tone for how to treat your land and other outdoor spaces. Leave No Trace is always a good place to start.

  • Even if you do post that Leave No Trace sign in the loo, it’s still a great idea to show campers around and make it clear where they can properly dispose of waste—including trash and recycling, and if you have it, compost (bonus points!). Slip in any other expectations for campground cleanliness to encourage campers to leave it better.
  • If your Hipcamp is in an area with bears or other roaming scavengers, be sure to provide a secure space for food storage and show guests how to use it. Proper food storage helps keep wildlife wild and campers safe.

We like to believe that most people have good intentions and may just need a little nudge in learning how to do things the right way. Hipcamp Hosts and campers can be model land stewards so that the lands we love will be around for the next generations.

Photo by Hipcamp Photographer Rob Wilson at Alpaca Haven, British Columbia, Canada

Know what the Hipcamp insurance policy covers

Even with the most detail-oriented preparation, accidents happen and we want our Hosts to have the peace of mind that they’ll be taken care of in the rare event of injury or property damage. That’s why we offer a robust insurance policy that protects Hosts for up to $1 million USD per incident in the US, Canada, and the UK, and up to $10 million per incident in Australia and New Zealand. Read up on other ways Hipcamp protects Hosts from risk.


How to earn extra money hosting campers on your land

Want to earn extra income to help pay for property taxes, home expenses, and future dream projects? Learn more about becoming a Hipcamp Host. (Use the promo code JOURNAL and get an extra $100 when you host your first camper on your land.)

And if you’re looking for more creative ideas for building structures and campsites to add to your land for extra income, check out The Top 7 Types of Campsites Generating Income on Hipcamp.

Larissa Runkle is a writer, gardener, and herbalist living in the San Juan mountains of Colorado. Her work has been published in lifestyle publications, and she's also the creator of the weekly newsletter Rooted In.

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