Is Camping Dangerous? Dangers & How to Avoid

There is nothing quite like immersing yourself in the wilderness and camping in nature. While it’s plenty of fun, the experience can be quite intense as it takes you out of the comforts of modern society. So, is camping dangerous?

Camping is dangerous if you don’t protect your skin from bug bites and sunlight. Make sure to wear bug spray and apply sunscreen every 2 hours when camping until the sun goes down to avoid sunburn. Never eat unfamiliar berries when camping as many are poisonous, and pack plenty of snacks so your blood sugar doesn’t get low.

Be careful when you build a fire and make sure it’s not too close to dry plant matter that could easily ignite. Follow along as we explore how dangerous camping is and highlight what you can do to have a safe trip.

How Safe is Camping in the U.S.?

Camping in the United States is relatively safe, especially if you camp in national parks. The National Park Service manages and patrols the national parks in the United States. That said, they don’t monitor the other parks and campsites in the U.S., but many of them are safe as well.

There are 63 national parks in the U.S., and camping is available at many of them. You must apply for a permit to camp at some national parks, so it’s important to research before you haul your camping gear. You must exercise caution no matter where you go camping in the U.S. as not all campsites are monitored.

What to Avoid When Camping

Harsh Temperatures

Most people go camping in the spring, summer, and early fall when the weather is mostly present. However, that doesn’t mean you won’t encounter extreme temperatures. Heat exhaustion and heat strokes are major dangerous risks of camping on hot days.

Avoid wearing too many layers on hot days and look for a campsite with as much shade as possible. Conversely, it’s also dangerous to go camping when it’s quite cold outside. In that case, you must pack as many layers as possible and pack quilts to lay over your sleeping bag at night.


Is camping dangerous? Well, it can be quite dangerous if you become dehydrated. Ideally, you should over-prepare for camping and pack more water than you may even drink just to be safe.

Men typically require just over 15 cups of water per day, and the average woman must drink 11 ½ cups of water per day. That said, many people drink up to a gallon of water per day to maintain healthy bladder, kidney, and liver function. Avoid consuming alcohol and caffeine when hiking as they are diuretics and can quickly dehydrate you.

Low Blood Sugar

Are you camping after lots of physical activity and hiking? If so, then it’s important to manage your blood sugar. It is dangerous to go camping with low blood sugar as you are likely far away from a hospital, store, or pharmacy.

The best way to maintain healthy blood sugar when hiking is to pack plenty of healthy snacks. Applesauce and fat-free candy are great snacks for boosting your low blood sugar when camping.


Camping typically comes after a day of hiking or spending time outdoors. Because of that, you must protect your skin from the sun, even if the sky is cloudy. Sunburn can occur within 11 minutes in some cases, and it can be quite uncomfortable.

Not only is it uncomfortable, but it can also expedite dehydration and cause skin cancer over time. SPF 30 sunscreen is a great option, but SPF 50 is the best option if you get burnt easily. Reapply sunscreen every two hours or sooner if you notice that sunburn is setting in.

Altitude Sickness

Altitude sickness is a big danger of camping at high altitudes. This can occur when hiking and camping at altitudes of 8,000 feet or more above sea level. Altitude sickness can be quite dangerous when camping and hiking, and it’s even more severe for people with existing respiratory problems.

Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, headache, shortness of breath, and extreme fatigue. Never ignore the symptoms when you get altitude sickness as it can progress, and the symptoms may become much worse.

Bug Bites

Wilderness immersion is one of the biggest appeals of camping. However, that means that you will be exposed to lots of bugs that can bite, sting, and pinch you. It’s essential to pack plenty of bug spray when camping and hiking.

You only typically need to apply bug spray once per day, but you can apply it as needed. For example, you may need to apply more bug spray if you sweat a lot and notice that bugs start landing on you again. It’s also a great idea to pack a hat so you can protect your scalp from ticks.

Lyme disease comes from ticks, and while not all ticks carry the disease, it’s best to exercise caution. Check your scalp, ankles, and feet for ticks while camping and after you head home to play it safe.  

Dangerous Animals

It’s important to respect your surroundings when camping, especially if there are dangerous animals in the area. The United States is home to 3 species of bears and 150 species of snakes. While not all snakes are venomous and aggressive, they can still bite and injure you when camping.

Research the area before camping to find out if dangerous animals are known to wander near your campsite. This can tell you what to look out for, and it may even be a sign that you should camp somewhere else.

Harmful Plants

Just like animals and bugs, plants can be dangerous when camping as well. Whether it be poison ivy, poison oak, or poison sumac, many seemingly harmless plants can cause painful rashes. If you are allergic to them, you may have an extreme response.

It’s important to familiarize yourself with these plants so you don’t touch or burn them. For example, you can suffer severe respiratory symptoms and damage if you burn poison ivy and inhale the smoke. You must also avoid eating berries that you aren’t familiar with when camping.

No matter how delicious the berry looks, many of them are poisonous to humans, dogs, and other animals. Holly Berries, Jerusalem Cherries, Pokeweed Berries, and Virginia Creeper Berries are all poisonous and harmful to ingest.

Fire Conditions

Building a fire is one of the best parts of camping, but it can also be one of the most dangerous. You must also watch the fire closely to ensure it doesn’t grow too strong, tall, or hot. It’s also important to make sure there isn’t lots of dry plant matter near the fire.

A single hot ember can cause a dry tree or bush to burn, and that can set off a dangerous series of events. Many seasoned campers bring fire extinguishers, and that’s a great precaution to take. Avoid smoking cigarettes in areas with lots of dry brush and plant matter. Never throw cigarette butts on the ground after smoking in the wilderness.

So, Is Camping Dangerous?

Camping is dangerous if you become dehydrated or sunburnt and fail to protect yourself against bugs. Ticks carry Lyme disease in some cases which can be quite dangerous, so you must check yourself for them while camping. Otherwise, camping is relatively safe if you wear sunscreen and bug spray and dress appropriately for the weather.

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