GREAT FALLS - Camping is on many people's minds in Montana this summer, and for some, they are expecting the busiest season of the year.
Bighorn Outdoor Specialists says this season is the busiest time of year so far, with both out-of-state people looking to explore Montana's outdoors, as well as some newcomers who are getting ready to experience camping for the first time.
"A lot of folks are looking for hiking boots, and backpacks, and car racks to carry all their gear, and bicycles," said Shelly Milburn of Bighorn Outdoor Specialists in Great Falls.
Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks (FWP) education program coordinator Dave Hagengruber noted that camping has become increasingly popular over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has motivated more people to go outdoors.
"I think camping was a good, close, safe activity that people can do without having to travel a long way, and when social distancing was going on, what better way to do that with you and your family out in a campsite somewhere, with some friends in a small group, so it's ideal," Hagengruber said.
"All outdoor recreation really went up, camping was one of those things, and I think now that's stabilized, but it's still very busy, and very popular. And right now, when people are dealing with high gas prices, you can do that fairly close to home within an hour's drive and have a good experience without having to use a full tank of gas or having to buy plane tickets," he continued.
For newcomers who plan to go camping this summer season, outdoor specialists recommend these tips:
- Always plan for bad weather
- Plan activities in advance
- Take a first aid kit
- Use a packing list before setting off
- Don't pitch up under a tree
- Don't forget about lighting
- Pack a portable charger
- Check your campsite rules
- Bring enough food
- Be aware of wild animals in the area