Your Guide to Backyard Camping

Spring is right around the corner, and that means many families soon will be heading into the great outdoors. But a weekend camping trip doesn’t have to be long car ride away. A night under the stars can be found right outside your back door.

Backyard camping takes most of the work out of planning a camping trip while still providing an exciting experience for the whole family. It’s also an especially good way to introduce young children to camping, especially since the bathroom is only a short walk away.

Here are a few tips to help you make the most of your backyard camping experience.

Find a clear, level spot for your tent
Nothing can put a big damper on your night in the great outdoors more than a rock right under your sleeping bag. Before setting up your tent, scope out your site and make sure it’s relatively flat and free of rocks and tree roots. It also is a good idea to invest in a sleeping pad, which not only provides extra cushioning but keeps you warm on cool nights by putting a barrier between you and the cold ground.

Build a fire
Relaxing around the fire is one of the best parts of camping. A night of backyard camping also can provide the perfect way to break in your new Sienna Outdoor Fireplace. Just turn it on, sit back and enjoy a roaring fire.

Even without an outdoor fireplace, building your own fire is easier than you think. First, stack up a ring of rocks to keep the fire contained. Make sure to only use dry rocks; rocks with any moisture on them run the risk of exploding when heated near a fire. A ring 6-12 inches high should be enough. The easiest way to start your fire is by using starter logs available at most grocery or hardware stores. Simply light the bag and add wood to keep your fire going. You can have the kids help gather sticks in the back yard, or buy a cord of wood from your local hardware or home supply store.

Cook in the great outdoors
You may be tempted to use your kitchen for dinner, but for a true campfire experience cook your food over your fire. For a quick and easy meal, there’s nothing better than loaded baked potatoes. Wrap potatoes in aluminum foil and sit them on top of the lava rocks, if you have an outdoor fireplace, or place them in the coals if you have a wood fire. Cook them until the potatoes are soft when poked with a stick, turning regularly to cook them evenly. Finish them off by lining up cheese, bacon, sour cream or your favorite toppings to create a baked potato buffet.

You can also roast hot dogs over the fire, topping them with your favorite condiments. Or, if you want to go gourmet, use our pizza oven insert and pizza stone for your outdoor fireplace to cook your favorite pizza. We’ve provided a few of our favorite recipes here.

Don’t forget the s’mores
Whether you prefer to lightly toast your marshmallow or light it on fire, we can all agree that s’mores are the perfect camping food. Graham crackers, jumbo marshmallows and milk chocolate are the standard recipe, but don’t be afraid to experiment. We’ve provided a few delicious recipes here.

Save time for stargazing
One of the joys of camping is taking time simply to sit back watch the stars. Lay out a blanket and download a stargazing app like SkyView (available for Apple and Android), which uses your phone’s camera to show you what constellations or celestial bodies you’re looking at.