The eight types of people you’re guaranteed to find at every National Park campsite

I’m not an expert on the National Park system. A big fan, sure, but not an expert. But after camping in my 15th national park a couple days ago (Big Bend in southwest Texas), I can, without a shadow of a doubt, name the eight types of people you’re guaranteed to see at any National Park campsite in this great country.

Note: These are all gender-neutral, with the exception of No. 5, who are exclusively male.

  1. The old couple who know exactly what they’re doing. These people can spend an hour setting up a campsite and not speak a single word to each other. As a human race, this is the closest thing we have to telepathy.
  2. The dude in a 1970s camper van who, for all we know, might live there year round. If male, likely bearded. If female, likely dreaded. Chance of dog ownership is very high.
  3. The group of three that doesn’t camp often but, like, just needed to get away for a weekend, you know? They most likely forgot a can opener.
  4. The person who quit their job and is spending six months driving to every national park and CAN’T WAIT to talk to you about it.
  5. The Bro-Campers. Arriving in a truck with a bed occupied largely by cheap beer, they brought a wireless speaker and are real pissed when Spotify doesn’t work.
  6. The Group of 8 Who Like to Drink. On day one, everyone is having a good time. By day two, people are looking scraggly, but the train keeps rolling. By the third day, they’re drinking warm Busch Light for breakfast and need about 30 minutes in the morning to remember where they are.
  7. The Enormous RV family. There’s a flatscreen in there? And a functional shower? And a deep fryer? Nature!
  8. The solo. Oh, you’re sleeping by yourself underneath a picnic table and eating cold beans for breakfast? And wearing a Vietnam Vet hat despite being no older than 30? No, that’s not weird at all, just, uh, stay away from campsite 14, please.
This was a gas station at one point.
This is a bridge. I have no idea where it is or what it’s called. You’re welcome.
Big Bend National Park from the perspective of Artsy Filter.
Look! A big rock thing!

LIGHTNING ROUND:

  • If you get stuck behind a tour bus, some of the most popular national parks in the country (Yosemite, Bryce Canyon, Grand Canyon) can sometimes feel like an amusement park. Big Bend was not like that. The park spills over the Mexican border and is in the middle of nowhere — the closest Non-Mexican town was about 60 miles away from the campground I stayed at. As a result, there are animals everywhere. Coyotes and Javelinas (something like a tusk-less boar) roam around the underbrush, and roadrunners are abundant. During a heavy 20-minute rain, I looked outside my tent and saw four rabbits hunkered down in the bush next door, like me, waiting out the clouds.
  • Texas doesn’t have rest stops. It has “picnic areas,” which are rest stops without toilets. Coupled with the fact that there are often 60 mile stretches in the middle of Texas without a single gas station, I have no idea how truckers going through the state survive. Everything is bigger in Texas, I guess, including bladders.
  • The Alamo is in downtown San Antonio, like 200 feet from a Fuddruckers downtown.
  • You know how in crowded public places there are always people walking remarkably slow, but you can sort of maneuver between them? The Riverwalk in San Antonio is like that except everyone is walking next to a murky river and there’s nowhere to escape. And there are strollers. And Texans Who Vape. And infinite selfie stops. Can someone explain the appeal of this to me?
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