Third worst state for camping? no way!


We all hear it all too often. Mississippi is last on this good list. Mississippi is first on this bad list. We here at the newspaper hear it, or read it, more often than the average citizen because all those folks that do all those surveys — unofficial of course — send it to the media outlets hoping to get their name in the paper, or on the radio, or splashed across the television screen.

Here’s one I’ve been pondering just how to respond to, because it hit home. Not just home here in Scott County but home in my soul. I’m a camper at heart, have been my entire life, and when I read the headline on this press release I stuck it aside, knowing I wanted to respond.

So here goes…

This one came in a few months back from a fellow named John Schmidt. It’s headlined Mississippi is the No. 3 Worst State for Camping. I do not know John, and I do not agree with John, but here is what John had to say.

“With fresh air, nature’s music, and fire-roasted food, few things are more relaxing than a camping trip with your favorite folks. But where you pitch your tent (or park your RV) can make or break your night under the stars.

“Lawn Love ranked 2022’s Best States for Camping based on 17 key factors. How does Mississippi stack up?”

Here are some of the rankings John highlighted for our fair state with a 50 being the worst.

• Total Acreage of State & National Parks – 49th

• Percentage of State Covered in Parks – 49th

• Average RV Rental Cost – 49th

• Number of Campsites with Toilets – 39th

• Number of RV Rental Offers – 47th

• Natural Hazard Index – 45th

Now I do not know about those RV rentals, cost nor availability, and I have no idea what the Natural Hazard Index might be, however it does sound kind of scary, but I do know that I have yet to camp in one of our parks that didn’t have a toilet of some form or fashion. And, my friends, I’ve camped in a lot of them.

John went on to direct me to a website for further information, so onto the website I went.

The top ten states, according to John, in order of selection are California, Washington, Minnesota, Michigan, Florida, Ohio, Texas, Colorado, New York and Oregon.

I’ve only camped in three of those, Colorado, Texas, and Florida. Ran up on rattle snakes in both Texas and Florida — a huge one in Florida — and both places were hotter than any summer day under some nice, shady Mississippi pines.

Colorado? Well, yeah, I’ll agree with it being in the top ten, but I will add that there were numerous places we camped there that did not have toilets.

Those other states, I think it might depend on the time of the year, and in California in particular, which end of the darn place you are pitching your tent.

Here in Mississippi we can camp pretty much year round and I’ve even gone at least once, as a kid in Boy Scouts, with snow on the ground. My wife wouldn’t care for camping with snow on the ground, I don’t think, but she wouldn’t mind watching the snowflakes fluttering down through the windows of one of our state park cabins.

That is kind of where my main issue comes in with John and his survey. Camping ain’t all about how many acres you’ve got to pitch a tent on, or how much it costs to rent an RV, or even the Natural Hazard Index, whatever that may be. It’s about quality time, the beauty of nature, and even how close to home a park might be, say, like Roosevelt State Park. That’s a pretty nice place to camp, and yes, they do have toilets.

Another great place, my favorite in Mississippi actually, if you don’t mind a bit of a drive is Tishomingo State Park up in the northeast corner of the state. It is simply beautiful and comes complete with rock climbing, river floating, a swinging bridge, a lake for fishing and canoeing, and lots of other amenities, and yes, they even have toilets way up there in that part of Mississippi too!

Even after logging onto John’s website, I’m still not sure how in the world they came up with a Number 3 ranking for Mississippi when it comes to the worst places to camp.

Perhaps they need to come for a visit before releasing their survey next year. I know plenty of folks that would be happy to show them around.

In case you’re interested in looking at John’s stats, the web address is https://lawnlove.com/blog/best-states-camping/ and with that I’ll conclude as John did, Happy Camping!

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