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Yesterday we were staying in a campsite near Lake Wenatchee in Washington, part of Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest. Specifically, Nason Creek campground if it matters. I gave the local park ranger a call in advance to see how many tents will fit per campsite. After getting transferred a couple of times, I finally got through to a helpful woman who said each site is limited to 2 tents. However when we got there it turned out that the campsite is huge - four tents could fit in comfortably and you could squeeze in around six if you really wanted to. And not just the campsite we've booked - all of them were that big!

So... what's supposed to be the rough number of tents you can fit in a campsite? Normally I'd accept "call the park ranger and ask" as a valid answer but in my case I've specifically done that in advance and was given the wrong answer. Can we always expect at least three tent spaces to be available?

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    You said that you were given wrong information. Did they say that there is only space for two tents, or that you are limited to two tents per site? Because the latter being the case wouldn’t surprise me Jun 28 at 22:27
  • @fyrepenguin the space is officially limited to 8 people, which makes sense. But why would they care if those 8 people stay in 2 or 4 tents as long as they keep to their space? Jun 28 at 22:32
  • @fyrepenguin just to clarify, the lady on the phone didn't say "2 tents max allowed", she said "there's space for 2 tents". I guess I could've pushed this further. Jun 28 at 22:39
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    This seems like a trivial dispute or misunderstanding. Stackexchange questions are supposed to be of general interest.
    – user2169
    Jun 29 at 13:21
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    @BenCrowell yes if you’re an experienced camper. No if you’ve never camped in the US and have no idea how the system works. I was pretty stressed about this before the trip. Jun 29 at 15:35
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The website for Nason Creek Capmground at https://www.recreation.gov/camping/campgrounds/121390 does not list a limit to tent numbers, but does list a maximum of 6 occupants at the reservable campsites. You also got a woman on the phone who either said that each site was limited to 2 tents or that there was space for 2 tents. If the limit is 2 tents, then you need 2 sites for 3 tents or you risk not being allowed to have all 3 and needing to change your sleeping arrangements. Enforcement of those rules varies between campgrounds.

If there is no regulated limit, in my experience the limiting factor for how many tents you can have comfortably becomes the amount of flat, root free, rock free ground, not the dimensions of the site. A site that can fit a 20 to 30 ft RV can probably fit half a dozen 2 to 4 man ft tents, but some of those tents will be on the paved RV area, some will be dangerously close the the fire pit, one may be on top of the picnic table, and most of them will have the occupant sleeping on roots or rocks.

The best way learn how many tents can fit and be comfortable is to speak with people who have visited the specific site you're reserving. If you're traveling a long ways, this is difficult. You already spoke with a woman who implied you'd have good space for 2 tents at this campground. You can use satellite imagery to get an estimate of cleared, unpaved space. And you can be prepared to be a little uncomfortable if there are only two good tent spots and you've got to put the third tent on a slightly rockier, more sloped, or otherwise imperfect spot.

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  • Didn't think of just going to a Facebook group and asking folks for experiences! :D Thanks! Jul 1 at 22:51
  • Also, I now recall that at the one campsite we stay at before setting off (Camp Dick, Indian Peaks Wilderness, Colorado) the space for a tent is clearly marked out. One cannot pitch a tent outside this marked, leveled, sanded place. Reason: probably to avoid having the entire campsite trampled flat by tents. We tried, to get closer to the stream, and were politely but firmly asked to move back to the designated tent spot.
    – ab2
    Jul 1 at 23:23
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From @ab2:

I think you have answered the question in your second comment. Eight people to a campsite. As for the number of tents, tents come in all sizes. A four person tent is either pretty big or extremely cozy.

So as a rough guesstimate you can assume that 8 person campsites have enough space for four 2-person tents. 6 person sites for three 2-person tents, etc.

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