Can You Drink Alcohol While Camping?

In short, yes you certainly can drink alcohol while camping but you must be responsible and not overindulge, after all, you are out to enjoy the camping experience, you are not out to get drunk!

It is important to know the rules of your campsite and the laws in your area before you head out to the campsite with a case of your favorite beer or cider.

Depending on where you are in the world there are laws and guidelines to drinking while camping and drinking in the wilderness. These laws are usually there to preserve the nature around you and prevent underage alcohol abuse.

The specific campsite you are on may have some rules when it comes to drinking on-site as well. This may be a curfew on drinking, rules on day drinking, restricted drinking areas as well as specific drinking areas, or a complete alcohol ban on-site.

These rules may be seasonal, only apply to certain parts of the campsite, or the site may not have any drinking rules at all! Rules and regulations vary depending on where you are staying so be sure to check out the campsite and counties you’re camping in before booking up a pitch, especially if you are planning on drinking!

Laws on Camping and Drinking

In America and the U.K, there are not many laws around drinking and camping however there are some rules and guidelines you should follow as well as rules around leaving litter! If you are wild camping (where legal) you must leave your pitch as you found it which means leaving your camping location with all of your rubbish.

This includes any cans of beer you may have enjoyed the night before. On the same note, if you are wild camping in a national park or reserve you must read their guidelines and rules thoroughly before camping there.

Some national and state parks and reserves such as those found in California have a ban on alcohol and ask their visitors to refrain from drinking while enjoying their park. Although most parks allow alcohol, most of them have restrictions. Usually, parks and reserves ask their visitors to refrain from drinking on the trails, while hiking, and during the daylight hours. In the rules and regulations, it will say something like “alcohol is limited/ only allowed in your overnight campsite”.

These rules are in place to make our national parks and nature reserves pleasant for everyone to use and they are also there for your safety, especially if you are hiking or exploring difficult areas. If you break these park rules (or laws) and get caught, you can expect a hefty fine from the park ranger, so it is better for everyone, including yourself, to follow them closely.

You should also note that just because you are camping all of the usual laws do not go out the window. Traffic laws still apply, so don’t get in your vehicle to pick up more beers after drinking more than the legal limit. You should also avoid driving a boat after consuming alcohol and you certainly shouldn’t crack a tin open while driving the boat! This should go without saying, but some people seem to get confused as we have seen at many of the parks and campsites we have visited over the years.

Look out for dry counties if you do want to enjoy a responsible beverage as the night draws in on your campsite. Some counties prohibit the sale of Alcoholic beverages of over 3.5%, some restrict sales after a certain time, some prohibit on-premises sales, some restrict take away alcohol sales, and some restrict alcohol sales entirely. Although it is not really the end of the world if you can’t acquire your favorite alcoholic beverage to sip by the campfire, it can be an annoyance.

Make sure you plan beforehand and look at the local laws in the counties you are going to camp in. In most dry counties it is completely legal to bring in and drink your own alcohol, but it is safer to check for yourself.

Do Specific Campsites Have Rules on Drinking Alcohol?

As we mentioned earlier, some campsites have their own rules and guidelines on alcohol consumption. Some restrict the use of alcohol entirely, some have no restrictions at all, and some restrict use to specific areas. In this section, we will outline some general rules that you may find on some U.S and U.K campsites however we strongly advise you to check the rules before booking or turning up to your campsite.

Rules can vary drastically from campsite to campsite and some sites have rules for peak periods and off-season periods, so stay up to date and check the rules for yourself.

Typical Campsite Rules in the U.S.A

  1. Underage drinking is strictly forbidden.
  2. Drinking is permitted inside any on-site bars or restaurants.
  3. Drinking is restricted to certain areas as well as the camper’s pitch.
  4. Campers should not walk around the campsite with an alcoholic beverage.
  5. Alcoholic beverages should be drunk from unbranded cups.
  6. Drunk and unruly behaviour is not permitted, and intoxicated campers will be fined or asked to leave.
  7. Drinking and driving on the campsite is strictly forbidden.

Typical Campsite Rules in the U.K

  1. Underage drinking is strictly forbidden.
  2. Drinking is permitted anywhere unless stated otherwise however campers must be presentable.
  3. Drunk and unruly behavior is not permitted, and intoxicated campers will be removed from the site and their deposit kept.
  4. Drinking and driving on the campsite is strictly forbidden.

What Are the Dangers of Drinking Alcohol While Camping?

Camping and alcohol can be a dangerous combination if you are not responsible. The many dangers of drinking while out in the wilderness or on a campsite is the very reason many state parks and nature reserves as well as campgrounds ban or restrict the use of alcohol. Unfortunately, not to point fingers, but it is usually the younger community that let the side down and further enforce reason to these drinking bans and restrictions.

We are not saying that every young group is out camping to get drunk and unruly, but it is far more common for the group of 20 to 21-year-olds to become intoxicated and become a danger to themselves and others than it is for a group of more mature campers.

It is important for groups both young and old to drink legally and responsibly, so if you are planning on heading out to wild camp or camp on a site listen up to these 5 dangers of alcohol and camping. Understanding the risks and dangers of drinking alcohol while camping should help you appreciate why it is so important to drink responsibly while enjoying the great outdoors.

1. Getting Too Drunk And Passing Out

Getting overly intoxicated and passing out is obviously a danger although you should definitely not be drinking this much while you are out camping! If you pass out outside away from your tent you have the risk of the wildlife around you.

If you are camping somewhere where there are large predators or venomous insects and snakes, then a passed out drunk person is a pretty large target! If it is particularly cold outside you also run the risk of hyperthermia or frostbite depending on the conditions.

2. Falling From Height

Drinking reduces your reactions and lowers your inhibitions which can cause disaster if you are camping in a dangerous area. If you are up in the mountains, on a hillside campground, or coastal retreat you run the risk of falling from height and injuring yourself or worse while tipsy or drunk.

The best way to avoid this danger entirely is to keep your drinking to a minimum!

3. Falling Into The Water And Drowning.

Similar to the last danger, when you are intoxicated you lose your inhibitions and run the risk of either getting overconfident and trying to “skinny dip” or swim at night or end up falling into the water.

A staggering 3,536 people die from drowning in the U.S each year of which a large percentage are under the influence at the time. You do not want to be part of that percentage so be responsible.

4. Dehydration From Excess Alcohol And Lack Of Water.

Drinking too much alcohol makes you dehydrated. This is fine when you are at home and wake up the next day to run to the fridge for water, but if you are wild camping in the wilderness this can become a problem.

Watch out how much you drink especially if you are planning on exerting yourself the next day by hiking, kayaking, fishing, etc. Dehydration can be deadly especially in the hot summer sun, so be sure to drink plenty of water regardless of whether you are drinking or not.

5. Hyperthermia From Thinning Of The Blood Due To Alcohol Consumption.

Alcohol consumption thins the blood which can put you more at risk in cold temperatures. Contrary to what some people think, alcohol does not give you a “blanket” when you are drunk. It may feel like you are warmer after a few drinks, but it actually puts you more at risk of hyperthermia.

If you are camping during the winter a stiff drink can be nice of an evening but drink too much and you may put yourself at the mercy of the cold.

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