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First Time Campers - 7 Things You Need To Know

Whether it’s your first time camping at Leelanau Pines Campground or your first time camping in general, there are many things you should know to help you prepare for your upcoming camping trip. From what to bring and when to arrive, to a packing checklist and a few classic camping recipes, we are here to help you make your getaway as smooth as possible. Keep reading for 7 things first time campers should know before they embark on their camping adventure!


Knowing check-in and check-out times is key for first time campers.

Check-In & Check-Out Times

First things first - make sure you are aware of what time check-in and check-out is! 

CAMPSITES - Check-In/Out: 3pm/1pm

Don’t worry if you can’t arrive to our campground until late evening (or even 2am) to check-in - our team is flexible and is here to help! If you know that you won’t be able to arrive until after our Reservations Office closes, give us a call at 231-228-5742 or email us at info@leelanaupines.com, and we will make arrangements with you. We want your first camping experience to be as simple as possible!

Are you interested in checking-in early or using our attractions after check-out time? These options are based on availability and require a small fee. If you’re looking to check-in early, please give us a call 24 hours prior to your arrival to see if early access is available. If you’d like extended access, visit us at the Reservations Office during check-out to see if it’s available. Please note that early and extended access do not guarantee that you will be able to access your site, only that you can use our facilities and attractions.


A camping checklist is a must have for first time RV campers.

Camping Checklist

Wondering what to bring for camping? You’ve probably already made a list of common items to pack like clothing, swimsuits, sunscreen, and snacks - but odds are, there may be some items that you wish you would have thought of bringing but forgot to pack. Lucky for you, we made a short list of these items you may be forgetting that would be a good idea to bring if you’re camping in the comforts of your own RV or in one of our cozy cabins:

  • Marshmallow/Hot Dog Roasting Forks: Although your RV is probably fully stocked, it’s always a good idea to bring a few roasting forks for those family campfire nights! 
  • Water Bottles: Save the planet (and your wallet) by bringing a reusable water bottle. We have various places where you can fill up your water bottle so you stay hydrated all day.
  • Bug Spray: What’s a camping trip without the great outdoors? Don’t forget to bring some bug spray - you’ll want this nearby when making s’mores around the campfire!
  • Towels: Shower towels, hand towels, dish towels, and beach towels are a must!
  • Blankets/Pillows: We will provide sheets and pillow slips, but be sure to bring your own warmer blankets or a comforter and pillows!
  • Raincoat/Umbrella: The weather can be unpredictable - be sure to add a raincoat and/or an umbrella to your camping checklist!
  • Lawn Chairs: Get comfy around your site with family and friends by bringing enough lawn chairs for all. Or, bring some blankets to lay on!


Never leave your pet behind. All our RV sites are perfect for camping with pets.

Camping With Pets

Don’t leave your furry friend at home! All of our RV sites are pet friendly and we have select White Pine Cabins that are friendly as well! It’s also important to note that owners are responsible for cleaning up after their pets, so be sure to bring plenty of doggie bags. Don’t forget the pet food and lots of treats!


Locking your site is a smart move as a first time campers so you get the site you want!

Locking In Your Site - What It Means And Why You May Want To Do It

You may have heard of the term “locking in” your campsite - but what does that really mean? If you lock in your site, you are guaranteed the specific site number that you booked. For example, if you book campsite #12 and lock it in during check-out, you will be given campsite #12 during your stay. On the other hand, if you select campsite #12 but do not lock it in, you will be given the same campsite type, but may be placed in a different campsite number. As a good rule of thumb, this is when you should or should not lock in your site:

  • When to lock in:
    • You are camping with a group of people and want to be next to each other.
    • You love the location of a specific site number and don’t want to be anywhere else.
  • When to not lock in:
    • You don’t care where you’re located, just that you are in the same site type.

We hope this explanation helps you better understand our lock in feature. If you haven’t locked in and decided you want to, please give us a call at 231-228-5742 or email us at info@leelanaupines.com.


So you arrived at your site, now what? It’s important to note that parking is limited at our campground and only 2 cars are allowed per site. If you need to have more than 2 vehicles, a small fee is attached and extra cars may need to be parked elsewhere.


We've highlighted a few of our favorite camping recipes for our first time campers.

Camping Recipes

One of the main perks about a camping trip is camping meals around the campfire! We rounded up our favorite breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert camping recipes that you must try during your getaway.

  • Breakfast: Start your morning out right with Camping Breakfast Sandwiches! This camping recipe is ridiculously easy and full of protein. All you need is a cast iron skillet, english muffins, eggs, cheese, and meat of your choice. Yum!
  • Lunch: Everyone loves a good no bake/cook camping meal! Enjoy one of these Fruit and Nut Peanut Butter Stuffed Tortillas on the go or while relaxing. Pack some tortillas, peanut butter, ripe bananas, and a variety of dried fruits and nuts. Put it all together and you have the perfect camping meal everyone will love.
  • Dinner: This Campfire Pizza recipe is a must have and is so easy to customize for picky eaters! This camping recipe requires pizza crust, pizza sauce, cheese, and your favorite pizza toppings. Talk about easy and delicious!
  • Dessert: These Campfire Cones will make your taste buds very happy! With just a few simple ingredients (waffle cones, marshmallows, fruit, and other toppings of your choice), this camping recipe is sure to be a crowd favorite. Even looking at the picture makes us drool…


Our guest dashboard is a great resource for first time campers to see activities, hours of operation, and more.

Guest Dashboard

You may be feeling overwhelmed with information, but there’s no need to worry. We created a Guest Dashboard that you can access both before and during your stay that’s great for both first time campers and those that have stayed with us time and time again! The Guest Dashboard lists out everything from hours of operation, the Camp-Resort map, and so more. We recommend bookmarking this page for easy access during your stay!


We hope this list helps our first time campers feel more prepared and comfortable leading up to their camping getaway. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to our reservations team. Until then, we look forward to seeing you soon!