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The 10 Best Campgrounds at Yosemite Park

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A mountain surrounded by trees under a cloudy sky.

Great and mighty Yosemite, called Ahwahnee by the indigenous Miwok people who once inhabited the land, is a titan among national parks and one of the most famous backpacking, rock climbing, and sightseeing destinations for backcountry camping trips in the world. Nestled in the High Sierra, or the Sierra Mountain Range, Yosemite National Park holds more natural landmarks than any other national park in California. World-famous Yosemite Valley, a 7-square mile area in the center of Rhode-Island-sized Yosemite, contains the highest concentration of major landmarks such as Tunnel View, El Capitan, and Half Dome. North of Yosemite Valley, in the High Country of Yosemite National Park, can be found gorgeous areas such as Tuolumne Meadows and the Cathedral Range, which contain Mount Lyell, the highest point in Yosemite National Park. 

There are 7,000 plant species in California and 50% of those are found in the Sierra Nevada; 20% of those are found within Yosemite. The Tuolumne and Merced River systems flow through Yosemite and have created majestic river canyons. At several points, the water systems in Yosemite become breathtaking waterfalls, of which Yosemite Falls and Ribbon Fall are the most well-known. With all of these attractions drawing rock climbers and backpacking enthusiasts year-round, Yosemite has to be well outfitted with campsites, and sure enough, Yosemite camping does not disappoint the campers who journey there. Yosemite repeatedly makes lists of the best hiking trails in California, best hiking vacations, and the best hiking trails in America, so bring your hiking boots on your Yosemite camping trip. 

Yosemite also regularly makes lists of best places to camp in California, so make sure to bring a sturdy camping tent along on your Yosemite camping adventure. We’ve compiled all the information we could find on Yosemite camping and compiled this guide for the best Yosemite campgrounds so future campers can get informed about this world-class national park before departure. 

 

Ribbon Falls in Yosemite National Park.

Ribbon Falls in Yosemite National Park flows off the side of El Capitan in the spring and is the tallest continuous waterfall in North America.

 

Campgrounds located south of Yosemite Valley

 

1. Bridalveil Creek Campground

Located on Glacier Point Road about 45 minutes south of Yosemite Valley, Bridalveil Creek Campground is set in a scenic forest and offers amenities like picnic tables, fire rings, food storage lockers, and drinking water, although the running water has been turned off for most of the 2019 calendar year. Normally, every campsite is near a restroom with running water, which means drinking water and flush toilets. The water in Bridalveil Creek can be treated and converted into drinking water just fine in any case. The campsite features an RV park with no hookups and no dump station. In the summertime, dump stations can be found nearby east of the Wawona store and in Upper Pines Campground in Yosemite Valley. 

Showers can be found at nearby Curry Village and the Housekeeping Camp. No reservations are available except for the group campsites; the rest of the campsites are walk-in campsites. For groups, recreation.gov is the site where groups of campers can make reservations with the NPS up to 5 months in advance. The campsite is not open year-round, but is usually open from July to early September. Bridalveil Creek Campground is a straightforward campground that suits backpacking campers who are planning on rock climbing or hiking in the high country of Yosemite for the majority of their stay and don’t need many extra features out of their campsite. 

 

Pros:

  • Picnic tables and fire rings
  • Bridalveil Creek for drinking water
  • Running water and flush toilets (normally)
  • RV park
  • Showers nearby

 

Cons:

  • No running water in 2019
  • No hookups nor dump station in RV park campsites
  • Not year-round

 

2. Wawona Campground

Wawona Campground is one mile north of Wawona, a very small town (population 169) about 18 miles east of Mariposa. Featuring serene riverside campsites with fire rings, picnic tables, and a restroom with flush toilets and drinking water, Wawona Campground is partitioned into 3 loop campsites for small groups of campers. Larger group campsites and horse campsites are also available, along with an RV park. Its situation on the South Fork Merced River gives a lovely tranquility to this campsite, and an opportunity to treat the river water for drinking water if campers so desire. 

The A loop of walk-in tent sites is normally open year-round, while the other tent sites are open from April to September. Reservations can be made with the NPS at recreation.gov if future campers wish to be more prepared in their Yosemite camping trip planning. There are no hookups for running water or electricity in the RV park, and a dumpsite is located on Forest Drive east of the Wawona store in summer only. Like Bridalveil Creek, Wawona Campground is great for campers in search of a straightforward no-frills campground and who plan to spend time hiking El Capitan and not hanging around their campsite for a long time during their camping trip in Yosemite. 

 

Pros:

  • Fire rings and picnic tables
  • Restroom with flush toilets and drinking water
  • RV park
  • Year-round tent sites available

 

Cons:

  • No hookups or dumpsite in RV park campsites

 

Campgrounds located north of Yosemite Valley 

 

3. Tuolumne Meadows Campground

One of the largest Yosemite camping sites, Tuolumne Meadows Campground is also one of the most famous, most likely due to the fact that its namesake is the famous Tuolomne Meadows, one of the highest-elevation meadows in the Sierra Nevada through which the Tuolomne River flows for about 3 miles before continuing on to eventually become drinking water for San Francisco. The Tuolumne Meadows Campground is located about 1.5 hours northeast of Yosemite Valley and its tent sites and RV park are open from July to September. Reservations with NPS are available for half of the tent sites at recreation.gov, while the other half of the tent sites are walk-in campsites. 

Each campsite contains a fire ring and picnic table and is near a bathroom with drinking water and flush toilets. The RV park campsites do not have hookups for running water or electricity, but there is a dumpsite very near just to the west of the Tuolumne Meadows Campground. Showers can be found in Yosemite Valley at the Curry Village and the Housekeeping Camp. Tuolumne Meadows Campground’s location near its namesake along Tioga Pass Road, or Highway 120, makes it ideal for campers who are looking for a beautiful location outside the heavily trafficked Yosemite Valley but close enough to get there if desired. 

 

Pros:

  • Proximity to Tuolumne Meadows
  • RV park
  • Ample tent sites
  • Reservations available
  • Fire ring and picnic tables
  • Bathrooms with drinking water and flush toilets

 

Cons:

  • Seasonal availability only
  • No hookups in RV park campsites

 

A girl by a lake in Yosemite.

Yosemite’s Tenaya Lake is easily accessible by Tioga Pass Road, called highway 120 outside the park.

 

4. Hodgdon Meadow Campground

This campsite’s location off the Big Oak Flat Road (yet another name for Highway 120), about 45 minutes northwest of Yosemite Valley and adjacent to the Big Oak Flat Entrance Station to Yosemite, makes Hodgdon Meadow Campground one of the most sought-after campsites in Yosemite National Park. All of its tent sites and the campsites in the RV park are open year-round for campers looking for the right place to enjoy Yosemite in the wintertime. From about mid-April until mid-October, reservations are required online with the NPS at recreation.gov. From mid-October until mid-April, all the campsites are walk-in campsites. 

Picnic tables, fire rings, and a bathroom with drinking water and a flush toilet can be found near all the campsites in Hodgdon Meadow Campground. There are no hookups for running water or electricity in the RV park. A dump station is available in the summertime in the Upper Pines Campground in Yosemite Valley. Showers are also available in Yosemite Valley at the Housekeeping Camp and in Curry Village. Hodgdon Meadow Campground is a solid choice for campers who are interested in backpacking, hiking, or rock climbing in the high country of the High Sierra on their Yosemite camping trip.

 

Pros:

  • Open year-round
  • Picnic tables and fire rings available
  • Bathroom with drinking water and a flush toilet
  • Dump station available
  • Showers available in Yosemite Valley

 

Cons:

  • Reservation sometimes required
  • No hookups in RV park campsites
  • Seasonal dump site

 

5. White Wolf Campground

Off the Tioga Road (Highway 120) about one hour north of Yosemite Valley, White Wolf Campground is a seasonal campground open between early July and early September that cannot be reserved with NPS. All the tent sites and RV park campsites are walk-in (or drive-in) campsites. Every campsite has picnic tables, fire rings, and a nearby bathroom with drinking water and flush toilets available for campers’ use. There are no hookups for electricity or running water at the RV park campsites. There are two dumpsites available, one in the summertime only near Tuolumne Meadows Campground and the other one open year-round in Yosemite Valley at the Upper Pines Campground. 

White Wolf Campground is in close proximity to hiking trails that lead to Yosemite Valley and Half Dome for campers who wish to add hiking, backpacking and rock climbing to their Yosemite camping trip. Rock formations offer the opportunity for kid-aged rock climbers to scramble a little at the campsite. Wildlife darts in and out of the surrounding forest, so campers are likely to see animals such as deer and smaller woodland animals. White Wolf Campground is pared-down but it has all the basic amenities campers will need to get the most out of an action-packed, adventure-filled Yosemite camping trip. 

 

Pros:

  • Close to Yosemite Valley
  • No reservation at tent sites or RV park campsites
  • Picnic tables and fire rings available
  • Bathroom with drinking water and flush toilets
  • Two dump sites available
  • Hiking trails

 

Cons:

  • Seasonal campsites only
  • No RV park campsite hookups

 

6. Yosemite Creek Campground

Yosemite Creek Campground is on Tioga Road (Highway 120) about one hour north of Yosemite Valley. Like White Wolf Campground, Yosemite Creek Campground is seasonal, operating from July to early September. Reservations through the NPS are not offered; all the tent sites and RV park campsites are walk-in campsites that operate on a first-come, first-served basis. Each campsite does feature a fire ring, picnic tables, and is near a vault toilet, which is another term for an outhouse, meaning there is no running water at this campground. There is no potable water available at Yosemite Creek Campground, so the creek water must be treated to be consumed as drinking water. 

The RV park campsites do not have any hookups for running water or electricity, but dump sites are available year-round in Yosemite Valley in Upper Pines Campground and in the summertime only near Tuolumne Meadows Campground. The biggest draw to camping at Yosemite Creek Campground is that it is less populated than other Yosemite campgrounds and therefore quieter. Campers who wish to stay at a tent site surrounded by fewer other backpackers and campers will be happily serene on a camping trip to Yosemite Creek Campground. 

 

Pros:

  • Fire rings and picnic tables available
  • Vault toilets available
  • Dump sites available
  • Less populated

 

Cons:

  • Seasonal campsites only
  • No running water
  • No hookups at RV park campsites

 

People on a mountain in Yosemite.

Lembert Dome rises over 800 feet above Tuolumne Meadows and the Tuolomne River 8 miles west of the Tioga Pass entrance to Yosemite.

 

Campgrounds in Yosemite Valley

 

7. Camp 4 Campground

The imaginatively named Camp 4 Campground is right where all the action is in Yosemite Valley. Camp 4 is open year-round but in the high season between late May and Early September, spots at the various tent sites are given out by the NPS via a lottery at recreation.gov for campers who want to have a chance to camp right in Yosemite Valley when it’s at its most beautiful. For the rest of the year, from mid-September to mid-May, Camp 4 Campground’s tent sites are walk-in campsites and reservations are not available. The location of Camp 4 is so central that it is unlikely campers will get a campsite without showing up earlier in the day. There are no RV park campsites at Camp 4.

Sleeping in vehicles is not allowed at Camp 4 but there is a parking lot nearby. There is a dump station nearby at Upper Pines Campground. Showers are also quite close at Curry Village and Housekeeping Camp. Every campsite is near an available fire pit with a fire ring, a picnic table, and a bathroom with drinking water and flush toilets. For campers who wish to spend up to a week (in peak season) right in the middle of Yosemite Valley hiking the various trails or rock climbing around Half Dome or El Capitan, Camp 4 Campground is an excellent choice.

 

Pros:

  • Central location in Yosemite Valley
  • Dump station nearby
  • Showers nearby
  • Parking lot available
  • Fire rings and picnic tables
  • Bathroom with drinking water and flush toilets

 

Cons:

  • Popular in high season
  • No RV park campsites

 

8. North Pines Campground / Upper Pines Campground / Lower Pines Campground

All three of these campgrounds come together to form what is called The Pines Campground. They are essentially one large campground, but there are some differences. The Upper Pines Campground is open year-round, while the Lower Pines Campground is open from April to October and the North Pines Campground is open from March to October. All three Pines Campgrounds require a reservation with the NPS via recreation.gov, which makes good sense given the staggering number of campers looking to secure a spot at one of these Yosemite Valley campgrounds. The Pines Campgrounds all have walk-in tent sites as well as RV park campsites. Each campsite has a fire ring and picnic table and is near a bathroom with drinking water and flush toilets.

There are no hookups at the RV park campsites but the dump station is at the entrance to the Upper Pines Campground. Showers are available at Housekeeping Camp and Curry Village. The Pines Campgrounds are all very near to the Mirror Lake Trailhead, one of the nicest moderately-rated year-round hiking trails in Yosemite Valley. Campers who wish to add hiking or perhaps even a bit of rock climbing to their Yosemite camping trip can take the Mirror Lake Trail to get phenomenal up-close views of Half Dome from its base. 

 

Pros:

  • Excellent location in Yosemite Valley
  • Upper Pines open year-round
  • Fire rings and picnic tables available
  • Bathroom with drinking water and flush toilets
  • Proximity to hiking trails
  • Dump station at Upper Pines

 

Cons:

  • Reservation required
  • No hookups in RV park campsites

 

Rental Cabins and Rooms

 

9. Housekeeping Camp

Housekeeping Camp is for campers who want to experience Yosemite National Park in complete comfort and aren’t concerned with roughing it in the backcountry. This campground is right next to the Merced River in the middle of Yosemite Valley, offering unmatched views of Yosemite Falls and Half Dome. A fire ring with a grill is available for hassle-free cooking and power outlets are offered at each bed. Campers can rent blankets, sheets, and pillows. Each campsite is a three-sided concrete structure with canvas roofs and privacy curtains. Common amenities campers look for are replaced by household alternatives. Hookups are replaced by power outlets, and the picnic tables are larger and round at Housekeeping Camp. 

Campers here even get to sleep in a bunk bed and don’t need to worry about tents or any sort of camping gear. The restroom has drinking water and flush toilets and the shower is on site. Campers at Housekeeping Camp will have to walk a short distance to the bathroom, but compared to the other Yosemite Campgrounds, a camping trip at Housekeeping Camp is a luxurious cakewalk in close proximity to the most famous Yosemite Valley landmarks.

 

Pros:

  • Location in Yosemite Valley near Half Rock and Yosemite Falls
  • Fire ring with grill
  • Picnic tables
  • Bunk Beds
  • Drinking water and flush toilets

 

Cons:

  • Short walk to the restroom
  • Reservation required

 

Lake in the middle of a snow covered forest.

Yosemite National Park has some of the best campgrounds in the U.S.A. and many of them stay open year-round.

 

10. Curry Village

Curry Village is among the nicest campsites anywhere in Yosemite National Park. Positioned just beneath the famous Glacier Point, Curry Village campers can choose how luxurious they want their stay in Yosemite to be. There are canvas tent cabins, wood cabins, and outright hotel rooms. Maybe some camping enthusiasts will insist that staying in Curry Village barely qualifies as camping at all, but there are some campers who enjoy the outdoors without the tents and equipment, more in a glamping style than in rugged backcountry camping trips. That being said, Curry Village does offer a housekeeping service and full linens.

There are picnic tables and also real tables. Bathrooms with drinking water become separate bathrooms in the hotel. The canvas tent cabins are spacious and the bed inside is comfortable, and campers can even rent one with heating for the wintertime. Curry Village is the location for showers offered for lots of other Yosemite campgrounds so there may be a crowd here. If luxury is your style and isolation is not appealing to you, then Curry Village might be the right fit for your Yosemite Valley camping trip. 

 

Pros:

  • Modern amenities
  • Beds
  • Linens
  • Drinking water
  • Location near Glacier Point

 

Cons:

  • Reservation required
  • Possible crowds

 

Final Verdict:

Yosemite National Park holds such natural wonders that it had to be outfitted with tons of different campgrounds. Tent sites and RV park campsites are in high demand in the warm months all over the park, but especially in Yosemite Valley, where world-famous landmarks like Half Dome and Yosemite Falls await the eager eye of campers, hikers, rock climbers, and backpacking enthusiasts from all over the United States and the rest of the world. 

Overall if you plan enough and make a reservation where possible, finding a campsite at one of the Yosemite Campgrounds on this list is well worth it. You’ll come away with camping memories to last a lifetime. In fact, Yosemite has such a draw that campers who visit once are likely to return and may wind up staying at many of the Yosemite campsites in this guide. Perhaps as time goes on, campers who first saw Yosemite from way out in Yosemite Creek Campground will evolve into Camp 4 residents. After a long enough time perhaps they’ll wind up staying in comparative luxury at Curry Village. 

The most important takeaway for campers who have read this guide on the best Yosemite campgrounds is that the campsites in Yosemite are designed for you to rest there and take a rest. Surrounded by as much natural beauty as campers are in Yosemite, the main draw will be the wonderful landmarks that cannot be found anywhere else on earth. Hopefully, you’re prepared to start making preparations for a Yosemite camping trip now that you’ve finished this guide to the best Yosemite campgrounds. 

 

Bonus Tip: If you’re eager to get a glimpse of the landmarks on view in Yosemite National Park, check out this cool video!

 

 

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How The Annual REI Dividend Works

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rei annual dividend explained

What is the REI Dividend?

The dividend is a sum of money that is awarded back to REI co-op members every year. The amount of money is based on two primary factors: a percentage of all eligible purchases made by a member and any rewards they accrued on their REI Mastercard during the previous year. You can think of it a bit like a tax return and purchasing points on your credit card — only instead of frustrating points, it’s just money. You can also get any unused amount of the previous year’s dividend added onto the next one, but this isn’t always the case.

REI is short for Recreational Equipment Incorporated, an American company that offers outdoor gear, as well as courses and vacation options.

If you aren’t familiar with their brand, they are known for having high quality and ranked highly in the review of the top tent brands on the market.

What sets it apart from other outdoor retailing competitors is that it follows the co-op business model. That means they offer a wide range of perks to their members, one of the most unique of which is their annual dividend. Since this is such an unusual benefit to the company, understanding the ins and outs can be difficult. So, here are some answers to many of the FAQs people have when talking about the REI annual dividend program.

 

REI, also know as Recreation Equipment International, is well-know for its outdoor supplies.

How do you earn the dividend?

First of all, only REI co-op memberships can earn a dividend. The good news is that being a member of the REI co-op is both inexpensive and easy. To become an REI member, all you have to do is go here and sign up for a lifetime membership. The upfront, one-time membership fee is only 20$, and there isn’t even an annual fee to keep your membership. However, only members that are considered active receive a dividend notice.

To be an active member of REI, all you have to do is spend at least 10$ merchandise in a year, unless it is the year that you first sign up. If you ever lose active status, getting it back is as easy as to resume making REI purchases.

REI Members earn toward their annual dividend by making eligible purchases. Almost any merchandise you buy directly through REI is considered eligible as long as you are purchasing full-price items. This includes the physical REI stores or through REI.com. One notable exception is that gift cards do not count toward your REI dividend. However, when you use a gift card to make purchases, that can be considered eligible as long as it otherwise would be.

The percentage that goes back into your dividend varies depending on how well the company did financially the previous year, but it tends to be around 10%. The calculation is made based on the product price alone, so sales tax and any other fees such as postage are not counted.

Unfortunately, none of REI’s experience purchases are considered eligible. This means that classes, special events, and the popular REI Adventures don’t get counted into your annual dividend. Service charges don’t count either, so rentals and labor fees are not factored into the dividend. The initial membership fee also is not eligible.

Any returns you make are removed from your dividend amount in the final calculation, and if it has already been calculated, then the dividend amount counts against the return amount you would receive. 

You can also receive a retroactive addition to your dividend based on eligible purchases you made at other retailers on REI merchandise, as long as it was in the same year. For example, if you bought backpacking equipment from Amazon that was the REI brand, then you can get that counted. You’ll just need to have your receipt handy to answer some information about the purchase. You cannot get retroactive additions to your annual dividend if the purchase was made before you became an REI member, though.

There is a slight workaround with the discounted merchandise, though. Members can receive an REI co-op Mastercard. As mentioned earlier, this has a built-in rewards system. One such reward is that when you use the REI credit card to purchase sale items, then you receive a 5% kickback into your dividend. It’s a much lower percentage than what you would expect to receive from a normal eligible purchase. However, savvy shoppers will be able to notice when the reduced pricing and smaller kickback turns out to be a better long-term value. 

 

When would I receive my REI dividend?

If you’re an REI member and have a balance, you’ll receive a dividend notice in March of the next year. All purchases you make from January 1st to December 31st are considered part of the same annual sum and will be available until January of two years later. So, if you made purchases throughout 2020, you’ll be able to use your dividend from them starting March 2021, and you’ll have the money available to you until you either spend it all or until the first day of 2023. This, however, is only the case if you don’t accrue any more dividends. Assuming you constantly make enough eligible purchases and spend roughly however much you earn from the program each year, your dividend balance should never expire.

 

Buying equipment from REI with an REI Mastercard is a great way to earn points towards your dividend.

 

So what can I do with the dividend?

This question is best answered with another question: “How do you want to spend your money?” For anyone who has ever been frustrated with trying to redeem credit card points or dealing with the restrictions of store credit, you are going to be blown away by the range of options REI gives you when it comes to your member dividend.

 

Use the dividend as store credit

The most basic option available to you is to use your dividend like store credit. If you can find it on the REI website, then you can buy it with your store credit. If your dividend balance doesn’t completely cover the total price of your purchases at checkout, don’t worry. It will still get deducted from the price and you’ll only have to pay for whatever is leftover.

If you’re near one of their physical REI stores, then you’ll be able to use your dividend to directly buy available outlet items from their stores. Your dividend works at every REI store location, so you won’t have to worry about not being able to access it if you’re shopping far from home. Just be sure to have your co-op member number ready. 

Even though buying them doesn’t sound toward your dividend, you can put your earnings on it toward booking an REI Adventure. If you’re a hardcore outdoors enthusiast, then you might be able to generate enough of a dividend to book a trip to a national park at no out-of-pocket expense.

If you aren’t quite that adventurous but still would like a fun experience, then look at spending your dividend on one of the many REI classes. There is something to learn for everyone. From riding a bike to navigating the backcountry, the basics of rock climbing to dozens of stewardship opportunities,  it’d be hard not to spend part of your dividend on enriching yourself with the REI classes.

You can also download the REI mobile apps. These make it even easier to shop with REI in general, but they can streamline the process of using your dividend in the online store.

 

Receive the dividend as a check

If you’d rather take the money that REI has awarded to you elsewhere, then you can request to have your dividend amount in the form of a check.

There are a couple of ways to go about getting the check. The most direct way is to go to a physical REI outlet once you have received a notice of a dividend balance. If you are not anywhere near an REI store, don’t worry. You can have your check mailed to you directly by filling out their request form. Once you have the form filled out, REI will have that information in their database and can mail you the check every year without any extra work from you, should you want that

The check can only be issued to the name of the primary membership cardholder. REI does not send out checks if your annual dividend does not exceed 25$, and they do not send out a check for the REI Mastercard holder reward amount that does not exceed 1$. You can request the check whenever is convenient, but they do not begin mailing them out until July 1st. 

You don’t have to receive the whole dividend as a check. You can go ahead and spend part of it as store credit on the online store. Then, whatever amount that is leftover, you can have it sent as a check. As long as all the other requirements have been met, of course. Also, if you attempt to use any of your dividend between the time of the check being sent out and you receiving the check, then it could result in either the check being void, or you being unable to use your dividend funds at all.

If for some reason you don’t want to use the online check request form, you can also make the request over the phone or by contacting them by mail.

 

You can get your REI dividend in cash or in purchase credits.

 

Get the dividend in cash

No, that’s not a joke, and there aren’t any strings attached. You can receive your annual REI dividend, in full, as cash. There are a few hoops you have to jump through, but none of them are fine print details that are going to keep you from turning your dividend sum into cash and doing whatever you want with it.

First of all, you can’t convert your dividend into cash after July 1st of the year after you earned the dividend. This is similar to the check option. Unlike the check, there is a cut-off point at the beginning of the next calendar year, so if you wait too long then your dividend can’t be turned into cash.

This option can only be done through a physical REI store, so if you don’t live near one then you will probably have to settle for the check option. If you plan on going to a store to get your dividend as cash, it would be a good idea to call them ahead of time and try to make an arrangement. REI stores only have so much free cash on hand. 

If you don’t call ahead, you might run into a situation where the store does not have enough cash to equal the dividend balance you should receive. In these cases, co-op members are given the option to receive the check. For some, that is a fine alternative, but people dead-set on getting cash should be aware of this.

One other thing to note is that the cash option is based on a specific year’s balance. This means, like the check option, if you spend any of your dividend funds as credit first, that would result in you receiving less cash in the end. Also, unlike the store credit option, you can’t compound years together. Since the years have cutoff dates that line up to where there is never an overlapping period between them, you’ll only be able to get your cash balance one year at a time, rather than building it across up to 3 years.

 

Can I check my dividend balance?

Yes! At any point, you can go to REI.com, and enter the name on your membership card along with your member number, and they will be able to tell you the dividend balance. This is not updated in real-time, so if you have been roughly keeping track and the amount looks odd when you check it, don’t worry. Most likely, it is just in the middle of being exactly calculated by members of the REI team.

 

Is the annual dividend the only benefit of Coop Membership?

Not at all! You’ve already read a bit about the REI Coop Mastercard and its reward system. You get 5% back with any REI purchases, 2% back through mobile transactions, and 1% everywhere else. This is all factored into your annual dividend along with all the usual 10% kickback from buying normal priced items. This means that anything you use the card on, even bills and groceries, is factored into your dividend.

Members get access to special pricing on certain items through REI. These are usually on things like classes and tours, as well as rentals on any outdoor equipment. This can be frustrating since the specially priced experiences aren’t dividend eligible purchases. Though, with dividend earnings and special pricing, it is easy to earn enough to pick up enough to pay for a class or two. 

Members-only events are probably the second-best part of being a member after the dividend. Some of the most popular of these events are new member-exclusive hiking trips or member gatherings to try out local brews. Without a doubt, Garage Sales are the star of members-only events.

The REI Garage Sales are hosted at REI outlet stores every so often. The merchandise of the Sales is made up of returns and other used goods, and come at a heavily discounted price. The products are as-is, and cannot be accepted for returns as of their return policy. Since the merchandise is on a case-by-case basis with the outlets, REI cannot guarantee specific inventory. All Garage Sales operate on a first-come, first-serve basis. Garage Sale purchases cannot be put toward your annual dividend unless they are purchased with the members’ Mastercard. Though, the products are usually so aggressively marked down that it usually makes up for it. Plus, the Garage Sale merchandise is evaluated beforehand to assure that there are no major issues with it, so you don’t have to worry about the quality with the low prices.

 

Final Verdict:

The annual dividend is a unique benefit of being a member of REI’s coop. It saves the frustration associated with other rewards programs by just allowing the members to claim a monetary incentive. It is both pleasantly simple, offers multiple options to use your dividend as you see fit, and a great tool for people that love to maximize value in their shopping.

There are some ins and outs with the membership program to remember how to get the most out of the dividend. Though, remembering these details is more of a bonus than a requirement to earn on the dividend properly, unlike other rewards programs. On top of all that, you get several more awesome benefits for a single 20$ purchase. 

 

Bonus tip: Here’s a video from REI talking about the essential items for backpacking, which are available on their website: 

 

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Learn How To Identify 12 Types Of Trees

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Tree species are such a common form of plant life that they often go unnoticed in our daily lives. Generally speaking, as they don’t have finite lifespans, trees live much longer than other plant life. Some tree species can even live for thousands of years. Trees are no stranger to our planet — they have been around for nearly 370 years. Currently, planet Earth is home to more than 60,000 types of trees that play a vital role in the life we know and enjoy.

One of the first things children learn about in school is how common trees supply us with the oxygen we need to breathe. Our survival depends on plant life around the world continuing to thrive, including underwater vegetation, grasslands, and the approximate 3 trillion types of trees which currently grow on our planet. Learning how to identify tree species can be an important skill, similar to knowing how to start a campfire when it comes to outdoor survival. 

Throughout this article, we’re going to clarify and define what exactly a tree is and introduce you to the different categories that common trees fall under. We’ll also take a closer look at the most common types of trees that you’ll most likely come across, and explain how you can identify them correctly. Different types of trees have different types of leaves and bark that are characteristics of certain tree species. If you can spot the differences, then you’re a step closer in your quest of becoming a tree identification master. Now, let’s begin by differentiating between the two primary types of trees: deciduous trees and evergreen trees.

Related: The 10 best outdoor antenna’s for camping and rural areas

A field with a tree sunset.

All trees are either deciduous trees or evergreen trees.

What defines a common tree? 

In botany (the study of plants), trees are defined as perennial plants with an elongated trunk or stem which supports leaves and branches(Perennial plants live for multiple years, as opposed to annual plants which have a life-cycle of only one season.) However, this is a slightly limited definition, as the term “tree” can be extended to include any woody plant with branches and a trunk that grows significantly taller than the plants around it. 

Tree branches are supported by a large and strong trunk, which extends underground. Beneath, the trunk extends into widely-spread roots which collect nutrients and moisture and provide support to the tree species above ground. The branches which extend from the top of the trunk divide into smaller shoots, which spread to produce leaves. Leaves collect sunlight, converting it into energy via photosynthesis, in order to feed and grow. 

The trunk of a common tree is the strongest part, made from a woody tissue that supports the weight of the canopy. Tree trunks also contain vascular tissue, which carries nutrients from one part of the plant to another. Most types of trees also have a layer of bark around the trunk that acts as a protective shield. Although these are the general characteristics that fit every type of tree, tree species vary. 

There are two primary categorizations that all tree species fit into. The difference between these two categories is the first thing you need to spot in order to properly identify common trees. Most people already recognize the distinction between these different types of trees, but we’ll still go into detail about how you can identify them. Read on to discover which types of trees lose their leaves, and which tree species remain green all year round.

Deciduous Trees Vs. Coniferous Trees

Every single one of the thousands of tree species found on our planet fits into one of these two categories: coniferous trees (evergreen trees) or deciduous trees. Deciduous trees lose their broad leaves at a specific time of the year, typically fall or autumn. The word ‘deciduous’ literally means “to fall off at maturity”. As such, the leaves of these trees have an annual life cycle. In the spring, new leaves grow and quickly mature into broad leaves, green in color. Over time, they slowly change color leading to the wonderful fall color palette we all recognize and love, before falling to the moist soil. 

This is the case with the most common trees in North America, Europe, and other countries with a mild climate. In hotter tropical countries, deciduous trees lose their greenery during the dry season. Once the leaves have fallen, these trees remain bare wood skeletons until new leaf shoots begin to grow in the spring. Most deciduous trees are broadleaf, with wide, flat, green leaves. 

Coniferous trees, otherwise known as evergreen trees, keep their leaves all year round. No matter the season, evergreen trees are unchanging in appearance. This type of tree often has needle-shaped leaves, which withstand the cold temperatures better than more delicate broadleaf types of trees. Evergreen tree landscapes are especially stunning in the winter months when all other plant life looks dead. 

deciduous vs coniferous trees

Tree Identification: Basic Leaf Types

There are three different types of leaves that evergreen trees and deciduous trees can have. Broadleaves is a wide term that encompasses leaves of all shapes and sizes — so long as they are flat. Almost all deciduous trees have broad leaves: they can be oval, round, heart-shaped, and much more. The maple leaf of the red maple tree is an iconic shape that we all know. The term ‘Broadleaves’ encompasses much more than just common tree species, it also includes a huge range of different plant life. 

Most people will recognize common tree needles thanks to Christmas trees — many evergreen trees feature this shape. Common tree needles are long and thin and typically grow together in clusters or sparsely depending on the tree species. Evergreen trees lose their needles over time, however, this process doesn’t happen all at once as is usually the case with deciduous trees. Instead, the needles are lost and replaced gradually; similar to how humans lose hair. The third category of leaves that some coniferous trees exhibit is scale-like leaves. We see these on common trees such as Juniper trees and cedar trees, where the needles resemble the scales of a reptile.

A maple leaf in the rain.

The distinctive shape of the maple leaf makes this red maple tree easy to identify. 

12 Common Types of Trees and How To Identify Them 

Tree Species: Maple Trees

Maple trees are a common tree species found across Europe, North America, and Asia. They belong to the genus Acer family and are commonly associated with Canada — just look at the maple leaf on the Canadian flag. There are more than one hundred species of maple trees, the most common in Europe being the sycamore maple tree. Red maple, sugar maple, and silver maple are also common tree species you’ll commonly see in the countryside. Japanese maple trees are a common choice for bonsai where a small tree is groomed and maintained to resemble a miniature replica. 

Maple trees are famous for the sweet syrup made from their sap, which is a big reason why maple trees are often farmed in North America. Maple trees are a hardwood tree species. Its timber is often used to make baseball bats and musical instruments. The easiest way to identify a maple tree is by its distinct leaf shape, which is the same across all maple tree species. Maple trees can be small trees, reaching only 10 meters in height, or large trees more than 40 meters tall.

maple tree

Tree Species: Oak Trees

Oak trees are one of the most common tree families across the world; their wood is very hard and durable and resistant to most diseases. Oak trees come from the genus Quercus of which there are over 90 different species in the United States alone. They have been one of the most prized trees for building material for centuries, and are used in all kinds of industries, including musical instrument production. As there are more than 300 known oak tree species globally, when it comes to tree identification, it helps to break them down into further categories. 

White oaks feature round broad leaves and produce sweet acorns that take a year to mature. Black (or red) oak trees have bristles on their leaves and produce bitter-tasting acorns. The acorns from a red oak take two years to mature and are referred to as biennial oak trees. By identifying the maturity of the acorns on an oak tree, you can tell which type of oak tree it is. Most oak tree species are deciduous tree species, however, there are a handful of evergreen oak trees. The easiest way to identify an oak tree is by its acorns — all oak trees carry this fruit. The leaves of oak trees are lobed, with either rounded or pointed tips.

Oak Trees

Tree Species: Sycamore Trees

Try not to get the sycamore maple confused with true sycamore trees — they’re only related by name. The sycamore is a large hardwood tree in the genus Platanus and is a deciduous tree species by nature. The wood from these trees is incredibly hard and dense, and therefore it’s not commonly used as a building material. Sycamores can grow up to 40 meters and are one of the easiest types of trees to identify when it comes to tree identification.  

You can spot a sycamore tree by examining its bark. Don’t be misled by its leaves, which look similar to a maple leaf tree species. Instead, look at the color of the trunk. True sycamore trees have flaky bark which gives the trunk a red and brown multi-colored appearance, often featuring patches of white and grey. The Sycamore is a broadleaf tree species. You can identify them by their leaves which have three to five lobes with toothed edges.

A sycamore tree.

Sycamore trees are very large trees, with hard, dense wood. 

Tree Species: Pine Trees

Pine trees are another common tree found all around the world. This evergreen tree family of the genus Pinus is probably the most easily recognizable coniferous tree species in the world. The pine tree is a common ornamental tree with softwood. Pine tree leaves consist of clusters of green needles. This tree species is also easily identifiable by its hard cones, often referred to as pine cones. White pine and red pine are two common trees of this tree species and can be found throughout Canada, the United States (North America in general), and Europe. 

Pine trees are amongst the easiest tree species when it comes to tree identification. Pine trees are generally large trees that stand straight with needles that are mostly concentrated towards the top. Some species of pine trees can even grow up to 81 meters tall — they do it quickly, too. As pine trees grow into large trees so quickly, they’re incredibly useful when it comes to construction and furniture production. The softwood of the pine tree is easy to work with and features an attractive grain.

pine tree

Tree Species: Fir Trees

Fir trees, such as the balsam fir, Fraser fir, and noble fir, are all popular festive choices. This evergreen tree family is of the genus Abies and contains approximately 50 different species of tree. Fir trees are closely related to the genus Cedrus, or cedar trees. Fir trees have a much denser needle distribution than pine trees, giving them a fuller and greener appearance. 

Fir needles are soft and flat and tend to have two white stripes at the bottom of each needle. As they grow, fir tree cones tend to be green, purple, or blue and turn a golden brown as the tree matures. You can easily spot a fir tree as its cones grow upwards, whereas other coniferous trees have downward-pointing cones.

fir tree

Tree Species: Elm Trees

Elm trees are a common tree found mostly in forests and can be classed as either deciduous or semi-deciduous. There are about 35 different types of tree species within the Ulmus genus, including the American elm and the European elm. Elm trees are another ornamental tree species that are not generally appreciated for their wood or fruit. Elms are hardwood trees and therefore difficult to work with as a building material. 

You can identify an elm tree by its leaves, which are technically classed as broadleaf. There is quite a range of different leaves that grow on elm tree species, but they all have the same pointed oval shape. Elm tree leaves range between 7 and 16 cm long. Unfortunately, a pandemic of Dutch Elm tree disease wiped many elm trees from our streets and forests. However, conservation efforts are well on their way and the American Elm tree species is in revival.

 

elm tree

Tree Species: Willow Trees

Willow trees have some of the most distinctive shapes out of any tree in the world; their long drooping branches have a dramatic and striking appearance. There are approximately 400 species of willow trees and they are all deciduous trees. Willow trees can be small tree-like shrubs or grow to be medium-height. Willow tree leaves are always elongated ovals, but their color varies between species. Black willow trees feature dark, furrowed bark. 

Willow tree leaves can be green, yellow, or blue in hue, making these breathtaking trees even more beautiful. The wood from willow trees can be used to make wicker baskets and similar items, due to their long, soft, and flexible branches. Willow trees are arguably the easiest tree species to identify, as no other type of tree has anything comparable to its low sweeping branches. When temperatures drop in the fall, willow trees are among the last to lose their leaves.

Willow trees.

Willow trees are easy to identify from their long, drooping branches. 

Tree Species: Magnolia Trees

When people choose a tree to plant in their garden, Magnolias are an obvious choice. The Magnolia family contains both deciduous trees and evergreen types of trees, which can grow in a huge range of environments. These trees produce large fragrant flowers and cones of fruit that look like berries. In terms of tree identification, all types of the Magnolia tree are broadleaf. 

Magnolias are medium-sized trees, they grow fast and have softwood. As there’s quite a large variation in leaf size and shape in magnolias, the easiest way to identify this tree species is by the fruit. As their cone-shaped seed pods are unique in comparison to other types of trees, if you can spot these, you’ll know if your tree is a part of the magnolia family.

Magnolia Tree

Tree Species: Birch Trees

Birch trees, of the genus Betula, are a type of tree family containing about 60 species of hardwood trees. Often, the wood from birch trees is used as firewood or for making furniture. Birch tree bark is papery, often white or silver in color, and is its most identifiable feature. The branches of birch trees are long, and droop slightly, holding small, thin, triangular leaves. Oil extracted from birch trees can be used in both cooking and medicine. Birch trees are some of the most common trees on the planet with small leaves.

Birch Trees

Tree Species: Tulip Trees

The tulip tree is not actually related to the flower that shares its name. It’s called so because of its attractive yellow-green flowers. The softwood of the tulip tree is attractive but weak. For this reason, it’s often used for aesthetic purposes rather than construction. When a tulip tree is young, the bark is brown or ashy gray. As the tree matures, the color will darken, however rich and moist soil is necessary for this. 

The leaves of a tulip tree are almost rectangular in shape, featuring 4 to 6 lobes which can be up to 15 cm in length. Tulip trees bloom before their leaves grow, meaning once spring rolls around, their large leaves hide their blooming flowers. This distinctive feature makes the tulip tree easy to identify — try focusing on the leaves and the orange-yellow flowers.

Tulip Tree

Tree Species: Butternut Trees

If you’ve ever seen a tree species with what appears to be small green balls growing among its leaves, then you may be looking at a Juglans Cinerea. The butternut tree is a slow-growing,  deciduous tree that’s native to Canada and the United States. It grows in moist soil and has edible nuts that resemble green balls. You can easily identify this type of tree by its light grey bark, which gets rougher in texture with age. This large-leafed tree has no stems — its pointed leaves grow directly from the branch.

Butternut Tree

Tree Species: Cedar Trees 

Cedar trees are large trees from the Pinaceae family that can reach a towering 50 meters. Cedar trees are often used as ornamental trees and also make popular bonsai trees. This kind of tree is also a popular choice of men’s fragrance. In the United States, many of the trees that we refer to as cedar trees, such as the eastern red cedar (found in the Rockies of Colorado), are actually Juniper trees from the family Juniperus. When it comes to tree identification, cedar trees are pretty straightforward as they are one of the few kinds of trees with scaled leaves. In addition, their foliage is either dark green or bluish in color and grows in spiral clusters.

Cedar forest trees at night.

Cedar tree forests are some of the most beautiful natural spaces in the United States. 

Final Verdict

Throughout this article, we’ve identified 12 of the most common types of trees from across the United States and the world. Using this knowledge, you should now be able to accurately identify several of these tree species. Some of the more common tree families we didn’t cover include ash trees, hawthorn, larch, black walnut, hickory, hemlock, dogwood, walnut trees, and other species of the genus Picea. Although they’re beautiful tree species, they’re not as common as the trees that made our list. From butternut trees with green balls to huge weeping willow trees, it is our sincere hope that you enjoy identifying tree species as much as we do.

 

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How to Keep Snakes Away from Your Campsite (Stay Safe!)

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Having a phobia of snakes is a common fear among people and some research suggests that it may even be an instinctive fear present at birth. Regardless of the reason, encountering a snake at your campsite is not a pleasant experience and can be intimidating, especially if you’re in an area where snakes are native.

While it’s not always possible to completely avoid snake encounters while camping, there are steps you can take to reduce the chances of an encounter and to be prepared if one does occur.

One important thing to consider when it comes to snake prevention is the choice of campsite.

Where do rattlesnakes like to hide?

Snakes tend to prefer certain types of environments, and if you can avoid camping in these areas, you’ll be less likely to encounter snakes. For example, you should avoid camping next to rock piles or outcrops, as these can provide snakes with plenty of hiding spots.

Similarly, areas with heavy brush or deadfall should also be avoided, as these can also provide snakes with plenty of hiding places. Additionally, it’s a good idea to avoid camping directly next to water sources, as snakes often use these areas to hunt and to travel.

 

10 Do’s and Dont’s on how to keep rattlesnakes away:

  1. DO stay calm if you encounter a rattlesnake. Rattlesnakes are more likely to bite if they feel threatened, so try to keep your distance and avoid making sudden movements.

  2. DO keep an eye out for rattlesnakes while hiking or camping, especially in areas where they are known to inhabit. Look for warning signs such as a rattle sound, a V-shaped indentation in the ground, or the shed skin of a rattlesnake.

  3. DO wear sturdy boots and long pants while hiking or camping in areas where rattlesnakes are present. This will help protect your feet and legs from a bite.

  4. DO be aware of your surroundings when hiking or camping. Avoid stepping on or near rocks, logs, or other objects that could be hiding places for rattlesnakes.

  5. DON’T try to handle a rattlesnake, even if it seems docile. These snakes are venomous and can be dangerous if not handled properly.

  6. DON’T try to capture or kill a rattlesnake. This can be dangerous and is generally not necessary.

  7. DON’T attempt to play with or tease a rattlesnake. These snakes are not toys and can be very dangerous if provoked.

  8. DON’T leave food or trash out in areas where rattlesnakes are known to inhabit. This can attract rodents, which are a food source for rattlesnakes.

  9. DON’T try to move a rattlesnake out of your way. If you encounter a rattlesnake on a hiking trail or campsite, give it plenty of space and allow it to move on its own.

  10. If you are bitten by a rattlesnake, DON’T try to treat the bite yourself. Seek medical attention immediately, as rattlesnake bites can be serious and require medical treatment.

 

 

So, what is the best type of campsite for avoiding snakes?

Generally speaking, an open area with short grass is your best bet. Snakes are secretive creatures and tend to avoid being out in the open, so if you can camp in an area with plenty of open space, you’ll be less likely to encounter them.

It’s also a good idea to choose a campsite that is well-lit at night, as this will make it easier to see any snakes that might be passing through. If your campsite allows it, lighting a fire can also be a good tactic to deter snakes, as well as rodents, which are attractive to snakes as a food source. Just be sure to handle firewood carefully, as it can be a prime hiding spot for snakes.

Another important aspect of snake prevention is food storage. While snakes don’t generally have much interest in human food, they do prey on smaller animals such as mice and birds, which are attracted to food scraps and trash.

How do you keep snakes away?

To prevent attracting snakes to your campsite, it’s important to store food and trash properly. This means sealing trash bags and disposing of them properly, being conscious of dropping crumbs and cleaning utensils thoroughly after use, and storing leftover food in airtight containers away from your tent. If possible, you should also store food in an elevated area, such as a tree branch, to further protect it from rodents. Additionally, it’s a good idea to pack away anything on the floor when you leave the campsite, such as picnic blankets and tarpaulin, as snakes can use these items as hiding places.

Even if you take steps to avoid snakes and prevent attracting them to your campsite, it’s still important to be prepared in case you do encounter one. If you do see a snake, the most important thing to do is to keep your distance and let it pass.

Conclusion

It’s important to remember that most snakes are not aggressive and will only bite as a defense mechanism. If you give them plenty of space and allow them to move on, they’ll likely do so without incident. However, if you do come across a venomous snake, it’s especially important to keep your distance and avoid trying to handle it. If you are bitten by a venomous snake, seek medical attention immediately.

To prepare for the possibility of a snake encounter, it’s a good idea to do regular checks of your tent and gear. Make sure there are no holes in your tent and that all zips are shut, as snakes can sometimes find their way inside through small openings. Additionally, inspect your gear and gear storage areas before use to make

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