How To Keep Raccoons Away While Camping – Ten Easy Steps

Camping is a fantastic way to enjoy the great outdoors, soak in the beauty of nature, and create lasting memories with friends and family. However, there’s one uninvited guest that can quickly put a damper on your camping experience – raccoons. These curious and clever creatures are notorious for raiding campsites, creating messes, and causing general havoc in their quest for food.

camping with raccoons

Knowing how to keep raccoons away while camping will always make your camping experience better. Here are ten easy steps you can take to stay raccoon free on your next camping trip:

  1. Select and Setup Your Campsite Properly
  2. Secure Your Food Supply
  3. Utilize Raccoon-Proof Containers
  4. Properly Maintain and Dispose of Waste
  5. Create Physical Barriers
  6. Use Natural Raccoon Repellents
  7. Bring Your Dog Camping With You
  8. Maintain a Clean and Tidy Campsite
  9. Educate Fellow Campers and Encourage Cooperative Efforts
  10. What to Do if Raccoons Do Invade Your Campsite

Campsite Selection and Setup Tips That Will Help You Avoid Raccoons

First and foremost, choose a campsite that’s not too close to obvious raccoon hotspots. By this, I mean avoid camping near garbage bins or dumpsters, as these are natural raccoon magnets. Additionally, look for a site that’s not adjacent to dense vegetation, as raccoons use these areas for shelter and hiding.

Now, when it comes to setting up your campsite, it’s all about keeping it neat and tidy. The old saying “a place for everything and everything in its place” rings true here. Organize your cooking and eating area away from your sleeping area, preferably downwind. This helps reduce the enticing scents that attract raccoons.

As you set up your kitchen, always keep cleanliness in mind. Thoroughly clean any cooking equipment and eating utensils immediately after use. Leaving even a few crumbs behind can be enough to attract raccoons to your site. And of course, never leave food or coolers out in the open, especially overnight.

Finally, consider creating a designated “washing station” for dishes and personal hygiene, again, away from your sleeping area. The idea here is to minimize any scents that could draw raccoons in. Dispose of dirty water at least 200 feet away from your campsite and never dump it near water sources.

By keeping these tips in mind when selecting and setting up your campsite, you’ll be well on your way to a raccoon-free camping experience. Let’s dive deeper and talk a bit more about securing your food supply from raccoons as well as any other animals that may want to ruin your camping trip.

Securing Your Food Supply

First things first, let’s talk about containers. Opt for raccoon-proof containers when storing your food. These hard-sided, lockable containers are specifically designed to keep raccoons from accessing your stash. Alternatively, just use a bear cannister. They’re not just for bears, you know!

Now that you’ve got your containers sorted, it’s time to talk about placement. You’ll want to store your food at least 100 feet away from your sleeping area, to avoid drawing raccoons (or any other curious wildlife) too close for comfort. This isn’t always possible when car camping, but do your best.

When it comes to mealtime, be mindful of portion sizes. Cook only what you’ll eat to minimize leftovers, which can be a raccoon’s dream come true. After you’ve enjoyed your delicious campfire meal, be sure to clean up all cooking utensils, pots, and pans thoroughly. Remember, even the smallest traces of food can attract raccoons.

Finally, don’t forget about those seemingly innocuous items that have a scent – things like toothpaste, soap, and sunscreen. Raccoons have a keen sense of smell, and these items can be just as enticing as your food. Store them with the same care and attention as you do your food.

Proper Waste Management Techniques

Sometimes keeping raccoons away from your campsite takes more than just popping your food and toothpaste into a bear cannister. Here are three important waste management techniques to consider:

  1. Separate recyclables: Some campgrounds have recycling facilities, so it’s a good idea to separate recyclable items like cans, bottles, and plastics from your regular trash. This can help reduce the overall volume of waste you’ll need to pack out and minimize odors that might attract raccoons.
  2. Dispose of greywater: Greywater, which is the water used for washing dishes and personal hygiene, can also attract raccoons due to lingering food particles and scents. When disposing of greywater, do so at least 200 feet away from your campsite and any water sources, dispersing it over a wide area to minimize its impact.
  3. Use designated waste disposal facilities: If your campground has designated waste disposal facilities, like bear-resistant trash cans or dumpsters, be sure to use them properly. Close and latch any lids or doors, and follow posted guidelines to ensure that raccoons and other wildlife can’t access the waste.

Maintaining A Clean And Tidy Campsite

When it comes to camping, a clean and tidy campsite is your best defense against raccoons and other curious wildlife. Raccoons are notorious for their resourcefulness and determination when searching for food, and a messy campsite is like an open invitation to these clever critters.

Keep a tight camp by tidying up your campsite regularly, putting away any loose items like clothing, shoes, and camping gear. A well-organized campsite not only looks better but also makes it harder for raccoons to find hiding spots and nesting areas.

Before turning in for the night, do a quick sweep of your campsite to ensure that all food, trash, and scented items are securely stored and that dishes have been cleaned and put away. This simple routine can make a world of difference in keeping raccoons at bay.

Create Physical Barriers Between You And The Raccoons

Physical barriers can often be effective at keeping raccoons away from you, your tent, and the rest of your camping supplies. Here is a nice little table I made that quickly shows some of the physical barriers you can use as well as the pros and cons of using them.

Physical BarrierDescriptionProsCons
Mesh Fencing or NettingLightweight, portable fencing or netting that can be erected around your campsite or specific areas.Easy to set up; relatively affordableNot 100% effective; may not deter determined raccoons
Electric FencingA temporary electric fence that delivers a mild, non-lethal shock to discourage raccoons from entering.Highly effective; safe for animals and humansMore expensive; requires a power source
Metal Tree CollarsMetal bands wrapped around tree trunks to prevent raccoons from climbing trees and accessing hanging food.Durable; effective for specific treesNot practical for entire campsite; may damage tree bark
Tanglefoot or Sticky PasteA sticky substance applied to surfaces like tent poles or ropes to deter raccoons from climbing.Easy to apply; relatively inexpensiveCan be messy; may need reapplication; not effective in all situations
Noise or Motion DeterrentsDevices that emit noise or light when triggered by motion to scare away raccoons.Can be effective if strategically placedMay not work consistently; may disturb other campers

Natural Raccoon Repellents To Use When Camping

There are many websites giving advice on natural raccoon repellents. Some websites say to use ammonia-soaked rags, others say to create a DIY hot pepper spray, and some even tell you to sprinkle salt around the perimeter of your campsite. Don’t do any of these things. Ammonia-soaked rags can cause harm to the local wildlife as well as children. DIY hot pepper sprays aren’t going to work and definitely don’t fit into the “no trace left behind” mantra of camping.

What about sprinkling salt around the campsite? Well, that’s just silly. Many animals are attracted to salt and you may hurt the local plant life by spreading salt around your site.

So, what are some natural raccoon repellents you actually can use while camping. The only one that comes to mind that may actually work is to bring your dog camping with you. Raccoons are going to consider your dog a predator and they may not want to come near your campsite for fear they may be eaten.

Will Your Dog Really Keep Raccoons Away From Your Campsite?

The answer to this question is a hard maybe. Raccoons are generally cautious around dogs and may be afraid of them, especially if the dog is large, aggressive, or shows signs of being a threat. However, raccoons are also intelligent and adaptable creatures, so their reactions can vary depending on the situation and their previous experiences with dogs.

In some cases, raccoons may learn to associate dogs with potential danger and keep their distance. On the other hand, if a raccoon has had positive experiences around dogs or has become accustomed to their presence (such as in urban environments), it may be less afraid and more likely to approach a dog or a dog’s food and water bowls.

It’s important to remember that interactions between raccoons and dogs can be unpredictable and potentially dangerous for both animals. Raccoons may carry diseases like rabies that can be transmitted to dogs, and they have sharp teeth and claws that can cause serious injuries in a confrontation. Always supervise your dog while camping or in areas where raccoons are known to be present, and take precautions to minimize the chances of encounters between your dog and raccoons.

Educate Fellow Campers and Encourage Cooperative Efforts

When camping in raccoon territory, the key to a peaceful and enjoyable experience is not only taking personal precautions but also fostering a sense of community and shared responsibility among fellow campers. Educating others about the importance of raccoon-proofing campsites and encouraging cooperative efforts can go a long way toward maintaining a harmonious environment for both humans and wildlife.

Here’s a brief guide on how to promote awareness and collaboration among your camping neighbors.

  1. Share your knowledge: Start by engaging in friendly conversations with fellow campers about the importance of raccoon-proofing campsites. Share tips and tricks you’ve learned, and offer to help others implement these practices if they’re unsure how to do so.
  2. Set a good example: Actions speak louder than words, so make sure your own campsite is a model of cleanliness and organization. Demonstrate proper food storage, waste management, and campsite setup techniques, and be open to answering questions or offering guidance.
  3. Organize group efforts: If you’re camping with a group, designate roles and responsibilities for tasks such as food preparation, cleanup, and waste disposal. Working together can help ensure that everyone is on the same page and contributes to maintaining a raccoon-free environment.
  4. Respect campground rules: Adhere to any campground-specific guidelines related to raccoon prevention, and encourage others to do the same. Following these rules demonstrates a commitment to protecting both the local wildlife and the camping community.
  5. Encourage reporting raccoon sightings: If raccoons are spotted in the vicinity, encourage campers to report their sightings to campground staff or park rangers. This information can help officials take appropriate action to manage raccoon populations and protect campers from potential encounters.

By promoting education and cooperation among fellow campers, you can help create a safe and enjoyable camping experience for everyone. Remember, we share the great outdoors with a variety of wildlife, and it’s our responsibility to respect their habitat and minimize our impact.

What to Do if Raccoons Do Invade Your Campsite

Even with the best preventative measures in place, raccoons may occasionally find their way into your campsite. If you find yourself face-to-face with these clever creatures, it’s important to know how to handle the situation calmly and safely. Here’s a brief guide on what to do if raccoons invade your campsite:

  1. Stay calm and composed: While it’s natural to feel startled or alarmed, try to remain calm and avoid panicking. Raccoons are generally not aggressive towards humans unless they feel threatened, so it’s crucial to give them space and avoid any sudden movements.
  2. Keep your distance: Do not approach or try to touch a raccoon, as they may carry diseases like rabies and can inflict serious injuries with their teeth and claws. Maintain a safe distance and allow the raccoon to move away on its own.
  3. Make noise: If the raccoon doesn’t seem to be leaving, make some noise to scare it away. Clap your hands, shout, or bang pots and pans together. Raccoons are typically wary of humans, and loud noises can encourage them to leave the area.
  4. Secure your belongings: Once the raccoon has left, assess your campsite for any signs of damage or stolen items. Secure any remaining food, trash, and scented items in raccoon-proof containers or hang them out of reach. Make sure to clean up any food scraps or debris left behind.
  5. Assess your campsite setup: Determine how the raccoon gained access to your campsite and take steps to prevent future invasions. This may include repositioning your tent, adjusting your food storage methods, or creating physical barriers to deter raccoons.
  6. Inform campground staff or park rangers: Report the raccoon encounter to campground staff or park rangers so they can take appropriate action to manage raccoon populations and protect other campers.
  7. Share your experience: Let your fellow campers know about your encounter and remind them of the importance of raccoon-proofing their campsites. Sharing your experience can help raise awareness and encourage others to take necessary precautions.

By following these steps, you can safely and effectively handle a raccoon encounter at your campsite.

Ever had a run in with a raccoon while camping? Tell us about it below in the comments!

Jim Murphy

Jim's love for camping started at an early age. His parents would take him camping every summer, where he'd spend his days getting quality time in with his dad and his nights eating too many smores.

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