Camping with Kristi Rugg

Tent at night at Joshua Tree National Park

Meet Kristi Rugg, a Graphics Ranger at Acadia National Park. She started with the National Park Service at Grand Canyon National Park in 2009, and when she isn't at work, she loves hiking, biking, taking photos, and playing music. Her dream park to camp in is Sequoia and Kings Canyon in California because of its beauty and great diversity of life.

Sketched illustration of a bird

Favorite memory of camping growing up?
My favorite memory of camping from when I was growing up was when my dad and I would get up really early, head out with our fishing poles, and catch brook and brown trout for breakfast for the family.

Most memorable camping trip?
I was lucky enough to go on a raft trip on the Colorado River. For five days we camped out under the stars, on the sand. Temperatures never dipped below 90F at night, so we didn't need tents or sleeping bags. With no ambient light to compete with, the night skies were breathtaking.

Favorite park to camp in?
That's a tough question! My favorite parks to camp in are the ones in Utah: Bryce Canyon, Zion, Arches, Canyonlands, and Capitol Reef. One of the coolest backpacking trips I've ever been on was hiking down the Zion Narrows and camping overnight at one of the backcountry sites. That was an amazing place.

Sketched illustration of an a-frame tent

Who would you invite on your dream camping trip?
My nieces and nephews. They're still a little young for a big adventure, but I want to be able to share the places I love, that I work to protect, with them.

Tent or RV?
Tent, but with a good comfy sleeping pad.

Most frivolous or "must have" item you bring?
My DSLR camera. It's heavy and takes up room, but I love taking photos.

Any advice for a novice camper?
Just try it! Car-camping is a great way to get into spending a night outdoors. Or go with a group of people who are experienced. Don't eat yellow snow.

Sketched illustration of animal tracks

Ever come across any wildlife on your camping trips?
While backpacking in Grand Canyon at night, with a too-heavy pack, I heard a rattlesnake rattle. I practically ran down trail. In the years I lived in Arizona though, that was my only encounter with a rattlesnake. Most of the wildlife I've seen while camping has been at a distance.

Favorite camp activities?
I love meeting other people camping and hearing about their experiences and adventures. It's fun to connect with people from all over the world who are enjoying the places you love, too.

Favorite camping recipes?
When backpacking I like to bring a bag of dried cranberries, dried blueberries, candied pecans, and powdered milk. I heat up water, add oatmeal, and once it's cooked, I add the berries and nuts. It's a really filling breakfast and great on a cold morning.

Last updated: February 7, 2019

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