Can you Bring a Firearm when Camping

Posted by Jessica Koenes on Apr 29th 2022

When camping, can you bring a gun? Is it advised to carry one during outdoor activities such as hiking and hunting? What type of firearm would be useful for these types or trips accordingly?

In most cases having a firearm on your camping trip would be acceptable and considered to be cautious. You can never be too careful when it comes to safety, and the best way is by bringing a trusty gun with you on a camping trip.

The Great Outdoors

The smell of the open flame as you sit by the warmth of a roaring fire. The sounds of nature softly reminding you how peaceful it is to step away from the ambient sounds of the city. The breathtaking views of rolling hills, gentle meadows, and towering mountains. Is there anything that can beat the joy of camping? With the allure of summer months approaching, the planning can finally get started for the next camping adventure. As you begin to plan out what gear to bring, you may be wondering, can I bring a firearm with me while I camp?

The Great Outdoors

Camping by chulmin1700 from Pixabay

Bringing A Firearm on Camping

Check with the Specific State you will be Visiting

Where are you looking to camp? Are you considering a national park or a state park? The biggest difference between national and state parks is right there in the names: national parks are managed by the federal government, and state parks are operated by state governments.

National Parks

National parks can be a whole different experience. You will often find signs about weapons being prohibited when you go to national parks. The federal law still prohibits firearms at federal facilities within most national parks.

Visitor centers, national park offices, or other maintenance buildings specifically prohibit the possession of firearms on the premises. You will see signs that are on the public entrances that explicitly ban firearms. Where you will find exceptions in national parks, are in some places in Alaska or at locations in national parks that allow for hunting.

When you travel through state parks, you may cross state lines. State laws on guns apply inside the national park, so be aware of where you are traveling through the park. You are required to follow state laws even on federal property. Review the federal laws on park websites or contact a park ranger if you have more questions regarding a specific national park and firearm carry regulations.

State Parks

State parks are easier for bringing a firearm. Every state has different restrictions and regulations concerning weapons on state owned land. State campgrounds are regulated by the laws of the state. Check in with the local sheriff or fish and wildlife services to find out the specific restrictions concerning the campsite you are going to be visiting.

  • Open or Concealed Firearm Permits: There are several states that legally allow you to have an open or concealed firearm of any kind without any permit. Other states require a concealed gun permit.
  • Unloaded Gun: You will come across states that allow you to carry a gun in your vehicle or on the campsite, but strictly prohibit you to have your firearm loaded on the premises.
  • Firearms Ban: Some states do not allow you to carry a gun while camping at all. Some states have restrictions on certain calibers or have other state specific rules.
  • Reciprocity: Look into whether the state you are visiting honors reciprocity state-issued concealed carry permits as well.

Do your research before you carry a gun with you to go camping. Just a quick Google search concerning the state campsite you are visiting will go a long way.

State Parks

Camping by Tima Miroshnichenko from Pexels

Types of Firearms to Bring Camping


  • Pros: Bringing a handgun frees you up a bit for your camping experience. If you are in a state that allows concealed carry while camping then you have a weapon with quick and easy accessibility when in a pinch. You can go for a walk or a hike and have protection without scaring fellow campers that you pass by. You have the added benefit of comfort and convenience with a gun that is easier to carry around.
  • Cons: There are a few disadvantages that come with choosing a handgun for your firearm of choice while camping. While you have the benefit of personal protections from others on the campsite, with quick access when coming across threats, the small caliber of a handgun will not be effective if faced with a cougar, bear, or large predator. Unless you have perfect aim and are able to hit the heart or between the eyes from a close range, you will need a gun with a bit more power to protect yourself from a large animal. You may be able to slow down an attack with a handgun, but you are taking a risk and gambling your safety by taking a handgun to keep yourself protected from animals.


  • Pros: You have a weapon with larger bullets that can do more damage! If coming across a large animal in the wild, and feeling threatened; it would feel much more comfortable to come into that scenario with a rifle opposed to a handgun. Larger animals require large caliber weapons in order to neutralize a threat.
  • Cons: While a rifle can do more damage when confronted with large predators, there are disadvantages to bringing a rifle for a camping exertion. Keeping a rifle discreet is challenging, at best. It can be large and consuming to keep with you, especially if you are camping on the go and moving campsites or hiking. A small, bolt action rifle would still be a cumbersome drag on a hiking trail. It also runs the risk of making other campers uncomfortable or drawing unwarranted attention to your camping party. You can leave your rifle in your car or at your campsite, but you run the risk of discovery and having it stolen. Not to mention it is then not easily accessible if you come into a snag and are in need of your firearm quickly.


Firearms by Pexels from Pixabay


When it comes time to go camping, do a quick search to find the firearm regulations in the state you are visiting. If you decide to camp in a location that is not known for large animal encounters, a handgun may be the most effective weapon of choice. This is always a gamble, but the smaller weapon will make for easier travel and less work.

If you do camp in a location where bears are known to be present, or you are camping in a way that keeps you close to your campsite, you may want to consider a larger weapon and stick with a weapon that has safer odds when confronted with a large animal.