Roof Top Tent Camping Activities for Adults

Often, camping is referred to by people as “the activity.” It is generally known as an escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. It is a hobby for the environment and adventure enthusiasts. And for families and gang campers, it is a form of bonding and sort of a team building. Some would also involve their pets in the relaxation. However, beyond these common perceptions, there is actually more to camping than just “the activity.” In fact, it is a better way to say that it is an event that offers several activities. This applies even with car camping for the several roof top tent camping activities that we can enjoy.

Actually, car camping activities may not be that different than ground-mounted tent camping or RV camping. It’s just that, in roof top tent camping, there is relative freedom to where we can camp. We can just park our car to a roadside, if permitted, up to the rugged backcountry. Also, it is relatively more comfortable than ground camping, almost similar to RV but cheaper. And in line with the wide variety of campsites to choose from, here are some roof top tent camping activities.

  • Kayaking, fishing, swimming, and other water activities if there is a near body of water
  • Lighting up a campfire and outdoor cooking given that we follow fire and firewood rules
  • Trail hiking, biking, bird and wildlife watching, stargazing and sightseeing
  • Participating in geocaching – the world’s largest treasure hunt

Camping is already an experience that is one for the books. However, it is more than just spending the night in a tent and sitting around a campfire prior to sleeping. It is more than just a refuge from our ordinary monotonous adult lives. With enough time for planning and researching, we can up our camping trip drastically. From kayaking to geocaching, we can find ways to turn our camping trip into beautiful, unforgettable memories.

Activities to Do in the Wild During Camping


Roof top tents are typically a bit heavier than ordinary ground tents. The reason for this is that ground-mounted tents are built to be compact and easily portable. While the roof top tents, on the other hand, are built to last long under extreme weather conditions. Primarily, we have to check with our car or rack manufacturer whether we can support our tent weight. And depending on our matches, our rack and car may still afford to carry more loads aside from the tent. Perhaps, we can bring more gears for our roof top tents camping activities such as a bike or a kayak.

At present, kayaking is becoming one of the most popular outdoor activities, particularly in the wild. And since roof top tents provide the freedom to stay in the wild, we can bring our kayaks with us. This is if our rack and car-top still have a room for the gear. We should also research our campsite beforehand if the activity is permitted. Campsites around national or state parks usually allow kayaking and other water activities. In fact, some may even provide their own kayaks for rent so that we do not have to bother bringing one.


Kayaking is a great camping activity that does not make noise and disturb wildlife. It does not even pollute, which is why national or state parks are pro kayaking as a camping activity. For the campers, conversely, it is also a great way to catch dinner over a warm campfire. It will require a little skill, but kayaks, other than pump boats or canoes, are great for fishing.

Speaking of fishing, it is also among the best roof top tent camping activities we may be allowed for. In fact, most national or state parks campsites also allow fishing if a water body is within the area. But if we are not in these particular campsites, we may still savor some challenging fish hunting. We just need to make sure though that we know of the fishing laws within the state.

Swimming and Other Water Activities

Aside from kayaking and fishing, we can, of course, wear our swimsuits for a deep in the river or the lake. This is if our campsites allow for it. Usually, most established sites allow swimming with or without a lifeguard on duty. It can be a fun activity to add to our camping itineraries or an alternative to conventional bathroom baths. Aside from that, the activity is also a natural, relaxing exercise for the body. It is also the most soothing way to cool down during hot weather.

Other than swimming, if we are in established campgrounds, we can also enjoy other water activities. For instance, we may be offered inflatable rafts, tubes, and other water sports gear. A word of caution though for our independent roof top tent camping. If we are in an unfamiliar body of water, we should be ready with flotation devices if necessary. We should also avoid diving immediately without knowing the depth of the water. Also, it is best if we research beforehand for any safety hazards. Enjoying the water is better as well with a buddy to swim with us.

Lighting up a Campfire

Lighting up a campfire is not only among roof top tent camping activities but for any camping activities. Primarily, since time immemorial, outdoor adventurists have been making campfires to provide light at night. Aside from that, a campfire also serves warmth during cold climate and heat for cooking. It can also serve as a deterrent for lurking wild animals and preying insects and mosquitoes.

Usually, established campgrounds will provide a stone or a steel fire ring for safety purposes. They should also have guidelines and regulations for the firewood removal within the area. Often, campgrounds may not permit us to bring our own firewood as we may bring in foreign species. These foreign species might threaten and disturb the biodiversity in the area. Thus, we may skip bringing another load in our car by opting to collect firewood within our established campground.

Outdoor Cooking

Probably, our closest experience for outdoor cooking is grilling our barbecues or steak in our yard. Outdoor cooking in the wild hits a ton differently than this, though. It is one thing to catch fish from the lake or the river, and another to cook it right away. Some people would bring a propane-operated stove for convenient cooking for multiple meals. But it is also another thing to cook the primitive style, over a campfire of our gathered firewood.

Also, we may even bring in some treats with us like chocolates, marshmallows, and Grahams. And you guess it. We can treat ourselves with some sweet s’ mores either by ourselves or with some companions. There is nothing like a cooked treat in a fresh, airy, and quiet environment away from the concrete jungle.

Nature Hiking

While we are at it, we might as well get deep into nature through hiking. Apparently, hiking is a default among the general list of roof top tent camping activities. It is a very easy thing to do and requires us to bring almost nothing. We can just bring a backpack of essentials, and then we are good to go and get into the wild. Through hiking, we can get ourselves into some exercise and leg work, as well as wildlife watching. Who knows when a deer might come across us along our trail?

Most established campgrounds open their area for early morning to sunset hikes. They may even have established trails so that we do not get lost on our way. Also, they may allow for buddy-buddy hiking or group hiking with other campers. Sometimes, we may even have a guide to help us trudge through rugged campground paths or trails. We may bring our cameras with us in case we want to document the wonders we come across.

However, it is important to take note to choose a simple, clearly-defined goal or hiking destination. This is especially significant for beginner hikers. For instance, we can set the goals as the top of a hill or outcropping. Or perhaps, it may be a river or a stream for a nice bath after sweating. Otherwise, if any, we can set our trail as around the lake so that we are never lost. That way, we can anticipate how long our hike will last and what items we have to bring with us.

Bicycle Riding

If our rack and car allow it, biking is one of the best roof top tent camping activities. Like hiking, bicycle riding is a good way to slow down and get deep into nature. However, it is more challenging in the sense that we have to balance our way through rugged trails. Thus, in line with this, it will also similarly function as an exercise for us like hiking. We may not have so much luxury though to immediately take a snapshot of a passing deer, for instance.

Also, most established campgrounds may have established biking trails for an easy bike ride. Moreover, not only can we use our bikes inside the campground, but also outside. Since our roof top tent camp does not allow for mobility, we need other means for a brief trip. For instance, it may be more work and trouble than it is worth to fold our tents up for a trip to the store. But with a bike, we are relieved of this trouble as we run a short errand outside the campground.

Wildlife Watching and Photographing

It is incredibly satisfying just to observe how wildlife works. We can watch the birds fly around, and the other animals emerge and behave in their natural habitat. And if we plan to do this on our camping trip, we might as well pack our binoculars and a bird hook. We may have to research beforehand though of what species are common in our desired campground.

And while we are at it, we might as well take some snapshots of our observations in the wild. We can use a camera or even our mobile phone cams to do this, all for the sake of documenting. We can go for shots of classic sunsets, big vistas, and beautiful views. Otherwise, we can snap tiny details as spider webs or dewdrops. We may also try snapping details that we want to learn like tree bark texture, leaf veins, or moss colors. Through this, our roof top tent camping is more meaningful and productive.

Stargazing and Sightseeing

Stargazing is one of the most beautiful roof top tent camping activities for adults. We can be on a long road trip across states and stop over a foresty roadside for a night. And by morning, we can wake up to the sight of birds over treetops and of the bright blue sky. Or, for instance, we can settle at a campground around San Francisco. And the view of the Golden Gate Bridge will be all ours to savor from sunrise to sunset.

Moreover, the sky is another sight to see at night. If we are lucky, our campsite far enough from the city can offer some good stargazing. We can bring our telescope with us and study constellations. This is a great, calming activity that will aid us in a better bedtime after. Also, it is an activity to watch out for if there is news of an upcoming major celestial event. For example, we can set a camping trip as soon as we hear about a future meteor shower event.

Participating in the World’s Largest Treasure Hunt

The world’s largest treasure hunt is what is known as geocaching. It is more like just a fun hobby in the form of an upgraded “scavenger hunting”. It works mainly by finding hidden items or hiding items around the campground. Those who hide items will share the GPS coordinates of the items so that others can find the treasures. Through this, we can exercise our navigation skills, explore the surroundings, and have a whole lot of fun. This activity is even more fun if we do it with our families.

Certainly, to get started with geocaching, we will need to download the official Geocaching app. Then, we can create an account on it for free. We then have to search for geocaches in our area and set out to search for the hidden treasures. If we found one cache, we can take it and leave another in return. This will show other geocachers that we have already been to the location. We may also make a comment on the app to show and celebrate our finds. And if we want, we can create our own geocaches and hide them ourselves. Then, we can log them in the app for other geocachers to search for.

Related Questions

Are all campgrounds and parks open for roof top tent camping?

Unfortunately, not all parks and campgrounds allow for roof top tent camping. The majority of the camping opportunities offered by them allow camping next to our vehicle but not on top of it. However, there are probably around a hundred campgrounds around the US. And out of them, there is still a handful that will allow us to car camp. We can go to and search several campsites in the many states that would allow car camping. These places will allow us to set up our tents over our car top easily.

However, in case we plan not to camp on established campgrounds, we should check with the local ordinances. Some states simply just do not allow roadside camping, especially if it may, in any way, disrupt traffic. Others may allow dispersed camping outside state parks as long as we do not disturb the forest. This tells us, thus, to research ahead of time for necessary information.

What are the things we should consider when planning on bringing our pets camping?

First of all, not all campgrounds allow bringing pets. Thus, we should check ahead of time if our desired campsite will make our fur babies enter the area. If it does allow, we should consider bringing a leash that is no longer than six feet. This also means that we should keep our animals under our supervision all the time. Also, they may not be allowed in public facilities like bathhouses, visitor centers, offices, and the like.

Moreover, the park we are camping in may ask for proof that our pets are safe. For instance, they may ask for current rabies vaccination for dogs, if any. And most importantly, we should make sure that we clean up after our pets. In any case that they become a nuisance to the campground, we should expect to be terminated from the area. Depending on the area’s laws and regulations, we may even be billed if there are damages caused by our pets.

Eni Gordove

is an outdoor enthusiast. She loves the thrill of the challenges that nature brings.

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