Can I Play Music At My Campsite? – Things To Keep In Mind


Camping can be a great way to get out and enjoy some of the sounds of nature, but what if you want to enjoy some music too? What are the rules for enjoying music at your campground? Of course, they can vary from place to place, but most National Parks and State Parks usually share common rules when it comes to playing music at your campsite. I have often wondered if I can play music at my campsite and so I did some research to find out.

So, can you play music at a campsite? You can usually play music at your campsite as long as you keep some rules in mind. There is a general rule, and there is a specific rule for how loud your music can be at a campsite.

There are limited times that you can play your music, which is either outside of quiet hours or inside of generator hours. The general rule is that the music must only be able to be heard at your campsite and no further. There is however a very specific formal regulation set in place for any possible audio disturbance that you should know. The main thing you need to do is exercise common sense and common courtesy when it comes to playing music at your campsite and you should have no problems at all.

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The Limited Hours For Playing Music At Your Campsite

The first thing you should know is that even though you are usually technically allowed to play music at your campsite, there are limited hours in which you may do so. These limited hours usually fall in line with the campground’s quiet hours or the campground’s generator hours.

Quiet hours are usually somewhere between 10:00 pm and 6:00 am. They can even be in a range of a few hours before or after those times, it just depends on the campground you are at. This is usually set in place to allow everyone at the campground enough peace and quiet to get some sleep. During these times there is supposed to be very minimal noise being made. These are usually clearly posted at the entrance on the campground information board.

Generator hours are usually around 9 am to 9 pm. They are the designated hours where people may run their generators (usually in RVs). These hours can vary immensely campground to campground. Some campgrounds have extremely limited hours even with mid-day breaks in between. Often this is because some generators are very loud. The hours for generators are typically more strict than quiet hours. Sometimes music is allowed to be played during these times because there will be noisy generators operating anyway. These hours are usually clearly posted at the campground information board as well.

General Rules For Acceptable Levels Of Noise

The general rule for acceptable noise at a campsite is that if the noise travels outside of your campsite and into a different campsite then the noise is too loud. This is a pretty difficult rule to follow, but it makes sense why it is generally accepted. The idea is to not be a disturbance to others around you that are camping. Sometimes the campsites you stay at will be very close in proximity to each other and it’s almost impossible to follow this rule.

Even with light conversation, you might be able to be heard by the people in the campsite nearest to you. Not only is this because of proximity, but it can also be because when you are in more remote regions there is much less external noise and so the noise you create can travel much further than what you are used to.

This general rule is meant to apply to music at your campsite, if someone else can hear the music then technically it is too loud. Sometimes it is often difficult to gauge whether you are breaking this rule or not, luckily for us, there are some formal regulations for noise disturbances across all National Parks that we can use as an example.

The Formal Rule For Noise On Public Property

There is a code of federal regulations that goes by the name “Title 36 – Parks, Forests, and Public Property” that contains hundreds of pages of rules applying to just about every aspect of camping and everything else that has to do with those lands. There is one paragraph that directly applies to our question. It is under the bolded term “Audio Disturbances” and it states that:

“Operating motorized equipment or machinery such as an electric generating plant, motor vehicle, motorized toy, or an audio device, such as a radio, television set, tape deck or musical instrument, in a manner: (i) That exceeds a noise level of 60 decibels measured on the A-weighted scale at 50 feet; or, if below that level, nevertheless; (ii) makes noise which is unreasonable, considering the nature and purpose of the actor’s conduct, location, time of day or night, purpose for which the area was established, impact on park users, and other factors that would govern the conduct of a reasonably prudent person under the circumstances.”

So now we see a quantifyable rule of “60 decibels measured on the A-weighted scale at 50 feet” but what does that mean? Well, it is roughly equivalent to a normal conversation in an office or restaurant. If you are really curious then you could watch a video on the “levels of decibels” which actually have you listen to various measured noise levels, it’s pretty cool. In reality, we just need to exercise some common sense, not measure our noise level with a 50 feet scale.

Even in the formal regulation, it says that even if the noise is below that level it may be unreasonable. This is where common sense and good judgment come into play.

Using Common Sense To Apply To Playing Music

If your music is causing a disturbance to others than it is too loud. Period. Camping is one of those activities where you need to take other people into consideration when making your decisions because other people will be affected by them if you are in close proximity. After all, a tent’s walls are pretty thin.

Even if someone does not actively engage with you that the music you are playing is too loud it does not mean that they aren’t bothered by it. People are less confrontational than they used to be, it is becoming very common in our society today to avoid confrontation. So please use common sense and think about if your music is disturbing others.

How To Play Music As Loud As You Want: Headphones!

No way that your ears could take a noise loud enough to disturb others if you have headphones on. This is the most foolproof way to play music at your campsite and not disturb others (as long as you aren’t singing along). This is what I use if I intend to listen to any music while camping, which is not very often anymore because I like to enjoy the natural sounds more while out camping.

What Should You Do If Someone Else Is Playing Loud Music?

I have had several car camping trips ruined by those that think that the entire campground wants to hear their music. I have learned that sometimes you need to just go over and ask them to turn it down. That is #1.

#1 Ask them to turn down their music (tactfully)

Tact is using sensitivity in dealing with others. It really means just be respectful and 9 times out of 10 the other person will comply and be respectful back. This isn’t always a viable option for everyone so the next best thing you can do is delegate someone else.

#2 Delegate someone else to ask them to turn down the music

You can delegate someone else you are camping with, or you can delegate some other fellow campers that seem to be disturbed by the noise as well. Starting a conversation with someone else that can clearly hear the music as well could motivate them to go and directly ask them to turn the music down.

#3 Formally notify campground staff to take action

If possible, notify someone who works at the campground that there is a disturbance. Sometimes you have someone that works at a front check-in station or a ranger that comes around every once and a while to check on the place. Another thing you can do to find campground staff is to go to the rules and regulations board (often at the entrance of the campground) and look for any posted numbers you can call to report disturbances.

Conclusion

You can play music at your campgrounds so long as it does not disturb others. This really only requires common sense, and often the best thing to do is just put some headphones on if you want to listen to music. The rules will vary campground to campground but the general rule of not infringing on others is one that is commonly accepted pretty much anywhere you camp. You don’t need to know the formal regulations, you just need to take other people into consideration when you are playing music at your campsite.

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Zachary Smith

Zach is an avid outdoorsman that loves going camping with his Prius every chance he gets. He also regularly enjoys hiking and fishing. When he's not outside you can probably find him writing about it on this website. See his full bio here

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