camping trip

6 nature poems to inspire your next camping trip

The warmth and clarity of summer weather are upon us, and with this change in seasons comes the opportunity for outdoor adventure. Camping, hiking, and other outdoor activities can provide endless creative fodder for poets and writers. After all, some of the most acclaimed poets, from Walt Whitman to Mary Oliver, were inspired by nature. We’ve collected this list of 6 nature poems to help you get excited for your next camping trip. 


1. “Leave No Trace” by Maggie Dietz

“However long you stay you must leave nothing.

No matchbox, no pole-tip, no grommet, no cup.

Carry in and out your Clif Bar wrappers,

Your fear of bears and storms. Keep the rage

You thought you’d push through your boot-soles into the stones,

The grief you hoped to shed. If you think you’ve changed,

Take all your changes with you.”

“Leave no trace” is the #1 rule for ethical hikers, campers, and nature lovers. It’s a policy that consists of seven principles to help you minimize environmental damage when enjoying the great outdoors—so we thought it apt to include a poem of the same name at the top of our nature-based poetry list. Maggie Dietz’s poem “Leave No Trace” serves as an imagery-rich reminder to respect the natural world as you’re exploring. 


2. “The Forest for the Trees” by Rena Priest

“I have seen a tree split in two

from the weight of its opposing branches.

It can survive, though its heart is exposed.

I have seen a country do this too.”

The natural world has plenty to teach us, and finally grasping its wisdom is one of the most rewarding experiences we can have while camping. In Rena Priest’s poem, “The Forest for the Trees,” Rena describes the peace, hope, and understanding she’s found by considering humans’ relationship with (and likeness to) the trees. Next time you find yourself in the forest, pick some element of the natural world—whether it be the trees, the birds, or a waterfall—and ask yourself what it could teach you. 


3. “After Thirty Minutes, Dark Adaptation Occurs” by Emily Townsend

“I am your backpack as you fall

asleep. I watch this asterism burn

and dim like a stagnant plane, fixated

yet moving as our planet orbits. I assume


this is the only thing alive in the dark.

You snore loud enough to wake up

the horizon, and Little Dipper panhandles out,

Draco curves toward the zenith.”

In cities and suburbs, stargazing is an endangered pastime due to artificial light pollution. When you camp overnight in places with low light pollution, your eyes will adjust to the dark and open up a wide view into the starry sky. Emily Townsend’s poem, “After Thirty Minutes, Dark Adaptation Occurs,” explores the deeply moving experience of stargazing before falling asleep, and we think it’s a great poem to read if you’re anticipating an overnight camping trip. Pay attention to the planets and constellations she mentions and see if you can spot them when you’re out there in the dark.


4. ‘Camping In The Edgelands With My Cousin” by Amelia Doherty

“We never reached higher than the lower branches

But I swear our bones were oak and our fingers brushed the sky.”

Camping is a great way to spend quality time with your family. As a kid, climbing a tree or sleeping in a tent outside for the first time can be a magical experience that creates lasting memories. Amelia Doherty captures this nostalgic feeling perfectly in her poem “Camping in the Edgelands with My Cousin.” We hope the vivid imagery in this poem brings back warm memories of camping as a child and motivates you to reconnect with that youthful awe.


5. “What I Want to Believe About the Vireos” by Catherine Pierce

“The vireos are plotting.

They are everywhere and various


and all with names

like Shakespearean villains


disguised as Shakespearean clowns.”

Over the past 50 years, bird populations have been declining across North America, a suspected side effect of climate change. However, the vireo family is one of the few bird families that still seems to be thriving. Catherine Pierce’s poem, “What I Want to Believe About the Vireos” imagines the secret behind the vireos’ resilience and paints the picture of a future where they continue to thrive. Listen for the vireo’s warbling call on your next camping trip and let this poem soothe some of your eco-anxiety. 


6. “National Park” by Alex Greenberg

“The only thing left to do

Here is to clear a space

In the rubble

and cup your hands

around the sun

like the face


of your future child.”

Although many people care about the environment, it can be difficult to truly understand the beauty, fragility, and importance of nature preservation until you’ve experienced it for yourself. Alex Greenberg’s poem, “National Park,” touches on the beauty of national nature reserves and the ways that they’ve already been impacted by human activity. We hope this poem serves as a reminder that the longevity of the wilderness depends on our respect and protection. As much as we love hiking, canoeing, roasting marshmallows, and other outdoor recreation, we all have a responsibility to minimize our impact on the environment so we can continue to enjoy it for generations. 


Have fun exploring!

We hope this collection of poems gets you inspired and excited to camp out under the stars this summer. While you’re exploring the great outdoors, why not make room in your backpack for a pen and some paper and try writing your own nature poem? Read the 4 reasons why you should write eco-poetry