Above the streets, beneath the stars: why you should try urban rooftop camping
Urban landscapes may have different sights and sounds than traditional wilderness camping, but still can provide an unparalleled intimacy with nature
I cant be outdoors enough. Snow or shine, hot or cold, Im outside. I grew up in an active, outdoorsy family who went on day hikes whenever possible and even car-camped occasionally. As I came of age, I started venturing deeper into a diversity of environments and for longer periods of time. By the time I had graduated college, I had thru-hiked the Appalachian trail. By my mid-20s, I had hiked on hundreds of trails across five continents. For me, nothing beats backpacking into an otherwise inaccessible campsite, having your own, uninterrupted space and being self-sufficient.
That said, one of my favorite places to camp is the roof of my Brooklyn apartment building.
I am not the first to recommend urban camping, and yet the initial response out of most peoples mouths when I tell them I love it is: Here? In the city? Its a fair question given the very term urban camping presents a facade of contradiction. In practice, however, camping in a city is in many ways not so different from camping on an unpopulated mountain.
Like every environment, urban landscapes provide their own unique set of challenges, including noise, privacy and security from people (instead of bears or lions or snakes). One of the reasons I love urban camping is because of the specific elements that might not be present during traditional, wilderness camping. Ive camped in urban or otherwise populated settings as diverse as a heavily trafficked college campus quad to building balconies to, most recently, my own apartment building roof.