Backcountry campsites: map as camp_site or camp_pitch?

hello! I’m a new mapper looking to improve backcountry campsite tagging in Canada. This seems like an immense amount of text to ask what seem like simple questions - apologies in advance!


The campsites in question have shared amenities (e.g. bearproof food storage, toilets) as well as private amenities (e.g. the pitch you camp on). The campsites as a whole have names (e.g. High Dump) and individual pitches within are named and reservable (e.g HD1, HD2, …, HD9).

Some examples:

Question 1: I’ve surveyed all the pitches for Stormhaven and High Dump. I’d like to add them to OSM. But I wonder… should they be tourism=camp_site or tourism=camp_pitch?

tourism=camp_pitch seems most accurate. But its wiki notes:

The pitch must be located within an area tagged tourism=camp_site.

The campsites in question don’t currently have a tourism=camp_site area which would seem to rule this out unless one is added (…see the next question).

On the other hand, using overpass, it seems like there do exist a reasonable number of backcountry pitches that are tagged as tourism=camp_pitch, backcountry=yes, and which are not enclosed in a tourism=camp_site.

Maybe the wiki doesn’t quite capture reality? Or maybe it does, and those other uses aren’t ideal?

Question 2: is it ever possible to map an area for tourism=camp_site in the backcountry?

These campsites don’t have a verifiable boundary like a fenceline, so it seems like the best you can do is map them as a tourism=camp_site node, not an area.

On the other hand, I could imagine that many hikers would agree with an area that encompasses all of the shared elements and the internal trails that connect them, extending out to natural boundaries like shorelines. But still, it would be subjective.

Question 3: if the answer to question 2 is no, is there any other way to relate the members of a camp site?

My motive here is that I’m writing a data consumer for backcountry hiking, so it’d be helpful to know which things are related. If everything is a tourism=camp_site and there’s no enclosing area, then we need some other hint.

The wiki for tourism=camp_site says not to use it on non-multipolygon relations.

On the other hand, I see that some mappers map a tourism=camp_site relation that contains all the shared elements, e.g. Relation: ‪Trekking Pfalz: Ruine Guttenberg‬ (‪13009876‬) | OpenStreetMap (cc @giggls, who I think may have pioneered this)


It seems like a variety of approaches might be fine here. I don’t quite have the cultural/community context to know which ones are best, so I’m looking for feedback from folks who map the backcountry. Any help appreciated!

A question laying out all the options is often better than one where people have to guess what you’re getting at! :grinning:

By the book, pitch is used for an individual spot where you set up your tent, while site is for a collection of pitches in that area.

Unless they’re all single-pitch sites only i.e. only 1 tent there at a time, I’d go for a camp-site area. If the boundaries aren’t clear, include a note to say “Boundary uncertain” or similar.

I’ve done a little mapping of similar backcountry sites in the Red River Gorge. I’ve used camp_site to surround each distinct cleared area. Each site then will contain a fire pit, and one or more pitches. The camp sites are then connected to the parking lot and shared pit latrine with foot paths.

I guess the Wiki says how we should map not how we must map :wink: as long as it is not completely wrong of course… The tagging can always be changed to a better version later on, but the hard work is getting the basics to the map.
A question with kind of the same subject was up not too long ago

Maybe you can get some information there as well.

This is a very OSM thing to do: get something mappable “into the map!” even if you are a little rough with the tags, or the boundary is a little estimated or the location(s) of specifics are off by a meter or three. Getting data into our map at the level of “A-minus” (or, shudder to think, even a B-plus!) is a great thing to do and again, oh-so-OSM. Lots and lots of people are delighted to later come along and polish up your A- (or B+) to a high gloss of A+ or absolute perfection. And that someone is frequently you (the original contributor), having learned newer / better mapping techniques / tags.

Thanks for the feedback, all! I think the takeaway is be bold, and just be open to another local mapper pushing back if they have feelings about what I did. :slight_smile:

I’ll switch to mapping the overall site as an approximate area, and mapping the pitches as tourism=camp_pitch nodes.