You might want to print this and bring it along with you, if this is your first time. Here is a
Falcon Ridge Volunteer Camping Primer
I have worked the front gates where people are coming in. And, I have roved in campgrounds crew and talked to lots of folks camped all over the festival. Over the years, I have developed some hopefully concise answers to the constant question we get: "Where should we camp?"
The answer really starts off: "It depends ..."
It really does depend upon what is more important to you: shade
, closeness to stagesmusic-jams & song-swaps
. I am going to refer to different names of camping areas at Falcon Ridge, which are all listed on the on-line map here: http://falconridgefolk.com/files/sitemap2008.jpg
Here are some different priorities, and where to find good camping to suit each of these:
Almost the entire festival camping is on some angle of hill, except for the RV and Volunteer area. The flatter spots get occupied first. As a volunteer, you get the pick of these. If absoluetely flat is you highest priority, the volunteer area may be for you.
There is practically no shady camping under trees almost anywhere at Falcon Ridge. So, bring your own tarp or sun-shade, and expect to be woken up early by the sun.
If sleeping-in is a bit of a priority for you, here are a few camping tips. The sun rises in the East, meaning over the hills opposite the festival (across the valley). However, there are a few lines of trees at the festival. If you camp right under the uphill-side
of these trees, you will get a bit more AM shade. Not a lot, but "a bit." These campsites fill up incredibly fast.
Late afternoon shade can be had by camping along the upper rim of the festival, under the downhill side of the trees lining the tops of the fields. Again, these camping spots fill up first.
If you mainly want to be in a peaceful area away from the stages and late-night drum-circles, loud whooping, etc. .... camp in "15 acre". It is a longer walk (15-20+ minutes) from the stages, less crowded, and more full of families. That can mean the boisterous noise of kids earlier in the AM may wake you up.
Another area that is still quiet, but closer to everything is "Upper Ledge." It is a good compromise between "too far" and "quiet enough."
In answer to your question, the "Volunteer Area" is pretty noisy during the day, with crowds of folks walking around nearby. You will also awaken early AM with the sounds of early risers. Late night, you will be further away from the drum circles, so you will not hear them as much. But, you will be closer to Rt. 22 down there, and so will pick up more road noise than higher up on the hill late night, if you are in a tent.
In drier years, mud is not much of a issue. Check the 5-day weather forecast. If it is going to rain a lot, expect mud in the main areas at the base of the hills.
Considering most festival camping is up a hill, that means rain tends to run down off the slopes. This means it is less muddy (relatively speaking) camping on the hills.
Another factor to consider: IF it rains a lot, the roads can get very muddy. If it rains too much, FRFF Security may briefly close the roads, to prevent everyone from getting stuck. So, if you plan to drive in / out a lot, realize you will have to carry stuff up on foot if that happens.
The Volunteer camping area on the flats at the bottom will get the muddiest if it rains a lot. If so, mud will permeate your entire body and campsite. Want to avoid the mud? Higher up on the hills, towards the top of "Upper Pasture", "10 Acre", "Upper Ledge" will be much less muddy if the week is wet.
Also, if you want to avoid mud on the hills, camp away from the roads that criss-cross the slopes horizontally (side-to-side, not up-and-down). They end up forming grooves which stop the rain run-off, collect water, and so get muddier fast. Here is a trick: Camping on the uphill side (above) the roads, or further into the meadows will reduce that problem.
A word to the wise: "If the festival is going to be rainy, bring those tall, rubber fireman's boots, or highhhh galoshes. The main festival roads near the stages, food, etc., all get quite swampy when wet."
CLOSENESS TO STAGES --
A rare delight for festivals is camping so that you can hear the music on the main-stage right at your campsite. If you want this, camp in "Lower Pasture." It is a popular spot because you can hear the whole festival without going anywhere.
MUSIC JAMS & SONG-SWAPS --
One of the high-points of Falcon Ridge for many are the bountiful campfire sing-alongs, song swaps, and jams that happen, many at night. Read on.
Some of the drum-circles get quite loud, with much late-night whooping and yelling. They are all kinds of fun. But, they are not so good if you want to get to sleep before 1 or 2 am (or later
) -- beware! The wilder drum-circles tend to be in "Upper Pasture" and "Lower Pasture."
Campfire song-swaps and sing-alongs, etc., are sprinkled throughout the fest. In general, I have noticed they tend to happen along the edges (and in) "10 Acre", and "Upper Pasture" and "Lower Pasture". The left-edge of "10 Acre" usually has a couple of really hot jams. There seem to be fewer in the RV and volunteer areas. Just wander around and keep your ears open to find them. (I usually ask if I can sit down, and have never failed to be warmly invited in. There is a lot of Falcon Ridge friendliness everywhere.)
I hope some of this helps.