Certainly, one of the primary appeals of camping is getting as far away from other humans as possible. But you don't have to drive all day to achieve this. Within an hour of the city, you can pitch a tent under the stars, backpack into a remote campsite, and see wildlife besides squirrels. Some of the best campsites within a quick drive of the Cities are at Afton State Park. Just minutes past the grotesquely overdeveloped Woodbury, you can enjoy a rugged, uphill hike into an oak savannah, check out scenic vistas of the St. Croix River, and pitch a tent out of earshot of traffic. Plus, if you're an early riser, you can join the commute into the city and brag to your co-workers about having woken up in a tent. (Fees: $4 vehicle permit, $6 reservation fee through the Connection at 922-9000, $8-$14 camping fee.)


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