Fall is a wonderful time for camping.
If you live in the south, the temps are finally cooling off. If you live in the north it’s an especially beautiful time to be outdoors.
Here in Minnesota we wait all year long to soak in the glorious fall color of the trees. To feel the crisp air after a hot and often muggy summer. To enjoy the outdoors without clouds of mosquitos and flies!
Most people think of camping as a summertime activity. But fall camping is wonderful, too!
Here are some tips to be sure you can enjoy your fall camping expeditions fully:
Know and prepare for the weather forecast
There are seasonal averages, then there are actual weather conditions. Know the forecast before you go so you know how to pack! Who wants to be stuck in a tent for 3 days because you didn’t pack rain gear? Or find yourself in a snowstorm up in the mountains because you didn’t know snow was headed your way?
Who wants to lose sleep because you can’t get warm? No one I know! There are several things you can do to ensure a snug night’s sleep:
- If you’ll be in a tent, bring a sleeping pad. It will keep you off the cold ground.
- Make sure your sleeping bag is rated for the nighttime lows, or bring extra blankets.
- Keep your head covered at night with a hoodie sweatshirt or knit hat. You won’t lose heat through your head and you’ll still be able to breathe. Of course if you like your sleeping bag over your head that works, too.
- Put a flannel pillow case on your pillow instead of a regular cotton one.
Avoid weekends if possible
If it can’t be helped, you will probably need reservations for weekend camping trips. But if you can swing it, camp mid-week while the kids are in school and most people are at work. You’ll have most of the campground and hiking trails to yourself, or at least with far fewer people.
Know the best fall color hikes
Find the best trails in your area and plan to camp nearby. Who wants to spend hours in the car driving back and forth?
Take precautions if you paddle
If you’re going to paddle in the fall in the north remember that cold water can cause hypothermia very, very quickly. Always wear a life jacket…paddle near the shore in case you have to swim for it. Be extra careful. Even wear a wet suit or dry suit if you have one in case of an accidental capsize.
Dress in layers
Bring enough clothes that you can layer-up or strip-down as needed. The days may still be warm enough for shorts and tees, but the nights may be chilly enough even for a down coat! Gloves, a knit hat and wool socks may be in order, too.
Know how to build a fire quickly
Fall mornings can be very crisp, even downright cold. Have a stack of firewood and kindling ready to go so you can get your fire going right away. It’ll warm you up quickly. Read Amazingly Easy Campfire Starters…
So these are things you need to know for fall camping in the North.
What about you Southerners?
What’s the best part of fall camping for you? What things do others need to know? Contact me and let’s get another post up!
Other posts for you:
- Minnesota’s Best Fall Color Hike
- Favorite Camping Spots
- Camping in the Grand Canyon (a great trip for fall)
Sharon is the founder and publisher of Active Outdoor Women. She loves getting outside in beautiful places to hike, paddle, camp, snowshoe, ski, ride—and encouraging others to come along! Besides maintaining AOW and her other website, Twin Cities Outdoors, Sharon writes and designs websites, newsletters, blogs, emails, books and other marketing tools for clients.