The first day of autumn is still several weeks away, but now’s the time to start planning your fall campout! Autumn is our whole family’s favorite time of year and the perfect time of year to go camping. The temperatures are cooler, campgrounds tend to be less crowded, and those pesky mosquitoes are (mostly) gone!
With our summer camping adventures winding down, we are starting to think about our fall plans. Last year we experienced fall beach camping at Assateague State Park in Maryland–home to the legendary wild ponies. This year we are planning to stick closer to home–and if things work out, maybe even meet up with some camping friends.
As we start to plot our fall campout, we thought it was a good time to repost a few of our favorite fall camping tips to help you plan your best fall campout ever!
Tips for picking your fall destination:
Consult foliage maps before making reservations. It’s an imperfect science trying to pick the best weekend to go fall camping, but there are a few tools that can help. The Weather Channel has excellent fall foliage maps that tell you when the average peak leaf season is for the region. If you are camping locally, check to see if your state has a foliage map like the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources has here in the Keystone State.
Head south. If you live in the North and want to escape the colder temperatures, then consider picking a southern destination. I don’t like visiting the South during the heat of the summer, but trips during the fall or winter are just peachy because the temperatures are cooler. 🙂
Pick up the phone. If you decide to go fall camping at the last minute and the campground is booked online, it’s time to start making phone calls. Some campgrounds reserve a small number of sites for walk-ins, and many campgrounds have cancellations at the last minute.
Pick “sunny” sites. During the hot summer months we try to choose campsites in the shade, but for fall camping, it’s often better to choose a site in full sun to help stay a bit warmer on cooler days.
Tips for the trip:
Pack the heat. Bring along a small space heater in case your camper’s furnace can’t keep up with the dropping temperatures. On our trip two years ago, the temps dipped into the low 30s!
Think comfort. Plan comfort food type meals, like chili and soups. These will cook well in crock pots while you are off enjoying the day and then warm everyone’s bellies around the campfire at night.
Pack enough! Bring more warm clothes than you think you’ll need. Sometimes the temperatures will be colder than expected, and sometimes kiddos are having so much fun playing they inadvertently get soaked–ahem, ask me how I know. Also make sure to include a pair of lightweight gloves and hats for everyone. One year we didn’t bring any gloves and the kiddos’ fingers were frigid during the evenings around the campfire.
Crack a window. If you are running your propane heater or cooking inside on the gas stove, make sure to crack a window and open the roof vent to prevent moisture and condensation from building up on the camper’s interior walls. (This can lead to delamination issues if you do not properly ventilate the camper–ask us how we know. 🙁 )
Tips for fall touring:
Think hiking and car drives. Fall is a great time to get in the woods and explore: I love hearing the crunch of leaves and breathing in the fresh, crisp air. If you are camping in a state park on your fall getaway, then finding those hiking trails may be as easy as rolling out of bed and through the camper door. If you prefer private campgrounds, then aim for a spot near a state park.
If hiking isn’t your thing, that’s ok! Instead plot some fall foliage drives through the countryside. Over on Pinterest I have saved lots of ideas to my Fall Camping and Touring board, including articles like Midwest Living’s 25 Ultimate Fall Drives or New England’s best foliage driving tours.
Have a backup plan. One year it rained on our fall camping trip, and another year the cold temps caught us off guard, so our grand plans of spending lots of time soaking up the autumn sunshine no longer seemed very appealing. Thankfully we were able to find some fun inside alternatives. So before your trip, scope out some rainy day ideas in the area–just in case!
Those are our secrets for planning an awesome autumn campout–what fall camping tips would you add?
And to read more about our past fall camping trips, check out these posts:
- Chapman State Park, Pennsylvania
- Geneva State Park, Ohio
- Holmes County, Ohio
- Assateague State Park, Maryland