How To

8 Reasons to Extend Your Camping Season

Fall pic cropped 9-1-16

Labor Day weekend might mark the official end of summer, but there are still plenty of good camping days ahead during the next few months, so don’t stow your gear just yet.

In fact, fall camping offers a number of advantages that simply aren’t there during the warmer months. Here are eight great reasons you should plan a few more camping adventures this year.

  1. More Solitude—After the summer rush, families tend to fall back into their school-year routines, which means fewer folks at your favorite campground. There will be less competition for prime campsites, and you might hike for hours without meeting someone else on the trail.
  1. Cool Days, Crisp Nights—With the heat of the summer long over, cooler days mean you can hike, paddle or bike without oppressive heat sapping your energy. Just remember that the sun also sets earlier, so you’ll want to carry a headlamp or flashlight in your day bag in case darkness catches up with you. With cooler days come crisper nights, too, so make sure your equipment is up to par. A warm sleeping bag, rated for low temps of 0 to 30 degrees, and sleeping mat that blocks heat loss will keep you cozy.
  1. Afternoon Campfires—If you take joy from tending a crackling campfire, fall camping offers the perfect opportunity. Afternoons begin to cool down shortly after the sun passes its midday peak, so build your campfire early.
  1. Fewer Insects—Mosquitoes and other pesky insects aren’t as abundant when the weather turns cool. Notice I didn’t say “no mosquitoes.” There just won’t be the swarms that often appear in the summer.
  1. Autumn Colors—Peak color season brings out the final flush of tourists thirsty for a drink of natural beauty. But why join the throngs competing for space in motels and restaurants when you can be surrounded by vivid autumn hues during a long weekend?
Fall Camping_Finch Lake 9-1-16

By visiting a familiar summertime spot during autumn, you can experience its beauty for the first time—again.

  1. Fresh Perspectives—Chances are you have a few favorite areas you like to revisit from time to time—a beautiful waterfall, scenic trail or picturesque overlook. But if your visits occur only in July or August, the view doesn’t change. An autumn excursion lends a fresh perspective, and it’s like seeing your beloved spot for the first time.
  1. Wildlife Viewing—As day lengths shorten and temperatures drop, wildlife of all types become more active. Mammals large and small spend more time foraging to build winter stores, while bird migrations may bring in species that you seldom see during the summer months. At the same time, the foliage is withering and dying, making animals easier to spot.
  1. Discount Rates—Many campgrounds offer discounted rates after Labor Day. And that just makes it easier to say “yes” to an autumn camping trip.

Forest image from Tony Webster via Wikimedia Commons; kayak image from Finchlake2000 via

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