10 Reasons Why Fall Camping is the Best Camping

BY: Stephanie McDaniel |

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It has to be said: summer is a smidge overrated. Camping aficionados will wax poetic about its long days and warm nights, but they’ll neglect to mention the crowded campgrounds, the man-eating mosquitoes, and the conspicuous lack of crunchy leaves to step on. Yes, if we’re being honest about the best time to take a family camping trip, perhaps fall camping deserves another look. Here are 10 reasons why you should schedule your trip for the later months of the year.

1. You’ll get your pick of camping sites.

In the summer, nabbing secluded camping sites on the water is a race against the clock. Online reservations go so quickly that something as trivial as a slow Internet connection could spell doom. Booking a campground in the fall is a different story altogether; most of the good spots will stay open until just a few days before your trip, giving you a chance to plan and check the weather beforehand.

2. You’ll avoid the worst of summer’s storms.

Summer has its share of sunshine, true, but with it comes the kind of warm, humid air conditions that breed thunderstorms. Nothing puts more of a damper on a family camping trip than bolts of lightning and sheets of rain—not to mention, it leaves storm-skittish kids longing for the comfort of their own bed. That makes autumn camping, with its milder temperatures and less extreme weather conditions, a relatively safe bet.

3. You’ll be the only one on the lake.

When you think about classic fall outdoor activities, boating may not seem like the most obvious choice. But the calm surface of an autumn lake actually presents a perfect opportunity to canoe, kayak, or rowboat. Gone are the jet skis and wakeboard-tugging motorboats, replaced with a sense that you’re actually in nature, and not someone’s personal amusement park. Another benefit of this  downgraded boat traffic: it’s a safe time for kids to try out kayaking or canoeing for the first time.

4. You’ll have a front-row seat for leaf peeping.

We’ve already written about our love of hiking and driving through the fall colors, and fall camping is one of the best ways to extend that experience. By spending the night under the canopy, you can watch the colors change from sunrise to sunset, and an early morning hike will fill your world with shades of red, orange, and gold.

5. You’ll get to wrap yourself in warm flannel.

There’s no better excuse to wear fall’s signature fabric than spending a few nights in the great outdoors. It’ll make you feel vaguely like a lumberjack and keep out the chill in the evening, especially if you layer it under a chunky sweater or poncho (read our fall layering guide for more tips).

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6. The mosquitos are hibernating.

Ah, the mosquito. This tiny insect is nothing less than the bane of a camper’s existence, a hellspawn whose sole pleasure lies in savagely biting the flesh of innocents. Fortunately, this low beast takes a break from routine once the temperatures start to drop, laying eggs and hibernating until spring.

7. You’ll have an excuse to build a massive bonfire.

In the summer, stoking a wood fire is all about cooking and having something to do after the sun sets. With autumn camping, that fire is the surest method to keep warm. You don’t even need to ration firewood in the fall or maintain your distance from the flames to prevent your hands from getting too hot. Build that fire big and hot and relax in the comforting warmth.

8. You can roast a ghost. Allow us to explain:

Roasting marshmallows is a time-honored tradition that can warm your stomach in the chilliest weather, and it’s no secret that kids love a good sugar fix. During a fall camping trip, you can even get Peeps shaped like ghosts to roast over your campfire. When roasted, the Peep’s sugary exterior melts into a candy shell, creating one of the most overwhelmingly sweet foods on the planet.

9. Star constellations are easier to spot.

Some constellations only appear at certain times of the year. Fall is a prime time for even first-time stargazers to spot some of the most familiar constellations. When the sun sets, even the littlest stargazers can look up to see the Big Dipper and Orion, the latter marked by its belt of three stars. Be sure to brush up on our other tips for gazing upon the cosmos.

10. You can cuddle in a big pile of sleeping bags.

Keeping warm at night is essential for fall camping, when temperatures can dip down to refrigerator levels. In the absence of central heating, build yourself a nest of sleeping bags and blankets. Curling up in a fluffy pile will almost make you forget your bed at home.