Winter camping is the best camping season for many folks. Here are five reasons to enjoy camping when the mercury moves down the thermometer.
For some people, winter camping is easily the best time of year to pitch a tent or pop a camper trailer. There are plenty of great reasons to do it (no mosquitoes, for one; that's always a welcome thing). But to be frank, camping is great at any time of year. It's just that winter has its own special charms.
And that leads us to our first great reason for winter camping:
1. You can extend your camping season!
Sure, summer camping is the traditional camping season, and with good reason (the kids are out of school; you don't have to prepare quite so diligently; it's warm out - duh). But if you love the outdoors, anytime you can get out in it is a good time. And weather conditions make winter camping a whole new adventure.
You'll need to be more fully prepared for the cold, have some specialized gear, and perhaps plan a little more thoroughly to find a location. But mother nature in winter is different than mother nature in summer, and that adds a new level of interest and excitement to the adventure.
2. You don't need a cooler.
Well, of course, you'll want to bring a cooler anyway, just to store your food in if nothing else. But you likely won't need to purchase any ice, nor will you have to concern yourself with keeping things cold. If anything, you'll need to be concerned about preventing food from freezing. This means that you may have to think anew about what your diet will be while you're out in the wilderness.
Nothing tastes as satisfying as hot soup or stew on a cold day, and sipping a mug of hot coffee, chocolate or tea from your cupped hands? Heavenly.
3. Quietude (Shhhhhh...)
It's wonderful to wake up to singing birds or rustling chipmunks in summer, and the bedtime music of chirping crickets or croaking bullfrogs is a nighttime lullaby. But until you've experienced the muffled quietness of a winter morning or evening in the wild, you don't know what true peace is.
When you're hiking the crunching snow beneath your feet is hypnotic. And the sounds of the woods - a branch falling in the distance, a coyote's howl - seem to literally fill the air with added emphasis. It's a zen sort of thing.
4. Cracking ice is exciting!
Now, here's one you may not have thought about. And granted, it is a little bit unusual to camp on a frozen lake rather than in the shelter of the woods.
But until you've pitched an all-weather tent and slept on the thick ice of a frozen lake (or crafted an igloo if you've got enough thick, frozen snow), you haven't experienced the eerie excitement that thrills when you feel and hear the ice crack beneath you while you're in your sleeping bag at night.
I did this once and it was a little spooky and definitely exciting. Of course you want to be on very thick ice, so you know you're safe regardless. But a night on the ice is something every winter camping enthusiast should experience.
5. You'll likely have the woods to yourself.
Let's face it, winter camping is not for everyone. It's really for darn few, actually. You dress in layers, and move more slowly and methodically. Hiking or even just walking up a trail can be a little more arduous, and yeah it can get cold!
But that also means that you won't have to fight for a camping spot. In fact, a lot of campgrounds are closed to camping in winter, which means that other areas that you wouldn't have camped in during the summer are options now. Have you ever camped in the middle of a swamp, for example? Now that everything is frozen, here's your chance. Or rent a winter yurt.
So give it a whirl. Do your reading and research on winter camping, prepare yourself and your equipment, and join the small number of adventurous camping enthusiasts who love the brisk air and beautiful, snow covered landscapes. You'll be glad you did.
Like what you see here? You can read more great articles by David Smith at his Facebook page, Stumpjack Outdoors.