Here is why you shouldn't pack up your camping gear just yet.
As summer, swimming and barbecues make way for fall colors and football, many have already packed away their camping gear for another season.
But only camping in warm weather means you're missing out on some of the best camping you'll ever experience.
Here are a few reasons why you should give fall or winter camping a try this season and some helpful tips to get started.
Maybe you've taken a camping trip in the same area year after year but only in the summer months. Now is the time to go and experience that special place in autumn. And, who doesn't love the vibrant colors of fall foliage at its peak?
You'll find your favorite National Park, State Park or National Forest takes on a whole new kind of beauty when the trees are emblazoned with orange and red leaves. Fall foliage just adds to the great outdoors and the fall camping experience in a way you won't get in any other season.
You'll see your favorite hiking trails and backcountry areas in a whole new way once you've experienced their majesty in the fall or winter.
It isn't a hard and fast rule, a truly great place may draw campers all year round. But many campgrounds are completely empty in the fall and winter months. Remember that perfect site on the lake you've always eyed at your favorite state park? The one that is always booked? You stand a much better chance of getting it in the fall or winter because most people are busy with school, sporting events and work. If you can find time to camp during the work week, you'll find ample opportunities at the best camping sites in your favorite areas.
Popular places like Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming or Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado can be total ghost towns if you go at the right time. This is especially true if you're a backpacker and really like to rough it. Your favorite hiking trails will likely be devoid of people giving you a better chance to connect with nature and the great outdoors.
Fewer people means it is easier to connect with nature and it'll provide you with a memorable camping experience you'll never forget.
Cold weather is sleeping weather.
Campers who only stick to spring or summer are missing out on some of the best night's sleep one can get in the great outdoors. Just make sure you're prepared for cold weather camping before you go.
Wear a good base layer of clothing to help keep your internal temperature up. Supplement that with a good outer layer. Wool shirts and socks are a great idea to help retain body heat. I usually like to wear a warm hat because you lose a lot of body heat through your head. Pay attention to temperature ratings on cold-weather sleeping bags when you are shopping. It can make for a pretty lousy camping experience if cold air temperatures dip into the teens or lower overnight and you only bought a 30-degree bag with you. You might even want to buy a bag rated for weather conditions colder than you are expecting just in case.
Another thing to keep in mind with cold weather sleeping bags is synthetic insulation vs down insulation. Down is lighter and easier to carry. Something for backpackers to keep in mind if they're doing extensive hiking. On the flip side, synthetic materials will generally dry faster which can be important in rainy or snowy conditions.
A good sleeping pad to keep you off the cold ground isn't a bad idea either. Just make sure it is properly rated for cold weather. If you're camping in winter, make sure your tent is a four-season tent. You don't want your winter camping trip to turn into a car camping trip because your three-season tent is collapsing under the weight of heavy snow.
As long as you properly prepare before you go, you'll find that fall or winter cold-weather camping provides some of the best sleep you'll ever get.
It's a challenging twist on the camping experience.
Maybe you've been camping for years now and have just started to get bored with it. Fall and winter offer a chance for a new type of outdoor adventure that can reignite your love for camping. It brings about whole new sets of challenges for sleeping and camp cooking one can't get during the summer months. For instance, propane and butane don't always work well in cold weather. You might have to work on your open wood fire cook skills.
It also opens up the opportunity to experience new outdoor activities like cross country skiing, ice fishing or snowmobiling. Plus, it's just fun to test yourself and see what your limits are. Imagine the fun you'll have when you get back to work and tell your coworkers what you did over the weekend.
So this year don't let the colder temperatures scare you into packing all your camping gear away early. Get out there and experience the great outdoors in a whole new way. You'll be glad you tried it!