The outdoors is addictive. Once you’ve had your first taste of clean mountain air, star-filled skies, and quietness broken only by nature’s sounds, there’s no going back. But when does camping season start? Can you head for the hills whenever the countryside calls you?
Many campgrounds and national parks are only open to the public from around April/May to September/October. This would be the camping season for leisure and beginner campers. But hardcore, outdoorsy people often camp in winter as well, ensuring they have the correct gear for cold conditions.
If you’re adequately prepared with the appropriate gear, you can go camping in any of the four seasons. It’s all about knowing what to pack that will make the difference in your camping trip. Just mentioning it makes you want to load up your camping gear and get to the mountains, doesn’t it?
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Is There A Start And End To Camping Season?
When the days start warming up and the summer vacation is near, people start tossing the words “camping season” around, which sounds a little strange. Surely you can pitch your tent at any time your heart desires. As it turns out, you can.
Camping season in the northern hemisphere is usually between April and October. Temperatures are typically at their warmest during this part of the year, making it the most comfortable time for sleeping on the ground with little protection from the cold air. Certain areas with extreme temperatures may have much shorter camping seasons.
Many National Parks and other campgrounds stick to a regular season for camping, opening for the public in April or May and closing towards the end of September or October. But this doesn’t mean you can’t go camping during the rest of the year. After all, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) offers free camping all year round.
Which Is The Best Season To Go Camping?
Camping in each season has pros and cons, so pick which is right for you.
Springtime Camping Trips
Many eager beavers can’t wait to get their camping gear out after being stuck indoors all winter, so spring is a popular time to go camping. It may be a bit warmer than winter, but it’s often wetter, so be prepared for camping in the rain.
Does that put a damper on your enthusiasm? It needn’t because if you prepare well and waterproof most of your kit, you can still have a blast. If you’re hiking, seal things in plastic bags inside your backpack, and cover the pack with a dry bag. Make sure your tent, sleeping bag, and outer clothing are waterproof, and you’re almost good to go on a spring camping trip.
Camping In Summer
Many people choose to camp during the summer because it provides the best weather conditions. In a mild climate, day temperatures are comfortable, the nights aren’t too cold, and there’s usually less rain. It’s certainly less fun when your tent and gear get soaked, and your outdoor “fun” is reduced to managing wet clothing and sleeping bags.
Camping in the summer is great if you’re camping close to a river, lake, or creek where you can swim or do other watersports. If not, the campsite might be the perfect area for another season.
Summer camping is also ideal if you have school-going children. Schools are out, and the days are warm and suitable for them to run around outdoors from dawn until late at night. Your camping time isn’t limited to weekends or short school breaks.
Many families camp over the summer break, so there are usually enough children to keep each other entertained, which is great news for all the adults concerned. Few of us have patience with bored, sulky children.
There are some downsides to camping in summer, like mosquitoes and crowds. If bugs typically eat you alive during the summer months, camping at this time of year may not be ideal for you.
And for those who prefer the sounds of the breeze through the trees, bird calls, and wild animals, a campground full of people is less likely to appeal to you. So camping during another season would probably be better.
Going Camping In The Fall
Fall is one of the greatest times to go camping. The sweltering temperatures start dropping, the humidity is less, and there are fewer biting critters to torment you. In addition, with the kids back at school, the campgrounds are much quieter.
The fall months are often drier, resulting in water sources being lower, something you must consider if you’re hiking and camping. But the upside of that is that the ground will be less mushy, making it better for walking and pitching your tent.
The weather can be less predictable during fall, and the nights will be colder, so if you’re making your camping debut in the fall, this helpful checklist will ensure you have everything to keep warm and enjoy the trip.
A Winter Camping Adventure
Camping in winter is not for the fainthearted, and it comes with a range of challenges, especially if you’re heading into the snow. But when you experience the breathtaking snow-covered views, you will understand what makes camping in winter worth every cold shiver. But shivers should be minimal if you pack season-appropriate gear.
Once you’ve reached your destination with all your winter-friendly kit, you will understand the benefits of camping in winter:
- The scenery is spectacular.
- The stars are brighter and clearer.
- No bugs or bears, and fewer dangerous animals.
- No crowds to spoil the solitude and tranquility.
How Does Camping Season Vary In The USA?
With the USA being such a vast country with varying climates, there is always somewhere to go camping in the weather you enjoy most. The National Parks and some campgrounds may limit your visits
If you live in one of the hottest states like Florida, Louisiana, or Texas, summer is not the ideal time to go camping in your state, but you can always head further north. If you want to camp in those hot states, it’s best to do so in the cooler months.
If you’re a winter camper looking for the chilliest campgrounds, the coldest states are Alaska, North Dakota, Minnesota, Wyoming, and Montana. It all comes down to the climate and the type of camping you prefer.
According to a recent survey, finding the best state to go your-kind-of-camping is easy enough too. The study rated each state according to the following:
- National Parks per square miles
- Species diversity
- Forest coverage
- Campsite quality
- Fuel prices
- Crime rate per National Park
- The accident rate per National Park
- Wi-Fi access
Here you can see the ten best states to camp for your camping preference:
|Best State Overall||Best Woodland Camping State||Most Convenient State For Camping||Safest State For Camping|
|1. Rhode Island||Massachusetts||Utah||Rhode Island|
|3. Maryland||Rhode Island||Rhode Island||Nebraska|
|4. New Hampshire||New Jersey||New Hampshire||Iowa|
|5. New Mexico||Virginia||Idaho||Illinois|
|7. Colorado||New York||South Carolina||New Hampshire|
|8. South Carolina||West Virginia||Oklahoma||Connecticut|
|9. Texas||California||Missouri||South Carolina|
|10. Vermont||South Carolina||Arkansas||North Dakota|
While the official camping season may run from April to October, if you’re an outdoor nut, you probably consider that academic. Camping season is all the time, as long as you have the correct protective gear for the harsher weather conditions.