For many, the end of summer means saying goodbye to vacation season and heading back to school. In portions of the country, the first indications of fall comes as the leaves begin to change colors. And, as the temperatures drop, the sweatshirts and warm blankets begin to come back out.
So can you still go camping? Do campgrounds close in the fall? Let’s find out.
When Does Camping Season Start and End?
For much of the country, the camping season lasts from Memorial Day to Labor Day. However, in many areas camping seasons last from April through October.
The geographic location and elevation of a campground can contribute to these differences. Some locations, especially in the North, may have very short camping seasons due to very long winters and rainy spring conditions.
While northern states may enjoy camping between Memorial Day and Labor Day, southern states might not enjoy it as much. These states can see triple digits for much of the summer, which is less than ideal for camping.
Southern camping seasons often start in the fall as temperatures drop and last until late spring when temperatures climb again.
Learn how to take advantage of camping during shoulder season.
What Is the Best Month to Go Camping?
The best month to go camping is October, with September coming in a close second. These months provide crisp fall weather that many find enjoyable while camping. Nights often cool off enough that you’ll want to dawn a sweatshirt and warm blanket while gathering around the campfire to enjoy s’mores.
Whether camping in an RV or tent, staying comfortable while sleeping is easier in October and September than in other months. And you’ll likely find fewer crowds as families don’t have the time to camp with school back in session.
Do RV Parks Stay Open All Year?
Some RV parks stay open all year, depending on their location. Areas with extreme winter conditions will likely close up shop mid-fall and reopen mid-spring.
However, it’s not uncommon for RV parks to have flexibility regarding opening and closing due to unpredictable weather. Their ultimate goal is to protect their customers and property from dangerous conditions.
Do Campgrounds Close in the Fall?
The various regions of the country experience fall very differently. Let’s look at how the changing seasons affect campgrounds across the country.
Campgrounds out West often stay open year-round; however, it largely depends on their elevation. Some campgrounds at higher elevations will close in the fall because of snow. Higher elevations can experience several feet in winter, which isn’t ideal for camping.
However, large portions of the West are deserts, which many find more enjoyable when the cooler fall temperatures arrive. Many RVers in the northwest head to the southwest for the winter to enjoy warm weather. Quartzsite, Ariz., is just one of the many cities RVers call home during the winter.
The Northeast can have some pretty intense winters, making camping unpleasant. Most campgrounds in the Northeast will close in October or November and reopen in March.
Some campgrounds remain open, but access is never guaranteed. Maine’s Acadia National Park has a year-round campground available only to walk-in traffic.
Due to the extreme cold and snow, most campgrounds here will winterize their facilities and wait for warmer weather in the spring. Camping seasons can vary from year to year based on the winter conditions. Some years with exceptionally long and intense winters may result in a shorter camping season for the region.
Many of the campgrounds in the Midwest will close at the end of the fall season. This region can have unpredictable weather in practically every season. Many campgrounds will winterize their facilities and the water connections at each campsite.
However, you can still find some campgrounds that stay open. Some will have better rates from the end of fall until mid-spring as many facilities close. You’ll also see some campgrounds lift stay restrictions as the demand for campsites eases.
Most of the southern campgrounds stay open year-round. While summer can feel like it lasts forever in much of the South, the rest of the seasons can be mild. This means you can go camping anywhere throughout the year.
Campgrounds in the South may have more restrictions from fall to spring during their busiest time of year. Many northern snowbirds flock to the South in their RVs and motorhomes to seek refuge from the intense northern winters.
Can You Camp Year-Round?
It is possible to camp year-round, including in locations with extreme winters. However, camping in harsh winters can be challenging and requires more effort.
You may need to install skirting and beef up the insulation on your rig. RVs are notorious for lacking insulation and can make it very difficult to stay warm.
On the other hand, the lack of insulation can also make summers challenging in some areas. Even with multiple air conditioners, staying cool during the summer can pose a challenge. RV air conditioners can run 24-7 and still struggle to keep your rig cool.
Luckily, RVs have wheels. Thus you can move them with the seasons and have a better shot at staying comfortable year-round.
If you plan to camp in a tent, you might find it best to stick to the ideal camping season for where you want to camp. You’ll likely have a much more pleasant experience.
Travel With the Seasons to Camp Year-Round
Many RVers craft their travel plans based on the seasons. They’ll head north during summer to enjoy cooler temperatures and then rush south as the temperatures drop.
You may camp in a campground, RV park, or boondock on public lands. Either way, traveling with the seasons allows you to camp year-round. It can be quite an adventure if you enjoy the great outdoors.
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