From the moment the snow starts to melt in early spring to the first hard frost of late autumn, our family camps as much as our schedule allows. In spring we drive south, looking for the first buds on the trees and the fields filled with wildflowers. In summer we head for the beach or the mountains, spending days swimming, hiking, and kayaking.

But each year without fail, no matter how many great adventures we have packed in during the spring and summer, fall captures our hearts and wins the prize for best camping season of the year.

It’s still summer, and there’s still plenty of times to soak up the extra long days and warm nights. But it won’t be long before autumn comes, and fall is a wonderful time of year to go camping. Down south, nights will start to get a little bit cooler, making the idea of sleeping outdoors more appealing. Up north, the leaves will soon begin to turn, blanketing the forests with their annual dazzling array of color. If this sounds like your cup of tea, check out these 10 tips to help you prepare for fall camping.

Look for discounts

Many state parks and national forests reduce their entrance fees after Labor Day.

Keep an eye on the weather

Fall weather can change quickly so check for updates frequently. Pack your cold weather sleeping bag and consider bringing a second bag if you get chilled easily. Being ready for colder weather is better than spending the night shivering.

Pack layers

As with your sleeping bag, be prepared for chills. Bring extra clothing that can be layered for warmth when needed and easily removed when not.

Inspect your gear

Long before it’s time to load the car, give your gear a thorough inspection. Check that zippers are zipping and that your tents are free from tears or holes. Making repairs or replacements early will save you frustration and time.

Don’t forget about the bugs

Just because summer is over doesn’t mean the mosquitoes and gnats have gotten the memo. They will still be biting for a while so bring the DEET or your preferred insect repellent.

Protect against sun overexposure

UV rays don’t pay attention to the calendar, so pack sunscreen for a fall camping trip just as you would during the summer. Lower ambient heat doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t get a sunburn.

Tarps can save the day

Hang a tarp over your eating area for cover in case of sudden showers, or use one as a windscreen for your tent.

Plan for longer cooking times

It may take longer to boil water in cooler temperatures, so plan ahead to avoid having hungry campers. Likewise, bring extra firewood along for this additional cook time and increased need for nighttime heat.

Be ready for earlier sunsets

Days will be getting shorter so give yourself plenty of time to get to your campsite before sunset, and pitch your tent first thing when you get there. Pack headlamps for navigating around camp after dark.

Read up on local wildlife

Be knowledgeable about the wildlife in the area you’re camping in. Many animals will be preparing for their winter hibernation and may be on the hunt for food. Know what to expect and how to react should you encounter a bear or other creature rooting around your campsite.

We love traveling in our RV any time of the year, but fall gets our vote for the best camping season. Cool weather, fantastic food, fun activities, and beautiful landscapes make our fall trips the most memorable.

Now go book your fall camping trip. It’s okay to play favorites sometimes.

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