Did you think that camping season ended on Labor Day? Please forget that nonsense. We’re now into the best time of the year for a little R&R in the great outdoors.
Autumn is the ultimate season for exploring new trails, gathering nature’s bounty and sitting around the fire in flannels sipping cocoa and eating smores. Here are eight reasons why I love camping in the fall.
1. There Are Fewer Pests to Battle
I’m a bit of an odd duck in that I adore spiders. The bigger, the better — I have a special fondness in my heart for tarantulas. However, that doesn’t mean that I relish waking up with one in my sleeping bag or sharing my pillow.
I particularly love that I don’t have to use bug spray this time of year. Many commercial brands are laden with chemicals, and I don’t like having that stuff on my skin — or washing off in a forest stream. The return of cooler weather means those pests that sting and bite have gone back to whatever dark underworld they inhabit during the cold season, and I’m grateful for it.
2. The Weather Is Absolutely Glorious
Is there anything better than a crisp fall day replete with the sounds of leaves crunching underfoot and the scent of campfires painting the air? If there is, I haven’t found it.
If you’re like me, you’ve probably had enough of the heat and sweating through your clothing by the time September rolls around. Fall means that you can dress in layers, maintaining a comfortable body temperature morning through the afternoon and into the evening. Plus, it’s glorious to dig those knit sweaters back out of storage and snuggle up in a cozy fleece at day’s end.
3. Photo Ops Abound
If you’re a photography buff, then camping in the fall opens up a world of fabulous opportunities to adjust your lens. The forest comes alive with vibrant colors in every hue, inviting your camera to capture the magic.
Why not plan your getaway for one of the top camping sites where you can capture autumn in all its glory? Those in the northeast will find gorgeous color along the Delaware Water Gap, home of three waterfalls. Folks in the southwest and everywhere flock to Sedona, AZ, to see the colorful yellow cottonwoods paint a contrast against the red rocks.
4. The Tourists Have Flown Home for the Winter
Even though the foliage might draw photography buffs, you probably won’t see hordes of campers with entire family reunions in tow, reserving every spot at your local site. Summer is the prime camping season when kids have time away from school.
Revel in this bonus. You can now reserve sites with far less stress that other people will take every available spot before you can pack your backframe. You can also enjoy improved peace if you tend to go to commercial locations with amenities like bathrooms and WiFi — you might even get enough bandwidth to do a little work in the wild.
5. You Can Forage Meals
Have you noticed the price of groceries lately? Fortunately, going camping means that you don’t have to drop a bundle on food. Thanks to the bountiful harvest season, you can forage for many of your meals, adding fresh, antioxidant-rich greens to your diet.
You don’t have to be an expert to stay safe. For example, nearly everyone recognizes dandelions, and almost all parts of this plant are edible. You’ll also find no shortage of wild alliums, relatives of onions and garlic. You’ll find apple trees laden with fruits, and folks in the southwest can make blood pressure-lowering jams and jellies from prickly pear.
6. You Boost Your Immunity Before Cold and Flu Season
Going camping comes with a bonus during the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s not only because outdoor activities are generally safer than gathering indoors. Getting out in the fresh air can also improve your immune function.
Researchers investigated people who spent at least one overnight camping trip in a forest. They discovered heightened activity in natural killer cells, which seek out and destroy germs. The benefits lasted for up to 30 days after the participant’s journey.
7. You Sleep Better at Night
Have you ever noticed that you sleep better in a cool room? As temperatures dip, camping in the fall provides the perfect opportunity to get your Zzzs.
Most people do best in a room no hotter than 65 degrees, but cooling your house that low in the summer can result in mammoth electric bills. Why not let Mother Nature drop the temperature for free?
8. You Revel in the Cycle of Life
Fall is a time for reflection. As the earth gets ready to go dormant, humans can likewise take time to slow down, meditate and evaluate their lives.
Society recently underwent a collective change, and while those in charge seek a rapid return to normal, many of us are still processing the lessons learned from the pandemic. We’re not collectively sure that the rat race is such a great place to scurry back to — we want something deeper, more lasting and impactful. Going camping in the fall gives you the perfect chance to sit back and reflect on what truly gives your life meaning and purpose and dedicate the few, short, blessed hours we have on this planet to doing it.