Sometimes, when you want to get away but you don’t know where to go, the best place to be is in your own backyard.
The cooler days of fall have replaced the heat of summer, and the trees are starting to show off their gorgeous seasonal color. What better way to take in the sights than a quick weekend camping trip? There are fewer bugs to battle and the sun won’t be scorching, making a few days in the outdoors easier to manage. However, there are a few extra precautions to take when camping in colder weather.
Jake Poterbin, managing editor of gocampingamerica.com and a representative for the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds, says there are several campsites in the Northwest Missouri and Northeast Kansas area to choose from, whether you prefer tents, RVs or cabins. Among those, he suggests Basswood Resort in Platte City, Mo., Sycamore Springs in Sabetha, Kan., and AOK Campground and RV Park in St. Joseph.
“If you’re new to camping but you don’t have all the gear yet ... the best bet is planning on getting something that has a cabin or a park model,” he says.
These types of campgrounds often come with heating, plumbing, fire pits and other amenities. That way, he says campers can enjoy some of the outdoor camping experience, but they won’t freeze overnight or feel trapped outside.
“They shouldn’t be shy about not ‘roughing it,’” he says. “... Don’t be shy about embracing some of those creature comforts.”
Campers who have a little more experience under their belt should be aware that fall weather might feel great during the day, but temperatures can drop into the 40s or lower at night. Pack a heavy-duty sleeping bag that can accommodate cold temperatures and bring lots of layers. Varying your clothing layers helps the body adjust to the weather, especially if you go hiking or do other physical activities.
“You definitely want to avoid cotton too, because it absorbs moisture and doesn’t dry as easily as other materials that kind of wick away sweat,” Mr. Poterbin says.
Derissa Atlakson, co-owner of AOK Campground and RV Park, says RV camping is a great middle ground for more serious campers who still want comfortable amenities. When families buy their first RV, she says it’s common for them to spend a weekend at AOK to “test the waters” because learning how to drive them, operate the slide-out partitions and maneuver them through a campground can be quite the process.
“They try to learn at the campground where the sewage, electric and water hooks up. ... They can get comfortable with it before they go on a longer trek,” she says.
For the truly dedicated, tent camping is the way to go. But since the weather is colder and there’s always a chance of wind and rain, it takes more preparation. Ms. Atlakson says securing an extra tarp around the tent’s exterior helps insulate it and prevent water from seeping in. If your tent area is near an electrical outlet, she says small heaters can keep out the cold.
Mr. Poterbin reminds people that sleeping on a cot seems tempting because it’s off the ground, but it might work against you in the long run.
“If they do want to sleep in a tent, I would say plan on trying to sleep on the ground with a mattress but not an air mattress or cot, because once there’s air between you and the ground, the air will get colder. ... The ground is actually warmer than the air,” he says.
If you’re hiking, biking or fishing, he also suggests packing hand and foot warmers to keep inside pockets and shoes. They’re cheap, lightweight, easy to use and disposable. And of course, don’t forget essentials like a cooking pot, meal supplies and enough beverages to stay hydrated.
“Definitely stay hydrated. In the fall you don’t sweat as much as summer, so maybe you’re not as aware of how dehydrated you are,” Mr. Poterbin says.
Going camping isn’t just about connecting with nature. Ms. Atlakson says most campsites have a sense of community, and guests love meeting people from other parts of the world and hearing their stories. She encourages people to use one of the last mild fall weekends to get to know more about this fun family activity.
“Since we still have some good weather left, I’d say come out and enjoy this nice weather while we’ve got it,” she says.
For more camping tips, visit gocampingamerica.com.