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Fall Camping 101: Your Complete Guide to RV and Tent Camping in Autumn

When pumpkin spice has officially hit stores and the leaves are starting to change colors, it is time for all things autumn, including fall camping. Whether you like camping in an RV or a tent, there’s something undeniably magical about embracing the great outdoors during this season. From setting up your tent in September, camping in October, and roasting s’mores in November, there is much to love about fall camping and many tips and ideas to keep it interesting. 

Today, we are taking a closer look at all you need to know to stay warm in either your tent or RV before you head out. Let’s dive into our top fall camping tips!

FALL BACKPACKING GEAR LIST | Cold Weather Camping

Should You Go Camping in the Fall?

Camping in the fall can be a delightful experience for those who savor cooler weather and vibrant foliage. The crisp air and the changing leaf colors provide a picturesque backdrop for outdoor adventures. Camping is a great way to experience a fall color tour to its fullest!

However, it’s essential to be prepared for fluctuating weather conditions, including chilly nights and possible rain. If you appreciate the beauty of autumn and don’t mind bundling up, a fall camping trip can offer a unique and memorable connection with nature.

Pro Tip: RVing this autumn? Use our guide on How to Make Your RV the Perfect Halloween Haunt.

What Is the Best Autumn Month for Camping?

The best autumn month for camping largely depends on your personal preferences and the region you plan to visit. Early September often offers a pleasant transition from summer to fall. Temperatures in September are still warm, and with the school year starting, crowds are fewer. In mid to late October, the fall season typically reaches its peak of autumnal colors and breathtaking landscapes. This period in October is often the prime time for fall camping due to the combination of comfortable weather and stunning scenery. 

However, for those seeking a more adventurous and remote experience, late October into November can provide a unique opportunity. Many campgrounds even host fall harvest activities and Halloween festivities! However, November camping comes with the challenge of colder temperatures and the potential for snowfall in some regions. Ultimately, the best time for autumn camping depends on the ever-changing fall scenery and your willingness to adapt to varying weather conditions.

Want to plan a Fall Color Tour? These are the top destinations for mind-blowing autumn colors.

Autumn in Tahquamenon Falls State Park
With fewer crowds and stunning scenery, fall camping makes for a unique experience.

Fall Camping Activities

So what is there to do in the fall while camping? Fortunately, autumn is a great time for outdoor recreation. With mid-range temperatures, it’s easy to be outside all day hiking, kayaking, bike riding, and more without getting too hot or too cold. Nights by the campfire are made even more cozy with a crisp chill in the area.

Additionally, many fall camping destinations host a variety of autumn events, such as corn mazes, pumpkin carvings, hot cider tasting, and harvesting. Not to mention Halloween is right around the corner, so check to see if your campground is holding a trick-or-treat night for campers to parade around in costumes and collect candy from their neighbors.

Fall Camping Tips to Remember

When venturing into the great outdoors during autumn, it’s crucial to keep several key tips in mind to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience. Please consider the following before you go!

Check the Weather Before You Go 

Before embarking on your fall camping adventure, always consult the weather forecast for your destination. Autumn weather can be unpredictable, so knowing what to expect in terms of temperature, precipitation, and potential storms allows you to pack and plan accordingly. From rain to snow, it is vital to know what may be coming your way before you leave.

Prepare for Less Daylight

With the days growing shorter in the fall, it’s essential to anticipate reduced daylight hours. You’ll want to plan how you will use your hours of sunlight. You don’t want to still be on a trail once the sun sets, and it would be ideal to start your campfire before it is too dark to see. Additionally, bring extra lighting like lanterns and headlamps to illuminate your campsite after dusk. 

Make Sure Campgrounds Are Open Before You Go

Many campgrounds have seasonal closures or reduced operating hours in the fall. To avoid getting stuck without a campsite at the last minute, confirm that your campground is open during your intended camping dates. Contacting park authorities or checking online resources can provide up-to-date information.

cait morton hiking with dogs in fall colors
Fall is the perfect time to enjoy nature’s beauty while hiking and camping.

Pack Layers

Packing correctly is key to staying cozy and safe when camping in the fall, especially in October and November. Dressing in layers helps keep you comfortable during the variable fall weather. Start with moisture-wicking base layers to manage sweat, add insulating mid-layers for warmth, and finish with a waterproof outer layer to shield yourself from rain or unexpected drizzle. This adaptable clothing approach ensures you stay cozy in changing conditions. You can always remove extra layers if they are unnecessary. 

Ensure Your Camping Setup is Weatherproof

Autumn weather can be fickle, and you must have a camping setup that can withstand the elements. Invest in a quality tent capable of repelling rain and wind. Use a rainfly and tent footprint to prevent moisture from seeping into your tent. Use waterproof bags and containers to safeguard your gear, and secure your campsite adequately to withstand potential gusts of wind or rain showers. A weather-resistant camping setup is essential to a comfortable and worry-free fall camping experience.

Pro Tip: Use our Complete Guide on How to Waterproof Your Tent to stay warm and dry this autumn.

Campers using fall camping tips to waterproof tent for fall camping.
As the weather can quickly change in the autumn, you will want to make sure your camping setup is waterproof.

Tent vs. RV Camping in the Fall

As autumn sets in around October, the choice between tent and RV camping shapes your camping experience. Each option has its set of advantages and considerations, making it crucial to weigh the pros and cons to determine which suits your preferences and needs best.

Tent camping in the fall offers a closer connection to nature and is generally more budget-friendly. It allows you to fully embrace the sights and sounds of the season. Part of the thrill of fall camping is the stunning scenery, and tent camping allows you to feel closely surrounded by it. However, with the colder and fickle weather of the fall, tent camping may not be as comfortable as staying in a temperature-controlled RV. 

Additionally, RV camping provides comfort and convenience, with the comforts of home on wheels. You’ll enjoy a cozy bed, a fully-equipped kitchen, and climate control, making it an excellent choice for those seeking a more comfortable camping experience. However, RVs come with a significant financial investment and some campgrounds may have size limitations. They can also disconnect you from the natural environment due to their insulated walls.

RV in autumn forest
RV camping in the fall adds some extra comfort as temperatures drop.

How to Stay Warm in a Tent 

If you go tent camping in the fall, there are a few things you can do to ensure you are warm and cozy all night. Staying warm is an essential safety element of cold-weather camping, especially in October and November. Please take the following tips seriously on your fall camping trip. 

Layer Up Clothes

To combat the cold, layering your clothing is key. High-quality fabrics are essential to keeping warm. Start with moisture-wicking base layers. These will keep you sweat and smell-free but still provide warmth. Next, add insulating mid-layers for warmth, like a wool sweater or thick sweatshirt. Remember to keep your head, hands, and feet warm to prevent heat loss and to get a good night’s sleep. Proper layering allows you to adapt to changing temperatures and remain snug throughout the night.

Use Two Sleeping Pads

Sleeping pads add an extra layer between your sleeping bag and the ground to significantly improve insulation. While one sleeping pad is useful, two provide extra insulation and cushioning against hard, cold floors. The combination creates a barrier between you and the ground, helping to retain body heat and provide a more comfortable night’s sleep.

Check Your Sleeping Bag Temperature Rating 

Ensure your sleeping bag is suited to the low temperatures. Sleeping bags come with temperature ratings indicating the lowest temperature at which they provide adequate warmth. Choosing a bag with the right rating for fall conditions is essential for staying cozy at night. Additionally, consider using a liner to add extra warmth to your sleeping bag. These strategies will help you stay warm, ensuring that your fall camping experience is cozy and memorable.

Pro Tip: Keep cozy in one of these 5 Best Cold Weather Sleeping Bags for Staying Warm.

Tent camping in October
When camping in October and November, staying warm is essential for your safety.

Autumn-Proof Your RV

As you prepare your RV for fall camping, take steps to ensure that it’s ready to handle the challenges that autumn weather can bring. Make sure to do the following things before you leave.

Inspect Exterior for Cracks and Leaks

Begin by thoroughly inspecting your RV’s exterior, and paying close attention to the roof. Check for any cracks, gaps, or signs of wear that could potentially lead to leaks. A watertight seal is crucial in the face of autumn rains, so addressing any issues promptly will help keep your RV dry and comfortable. 

Check Furnace Performance Before You Go

Your RV’s furnace is your best friend when temperatures drop. Before embarking on your fall adventure, assess its performance. If you’re uncertain how to do this, check out our article on RV Furnace Troubleshooting: Common Problems to Look For. A well-functioning furnace is your primary source of warmth during chilly autumn nights and you’ll be grateful you checked its performance before your fall camping adventure.

Investigate Supplemental Heat

In addition to your RV’s built-in furnace, consider investing in supplemental heating options. Packing a portable space heater in your rig can add extra warmth when you have electrical hookups. For those who like to cuddle up under a pile of warm blankets, investing in a heated blanket helps you stay toasty as temperatures drop.

Of course, while RV camping, you will likely spend plenty of time outside. While sitting around the campfire, you can keep warm by using a heated camping chair to elevate your campfire experience.  

Pro Tip: Don’t forget to pack anything on this Fall Hiking Outfit Checklist: Gearing Up for Cooler Weather.

The Best RV Winter Setup: How to RV in Winter and the Gear That Will Keep You Cozy Warm!

Fall in Love With Autumn Camping

Autumn’s arrival signals a time for camping enthusiasts to immerse themselves in nature’s splendor. Nothing is more special than spending your days hiking on leaf-covered trails and nights sipping a warm cup of cider around the campfire. Whether you prefer the coziness of an RV or the rustic charm of camping a tent, the fall backdrop around September and October promises a unique adventure. Prepare for an unforgettable journey with our camping tips and fall in love with the beauty of autumn in the great outdoors.

Do you have any fall camping tips? Tell us in the comments!

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About Cait Morton

Co-Founder, Logistics Queen, Business & Content Manager, and Animal Lover

An Upper Peninsula of Michigan native (aka a Yooper), Caitlin is the organization, big-picture, and content strategy queen of our operation. She keeps everything orderly and on track.

With a background in Business Management, she supports and helps channel Tom’s technical prowess into the helpful content our readers and viewers expect. That’s not to say you won’t find her turning wrenches and talking shop – RV life is a team effort. She keeps the business and the blog moving forward with a variety of topics and resources for our audience.

Believe it or not, she is rather camera shy, though she co-hosts the Mortons’ personal videos and The RVers TV show.

Caitlin’s passion lies in outdoor recreation and with animals. Some of her favorite things to do are hiking, biking, and getting out on the water via kayak, SUP, or boat.

She also loves the RV life due to the fact that you can bring your pets along. Sharing information about safely recreating outdoors with your whole family – pets included! – is very important to her. Because of this, Caitlin spearheaded the launch of HypePets in 2023.

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