Ten Reasons For Fall Camping

camping in the fall
Peace and quiet, cheaper fees, and better site choice–what could be better?

Not many people think of camping in the fall. That makes it great news for people who love to camp, like you! If you haven’t thought about the autumn months for camping before now, it might be the time to consider it. Chances are, with the fires raging throughout the States and Canada this summer, you may have not really had the chance to go camping.

Below are ten good reasons why you should consider camping in the fall:

1. Cheaper camping fees.

Many camp sites drop their fees to extremely affordable prices some time in September on. One camp site I have my eye on will dropping theirs from $35.00/night to $13.oo/night after October 10. That’s a strong incentive to go camping right there. Go online and check the camp grounds you want to visit to see if they have year-round camping. They’ll inform you of the fees if they do.

2.  It’s quieter.

Less people means more quiet.  It’s just that simple. Most people have other things on their minds in the autumn months–they don’t have the time or the inclination to go out and set up camp. Your sleep is better because of the quiet and the cooler weather, too. Imagine waking up and hearing the wind and birds and river instead of the dog and kids and ATVs. Bliss.

3.  The Photo opps are amazing.

With the leaves changing color the opportunity for really beautiful pictures is almost endless. Grab your camera and get out there. Beauty awaits!  Don’t have a camera? Use your cell phone or iPad. And hey–if you do get those photos, tweet us at @Camping_Ideas. We’d love to see them. Come to think of it, tweet us anyway. We want your feedback, no matter what it is. Tell us how it went, here or on Twitter.

4.  Fire ban is off.

This is a huge plus for me and my family. We love a camp fire, and it’s something we miss when we camp in the summer and the days are hot. This year in B.C. and the south-western U.S. it has been really bad–with the result that campfire bans are nearly everywhere. Once the cooler weather and rainy days hit, the bans stop and we get to have camp fires again. There’s just something about sitting around a fire at night, that makes camping particularly wonderful. And if you caught a trout that day, well. It’s just begging to be cooked, isn’t it?

5.  Soup, stew, and hot food weather is here.

Soups and stews are easy to prep, easy to throw together, and one of the simplest things to cook or heat up over an open fire.  Cooler days are awesome for our quick and easy Chili Pot Pie or Fast Turkey Soup. And you really should check out our Mulled Dr. Pepper for a weirdly wonderful hot drink.   Camping food is always good. Hot food when camping on a cool day is awesome. We also have lots of recipes in our recipe index–check it out for inspiration.

6.  Ice in coolers last longer.

It’s such a time and money saver when the ice in your coolers doesn’t melt as fast.  (If you really want to save money on ice, camp in the winter. The whole outdoors becomes your refrigerator. But that’s another story, and one best read about here. ‘Cause we’re talking about fall camping right now.) Fellow campers in your group won’t raid the cooler for ice for their drinks quite so often either–hot chocolate is much nicer on a cool day than a cold drink. Except for maybe beer. That’s good any time.

7.  Better camp site choices.

It follows, doesn’t it? If fewer people camp in the fall, your camping site options increase. You can get the one that’s always gone when you normally try and reserve a spot. Pick a date, reserve online, and you’re good to go.

8.  It’s an early stress break from getting back into the rat race.

Vacation is over, the kids have started school, everything is winterized, and you’re exhausted. This is the time of year when people often need a break from gearing up for regular life, and don’t take it. Do yourself and your family a favor and go camping one weekend. It’ll help reset those stress levels a little.

9.  Bird watching.

If bird watching is something you like to do, even casually, doing it while camping in the fall is just the best. Birds are busy getting stuff together for the cold winter months, and many are migrating. Your normally static bird-watching camping area might become dynamic practically overnight. Vagrant birds, that is, birds who stray outside their normal feeding, breeding or migrating areas, are most commonly seen in the fall as well, so you might catch sight of a breed you normally don’t get a chance to observe. Do not forget your bird book and camera! If you don’t have a camera already, here’s a toy I am seriously considering buying.(Canadian residents interested in a bird-watching camera, click here.)

10. Activity is more comfortable.

Strenuous activities, such as hiking, climbing or exploring, are more comfortable during the cooler weather. That’s great motivation for anyone to get more active during a time when most people are at home and getting into the habit of couch-potato-ing. Exercise is one of the most overlooked and effective treatments for depression and anxiety. So for the sake of your mental health, camp in the fall!


Things Campers Hate The Most

angry woman
What camping pet peeve makes steam come out of your ears?

The world of camping is an odd one. It is populated by two distinct groups–the genuine campers and the party people who just want to make noise and mess where the police won’t find them. There are varying degrees of each. The party people have peeves too, I’m sure. But I really don’t care about them. I do care about campers.

I decided to ask everyone I knew or tweeted what their pet camping peeve was, and this was the result:

noise–#1 most mentioned pet peeve.

This actually fell into a few categories.  For some it was loud music. For others (quite a few others) it was generators that went all night. A close third was a continually barking dog. Rounding out the reasons was chainsaws and ATVs.

This deserves to be number one. It’s inconsiderate, and it takes away one of the foremost reasons for camping–peace and quiet. Sometimes people have simply gone to the noise-polluter and asked them to stop, and sometimes that works.  Mostly, though, they won’t unless an authority of some kind puts a stop to it.

So–complain to the camp ground supervisor. Phone the police. Get a number of like-minded camping neighbors together and go and respectfully request a cease and desist. Suggest certain times when the noise is allowable. None of these suggestions are very effective, but they do work from time to time. If you are at a paid-for camp site, leave a polite but strongly-worded review on every site you can find if the camp site owners do nothing to help you. If you’re bush camping, try and camp during the week instead of the weekend, if you can. Noise makers generally prefer the weekend.

packing up to go home (and unpacking)

To my surprise, this was number two on the list of campers’ pet peeves. People hate packing up to leave, and they hate unpacking once they get home.  I don’t like it either, truth be told. You not only have to stop doing something you really enjoy, you have to work like crazy to get the stopping done. It’s so unfair! And then once you get home, there’s all that stuff to clean and tidy up and put away. Unfair! Unfair!

I actually wrote a post about what to do to make it not so horrible.  If you’re interested in a few tricks and tips, click here to read about it. And if you’re camping with a group, make sure everyone contributes in the common-area cleanup.  Taking down the kitchen tent, folding the tables, putting out the fire properly–everything goes a little easier if everyone helps.

Mud in the tent.

Tent among trees
Mats inside and outside the tent will help with mud and mess.

Or pine needles. Or sand. In fact, any outdoor stuff that messes up your tidy tent interior.  Whatever it is that leaves a mess, that’s the stuff campers hate to see tracked in.  One of the great truths about roughing it outside is that it is unbelievably easy to get dirty. The outdoors imposes itself on you and your belongings like dirt on Charlie Brown’s friend Pigpen.

It helps if you have a mat both inside and outside your tent door. Keep them both shook out on a daily basis. Make the outdoor one as large as you can comfortably pack.  Even a small tarp, with the edge tipped up so water doesn’t funnel under the tent, can help if you spread it out in front of your tent. But make sure it’s one you don’t mind throwing away–using a tarp as a ground cover to walk on wears it out very fast.

Another thing you can do is keep a dustpan and whisk just inside the tent. If you see any pine needles or dirt  you can just sweep it up and toss it outdoors where it belongs. If you have a vestibule or a tarp that acts as an awning over the front of your tent, put a small stool just outside the opening and remove your shoes before you enter the tent. Keep a set of slippers or tent slip-ons for tent use only if you want. Just don’t forget to bring your boots or sneakers inside before turning in for the night. That way they stay dry and no little creature will take up residence in it.

irresponsible pet owners.

This includes people who won’t shut their dogs up. People who don’t pick up their dogs’ poop. People who allow their dog to pee on your tent (yes that was actually mentioned as having happened. That definitely needs to be mentioned in an online review about that camp site). It’s really remarkable how often these things happen. The problem with this is that it puts a bad light on the majority of pet owners, who are responsible people. Just a couple of bad apples and the whole dang basket is ruined.

Speaking to the pet owners about a barking dog sometimes helps.  The other stuff is different–it generally happens when you’re not around.  If you think the site you’re going to will have a lot of dogs, it might be wise to invest in powdered cayenne pepper and spread it around your site where you think dogs will pee.  I would also keep some pet urine-odor and stain remover with you just in case.

forgetting something.

Oh, yes–how often has that happened with us!  From the can opener to my brother’s tent, forgetting an item can really put a temporary dent in your happiness. Here’s what we’ve learned: Make your first camping trip of the year a “shake-out” camping trip. Go somewhere close to civilization and see if everything is still packed in your gear. If you do forget something, you can replace it easily by going into town. Make a note of it for when you put your gear away. We also keep gear lists taped to the front of our storage bins. If something is missing we put a check mark next to it and replace it as soon as we can.

If you get to your site and your tent is missing, it really, truly isn’t the end of the world. Read about what my brother did when he forgot his tent one weekend by clicking here.

going with a group and everyone taking off to have fun, leaving one or two with no help in setting up camp or tent.

While this may be excusable because of high spirits and excitement that they are finally camping, it can be annoying to see them all run off without checking to see if anyone needs help.

Make certain everyone in the group is set up and the camp site itself is ready to go before deciding on fun. In every circle there is at least one person who is unable to set their tent up by themselves. Either the tent itself is to awkward for one person to set it up, or the person is new to the camping world. It doesn’t matter what the reason is. If your tent is set up and ready to go, check to see who is still setting up. You’ll be surprised at how good it makes you feel to help a fellow camper out.

taking three days’ worth of food and eating it all on day one.

I must admit I have never had this problem. My problem is the exact opposite–I go on a three day trip and take enough food for a week. For twice as many people as are going. My cousin did once, though. We let him look longingly at our steaks for a little while before telling him we had plenty.

About the only thing I can tell you in a case like that is: go camping with people like me. You will never, ever go hungry.

a quick list of the rest of the pet peeves, in descending order.

  • Neighbors who don’t put out their campfire properly
  • Camping slobs in your own group (For what to do about it click here)
  • Hikers who don’t stay on the trail
  • Visitors who overstay their welcome
  • People who help themselves to your booze/snacks/drink/food
  • City folk

So how about you guys? Got a pet camping peeve? I’d love to hear about it! Tell me in the comments section below!

Our Top Ten Camping Posts

camping tents
What concerns our readers the most?

Popular camping posts is something I’ve been considering for some time now. Camping and Hiking Ideas has been a blog for a couple of years, so when I was looking over archival content it occurred to me that there was a lot of really, really great stuff that maybe our newer readers didn’t know about. So here is a list of our top ten most popular posts, with a link to each one:

1.  The Instant Tent.

Cabin tents are roomier than dome tents, but bulkier and heavier to take camping.

Our most popular post ever was the review of three different family-sized instant tents. It still gets a lot of attention!  I think it’s because people are looking to streamline their camping experience, so that there’s more time for play and less set-up fuss.  This is especially important for families, who have double the work when camping just because they have to take care of kids when doing so.  For a single camper like me, an 8- or 10-man instant tent gives me the ability to set the thing up by myself in about fifteen minutes, with lots of room inside for comfort. A win-win all around.

2.  camping hacks that do not work, and why.

mosquito catcher bottle
This mosquito catcher doesn’t work at all.

Our second-most popular camping post was about camping hacks that don’t work.  I wrote it because I was sick of seeing these hacks all over the internet, trying them and finding out they were useless, for one reason or another. I’m debating a second one, but that’s in the future some time. Knowing what doesn’t work, and why, is often as helpful as knowing what does.

3. The Horror of a good rod.

This was a surprise to me when I looked at popularity.  It’s a post about my new fishing rod and the difference between it and the old beater I’d had for years. For some reason, the information about rods and reels, birds nests and trying to get the dang thing to cast correctly, from a beginner’s point of view, struck a chord with readers.

4. Choosing a chainsaw for camping.

A good chainsaw makes all the difference in the world.

This one didn’t surprise me at all.  It’s an interview with two very experienced chainsaw owners, and what they do to choose and take care of their chainsaws. You can’t find some of their suggestions anywhere else.  It’s good reading; not too long, but packed with usable information about selecting a chainsaw that’s right for a camper. Incidentally, we have a new article coming up where we talk to a gold-level tech who has been with Stihl for 20 years.  Should be fantastic! Check back over the next couple of weeks for that one.

5.  easy camping meals.

Good food is surprisingly easy to make while camping if you have a plan in mind.

This popular camping post garnered a great deal of appreciation from the fact that it began with a number of guidelines for creating and executing delicious meals for camp, without having to necessarily break the bank or depend on instant foods. It then gives you five suggestions each for breakfast, lunch and dinner, with recipe links to each. Not everyone likes to spend hours preparing meals at camp, but they still like to eat well-balanced, appetizing food. This teaches you how.

6. Carny bacon.

Deep-fried bacon and dipping sauce.
Camping Carny Bacon. Hog heaven.

Carny Bacon is a relatively new post, but has it ever taken off!  This top article is huge right now. When I developed this recipe it was with the intention of creating something that was sweet and salty and very self-indulgent. It’s a hit in our family, too–one particular nephew asks me to make it every few days. Because three pieces of bacon makes 12 pieces of carny bacon, it’s kind of frugal, too. Who would have guessed?

7. Dutch oven secrets.

Dutch ovens
Mastering dutch oven cooking is something you will never regret.

For campers, Dutch oven cooking is a revelation.  There’s something wonderful about this camping essential.  The article contains five secrets to successful Dutch oven cooking. Okay, there’s a bonus sixth one, too, but don’t tell anyone I told you. It’s supposed to be a surprise.

8. A Great night’s sleep while camping.

You can sleep great at night camping if you follow the guidelines in this post.

This article contains pretty much all you need to know about getting a great night’s sleep while camping. It was inspired by a comment from a busy (and fatigued) mother who hesitated to camp because she was afraid she wouldn’t be able to sleep. Well mom, (and anyone else who loves a good night’s rest) there you go!

9. Setting up a camp kitchen.

Screen tent
Screen tents are great for setting up camp kitchens in

Setting up a camp kitchen that really works is the result of much trial and error on the part of my family and friends.  We essentially took the best and discarded the rest when it came to making a great camp kitchen. This is the most popular article on setting up a camp kitchen, but if you’re looking for a camp kitchen for a crowd, click on this link.

10. recipes for when there’s no fire.

cherry cream cheese on bagel
A breakfast so good, you won’t wait for no fire as an excuse. Good for you, too.

The article, “What Do You Eat When the Fire Goes Out?” gained some attention, but not like the link in it, which leads to all the recipes for all the menu suggestions in the post.  There are five suggestions each for breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert, and four suggestions for snacks, all prepared without a fire of any kind. I guess it’s because we’ve had a lot of fire bans this year. Either way, the food is wonderful!

I hope you take a quick look at these articles.  They have a ton of information for new and experienced campers alike. According to my analytics page, the majority of my visitors like them. I hope you do, too.