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Camping is a great year-round outdoor activity, but it’s arguably the most fun during the fall. Temperatures are pleasant during the day, the bugs are gone and the environment is full of bright, beautiful colors. Animal activity also picks up during the fall, so you might see some exciting wildlife action.
Here are six tips for planning the perfect fall camping trip.
1. Follow The Foliage
Fall is best known for its colorful foliage, so naturally, you should look for campsites with the most trees. Scenic views and hiking trails should be high on your list of priorities. These sites might be busier with other campers, but they often have reduced prices after Labor Day as the weather starts to cool down.
However, your window of opportunity is slim. Regions farther south can have beautiful foliage from late September to mid-November, but Canadians have a smaller time frame to work with. The red, orange and yellow leaves only last for a few weeks before they turn brown and fall off. You must plan your trip early in the season to see the vibrant autumn landscapes.
2. Pack For Cold Temperatures
The weather might still be mild during the day, but temperatures will rapidly plunge at night. The difference is even more extreme at high elevations. Even if the forecast calls for 22° Celsius and sunny, you still need to pack clothes that can handle freezing temperatures. Make sure you bring these items:
- At least two pairs of wool socks
- Thermal base layers
- Fleece pants
- Waterproof jacket
- Heavy coat
- Wool hat and gloves
- Sleeping bag with a 20-degree rating or better
Few things are worse than being cold on a camping trip, so ensure you pack for the potential temperature drops. Hypothermia and frostbite are legitimate threats during the fall — especially in northern regions like Canada. Make sure you bring extra clothes for yourself and your companions.
3. Plan A Recreational Activity
Fall is an excellent time for outdoor recreational activities like fishing and hunting. Animals are much more active during the fall as they gather food for the winter, so you’re almost guaranteed to see some wildlife if you stay quiet.
Public campsites almost always have a water source nearby, so you shouldn’t have much trouble catching fish. If you go hunting, treat every gun like it’s loaded and pull the trigger with confidence. You also need to wear a bright orange hat or vest — there’s a good chance you’ll see other hunters on public land.
4. Bring A Full Cooking Kit
Once the sun sets and temperatures drop, you’ll inevitably crave a hot meal. That’s why you should bring a complete cooking kit with the following tools:
- Portable stove
- Small pot and pan
- Metal tongs or spatula
- Cup, bowl and silverware
Armed with these utensils and a warm fire, you can cook numerous delicious meals and go to bed with a full stomach. Just ensure you watch out for animals — bears, raccoons, mice and other critters will smell the food and investigate the campsite after you go to bed. You might consider investing in bear-proof bags and containers to protect your food supplies.
5. Always Prepare For Emergencies
Every outdoor activity requires some emergency preparedness. A camping trip seems innocent enough, but illnesses and injuries are still possible. Make sure you bring these supplies:
- First Aid Kit
- Pocket knife
- Map of the area
- Compass or GPS device
- Extra food and water
You should also give your loved ones directions to the campsite in case they need to pick you up. At least one trusted person should know your site’s location.
6. Leave No Trace
The most important rule of camping is to leave no trace — the campsite should look unchanged when you go. Don’t leave a single piece of garbage behind. Put the fire out and spread around the coals to ensure it doesn’t spark up again. Do a complete walkthrough of the site before leaving so you don’t miss anything.
There are two exceptions to the leave-no-trace rule. First, if you made a wood pile for your campfire, you can leave it behind for the next group. Second, some public campsites have a notebook people can use to write about their visits. If your site has one of these journals, feel free to leave a message for future campers to read.
Get Your Camping Fix
Many people get the itch to go camping once fall arrives and the weather starts to change. You don’t have much time before winter sets in, so you need to start making plans ASAP. Get your camping fix in now while the leaves and landscapes are still full of color!
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