Buck the trend — you might find it’s worth it.
When many people think of camping, summer is the first thing that comes to mind. After all, camping season runs from Memorial Day to Labor Day, right?
But — if you think of camping season beginning after Labor Day, you’re in for a pleasant surprise!
Autumn is actually one of the most splendid times to go camping in Missouri. You sense a pleasing touch of coolness in the air that gets crisper as the season progresses. The humidity is lower, so you don’t feel like you’re sleeping in a sauna. Mosquitoes and other insects become less active — and annoying. And nobody can deny the amazing show of color our state’s magnificent forests will soon be putting on.
Finally, since everyone else is thinking about camping in the summer, you may find fewer crowds and more available campsites.
A few helpful tips when heading out on a fall camping adventure:
- Make sure you have a decent tent that’s rated for at least three seasons since you may encounter rain, and perhaps even morning frost in the latter part of the season.
- Practice setting up your tent in the living room, back yard or local park before you have to do it at your campsite. That way any possible confusion, snafus or missing parts can be sorted out without stress or frustration.
- Using a painter’s plastic ground cloth or tarp under your tent will help preserve the bottom.
You’ll want a sleeping bag of course. Bags are usually rated in degrees to indicate the coldest weather you can use them in. Just to be on the safe side, consider a bag rated at least 10 degrees colder than you need.
Manufacturers use polar bears as test subjects when they rate their bags. Not really, but it seems that way!
In any case, better to have a little warmer bag than needed rather than the opposite. You can always unzip it a little to cool off. Don’t forget a closed-cell foam or inflatable ground pad to put beneath your bag.
Both Missouri State Parks and the Missouri Department of Conservation offer excellent options for camping adventures. State Parks tend to be more developed and offer amenities for campers just starting out. Conservation Areas provide natural surroundings, more solitude and independence for the experienced camper.
Wherever your quest for camping leads you, you’re sure to enjoy the fall—Missouri’s finest camping season.
By Dan Zarlenga, St. Louis Regional Media Specialist, Missouri Department of Conservation.