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Wigwam river valley, near Fernie, BC. Photo: David Wald
Even in Alberta, where fall is notoriously short, fall camping is certainly doable and enjoyable with a bit of extra preparation.
Before you venture out camping, make sure the campground you plan on visiting is open. Many campgrounds close in September, and if you need services such as electric hookups or water, your choices are even fewer.
Below is a checklist for fall camping that will help you make the most of the beautiful, chilly fall days (and nights) of camping.
What do I need to bring fall camping?
- Pack lots of layers. Fall weather is unpredictable and even after warm days it gets cold fast by nightfall. Extra blankets, vests, long johns, sweaters, mittens and toques are must-haves to brave possibly freezing nights. Rainwear may also be a good idea. Check the weather forecast before leaving and use that as a guide.
- Bring your own firewood. While a campground may be open for fall and winter camping, you can’t be sure the same services are available as in the busy summer season. Don’t miss out on a warming campfire because no one is around to sell you firewood.
- Bring a tarp and rope. The ability to build your own shelter could determine how enjoyable your fall camping experience will be. If your RV has a few holes in it, sheltering against precipitation and adding a bit of extra insulation can help you make the most of a fall camping night.
How should I prepare?
- Don’t let your RV’s pipes freeze. It’s fall, and temperatures will more than likely dip below zero. You have the choice to winterize your RV and use amenities at the campsite or either insulate your water hose with heat tape and pipe insulation or use a heated water hose. For more tips on how to prepare your RV for camping fall/winter camping, click here.
- Fight condensation. Vent covers give extra protection against condensation, and insulation under the bed helps prevent moisture from forming between the bed and mattress. A dehumidifier is also a great tool for avoiding condensation.
- Keep warm. If you’re in a drafty rig or want to save energy by keeping your heater low, make sure you bring a cold-weather sleeping bag and, since every body reacts differently to the cold, learn how you measure up in terms of heat rating on the sleeping bags. Bring extra blankets just in case and consider bringing an air mattress, a good-quality sleeping pad or an insulating pad, depending on how cold you expect it to be.
- If you’re camping in late fall or early winter, a space heater may be a good solution in an RV.
What should I eat?
Fall is the time to carve pumpkin lanterns and binge on hot, delicious drinks like hot apple cider and hot chocolate. There is no reason why these fall traditions can also be taken with you on a camping trip. The same goes for meals, so cook up your favourite fall dishes. Below are some suggestions:
- Pumpkin turkey chili
- Fresh and spice squash soup
- No-oven pizza
- Campfire pumpkin pie
- Baked apples
- Apple pie on a stick
Enjoy camping this fall!