3 Fall RV Camping Tips | Planning, Packing & More
It may seem natural, as you’re packing away the flip-flops and bathing suits at summer’s end, to pack away the RV, too. In locations where the temps drop in autumn, however, you may also see a drop in campground rental rates, crowds and insect populations. Those three reasons alone should have avid RVers prepping the motorhome for another trip.
Ready to give a new season a try? A few simple tips will ensure your first (or fifteenth) foray into fall is a success.
1. Pick the Right Fall Destination
The number one must-have for fall camping is the perfect destination. Here are a few things to consider as you choose your vacation location:
Average autumn climate plays a big part in knowing where to camp this fall. Asheville, North Carolina, for example, is a fantastic fall camping destination and generally sees highs in the 70s and lows in the 50s in September, dropping to the 60s and 40s by the end of October. That makes for perfect cool weather hiking and serious snuggling by the fire.
Southern Utah’s Canyonlands National Park, on the other hand, is less predictable, with high temps ranging from 60s to 80s and lows from 30 to 50. But what a glorious place it is, and with the right planning, it can become your favorite fall camping destination! Bottom Line: Do your homework and pack for the weather no matter your autumn camping spot.
Favorite autumn activities should also be considered as you choose where to camp. Do you like to hike, fish or paddle? Does leaf peeping thrill your soul? There are perfect places to do all those things in autumn, so get online or check with local campgrounds about fall adventures in your target area.
Here’s some extra motivation for planning outdoor recreation on your fall camping trip: There’s a world of difference between trail running in August and a cool, crisp run in October. Use cooler weather to move you toward your next goal, whether it’s miles hiked, elevation scaled or hours spent fishing from a kayak.
Campsite availability is one more factor that can help you decide where to travel. In some states where fall quickly turns to winter, campgrounds may close as early as Labor Day. Many campground owners, however, have learned the wisdom of keeping at least some campsites available year-round for cool weather camping enthusiasts. This is where you’ll really need to do a little homework. Once you’ve narrowed down a region you’d like to visit, a quick search at KOA.com will help you find the perfect campground.
2. What to Pack for Fall Camping
Once you’ve got a destination in mind, your packing list becomes easier. Unload the hot weather gear and fill your bins/totes/backpacks with clothes you can layer if temperatures fall. Even with the best research, the autumn climate can surprise you, especially at higher elevations. Lightweight jackets for hiking, a couple of long-sleeve shirts, warm socks, cool weather foot gear and extra blankets will keep your autumn camping expedition comfortable.
And don’t forget the sunscreen, insect repellent and water bottles! The sun still shines in autumn and some bugs are simply persistent. You don’t want your adventure ruined by a sunburn, bug bites or dehydration.
What else will you need for those outdoor adventures? Will you bring along your bikes, kayaks or climbing gear, or will you arrange for them with local outfitters? Many hiking, paddling and biking clubs now have websites or blogs where current conditions are shared. Check those out as you pack.
What about the food? You may spend the summer serving sandwiches and sodas, but fall calls for comfort food! Break out your best Dutch oven chili, shepherd’s pie or vegan stew to warm your crew after a long day hiking mountain trails. Top the chill off with fragrant apple cobbler, pumpkin crisp or warm brownies. Fuel your bodies for cool weather exploration—it’s one of the best parts of camping in autumn.
One more clue about fall camping success—plan ahead to stay dry. Autumn rains don’t need to ruin your trip. It just takes the right rain gear to make it happen. It goes without saying that camping fun can happen in the motorhome even when a shower shuts down outdoor activity. What do you like to do at home on rainy days? Planning for that could make you the family hero!
3. Camper Prep Tips for Fall Camping
The third must-have for fall camping is a safe, dependable RV. A few thoughts about prepping the motorhome or trailer for autumn camping:
- Double-check tire pressures, brakes and towing gear. In some areas, autumn temps may dip below the freezing mark, which could mean slippery spots on roads. Properly inflated tires, fully functional vehicle and trailer brakes and hitches rated for the weight being towed are essential for safe RV travel. Your best defense, in the case of rapidly deteriorating road conditions, is to wait until roads have been cleared and treated to drive.
- Know how to operate your RV’s heating system. This sounds silly, but if you’ve only camped in warm weather, turning on the heating system may not be in your skill set. If you’re renting an RV, pay attention to the demo. It goes without saying that your motorhome’s heating system should be checked out periodically by an RV expert to ensure safe operation.
- Know how to protect your RV’s water systems. On the off chance you’ll experience a hard freeze while camping in autumn, someone in your crew should know how to disconnect water lines from tanks and drain them to prevent damage to water and waste systems. Again, if this is a rental unit, ask what to do if you encounter freezing weather.
Many RVers enjoy camping even into winter, and you can certainly safely enjoy an autumn camping expedition by employing these common sense tips.
Take advantage of cooler temperatures, campground discounts and fewer neighbors by planning a fall RV camping trip now. Choose your destination, plan your activities and pay attention to the weather. Pack for variable temps, prep your RV for safe travel and don’t forget to plan menus that create warm memories! It’s autumn and some of your best days camping by RV await.
Joe Laing is the Marketing Director for El Monte RV, a nationwide RV rental company. Joe has been on the road working within the travel industry for over 20 years, and greatly enjoys exploring the outdoors. Joe has been camping across the United States, from coast-to-coast, and makes a point to stop at national landmarks along the way. He is also actively involved in numerous campground associations, including RVIA’s Go RV-ing committee, as well as travel industry associations.