While road trips often evoke images of summertime, many RVers have fully embraced the notion that the adventures don’t have to stop once fall weather arrives. There are many reasons why a fall camping trip is a great experience. The changing fall colors are magical, prices are generally more budget-friendly, and crowds tend to be smaller. For those who don’t like the summer heat, they can enjoy exploring nature in the crisp Autumn air comfortably without feeling like they are going to melt away.
While RVing in the autumn can be a remarkable experience, there are a few considerations that are important to keep in mind as the weather changes.
If you’d like to embark on a fall RV trip that is both fun and safe, here are a few fall camping tips to keep in mind:
Plan for Weather Variations
Depending on where you go, it’s possible that you will encounter a variety of weather conditions during your trip, so it’s important to pack accordingly. The fall season can often mean warm days and chilly nights. For example, on some fall days in the Colorado mountains, you may be perfectly comfortable wearing a t-shirt or a light jacket, but then in the evenings, you may find yourself busting out the winter coat. Bringing layers and extra blankets or a warm sleeping bag can ensure you are able to adapt to the changing weather easily and comfortably. If you’re tent camping, make sure you bring a sleeping pad. Researching the expected weather forecast of the areas you’ll be staying in and driving through can help ensure that you aren’t blindsided by an unexpected snow or rain storm. Being aware of weather patterns can also help you plan for alternative routes to have on backup.
Make Sure Your RV Is Ready
As mentioned above, researching the expected weather conditions in advance can help you safely and adequately prepare for your journey, and this includes making sure your RV is ready for lower temperatures and inclement weather. Helpful tips include:
- Make sure your RV’s heating system works. If you’ve never used it before because you’ve always stuck to warm-weather travels, you may want to take your RV into a professional to ensure it works properly and to get expert advice on how to operate the system. Also, be sure that you have a working carbon monoxide and smoke detector in your RV at all times.
- Keep an eye on tire pressure. Cold weather can cause tire pressure to drop.
- Patch up holes, cracks, or broken seals in your RV. This will help keep warm air in, and it can also prevent pests from seeking refuge from the cold by sneaking into your RV.
- Protect your RV awning. While it’s never a good idea to leave your awning open and unattended, this is especially true when changes in temperature and weather patterns can happen quickly. If you were to leave your awning out overnight, cold temperatures could make it difficult to retract, and snow or ice can weaken the awning structure and/or damage the canopy.
Check RV Park Availability
One of the benefits of RVing in the fall is that you can often find fewer crowds and wider availability of campsites at rates that fall below summer prices (usually starting after Labor Day.) However, it’s important to make sure that the campground you are interested in staying at is open during the fall. Many RV parks are open year-round, but some close down once the weather turns chilly in late October or early November. The same sentiment applies to national and state parks. To save yourself a headache and/or a long drive, always do your research to make sure staying at the campsite in question is a reality. On a similar note, there is wider availability during the off-season, but recent years have seen record numbers of new RVers hit the road. To play it safe, you may want to make a reservation and secure a spot, regardless of what time of year you plan to travel.
If you’re taking a camping trip to experience the fall foliage, be sure to research the area to find the perfect time to see the changing leaves. A little bit of planning can ensure you plan your trip around peak season. Some northern areas, like New England, may change as early as late September. As your move further south, leaves tend to start changing in early October. By late Fall, most leaves will have fallen off the trees. Check out this great map to find the perfect place and best times to book your campsite for viewing the changing colors.
Inform Yourself of Nearby Wildlife Activity
Regardless of where you’ll be heading to for your fall RV excursion, you will benefit from doing some research on the local wildlife. Being aware of what creatures are around can help you take measures to help prevent any encounters as well as better prepare you to deal with an encounter should one arise. This is true any time of the year, but it is especially important during fall, as many wild animals become more active. To help you stay safe, here are a few wildlife safety tips to keep in mind:
- Autumn is mating season for deer and moose, so be extra aware of your surroundings when visiting locations where they are present. Moose can be aggressive if approached. Keep your distance if you see one in the wild, and always keep your dog on a leash when walking in areas where moose are known to live.
- It’s also hunting season, so be cautious when camping in areas that also attract hunters. Wearing bright colors and staying on walking trails can help prevent any stressful incidents from occurring. Putting a hunter’s orange vest on your dog is also a good idea during hunting season.
- During this time of year, bears are preparing to hibernate, which means they are looking to consume as much food as possible. Because of this, they may be especially tempted to walk through campsites looking for food. Packing some bear spray, ensuring your food is properly secured away, keeping your windows closed, and locking your RV at night can help prevent any dangerous interactions.
- It’s also important to take precautions when driving to your destination. More wildlife will be out on the roads, so keep an eye out when you are behind the wheel. Animals are most likely to be active during dusk and dawn, but they can wander out on the roads at any time of the day. Drive carefully, especially in areas with low visibility, and remember that deer travel in groups. If you see one cross the road, wait a few moments to see if any others are trailing behind.
Get Creative with Entertainment
While swimming and suntanning may be off the table as the weather starts to cool down, there are still many viable sources of entertainment to enjoy once autumn commences, including:
- Taking a fall day hike is a great way to take in the beautiful color changes in foliage. Cooler weather means you don’t have to wake up at the crack of dawn to avoid temperatures that leave you sweaty and irritable. As an added bonus, there will be fewer bugs and pesky insects putting a damper on your time outside.
- Staying warm by the campfire is a great way to spend the day. The nice part about RVing when the weather is cool is that you can enjoy campfires during any time of the day. Sipping a warm drink while enjoying the scenery is a great way to stay cozy and leisurely soak up the great outdoors. Additionally, while every place will be different, there tends to be fewer open fire bans in place as summer fades from view.
- Cook a comforting meal, and schedule a game night with the family. If the weather is a bit too chilly to comfortably sit outside, you can enjoy the coziness of connecting with the family over games and a heartwarming meal. If you tend to avoid cooking inside of your RV during the summer months, fall camping allows you to enjoy the benefits of cooking in your home-on-wheels without risking turning your RV into a sauna. A family meal out on the picnic table, with a cup of hot chocolate, is one of the best ways to experience fall camping.
- Get festive. If you celebrate fall holidays like Halloween or Thanksgiving, consider picking an RV park that hosts fun festivities, such as pumpkin carving days, costume contests, trick or treating, or movie screenings. Fall is also a great time to find local festivals and family events.
RVing in the autumn is a great way to take in the majestic scenery of the changing seasons, benefit from lower travel rates, and enjoy access to a wider variety of RV attractions without summer crowds. That being said, the changes in temperatures do bring about their own set of special considerations for travelers to keep in mind. By planning ahead, doing your research, and keeping fall safety tips in mind, you should be well on your way to enjoying a unique RV trek that is heavy in fun and light on stress. Happy trails!