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Is the Fall Camping Shoulder Season Disappearing?

Fall hasn’t always been the most popular time for camping. Usually, the number of campers plummet after school starts in August each year. 

However, due to various factors in 2022 and 2023, many people postponed or canceled their summer camping trips altogether.

Fall camping might be the hottest new trend filling campgrounds after Labor Day. Are the quiet days we love gone forever?

Let’s dig in!

Famous YouTuber Reports That Fall Camping Is on the Rise

Historically, summer has been the most popular season for campers in the U.S. The warm and generally clear weather, plus a break in school, are great excuses to get outdoors. But recently, this trend began to shift.

According to the RV Miles YouTube channel, more than half of Americans changed their summer 2023 plans due to excessive heat. Another third made changes in response to decreased air quality from wildfires. 

Instead of canceling those trips altogether, many people simply decided to give fall camping a try. Its camping is poised to steal summer’s thunder if the numbers are to be trusted. An estimated 64% plan to pitch their tents and enjoy s’mores by the fire after Labor Day.

The autumn outlook from the National Weather Service suggests these folks are in for a treat.

Most of the country will trend warmer through December while precipitation stays mostly normal. Autumn foliage should also arrive on time or early throughout most of the United States. 

With such ideal conditions, who wouldn’t want to give it a shot?

We found 7 Great RV Parks for Fall Camping.

Reasons Behind the Decline in Summer Camping

Weather is a significant factor encouraging people to give fall camping a try. Many parts of the U.S. recorded record temperatures in the summer months in 2022 and 2023. But the unusually warm days and nights are only part of the picture.

Camping continues to become more and more popular across the country. Although this is an exciting statistic, parks struggle to keep up with the surge. Over 75% of all RVers describe overcrowding as a barrier to their outdoor experience.

Even blaming the hot weather and crowded campgrounds for the shift, it’s clear that trends are changing. More people are looking to the autumn shoulder season for their fix.

A woman sitting in her camper in fall sunlight

What Is the Fall Camping Shoulder Season?

Many people who camp, backpack, or spend time outdoors know about the shoulder seasons. Often, they consider them to be the best times for camping. However, even some experienced adventurers have never heard this term.

It refers to the window before or after a busy period. It frequently gets used in travel circles, but it also applies to any seasonal activity. Late fall and early spring are considered perfect for off-peak activities.

They vary from place to place because the yearly cycle differs depending on location. The season starts in September in the Northeast and parts of the Midwest. But it begins in late October in the South and parts of the Southwest.

The fall shoulder season is an ideal time for camping and getting outside. It’s right between the peak summer and winter, lowering accommodations and travel costs. Campgrounds and parks are also less crowded during this time. 

So, you’ll probably enjoy more peace and quiet during this period than in summer or winter.

Deep Dive: This is Shoulder Season for Camping, Take Note.

Until recently, summer was the reigning season for campers and RVers. But half of them changed their summer 2023 plans, and nearly a quarter canceled them altogether. It seems that fall camping might be the best way to enjoy nature.

Fall Is Leaf Peeping Season

In many states, the shoulder season is the best time to see peak foliage. All across the country, trees begin to show off their beautiful seasonal colors. You can find stunning red, orange, yellow, and even purple hues from New England to the West Coast.

Planning a fall camping trip means you’ll get to enjoy the changing leaves. More scenery is never a bad thing!

The Weather Is Usually Mild

Autumn leaves aren’t the only perk of a fall camping trip. You’ll also enjoy the mild, cozy weather. It’s a comfortable time in most states, with average temperatures landing between the 50s and 60s.

Although some regions experience chilly nighttime lows, these temperatures are nothing compared to a sweaty, humid summer night. Just pack the proper clothing and gear, and you’ll do great. 

Plus, a cool night is a great excuse to roast s’mores over a campfire.

Don’t want the smoke? Try this Outland Living Firebowl Propane Fire Pit.

You Can Enjoy Fun Fall Camping Activities

If you love pumpkin spice and spooky season, you’ll love fall camping. No matter where you travel, you won’t be far from traditional autumn festivities.

Many parks and campgrounds make the most of it with themed activities. Some offer on-site apple picking or encourage guests to pick and carve pumpkins. Others host Halloween-themed events or bonfires.

Once you choose your destination, don’t forget to check local events calendars. The towns and cities near your campground may have their own celebrations, like Oktoberfest.

Fall camping is gaining in popularity

Is This the End of the Fall Camping Shoulder Season?

If the heat forced you to postpone your plans, don’t worry. While summer may be an ideal time for camping, autumn is a close second. Between the campfires, cozy weather, and autumn festivities, the fall camping shoulder season might just become your favorite part of the year. 

And, as long as higher summer temperatures prevail, the off-season will continue to look appealing.

Discover the Best Free Camping Across the USA

To be honest with you, we hate paying for camping. There are so many free campsites in America (with complete privacy).

You should give it a try!

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