Fall Camping in the Black Hills
– By MeThe dog days of summer have given way to cool, sunny days and crisp, clear nights. Gone for the year are the hot temperatures and extended hours of daylight. We welcome autumn with its splendid colors and rustling leaves.
While many people associate camping with summer, and would not dream of an all camping adventure, there are many reasons to hold off on putting away camping supplies for a few more weeks. The autumn season is the perfect time to cuddle up in a sleeping bag and tell spooky stories around a campfire.
Mild temperatures abound, meaning less insects buzzing around your campsite. Children have gone back to school, promising less traffic from highways to trails. Many parks have reduced their camping fees for their "shoulder season," which makes this an economical time to head outdoors. Campgrounds themselves are not as busy during this time, ensuring plenty of spots to choose from, as well as less noise once you arrive. Here are some other things to keep in mind as you consider a fall camping trip:
With the sun making its daily exit a few minutes earlier each day, you will want to be sure to plan for the early darkness. Make sure you have at least one long-lasting LED lantern or flashlight. If you plan on having a campfire, be sure to have plenty of wood on hand, as you will burn through if you are illuminating your campsite by way of fire. Also, if you are cooking on your campfire or camp stove, heating and cooking meals will take longer than in the summer. Use heat to its maximum efficiency by trapping heat into food using aluminum foil, or by keeping pots and pans covered with lids.
Summer heat can warm a tent very quickly. Fall brings cooler temperatures that welcome sweatshirts, jeans and jackets. Hiking boots with cozy socks replace the sandals of summertime. Instead of spending the days waist deep in the lake, hiking during the day and spending a long evening by the warm campfire take precedence.
While the welcome cool temperatures of the day, remember that the nights can become quite a bit cooler. Be sure to pack and use a temperature appropriate sleeping bag. Much of your body heat escapes through your head, so it is a good idea to take a stocking hat and wear it to bed. A foam pad underneath your sleeping bag also provides a good layer of warmth between your body and the cool ground.
Where to go?
The Black Hills offer many scenic trails through canyons and over rolling hilltops. There are many evergreen trees with pockets of aspen and birch trees that ignite into brilliant shades of yellow and orange in the autumn season.
If you are looking for a warmer place to camp, keep in mind that temperatures are cooler near the water, so you might want to stay away from rivers, lakes, and streams. On the other hand, fall can be an especially good time for fishing, so anglers may prefer to remain near the water. Preparing for weather
It is crucial to stay dry in cooler temperatures. Pack plenty of water resistant gear, including a rain suit. Be sure to check the weather forecast prior to your trip, and even if there is no rain in the forecast, have a plan and be prepared just in case. In some higher elevations, snow can fall quite early, including the fall season. Be sure to have an evacuation plan ready if you would need to leave prior to your original departure plan.
Camping in the fall holds many exciting and memorable adventures. It offers many extraordinary camping opportunities and gives one the chance to flex their outdoor muscles. Don't miss the chance to see the brilliant display that Mother Nature has in store for the Black Hills and beyond during this fall camping season!