Happy Campers Protect Wildlife, Even in the Fall: 6 Tips for Autumn Camping

As the National Wildlife Federation’s Great American Campout™ wraps up, it’s good time to remember that fall is still a great time to get out into the outdoors. Breathe that cool fall air in, feel the crunch of leaves under your feet fall camping is the best. There are fewer people and fewer bugs. Camping with your family in the autumn isn’t too different from camping in the summer, but there are a few fall-specific things that will allow you to maximize your camping fun!

1. Use Daylight

Get to your campsite early. There is nothing worse than racing the sun to get camp set up in the dark. You will be so much more relaxed if everything is set up before flashlights are needed and your kids are running around like crazy.  Protip: Don’t unroll sleeping bags until you go to bed to avoid moisture getting on them and keeping you cold at night.

2. Bring layers for everyone

Keep in mind that cotton soaks up moisture and holds it, so focus more on moisture-wicking fabrics, like polypro or wool. If it’s going to be really cold, invest in wool socks for the family. Protip: Make sure sleeping bags and your clothes do not touch the sides of the tent, where moisture will collect and get everything in it damp. Pile your bags and clothes in the middle of the tent during the day.

3. Stay Occupied

Whether you are taking short hike with your family, bird-watching, or starting a scavenger hunt, it’s important to create an objective for your kids. This will keep you warm and having fun, rather than focused on the cold weather. By moving around and staying active you will build a solid appetite and the whole family will sleep well.  Protip: Check out the Great American Campout website for great activities to do with your family

4. Get out of the elements

If possible, set your tent up in a protected zone you’ll notice a huge difference in how long you sleep each night. Wind and rain can make your night go south quickly. Protip: Make sure to properly stake out your tent and rain fly to keep out both wind and rain. Also, prevent rain from soaking your whole family by assuring that water drains away from your tent.

5. Have a plan B

Sometimes things go south; it could be pouring rain or worse the day you’re supposed to camp. Set up a tent in in your backyard and read stories. Then, once your ready, head inside and roast s’mores in the oven. Protip: It’s important to remember that the key to a successful camping trip is to enjoy the spontaneity of the outdoors. Don’t get caught up on what you’re supposed to do, and just enjoy yourself!

6. Observe wildlife

Fall is a great time to see amazing animals. Birds and butterflies are migrating, and bears and other mammals are foraging and preparing for winter. Protip: Bring your binoculars and keep a good distance from animals to ensure your (and their) safety. Bring a notebook and some colored pencils for your kids can draw what they see.


Credit: Dana Romanoff

Once you are out there, don’t forget to take the pledge to camp. By pledging you help support the National Wildlife Federation’s Trees for Wildlife™ program.  These 5,000 native trees will be planted by pre-approved youth groups committed to planting and maintaining the trees to ensure that they will provide food and shelter for wildlife for many years to come.  And remember as well, time out outside has proven body, mind, and spirit benefits and can create a lasting connection to nature and wildlife that will help you have a happier, healthier family.

Pledge to Camp