Temperatures are dropping, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you should put away your camping gear until spring. Instead of packing everything away, why not plan a camping trip to a warmer climate? Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of heading out for a winter camping trip somewhere warmer.
Sure, camping in the snow can be fun, but it’s a cold and wet experience that will require some high-quality gear to enjoy properly. Heading to warmer climates might net you some cooler temperatures, but it will overall provide a drier experience because you won’t have to worry about snow.
You don’t want to skimp on waterproofing your gear, though — camping in Florida might save you from a blizzard but you might get the occasional rainstorm leaving you soggy if not careful.
No matter when you camp, insects are the worst — especially those of the blood-sucking variety like ticks, fleas and mosquitoes. Camping during cooler weather, even in places like Florida where your afternoons might get up above 75 degrees, almost guarantees you’ll get fewer insects. Anything less than 50 degrees and no mosquitoes will pester you — they prefer temperatures above 80 degrees and will either hibernate or die at lower temperatures.
While you won’t ski during your camping trip if you head for a warmer climate, that doesn’t mean there aren’t things to do. If you head to central Florida, consider going swimming with manatees. These gentle giants head into the spring-fed rivers during the winter months when ocean temperatures drop. These spring-fed rivers are 72 degrees year round, making them comfortable regardless of the exterior temperature. Plus, manatees are like big underwater puppies — they’ll roll over to let you scratch their bellies while you swim with them!
You can change up the way you pack your food before a winter camping trip too. Instead of hauling a cooler with you, consider drying or freeze-drying all your food before you head out. It’s a lighter option, and you only need to add water to reconstitute it.
You can light a campfire anytime during the year, but they aren’t necessary for warmth during your summertime camping trips. If you want to enjoy a campfire, consider heading somewhere like Arizona. Daytime temperatures will remain warmer, but nighttime temperatures drop dramatically, making it the perfect place to set up a campfire to keep you warm.
Make sure you check the current burn permit laws for the state where you camp though — some states ban campfires during dry months like in the winter, so you don’t want to end up with a ticket, or worse, starting a wildfire.
Spot More Wildlife
You might not think of this, but you can spot more wildlife when you camp in warmer climates in the winter than you would during the summer. Many species migrate to warmer climates during the colder months. If you’re in Florida during the winter or early spring when it’s still cold, you can spot flocks of robins. Manatees fill the springs to the point where it seems you could almost walk across their backs like they did in Crystal River’s Three Sister Springs in the winter of 2016. Sea turtles come ashore on beaches all across the state to nest, and you might even spot some whales calving off the Atlantic Coast of the state.
A Winter Camping Trip Awaits
Camping in the wintertime doesn’t always mean heavy clothes, expensive equipment and snow. Depending on where you camp, you could enjoy beachfront views, a dip in the ocean or a swim with manatees without breaking the bank. Consider planning a trip to a warmer climate the next time you go winter camping. You may never want to go camping in the snow again!
Emily is a freelance writer, covering conservation and sustainability. You can read her previous post on The Art of Healthy Living.