Camping. A summer recreation. Long days. Barbecue. Bug spray. The sounds of cicadas and crickets luring you to sleep. In winter, camping sounds like a warm weather dream. But the cold outside does not mean you can’t surround yourself in nature for a night or two. With a little extra training, a little extra effort, or a little extra money, winter camping is not only possible, it can be comfortable, an adventure, or some combination of both.
With the right gear for cold weather and some behavioral adjustments – extra warm sleeping bags and clothes, thicker ground pad, hot water bottles, pre-sleep exercise to build body warmth, etc – you can camp in your favorite warm weather haunts, provided they are open during the winter season. The more adventurous camper can even construct and sleep in snow caves instead of tents. Classes are available at REI and other outdoor activity suppliers. The best part is, if the elements prove to be too much, you can always break camp, pile in your car, and leave.
Cabins & Yurts
Ditch the tent for something you don’t have to set up yourself. Many state parks offer cabin, tent cabin or yurt sleeping options year-round. Some have indoor stoves or fireplaces, running water and even electricity. Almost all require advance reservations and a fee of $50 or more per night. The cost may be worth it for a structure more protected from the elements, the thwarted stress of preparing and packing for the cold and the extra time for snuggling up with candles and firelight. ReserveAmerica is a good site for finding what is available across the United States.
If ever a season were made for glamping, winter is it. Glamping is defined as glamorous camping. All you do is show up. Others take care of setting up tents, starting fires, cooking food and cleaning up. It’s a way to be close to nature without truly “roughing it.” Usually luxurious accommodations are accompanied by options to participate in winter-themed activities like sleigh rides, snowmobiling and cross-country skiing. Some center around dog sledding, with multiple-day itineraries into the wilderness and back. Be warned: the “glamorous” part of glamping counteracts the thriftiness usually associated with camping. It can come with quite a price tag. Then again, some might say sitting in a hot tub attended by your personal butler and surrounded by nothing but snow and starry skies above is priceless.
Photo Credit: Top photo is from woodleywonderworks.