When you think of ‘winter camping’, it’s easy to imagine freezing temperatures, hours in the snow, and generally unenjoyable days in the cold. Truth is, yes, that might be the case in some places, but there are tons of winter-friendly camping spots in America. Camping doesn’t just have to be an activity reserved for the summertime in these places. Pack your camping gear and ready those s'more marshmallows, because we’ve got a great list of winter camping spots for you below.
1. Harris Beach State Park
Let’s kick off our list with a camping vibe everybody can enjoy: beach camping! Beach visits aren’t top of mind during winter months but you can have a wonderful time at Harris Beach State Park. The park, north of the border between Oregon and California, makes for a peaceful and calm winter getaway. The quiet beach spots work on a first-come-first-serve basis and can offer you relatively warm days. You will want to bring some extra jerseys and a cozy sleeping bag at night, though.
For entertainment, you can enjoy the park’s beautiful scenery and surrounding nature. Visit the accessible beaches close to camping sites and try out the tide pools. You can also spot birds from the national wildlife sanctuary, Goat Island, which you can see from the campsites.
2. Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument
If you’re looking for a less traditional winter camping space, why not journey into the desert? The Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument in Arizona offers cacti-filled campgrounds near the border of Mexico. Located two hours from Phoenix, this secluded spot will only set you back from $12 a night. Their backcountry camping in the Sonoran Desert permit goes as low as $5 a night.
The monument offers grounds for RV campers, which require pre-booking, but they also have a first-come first-serve option if you want to pitch a tent. This is an International Biosphere Reserve where you can enjoy a calming drive, learn about desert plant and animal life, and take a quiet hike. And we can guarantee that you’ll have the best seats for stargazing ever!
3. White Sands National Park
A great idea to find friendly camping places for the winter is to just head south to White Sands National Park. The dune park not only has exceptional landscapes filled with white, rolling sands and Lake Otero, but it is also the largest gypsum dune field in the world.Camping at this protected New Mexico national park is a once-in-a-lifetime adventure and gives you access to a few trails on the dune field. You can hike along the Backcountry Camping Trail and set yourself up for a beautiful night at one of their sites.
However, although exceptional, this camp is not for the lighthearted. The hike on the camping trail is 1.7 miles and to reach Lake Otero’s edge is a 5-mile up-and-down trek. Winter days on the site are relatively warm around 57 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit. The nights, however, aren’t as kind and can drop to below freezing. But if you’re up for a challenge, you’ll get to enjoy a magical night under the constellations. And we believe that’s worth it!
4. Dry Tortugas National Park
When you think of camping, you might not think of Florida. But the Dry Tortugas National Park is one of our top winter camping places to visit if you’re looking for a mild experience. In the far south of the US, Dry Tortugas is a series of islands on the outskirts of Florida Keys. These islands offer the perfect getaway to escape the winter cold with white sand, beautiful waters, lively marine life, warm days, and a boat ride experience to get to them!
There’s tons to do as part of your winter island trip like swimming (of course!), snorkeling, exploring the Civil War prison sites and a historical fort, renting a kayak, and visiting the lighthouse at Loggerhead Key. All this for a low $15 camping charge per night!
5. Rocky Mountain National Park
We’ve covered beaches, the desert, an island, and a dune field. Last, but not any less stunning for outdoor lovers, we’ve got mountain terrain. Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park is magical in winter, covered in snow and surrounded by white trees and mountains. The Moraine Park campground sits on a glossy lake that you can enjoy on your trip. Campers can choose between RV campsites, tent spots, or log cabins in the Park. Either way, you’ll enjoy a picturesque landscape and may get visits from furry friends living in the area.
Some of the experiences you can enjoy at Rocky Mountain include sledding, a skiing tour, and snowshoeing.
There’s loads to do in the winter time and winter camping is a fantastic way to go. Check out one of these winter-friendly camping options and we guarantee you’ll never want to spend winter indoors again!
Photo Credit 1: shareoregon.com
Photo Credits 2,3,5: nps.gov
Photo Credit 4: visittheusa.com
Photo Credit 6: Tim Gouw