Spring is in the air! That means it is time for camping. Warmer weather, flowers blooming, and signs of new life after the cold, dark winter have me itching to get outside and camp during my favorite season. Need a little help planning your spring camping trip? Read on – my list of spring camping tips, essentials, and destinations has got you covered.
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Spring Camping Weather
I love spring. I love to soak up the sunshine and warmer days after the cold of winter. But don’t be fooled by a few warm spring days. Spring temperatures are unpredictable, and it may not be warm on every one of your spring camping days.
Be prepared for cool days. Don’t forget the fleece and jackets yet. Wind and cooler temps than you expected can be chilly, even if the sun is shining.
Layer your clothes. It is easy to remove and add clothes as the temperature changes throughout the day.
Be prepared for cold nights. Even if it is warm during the day, evening temperatures will drop. Be sure you have sleeping bags and blankets that can handle the lower temperatures.
Be prepared for spring showers. Rain is common in the spring, so pack rain gear. Bring a rain jacket and consider bringing rain boots (for the kids especially) or an extra pair of shoes.
A pop up canopy can be nice. A pop up canopy like this one is great to cover the picnic table or food prep area at your campsite. It can shelter you from the rain or provide shade if it is sunny.
Be prepared for mud. Along with the rain showers comes the mud! That’s when those extra shoes or rain boots come in handy. These boots are perfect for the kiddos!
Put a mat at the entrance of your tent or camper. It will help catch some of the mud and debris and keep your tent cleaner.
Be prepared for wind. Stake your tent, even if it is freestanding and doesn’t have to be staked. The same goes for a pop up canopy. It only takes one gust of wind to carry a pop up canopy to the neighboring campsite.
Be prepared for snow. Snow in the spring? It is extremely rare in the south where I live, but other parts of the US do have snow in the spring. Check the forecast and bring the proper clothes and gear.
Spring Camping Essentials
Check your camping gear. If you haven’t used your camping gear all winter, be sure to check it out before you go. This will give you a chance to repair or replace anything that is broken or missing.
Pitch your tent at home. Look for any damage to your tent and make sure that no parts are missing. This will also air it out and get rid of any musty odors.
Do you need a tent? Check out my tent buying guide!
Never pack up a tent when it is wet. If your tent is wet because of rain or dew when you pack it up to leave, take the time to get it out at home and let it dry. It dries best by setting it up, but at least hang it out to dry.
A wet tent in storage will get mildewed and yucky.
Don’t forget enough sleeping bags or blankets. Remember, spring nights can be chilly, so bring sleeping bags or blankets for everyone. If you are backpacking or planning on backpacking in the future, you’ll want a sleeping bag that packs small and weighs less than traditional sleeping bags.
Use a sleeping pad. A sleeping pad under your sleeping bag will provide another layer of protection between you and the cold ground at night, keeping you warmer. Plus it is more comfortable!
Know what you need for your camp kitchen. Did you get a new camp stove or grill? Make sure you have the correct fuel that it uses – unless it is a charcoal grill. You may want to give it a trial run at home to be sure it works properly. This grill has become crazy popular with campers!
Don’t forget your flashlights. Darkness comes a little earlier in spring. You will definitely want flashlights and maybe a camping lantern.
Spring Camping Planning
Check for campground opening dates. Some campgrounds close for the winter, so check for their opening dates when planning your spring camping trip. This is true even for campgrounds that don’t offer reservations. You don’t want to arrive at the campground to find it closed.
Campgrounds are not as crowded in the spring. This is just one of the things I love about spring camping. It is a great way to avoid the crowds of summer.
Make reservations. Even though campgrounds are not usually as crowded in the spring, consider making reservations if you are going to a popular campground. And many campgrounds require a reservation.
Plan early. It is best to start planning your spring camping trips early – in the winter or even the fall if you want to get reservations at a popular campground.
Spring Break camping is the perfect vacation. Skip the typical spring break vacation at the beach motel and go camping instead. Find a beach campsite if you are determined to hit the shore during spring break.
Spring Camping Destinations
With kids still in school (unless you homeschool !), many families take weekend, spring camping trips. Look for nearby campgrounds, your state parks, or local national forests for camping destinations close to home.
My posts Where to Go Camping: The Best Campgrounds for Beginners and The Ultimate Guide to Camping in the National Forests will help get you started.
If you do have time for a longer trip or live close to these destinations, give one of the following campgrounds a visit. Keep in mind…..
Campgrounds in the northern US may still be closed or covered in snow. Know before you go or be prepared to camp in the snow. Springtime to me in Georgia is March though May, but spring camping season doesn’t arrive until May at places like the Grand Tetons, Yellowstone, Acadia etc, and snow is not uncommon in May and June.
Grand Canyon National Park
Seasonal spring temperatures are great for viewing the immense mile deep canyon, completing some day hikes along the south rim, or participating in ranger programs offered at the park. Although still busy, spring is the perfect time to beat the summer crowds.
Two campgrounds on the south rim of Grand Canyon National Park, Mather Campground and Trailer Village, are open year round, but true camping season begins March 1. The North Rim campground does not open until mid May.
Temperatures for March through May average between 50-70 degrees for the highs and from 25-39 degrees for the lows, so be prepared for cold nights. Don’t be surprised if you see snow in May and count on windy conditions.
Arches National Park
Spring is the perfect time for a desert camping trip, and it is one of the busiest seasons at Arches National Park, largely due to the milder temperatures.
Arches only has one campground, Devils Garden, so reservations are highly recommended. Camping is also available in nearby Moab.
With tons of arches, pinnacles, and balancing rocks, Arches is known as the land of red rock and blue skies. Many formations can be viewed from the car and there are several hiking trails in the park.
When night comes those blue skies are known as some of the darkest skies in the contiguous 48 United States, and stargazing is a popular night time activity.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Cades Cove and Elkmont Campgrounds in the Smokies are open year round with the other, smaller campgrounds opening throughout the spring months.
There is plenty to do – beautiful hikes with streams and waterfalls, ranger programs, bike riding, and nearby attractions in Townsend, Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg.
Cumberland Island National Seahore
Spring is a wonderful time to visit Cumberland Island National Seashore – before hurricane season and the humidity and bugs of summer. I really don’t worry about hurricane season (maybe I should), but now the heat, humidity and mosquitos are another story!
The island is only accessible by boat so plan accordingly and check the ferry schedule and fees. The 45 minute ferry ride adds more fun and adventure to your spring camping trip!
Reservations can be made six months in advance and Sea Camp campground, which is closest to the dock at a half mile walk, will probably require booking a reservation weeks/months in advance. The other campgrounds on the island are primitive and require a 3 to 7 mile hike in.
If the campground is booked, and you don’t want to miss seeing the natural seashore and wild horses, consider a day trip to the island and camp at nearby Crooked River State Park. It is just down the road from the Cumberland Island ferry.
Amicalola Falls State Park
Known for the highest cascading waterfall east of the Mississippi River and the approach trail for the southern terminus of the famous Appalachian Trail, Amicalola Falls is one of Georgia’s most popular state parks.
Winter and spring precipitation should have Amicalola Falls flowing nicely, so spring is a great time to view the falls.
With many thru hikers beginning their Appalachian Trail journey in the spring, it is the perfect time to get a glimpse of those hikers at Springer Mountain. The approach trail from Amicalola Falls to Springer Mountain is a 8.5 mile hike, but the Springer Mountain trailhead and beginning of the Appalachian Trail is also accessible via forest service road.
The campground has 24 campsites and offers activities like 3 D archery, a zip line, and events for extra fees.
Spring camping destination tip: The previous campground destinations are just a few ideas for a spring camping trip. Check out HipCamp to search for unique, privately owned campsites for your spring camping adventures. If you use my special Hipcamp code ANDREAGF121CE when you set up your free account, you automatically get $10.00 HipCash to use on your first booking!
Your Spring Camping Ideas
Are you ready to kick off the spring camping season too? Do you have any spring camping tips or a favorite spring camping destination? I would love to hear about your plans and spring camping trips!
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