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When do campgrounds open and close for the season? The answer to that question really depends on the part of the country the campground is located.
Campgrounds in the northern states (known as the “snowbelt”) need to shut down before the snow flies and the water freezes. Most of these campgrounds turn off the water, so pipes don’t freeze.
Campgrounds that are in the south (a.k.a. the “sunbelt”) usually stay open all year long. Those that are geographically in between might stay open a little longer, depending on the climate.
Read on for more information on when campgrounds open and close for the season and much more.
What Season Is Camping Season?
In general, campgrounds open and close for the season, usually from mid-March until September or mid-October. Sometimes campgrounds will open for Memorial Day weekend and close right after Labor Day.
Generally, campgrounds open and close for the season from Easter through Halloween.
Of course, if you plan a trip in the early spring or late fall, make sure you have some idea of what weather you might encounter. Also, learn what the criteria of the campground might be for opening early or closing late due to weather conditions.
Some of these campgrounds may open early for dry camping since it is too cold to turn the water on. In the fall, they may shut the water off at the campsites to avoid water pipes from bursting. In these situations, they may keep the water on for their bathhouses.
It is always a good idea to call the campground when making your reservation and learn the details of what utilities will be available if you will be camping this early or late in the year.
Camping Season in the West
Camping season in the west really depends on where you want to go. Places such as Phoenix and the surrounding areas have the best camping from November through April or May. Winters in this part of the US are usually sunny and mild.
While you can camp in the summer, temperatures in the triple digits are not uncommon and will probably make you want to head somewhere cooler.
If you plan on heading to California, The areas around San Diego, LA, and Palm Springs are all great places to visit in the winter.
If you want to camp in the west, stay in the lower elevations from November through April and hit the higher elevations in the summer to get away from the intense heat.
Camping Season in the Midwest
The Midwest is comprised of the states of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.
Of course, the further north you go, the shorter the camping season will be. As far south in the region in states such as Kansas and Missouri, you could have some great fall camping as late as Thanksgiving.
It all depends on the year. Most campgrounds will shut down around the end of October and open again in late April to mid-May. You will likely find some that stay open year-round. Always check the weather and check the campground’s open-close dates before you head out.
Camping Season in the South
Don’t be surprised if you find campgrounds open year-round in the south. Snowbirds love to head to the Gulf to get out of the cold temperatures, as well as southern Florida.
Be aware that hurricane season runs through November, so it’s possible to get a late fall storm that you will have to dodge.
Camping Season in the Northeast
Expect some pretty narrow campgrounds with open and close season dates in the Northeast. Once the leaf peepers head home around early October, campgrounds will close, shut off the water spigots, and go into hibernation.
You might find campgrounds that will stay open and cater to winter sports such as skiing or hunting.
What Does Open Season Mean for Campgrounds?
The beginning of the open season for campgrounds means they are ramping up staff, cleaning up sites, and getting ready for a busy summer season.
It also means there is not a very likely chance of freezing weather, but it doesn’t mean there might not be a day or two of chilly mornings or a possible freeze.
When Do Campgrounds Usually Close for the Season?
Campgrounds usually close for the season after Labor Day weekend. Some might stay open for a few weeks beyond that to capture the fall leaf watchers, the Halloween camping crowds, hunters, or those who want to get in a last-minute trip.
Those last few weeks are usually quiet, with reduced staff preparing to close down for the season.
Are KOA Campgrounds Open Year-Round?
There are a lot of KOA campgrounds that are open year-round. In fact, there are several in about every state. Just know that some of them may be open but offer limited services during cold weather. Be sure to check the campground you wish to visit before booking.
Which Campgrounds Are Open Year-Round?
So many campgrounds stay open throughout the year it would be difficult to list everyone. If you want to camp in the off-season in a particular region, check the conditions of your destination. You may be able to boondock if hookups are not available.
Which National Park Campgrounds Are Open Year-Round?
While most of the national parks are open during the winter, there may be limited access to certain roads or areas due to snow. There also may not be hookups available during the winter months, so you may need to boondock or reserve a cabin or hotel in the area.
The South Rim of the Grand Canyon is open year-round, but that could change with the weather. The North Rim is closed from Dec. 1 through May 15. Other National Parks, such as Rocky Mountain National Park, remain open but with limited campgrounds. Some main roads may be closed due to snow.
Should You Camp in the Spring?
Spring is a great time for camping. Again, depending on where you plan to go, you might want to consider the weather conditions. Some areas may experience thunderstorms with winds and hail, other places might get a late winter storm.
Pros of Spring Camping
Some of the pros of spring camping include great temperatures. The heat of summer has not yet arrived, and the evenings are cool but not too cold. It’s a great time to sit around a campfire. Using a heated camping chair can also fight the chill in the air as well.
You also can enjoy your time camping with fewer people around you. The quiet is awesome. There are certainly fewer bugs out and about to annoy you in the evening. You can take in all the seasonal beauty of blooming flowers, great views, and wonderful hiking weather.
You might run into beautiful waterfalls from spring runoff and maybe some snow at higher elevations.
Cons of Spring Camping
There aren’t too many negatives when it comes to spring camping. Of course, the days are shorter, and the nights are colder. So it might cut down your time to explore. If you like to swim, that may not be an option. Also, not every campground will be open with full hookups.
Should You Camp in the Summer?
Of course, you should camp in the summer. If you have children, this is the time when they are out of school and want to have adventures and make wonderful memories. It was the time of year my brother and I always looked forward to—road trips, swimming and water skiing at the lake, scout camping, and spending time outdoors were the best.
Pros of Summer Camping
Camping in the summer allows you to experience everything you want. Nature is on display, and there is plenty to do. You can soak up the sun and the adventures.
Cons of Summer Camping
It’s almost a guarantee that you will experience hot weather, humidity, bugs, and lots of other people camping. Don’t forget, all those extra people will be on the road as well, so you might experience more traffic than in other seasons.
Should You Camp in the Fall?
Fall is one of the best times to take your RV. With nature’s colors on display and temperatures dipping down, you can certainly have an enjoyable experience.
Pros of Fall Camping
There are many reasons to camp in the fall. You will find fewer people camping because families with kids are involved in school activities.
Of course, the temperatures are down, you actually feel like sitting around a campfire in the cool evening, and there are many fall activities. Don’t forget to enjoy the fall harvest with apple picking or a visit to a pumpkin patch.
Cons of Fall Camping
There are some negatives to fall camping—the weather being an overriding factor. Temperatures are beginning to fall, so it’s possible you could get caught in some early winter weather.
Rain, of course, is a given for many areas, so make sure you pack rain gear and expect the messy outcome of rain—mud.
Campgrounds may still be open but are beginning the process of shutting down, so amenities might be limited.
Should You Camp in the Winter?
Camping in winter might take a little extra effort, but the rewards are many. Winter views are spectacular, and who doesn’t love the sight of a frozen waterfall or a snowcapped mountain?
Yes, you may need to be a lover of all things cold, but winter camping is something you want to experience at least once in your life.
Pros of Winter Camping
Since there aren’t many people who like to winter camp, you will likely find yourself camping with few neighbors. Wildlife will enjoy the quiet, and you can experience some great photography or viewing experiences. Low costs are another reason to enjoy winter camping.
Cons of Winter Camping
The negatives of winter camping are obvious—snow and cold. As I reported earlier, many campgrounds are closed after Labor Day. Roads and trails can also be closed due to snow buildup. If you are the hearty sort, winter camping might just be your jam. If not, make your way to points south.
Check out our Winter Camping articles for even more info!
5 FAQs On The RV Camping Season
1. What Is the Best Month to Go Camping?
October is the best month to go camping. Temperatures are going down for the most part, and so are the crowds. The weather may not be perfect, but cooler days and nights make for enjoyable hiking and time around the campfire.
2. What Is the Busiest Time of Year to Go Camping?
The busiest time of year to go camping is mid-June through mid-August. Children are out of school, and families are ready to get away for some rest and relaxation.
3. When Is the Slow Camping Season?
Slow camping season will be on the shoulders of the summer season. Usually, April or May and September or October will be the slowest times for camping.
4. What Are the 3 Seasons of Camping?
Spring, summer, and fall are the three seasons of camping. These times will provide you with the best weather, great hiking, and many open campgrounds to choose from.
5. Where Can You Camp During The Closed Camping Season?
Some campgrounds open during the late fall and winter. However, hookup utilities are not available, and you will essentially be boondocking.
Campgrounds in warmer states such as Florida, Texas, Arizona, and other southern states are in their “prime” season during this time and will have all the amenities at higher prices.
Final Thoughts on Open and Closed Camping Seasons
Campgrounds open and close for the season, usually by the area of the country where they are located due to the change of seasons. Of course, there are always exceptions.
If you are adventurous, you might want to give cold-weather camping a try. As always, do your research and enjoy your time away.
Let us know if the comments if you like to experience the closed camping season, or if you are a fair-weather camper like me.
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Terri Nighswonger and her husband Todd are full-time RVers and work campers. They have been living full-time in their RV for nearly three years with their Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Newton, and their Minnie Australian Shepherd, Remi.
They originate from the Midwest but plan to enjoy the west for a few years, wintering in Arizona and summering wherever the road may lead. Writing is Terri’s passion, but she also loves hiking, kayaking, walking her dogs, and anything she can do outdoors.