Fall Camping

Explore familiar lands with new eyes as the seasons change

By Clare Menzel
Mega the Golden Retriever puppy shakes off on a fall camping trip to Crescent Lake in the Mission Mountains

For starters, bugs are scarce come fall, and that should be reason enough to pitch a tent this season.

Sit by a lake and feel the solitude. Listen to the quiet. Wait for wildlife. In all likelihood, you’re the only human around, and it’s beautiful.

The shallowest waters are already freezing over, sheer and glossy. Mountainsides of larches look like sunflower fields. You could almost believe that the clear blue skies are a perfect reflection of some faraway ocean.

Take time hiking or driving to your campsite; it probably won’t be taken. Fire restrictions have been lifted in Glacier National Park and the Flathead National Forest, so when you set up camp, light a fire to sit around, roast marshmallows on, and tell stories by.

Then sleep in. Morning comes later now. Or get up early and hunt— it’s deer and elk season through Nov. 29. When you do wake, enjoy the jolt of cold air outside the tent and warm your insides with a hearty cup of instant. Look up as the sun rises. Maybe the peaks above camp got a dusting of talcum powder snow. Explore familiar lands with new eyes.

Fall camping does require extra precautions. The weather is volatile and can swing to extremes. Bring many layers and a cold-weather sleeping bag.  And look out for bears on the hunt for a big meal before winter.

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