With winter fast approaching, many people put their camping gear away until next summer. (Need tips on how to do this the right way? We have these.) But what if you’re not ready to get started camping? You can still pitch a tent on the beach or in the red rock desert this holiday season. We’ve rounded up some of our favorite places to do just that.
(Photo: game / iStock)
Harris Beach State Park, Oregon
During the winter months, campsites at Harris Beach State Park (starting at $ 35) north of the Oregon-California border and outside of Brookings City are available subject to availability. December is not exactly mild on these northern shores of the Pacific, but it is peaceful and calm. Just bring extra layers and your warmest sleeping bag. From the beach, which is just steps from the campsites, you can explore tide pools, watch migrating gray whales, and watch birds like the puffin that flies over Goat Island, a non-public national nature reserve, which is the largest island off the coast of the state, visible from the warehouse.
Grand Isle State Park, Louisiana
Two hours south of New Orleans, Grand Isle State Park has 14 beachfront tent campsites (from $ 14) with views of the Gulf of Mexico, as well as 45 paved passageways better off the water for vans or RVs. Mild winter temperatures with highs in the sixties and lows in the fifties make beach camping here in the middle of winter absolutely feasible. The park has three miles of hiking trails, a 400-foot pier for fishing for speckled trout, and great bird watching.
Gaviota State Park, California
The 39 campsites (from $ 45) at Gaviota State Park, 30 miles west of Santa Barbara, are steps from one lonely beach. In winter, this site is only open on weekends and by reservation, so you won’t see the same crowds in summer that the park attracts. The regional company 101 RV Rentals will deliver a rental motorhome to your location (from USD 750 for three nights). From camp, hike the six-mile loop trail to 2,458-foot Gaviota Peak in the Santa Ynez Mountains, or hike half a mile from the main trail to explore Gaviota hot springs.
(Photo: Austen Diamond Photography)
Dead Horse Point State Park, Utah
You can pitch a tent or book a year-round yurt at Dead Horse Point State Park, 32 miles outside of Moab, Utah. It’s cool there in winter, with daily highs in the forties and lows in the twenties, but also much less crowded. The park has extensive hiking and mountain biking trails and 52 pitches (starting at $ 40) spread across two campsites, as well as a number of yurts that opened in 2018. Recognized as an international Dark Sky Park, stargazing here is excellent. The Colorado River cuts through the park’s massive canyon and feels like a mini Grand Canyon – without the crowd. Moab’s endless hiking trails and the adjacent Arches and Canyonlands National Parks are just a short drive away.
Enchanted Rock State Natural Area, Texas
Most people come for the day to visit the Enchanted Rock State Natural Area, 18 miles north of Fredericksburg. The main attraction is a massive pink granite dome that gave this state park its name. But an overnight stay is worth it. The park has 55 campsites (from $ 14); Some are accessible via a 100-foot stroll, while others require a mile or two to hike. This is a great option for anyone interested in a backpack destination that is relatively easy to get to. The area, which includes 1,600 acres of desert landscape, has nine miles of hiking trails, as well as climbing routes and bouldering on the dome. Texas Climbing Adventures runs climbing tours and courses here (from USD 85).
Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, Arizona
On the sunny southern edge of the state is Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, an uncrowded area near the Mexican border and two hours from Phoenix. Two campsites (from $ 12) reopened here in mid-October after a COVID shutdown. The Alamo Campground only has four tent sites in a rustic, secluded setting, while the Twin Peaks Campground has over 200 RV sites and requires reservations. There are also backcountry locations a few miles away. Hiking trails that wander through the landscape overgrown with cacti lead directly from the camps.
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Main photo: anatoliy_gleb / iStock
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