6 of the Best Warm Weather Camping Spots
We’ve been trading flip flops for wool socks, and sun hats for beanies lately. But we know that for many people the arrival of cooler temperatures and rainy skies means it’s time to seek out warm weather camping destinations.
The good news is we’ve got lots of options in the U.S. for warm weather camping year-round. So don’t put away those shorts and hiking boots just yet — there are many places where you can soak up the sunshine and camp in a t-shirt well into fall, or even winter.
From some well-known bucket-list destinations to a few lesser-traveled must-sees, here are six of the best campgrounds across the U.S. to extend your summer camping season.
Palo Duro Canyon, Texas
Remote and abundant with colorful, layered red rock formations and pops of edgy green bushes, Palo Duro Canyon State Park is the second largest canyon in the U.S.
This park sits in the Texas panhandle and offers 120 miles of rocky terrain and a plethora of outdoor activities like mountain biking, horseback riding, and bird watching. Nicknamed the Grand Canyon of Texas, it's one of the best warm weather national parks to explore in November and December.
With temperatures in the fall and winter months ranging from the high-80s and dropping down to the mid-50s (plus eight campsites to choose from), Palo Duro Canyon is one of the best camping spots to explore the rugged beauty of the Lone Star State.
Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas
Situated in the Ouachita Mountains of “The Natural State,” Hot Springs National Park is the oldest hot springs park in the country. What used to be the go-to gambling destination before Las Vegas took over the top slot, this ethereal beauty boasts misty, picturesque waterfalls, vibrant green forests, and 47 therapeutic, natural hot springs that make it a magical must-see destination.
For the history buff, there are plenty of museums highlighting the town’s rich history. For thrifty explorers there’s a cute downtown area. For craft beer enthusiasts, there’s a brewery that makes all its beer from thermal spring water. And for outdoor adventurers, there’s a vast hiking, biking, and running trail system.
With temperatures ranging from a perfect mid-80s to the mid-50s in the fall and winter months, this is a must-stop spot for your list.
Joshua Tree National Park, California
Joshua Tree National Park is a vast, rugged desert with 800,000 acres of explorable terrain. Temperatures range from the high-90s to the mid-60s during the winter months.
Located near Palm Springs, California, and named after the wild, unusual trees with spiky leaf formations on the ends of their untamed branches that grow there, it’s one of the best places to go camping if your goal is to make it feel like summer for as long as you can.
Home to over 8,000 climbing routes, Joshua Tree is a highly desirable destination for rock climbers. But if rock climbing isn’t your thing, there are many other outdoor activities offered at this bucket list park. Campers can enjoy mountain biking, hiking, horseback riding, wildlife viewing, and stargazing in the remarkably clear and seemingly endless night sky.
A sea of rolling red rock towers and formations, and dubbed the “thrill-seekers’ playground,” Moab is home to the world-famous Arches and Canyonlands National Parks.
With outdoor activities like trails for hikers at every experience level, a variety of special attractions, and a charming downtown area with a small-town feel that hosts events and festivals year-round, Moab is a treasure with so much to offer campers and travelers.
When you’re building a campfire in the silence of Canyonlands National Park, you may feel like you’re in the middle of nowhere. But getting to Moab is easy. You can pick up a camper van in Salt Lake City and be throwing open the van's sliding door in Moab in less than two hours.
Fall and winter months see temperatures from the mid-80s that drop down to the mid-40s later in the season, making the winter months the most ideal time to plan a post-summer camping trip.
Big Bend National Park, Texas
Wander on down to the southwestern portion of the Texas-Mexico border and you’ll find Big Bend National Park. Home to the Rio Grande River and 150 miles of trails, this hiker’s paradise has a little of everything in its landscape. Captivating forests and waterfalls, river gorges that bend and babble through towering canyons, plus flat top red rocks will be vying for your camera’s attention.
With temperatures that range from the low-80s to the low 50s from September to December, it’s no wonder that this wildly beautiful landmark delivers one of the best fall camping experiences out there. And offering activities like backpacking, wildlife observation, stargazing, horseback riding, and hiking, Big Bend is an outdoor adventurer’s paradise.
Choose from one of four campgrounds within the park, opt for backcountry camping, or meander just outside the park if Big Bend is full. But make sure you that you have all your reservations or permits booked and purchased prior to your trip.
Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada
Aptly named, Valley of Fire features vivid sandstone cliffs and eroded rock formations in fiery hues, from those of leaping flames and glowing embers to the bright white ash of spent fires. It is one of the oldest, largest and most popular of Nevada’s state parks, and many would say it is the most spectacular.
Just one hour from downtown Las Vegas, this road trip destination is the perfect start to an epic trip across the Sagebrush State.
As you hike through this ecological park, you’ll not only leave feeling delighted and invigorated, but also in awe of the ancient history surrounding you. Soak in the breathtaking natural arches along the Natural Arches Trail or saunter along the easy 1.5-mile hike on the Fire Wave Trail. Bonus points if you can spot the iconic Elephant Rock too!
In summer, the desert heat is too intense for a prolonged stay. For that reason, the best time to visit the Valley of Fire is November to March. During winter, the temperatures are mild, ranging from 60 - 75 during the day.
Bonus Destination: Death Valley
Letting go of summer can be hard — but with camping options around the country you can visit year-round, it doesn’t have to be!
With the flexibility and comfort a camper van allows, you can knock out one or more of these spots all in one trip. And if you’re feeling extra adventurous, be sure to add the land of extremes, Death Valley National Park, to your road trip agenda.
The hottest, driest, largest (as in, 3.4 million acres largest), and lowest national park in the U.S., Death Valley’s diverse scenery, warm temperatures, and endless list of outdoor activities make it a must-add destination.
So load up your van, throw together a rockin’ road trip playlist, and head out to one of these perfect camper van camping hot spots to make it feel like summer all year long.