I really enjoy winter camping.
Unfortunately, winter camping in new jersey is somewhat limited. Pretty much all of the private campgrounds in the state shut down by around November 1 and even the public campground choices are somewhat limited.
There are still places to go, you just have to do a little more research and make a few more calls. You also have to make sure you bring everything with you that you will need. Even now, many years into my winter camping experience I use a checklist and make sure I am prepared for just about any contingency.
Is there going to be snow on the ground? Will there be freezing rain? Can your tent hold up under freezing rain conditions? How will you start a fire if it's pouring? Do you have protection from the biting wind?
So what do I do?
Well, I go camping with my Boy Scout Troop for one. Scout Reservations are open all year round for the most part. Most of them are not exactly full of amenities and activities during the winter but I don't mind that because we plan our own events and activities so I'm not in need of the campground to provide that for me. Wood Platforms for the tents, campfire ring, latrine and sometimes a pavilion for our cooking & eating is pretty much all I need.
If I'm not going with the scouts then it gets a little harder. Over the years I have managed to find a couple of locations in or around the state that are open year round or are on private property but I have developed a relationship with the owner and they don't mind me camping on their property for the weekend.
Why do I like winter camping?
Mostly for the same reasons I like summer camping. I get out of the house, I get into nature, I get to contemplate my place in the universe, I love watching animals and I love the peace and quiet.
I am sure you are thinking "How the heck do you do that with a bunch of rowdy boy scouts around?"
It's actually easier than you might think, early mornings, late in the evening and even during the day sometimes when they are out on a hike or doing some sort of activity that I don't have to attend.
If you wear enough layers and are prepared for the temperatures and you learn how to just sit still and try to become part of your surroundings it is amazing what you will see and hear.
But isn't it cold?
Do some planning and preparation and you won't even notice the cold. Bring extra clothing, get a good sleeping bag, bring an extra blanket or two, leave the air mattress at home, bring twice as much firewood as you think you will need, make sure you know exactly what the weather is "forecasted" to be and know exactly what is provided at your campsite of choice.
Winter camping New Jersey, limited but still one heck of a fun experience you won't soon forget!
Till Next Time…