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Cool Weather Camping

Looking to squeeze in a few more camping adventures before the snow flies? With a little prep, you can get the most out of some fabulous fall camping when visiting the Sawtooth NRA.

Location location!

After Labor Day, many campsites’ reservation requirements change within the Idaho Sawtooth National Recreation Area. Fee areas might become first-come, first-serve, and many developed sites will close by the end of September. To find out the status of campsite requirements, closure dates, etc., visit Sawtooth National Forest – Camping & Cabins. This is also a great time of year to begin thinking about next year’s camping trips and researching reservation requirements for specific future dates. 

Current conditions

Staying up-to-date on changing weather conditions this time of year is extremely important. Experts agree that temps below 40 degrees can become hazardous, so check the forecast and watch temperature predictions closely. 

Snow arrives much earlier at higher elevations. Keep a shovel and other necessary winter gear in your vehicle. 

Moisture, especially earlier in the day, is to be expected. Have extra towels on-hand for yourself, pets, and children. Bags for wet clothing and towels are also helpful.

Check your gear

Be sure your tent is functioning properly. Check zippers, and look for any apparent tears/holes. Bring along a patch kit for any last-minute repairs. Properly stake down the tent. Use tarps to create windbreaks, and to provide an extra layer of protection between the ground and the tent. Consider purchasing a rain fly/cover if your tent does not have one. 

Ways to stay warm

From head to toe, think layers and waterproof materials. Consider throwing in disposable heat packs and applying waterproof repellent to footwear and coats. Hats are a must- even when sleeping. 

Cold weather sleeping bags are a priority. Bivvy sacks (short for bivouac sack), can be placed around the outside of a sleeping bag for added warmth. 

Consider a propane-burning fire pit – no need to collect wood this time of year. They also lower the risk of wildfires. Check fire danger levels here

Remember, NEVER use any type gas heater or propane-powered heater inside your tent. 

Don’t forget

  • Bear safety is still in place Be Bear Aware.
  • Days are shorter, nights are longer. Have headlamps, flashlights, batteries, and other necessary equipment available for poor visibility.
  • Eat more calories! When it’s cooler you have permission to indulge a little. Your body needs extra food to stay warm. 
  • It’s ok to head home if the adventure becomes unbearable.

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