Enjoying the best winter camping doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll have to endure sub-zero temperatures and snow-covered tents. If you head south, a night underneath the stars can be perfectly pleasant.
From the Florida Everglades to Georgia’s Golden Isles, camping is a great way to adventure in the outdoors. While we love winter camping in colder climes, sometimes warm weather beckons. Discover our favorite places to go warmer-weather winter camping in the USA.
1. Everglades National Park, Florida
Average January temperatures: 57°F - 77°F
The largest tropical wilderness in the United States, Everglades National Park covers a large swath of south Florida and is one of the best places to camp in Florida in the winter. Incredibly biodiverse, the area’s wetlands, swamps, and grasslands play host to a varied mix of inhabitants and campers are likely to come across more than just the dinosaur-era reptiles for which the region is best known.
Here you’ll also find manatees, tropical wading birds, turtles, and the endangered Florida panther. You can camp just seven miles from the park’s entrance at Lone Pine Key Campground where facilities are basic (clean restrooms but no showers, flat private camping spots, a picnic area with fire grates, and potable water) and the sites are allocated on a first come, first served basis.
Camping Tip: Call the ranger at (305) 242-7700 to check availability; if Lone Pine Key Campground is full head to the nearby Flamingo Campground instead.
2. Cumberland Island National Seashore, Georgia
Average January temperatures: 42°F - 60°F
Georgia’s Golden Islands are known for their picturesque coastal wetlands. One of the most scenic winter camping spots in Georgia, here driftwood-lined beaches and forested canopies of Spanish moss provide plenty of opportunity for exploration.
Developed and wilderness camping is available at the Cumberland Island National Seashore, where wild horses are often seen roaming along the sand and the night’s sky is always blanketed in stars. Note that permits are required, and sites are assigned at the Sea Camp Ranger Station.
Camping Tip: Keep a small first aid kit with basic wound prep in a packing cube to put in your day pack when you’re exploring the shoreline.
3. Point Reyes National Seashore, Marin County, California
Average January temperatures: 42°F - 57°F
Some of the best winter camping in California can be found along its 840 miles of biodiverse coastline, and the hike-in tent camping at Point Reyes National Seashore is perhaps one of the most picturesque places to pitch up.
Located an hour north of San Francisco and tucked away in the sand dunes near Limantour Beach, vault toilets and water is accessible on-site. However, the lack of cell service and 1.7 mile hike back to your car will make it feel like a remote coastal escape. Don’t forget to get a beach bonfire permit at the Bear Valley Visitor Center when you pick up your camping permit.
Camping Tip: Take a robust, durable wheeled duffel bag to maximize your load capacity when walking your gear into camp from the car. The road into the site is unmade and bumpy, but not impassable for a sturdy wheeled pack.
4. Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, Arizona
Average January temperatures: 25°F - 42°F
Straddling the borders of Arizona, Utah, and New Mexico, the towering sandstone buttes that rise from the flat, red-sand floor of Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park litter one of the most iconic landscapes in the West.
Base yourself at The View Campground, where restrooms and showers are a welcome sight after a day in the desert, and then spend time exploring the vistas on show from the 17-mile loop road through the park ($20 entrance fee). Keen walkers and hikers can traverse the 4.1-mile self-guided Wildcat Trail, which wends its way to the base of several towering buttes, or hire a local guide from the Navajo Nation for a more immersive tour of the region.
Camping Tip: Pack your camping gear into a lightweight duffel for maximum portability whether in the car or at the campsite.
Enjoy the best winter camping in the USA when you head south and check out these four camping organization ideasfor packing perfection.
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By Charli Moore on November 7, 2020
Charli Moore is an adventure enthusiast who has been location independent since 2011. A freelance writer she blogs about her adventurous travels at Wanderlusters, and has a penchant for adrenaline highs and crunchy peanut butter. Follow her on Instagram to feed your wanderlust.