Camping in summer can be a whole lot of fun and conjures up memories of family vacations, crackling campfires, and licking melted marshmallows off a pointy stick. The bugs can be a nuisance, but surviving the night usually involves nothing more than making sure the tent is well pegged and your fly doesn’t leak. Camping in winter, however, is a different game altogether.
Setting up in the snow provides unbeatable rewards for those with the right gear, an adventurous spirit, and the burning desire to get away from it all. There are no bugs, and there are also no crowds and no unwanted distractions. There’s just you, a star-studded sky, and the deep silence that comes from a land blanketed in nature’s most effective insulation. If you’re up for the challenge, here are some of the best places to try camping in winter.
1. Yukon, Canada
The Yukon is one of Canada’s three northern territories, neighboring Alaska and filled with some of the most spectacular scenery on the continent. An extensive network of parks provides camping throughout the year, although you should check ahead as some gates are closed between October and May. Tombstone Territorial Park lies an hour and half north of Dawson City and in winter you can try snowshoeing, dog sledding, skiing and snowmobiling in the heart of the arctic tundra.
2. Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
Wilderness winter camping in the Rockies is an unforgettable experience. Parties of up to twelve people can camp at designated sites on both the east and west sides of the park. The snowfall is lighter on the east side of the park, and the trails on the lower elevations remain open to hikers without the need for skis or snowshoes. It’s a great time of year to see elk, mule deer, moose and bighorn sheep.
3. Fiordland, New Zealand
Milford Sound is a world heritage site that absolutely shines in winter. From October to April, the area can be overrun with tourists drawn to the breathtaking beauty of the of the mountains and fiords. Visiting in winter gives you the same awesome views without all the summer hype, and it can be the best time of year to see the native sea lions, penguins and fur seals. The Milford Track is unregulated from May to October, which means no lodge service and deep snow. Your best bet is to pitch your tent a little closer to town, and be mindful that the upper reaches are in avalanche territory.
4. Sierra Nevada, Spain
Camping Trevelez is the highest campground in Spain, nestled in the Sierra Nevada nature reserve in the Las Alpujarras mountains. It is the gateway to climbers scaling the Mulhacen, Veleta and Citadel peaks, and is open year-round. This is high altitude winter camping with the convenience of amenities like showers and wi-fi. If you feel like that’s a bit too soft, try paragliding off the cliffs or extreme mountain biking to get your adrenaline pumping.
5. Interlaken, Switzerland
We highly recommend winter kayaking on a glacial lake in the heart if the Swiss Alps for an overwhelming sense of nature’s majesty. At Interlaken, you can also try paragliding and sky diving along with the tamer thrill of skiing the famed mountains. There are several campsites in the area, many of which are open all year. It’s an adventurer’s playground, with a hot tub waiting at the end of the day to soothe those aching muscles. OK, it’s not exactly roughing it, but who said winter camping had to be a chore?
We hope you’ll give winter camping a try, no matter where the frigid winds might take you. Just make sure to bring the right gear, the best companion, and your sense of wonder.