3 Tips for Fall Camping in California

3 tips for fall camping in California

This post is sponsored by RTIC Coolers, all opinions and experiences are my own.

Summer may be over but you can still get out and enjoy the outdoors with some fall camping.

There are a few things to consider for the cooler weather when planning your fall camping trip like location, cold weather gear, and good comfort food to keep you warm.

One of my favorite things about camping is just getting to unplug and chill out for a little bit. I got out to Alabama Hills in the Eastern Sierras for a weekend getaway to relax and enjoy the fall weather. Alabama Hills is in the high desert so it was still warm during the day and the nights weren’t too cold. But my favorite things about camping in this area are the epic views of the Sierra Nevada Mountains and Mount Whitney.

Here I’ve got all my favorite places to camp in the fall, what I pack, and my favorite meals, to make it easy for you to get outside and enjoy the outdoors!

#1 Where to go

fall camping in California
Alabama Hills

Depending on what you want from your camping trip you have the choice between desert camping and alpine camping. Fall is the perfect time for camping in the desert, temperatures are in a bearable range and the desert landscape is always pretty. If you are looking for some fall colors and changing leaves somewhere in the mountains is going to be the best. Being up in the mountains will mean cooler temperatures but pretty scenery. 

Regardless of where you are going, make sure to check the weather, some years get cold quicker than others and frosty mornings while pretty can be uncomfortable.


  • Joshua Tree
  • Alabama Hills
  • Death Valley


  • Lake Tahoe
  • Yosemite
  • Sequoia/Kings Canyon

#2 What gear to bring

Sierra Nevada view
Sunrise breakfast
hot chocolate and a good book

Fall means cooler weather and shorter days, which means you’ll need lots of warm layers, sleeping gear that is rated for cold weather, insulated cups to keep your drinks warm and plenty of lights for when the sun goes down. 

A little packing list:

#3 Cozy Comfort Food

Sunrise breakfast
camping dinner
hot chocolate

There’s nothing like a good meal when you’re camping. I’m a firm believer that you don’t have to sacrifice taste just because you are cooking on a camp stove or over a fire. Here are a couple of my favorite camping recipes, they are hearty and healthy and taste awesome!

Breakfast Yogurt Parfait:

I use mason jars so I can premake them the night before and just store them in the cooler.

  • Greek Yogurt 
  • Berries – strawberries, blackberries, blueberries
  • Granola
  • Honey (optional)

Layer ingredients in mason jars and store overnight or enjoy right away.

Loaded Veggie Mac and Cheese

  • Box of mac and cheese (I like Annie’s brand)
  • Bell peppers
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Spinach
  • Butter
  • Cheddar cheese (optional)

Make mac and cheese according to directions, add a little extra butter and then add in all the veggies and cook until spinach has wilted. Serve topped with a little cheddar cheese if desired.

A few extra food items I always make sure to have are coffee for the morning, hot chocolate and marshmallows, and my favorite snacks like crackers, cheese, salami, and some fruit.

A few bonus tips

campsite in Alabama Hills
fall camping in california
morning coffee with a view

Hot water bottle in the sleeping bag – If the nights are really cold I will boil water and put it in a hard plastic water bottle (like a Nalgene) and put it at the bottom of my sleeping bag to keep my toes warm.

Put the rainfly on the tent – It might be tempting to look at the stars at night through the mesh of your tent, but by putting the rainfly on you’ll keep any extra heat in the tent with you.

Have extra lights – Having extra headlamps and lanterns is key when the sun goes down but you’re not ready to go to sleep. I love solar-powered lights because you don’t have to worry about batteries dying. 

Things to do in the tent and by headlamp/lantern light – Board games, cards, or a good book are all good things to do by lamplight.

The 10 Best Fall Trips
California Camping Options
15 Car Camping Essentials
A Guide to Joshua Tree Campgrounds
Take Care of the Outdoors with Leave No Trace
An Epic California Road Trip up Highway 395

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4 thoughts on “3 Tips for Fall Camping in California

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