10 Fun Things to do on a Winter Campout

By Suzanne Wiley

If you aren’t a person who enjoys chilly weather, then winter camping is probably the least appealing activity you want to participate in this weekend. However, there are many benefits to camping when it’s cold.

Winter camping is not for the faint of heart but is incredibly peaceful and fun with the right preparations.
Winter camping is not for the faint of heart but is incredibly peaceful and fun with the right preparations.

Besides the bug-free peace and quiet, winter camping provides the optimum conditions for sleeping comfortably in a tent—the perfect temperature for the best sleep is 65-72 degrees—as well as plenty of cozy time beside the campfire. And what is the one thing we all look forward to when camping?

Yes, you’re correct—a campfire!

Tent camping in the fall is ideal. The campfire warms you up and you stay cozy and comfortable in the 12 Survivors Shire tent.
Pack the right gear in anticipation of rain and colder temperatures.

You may like colder weather, but we are tropical creatures, evolutionary speaking, and feel most comfortable when our bodies are 75 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Like camping in the dog days of summer, extreme temperatures—too hot or too cold—can be dangerous…if not deadly! It can be too cold for the occasional car camper to enjoy themselves camping in winter. For beginner campers, heavy snow and temperatures a little less than 50 degrees Fahrenheit should be left to the more experienced outdoors men and women. Why? Because the correct gear is necessary to stay safe and comfortable during a cold-weather camping trip.

If you are considering camping this winter and we’re highly encouraging you to do so, there are a few things to consider before committing


Humans are at risk of hypothermia when our body temperature dips below 95 degrees Fahrenheit. Staying dry is a big part of preventing hypothermia. Pitching a tent, if not an expert, can be very difficult if the ground is frozen and making and keeping a fire going when wood is wet may be nearly impossible. Those with strong survival skills or who are used to extreme cold will fare well, casual campers who don’t want to invest in expensive camping gear or risk an emergency will do best to wait for milder weather.

To learn more about how to stay safe in extreme cold, click here.


Mather Campground photo by M.Quinn
Mather Campground photo by M.Quinn

When researching campsites, find one that is well-established with amenities like fire pits, running water and bathrooms. Many private and state parks have someone on sight 24/7. Pick a place relatively close to a town, or at least close enough to drive to medical help if there happens to be an emergency.


Even car camping, you will need winter-rated camping gear. You will need cold weather sleeping bags and a tent rated for the lowest temperatures you’ll experience. The 12 Survivors Terra-Pod sleeping bag is soft and cozy with a weather rating of 20 degrees Fahrenheit.

Back-Up Plan

Always call ahead before heading out to check on the conditions of your preferred campsite. Know what you’ll do and where you’ll go if the weather turns south north.

For more winter camping tips, click here.

After you’ve planned and packed, now you need to plan activities…

Take a hike to find and identify animal tracks in the snow.
Take a hike to find and identify animal tracks in the snow.

Winter Camping Activities

Winter camping activities don’t vary much from summer, except you won’t be swimming—unless you’re into the polar plunge—boating or other water sports. But you can still hike, fish, play games, observe wildlife, cook over an open fire and most importantly—relax.

When winter camping, days will be shorter, so you have fewer daylight hours to fill—this is especially important if you must plan to entertain children. The benefits of this are two-fold, less planning, less boredom and more time around the campfire!

Here are our favorite winter camping activities for all ages:

  1. Identify animal tracks in the snow.
  2. Cook a comforting meal in the Dutch oven over hot coals.
  3. Create nature crafts from found objects.
  4. Check the state park event schedule and sign up for a guided hike, star gazing, or workshop.
  5. Rock climbing and rappelling.
  6. Make a S’mores bar.
  7. Practice your survival skills—shelter building, fire making, knot tying, and orienteering.
  8. Visit a local hot spring. We like Glenwood Hot Springs Pool in Glenwood Springs, Colorado—the world’s largest mineral hot springs pool.
  9. If there is snow—snowshoe, build a snowman, organize a snowball fight, make snow ice cream.
  10. Go on a night hike to observe wildlife and stargaze.

Watch how to make snow ice cream below:

Don’t forget thermals, a beanie and chemical hand warmers! These items will help keep you comfortable overnight.

Check out 12 Survivors for all your camping gear needs! Click here!

Do you have any cold-weather camping tips or great S’mores recipes? Leave them in the comment section.