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  1. Default LA to Savannah, camping along the way

    Hey everyone. My wife and I are about to make our first big road trip starting on October 24th, as part of our move to Savannah, Georgia. We'll be leaving from the LA area and heading to St. Louis, staying there for a day or two, then heading from there to Savannah. We're thinking about camping along the way to save money on lodging.

    So we're wondering how many camping places (like KOA and other chains) would be open this time of year, how cold we can expect it to be, and what kind of tent would be most recommended? I'll probably have some more questions later, so I'll post them when I think of them.
    Last edited by Reagan!!; 10-08-2006 at 04:08 PM. Reason: added text

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Chilly

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    Temperatures and campground availability will largely depend on where you plan on stopping for the evening each night, and in some instances in the west you'll also have to factor in the elevation of your exact stopping point to determine probable temperature. Weather is another, and far less predictable unknown. So all we can offer is very general advice. Your first night's stop is likely to be somewhere in southern Utah where you can expect average overnight temperatures to fall to around freezing. At the end of day two you're going to be around Denver and just clearing the Rockies and again, overnight lows are going to be hovering around freezing. Day three should find you somewhere out on the great plains of Kansas and temperatures will be about 10 degrees warmer, but still in the chilly low 40s. So, I think you get the idea. Probably more important than the tent is the sleeping bag, and these are rated by the lowest temperature they should be used at. I'd get one rated to 0║F just to be safe.

    Similarly, a quick check of KOAs and state park campgrounds show that for the most part, they will be open, although some KOAs in Utah close Oct. 31. So, it should be possible to camp along the way, even this late into the season, but you will need to be properly equipped and do some footwork to make sure your preferred campgrounds will be open.


  3. Default

    Hey Buck, thanks for the reply!

    Actually, we'll be taking a slightly more southern route to St. Louis. Here's where we'll be going:


    We'll be passing through California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, and Missouri, with St. Louis being the northernmost before we head south towards Savannah.

    Still, I imagine it'll get chilly.
    Last edited by AZBuck; 10-10-2006 at 08:01 AM. Reason: Formatting

  4. Default Yep it'll be chilly....

    Just a note -- I've done a bit of camping when its been cold (well below freezing at night, and at freezing or slightly above during the day). Did this both in backpacking in the winter (snow shoes and skiis) and also most recently with the Boy Scouts. The local Troop I support does at least one cold weather campout a year, where our goal is for the boys to pitch their tents in the snow and enjoy a weekend in the cold weather. It's been as low as 15 F while we've been camping.

    A couple of things... and a lot of this is common sense if you've done camping a bit.

    Get a zero degree sleeping bag, and a mummy-type bag if you're doing to do this. A synthetic fiber bag is usually better than a down bag (both will work), as it will hold its insulating capabilities, even if wet. Down tends to clump and collapse when its wet, and lose its insulation.

    In general dampness will be what will make you really cold, rather than uncomfortable. If we're camping in the snow we'll work on proper clothing, making sure gear doesn't get wet, etc. If you're camping, this shouldn't be as much of a problem -- but a dewy, damp morning can make things almost as wet as a night of rain.

    When you're going to sleep, make sure you have a good quality closed cell foam pad (or a thermarest pad ) under your bag, and not an air matress or a cot. An air matress allows the air to circulate in the matress, which tends to cycle the warm air away from your body to the outside where it cools off -- this wicks the heat away from under you at night. Same with a cot. A closed cell foam pad doesn't allow the air to circulate, and keeps you a bit warmer -- as does a thermarest pad which has an open celled foam pad inside an airmattress. In a thermarest, the air can't circulate, so you stay warmer.

    In really cold weather, you need to be off the ground -- hence the pad. But its recommended you add more insulation if its really cold. We typically have a ground cloth under the tent, the tent bottom, a layer of two of cardboard (just flattened cardboard boxes), then the sleeping pad, and the sleeping bag on it.

    Once its time to go to bed, there are a couple of other things we advise the boys to do. First, have something hot and sweet to eat. This warms them up a bit, as they head for bed -- hot cocoa, or we make a hot sweet dutch oven cake all the boys love. Secondly, change your clothes from the skin out as you go to bed. Typically clothes get damp during the day -- perspiration, playing in the snow, etc -- so changing into fresh dry clothes helps them stay warmer. Lastly, if there are any concerns a pair of clean thermal underwear worn to bed can add 10 deg or more to the temp rating of the bag. Or you can use a sleeping bag liner, or wrap in a blanket inside the bag or even add additional clothes inside the sleeping bag. But typically those last steps aren't usually needed.

    And of course, if this is a road trip with adults -- there's always finding a motel with hot showers if it looks reallllyyy cold, or damp. I've been known to do that myself rather than get wet while camping. :D

    Camping in the cold can be fun -- we do it as a confidence building thing with the Scouts. For boys raised in the city, spending a weekend camping in the cold and wet and snow can be a lot of fun if they're prepared. And when it comes to just camping on a cold, damp, misty morning they handle it as "no big deal".

    Don't let a colder weather turn you off of camping -- but you need to be prepared a bit more. I went a bit to the very cold camping side, just to say it can be done.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula

    Default Cardboard....who woulda thunk it?

    Thanks for the cold-weather camping ideas, Larrison. I especially like the one about the cardboard. Never thought of that. Makes good sense. We typically start by lining the tent floor with a heavy wool "army" blanket, then our thermarest mattresses, then sleeping bags, then another heavy wool blanket on top if more warmth is needed. That's worked well but I can see where cardboard would be a great addition.

    Reagan!!, don't let the idea of the cold turn you off to enjoying camping while on your roadtrip. Another advantage to it is the ready comraderie you'll find. I always like to take a walk after getting my tent set up to shake the road off my old bones and joints. In a campground, other campers are usually around and it's easy to strike up a fun conversation. Not so much if you're in a hotel. These conversations are often some of the highlights of my trips. I enjoy meeting people from different areas, hearing about their travel experiences, and getting hints from them on things to do on my road ahead (as often this is where they have just left).


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