Walt Wickham


Observer Columnist

Fall is without a doubt one of the best times of the year to go camping. Labor Day weekend is widely known as the “unofficial end to summer” but that doesn’t mean you have to pack up your camping gear for the season. With a little preparation, fall camping can be some of the best of the year! 

With the right clothing and camping gear, fall camping can be much more comfortable than during the heat and humidity of summer. The secret is to dress in layers. Add or remove layers of clothing as the weather dictates.

Nothing says “campout” like roasting marshmallows. Making smores on a cool fall evening sure beats sweating around a hot fire in the summer time. And a steaming hot cup of coffee or hot chocolate never tastes better than while watching the sunrise from your campsite on a cool fall morning. 

Summertime activities like fishing don’t have to come to an end either. Fall fishing is as good as it gets. The floods of the past spring and summer are behind us and water levels on the Mississippi River are ideal for boating and fishing. With fewer boats on the river you’re much more likely to spy some of the local wildlife as well. Silently gliding in a canoe on the river backwaters can get you up close to a wide range of local wildlife like beavers, turtles, deer and waterfowl. Don’t own a canoe? No problem. Canoes are available for rent at Rock Creek Park near Camanche.  

Clinton County campgrounds stay open all year around but the water to shower houses and campsites begin to be turned off in mid-October. At this time, off-season camping rates begin. Another bonus for fall campers! 

You say you don’t own a tent or RV? No problem. Rental cabins are a great way to enjoy the outdoors in the off season.  Knowing that you have a warm, comfortable bed to retreat to after a day of outdoor activity can be very comforting. Cabins can be reserved online at mycountyparks.com 

So why not go out and do a little fall camping this year? Oh yeah... one last bonus. All those pesky bugs of summer are gone! 

Walt Wickham is the executive director of Clinton County Conservation.