Suddenly the crowds disappeared. Through the summer break period and right through Labor Day weekend, space at many favored campgrounds and recreation areas was dang near standing-room only.
After the big end-of-summer weekend, a mental switch flips in most folks and they stay at home. I can understand families with kids in school spending more time at home, although weekend jaunts seem doable. Folks without kids in school should be saving up their vacation time during the summer and spending it now.
The attraction of this time of year is tangible — room to roam, space to stretch out and no lines to have to stand in. The weather is great for the next couple of months.
Fishing is at its best, and hunting seasons are open. Stores and vendors welcome and appreciate your business more now than during the crazy-busy summer. Hotel rates are down. Heck, gas may even come down a tad if we’re lucky.
Lake Cachuma is a local treasure at any time of year, but September and October are my favorite months because conditions are so enjoyable and there is a degree of solitude to be found. Lake Casitas is another great nearby option. I must confess a love for Lopez Lake with its abundant and people-tolerant wildlife.
Then again, the backcountry trails of Los Padres National Forest beckon loudly because at this time of year it is possible to hike for quite some time before encountering another group of hikers.
Beach camping can’t be beat during late summer and early autumn. Periodic south swells give surfers something to be excited about. Anglers find plenty of surf zone action. Romantically inclined couples have quiet beaches for walking hand-in-hand.
I consider this to be the best time of year to travel and camp. One serious word of caution, though. The term “golden time of year” refers, in part, to the dry, golden color of wild grasses and brush on our hillsides and throughout our backcountry. Take extra precaution with flames of any sort. Otherwise, enjoy the open spaces devoid of the crowds of summer.
— Capt. David Bacon operates WaveWalker Charters and is president of SOFTIN Inc., a nonprofit organization providing seafaring opportunities for those in need. Visit softininc.blogspot.com to learn more about the organization and how you can help.