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Beaches draw fewer campers and tourists during autumn, making the campgrounds even more alluring. (Capt. David Bacon / Noozhawk photo)

The old saying “the coast is clear” takes on more meaning for camping enthusiasts than a go-ahead statement for a clandestine adventure. It is a statement of reasons to go camping in late autumn. There are lots of great reasons.

The coast is clear — of those pesky June Gloom clouds we seem to have for about four months out of the year. November and December weather is typically tranquil, with the exception of an occasional storm system.


Capt. David Bacon (Ramona Lisa McFadyen photo)

Autumn is our quietest time in terms of strong winds, although we must stay on guard for the infamous Santana (aka Santa Ana) offshore winds. Heavy jackets and thick sleeping bags are necessities, because nights and mornings are chilly. During the middle of day, folks are often comfortable in T-shirts or bathing suits.

The coast is clear — of hordes of tourists and campers. I don’t mean to badmouth tourists, because we depend on them for our local economic survival, and because every time we visit another town, we take our turns at being the tourists. But it sure is nice to find a quiet campground!

The coast is clear — of local campers, because camping just isn’t a major autumn pastime. It should be! The campgrounds are just as beautiful now as they are in the summer, and the crowds are way down. Those are good reasons why a camping trip is a better relaxation remedy now than it was during the summer.

There is something luxuriously relaxing about a campground with only a handful of spots taken. Each party has room to spread out and not worry about all of the social issues involved with having neighbors just a few yards away in the next campsite. Also, the recreational facilities available at a given campsite are equally uncrowded and readily available.

A camping trip may just be the perfect way to surprise the family or romance a significant other. A campground Thanksgiving dinner might be much more casual than a big sit-down dinner at home. Camping can be a delightful break from the high-stress tasks of preparing for the holidays.

A campground can be a fun, relaxing place to wrap some of the presents you’ve already purchased. Stocking stuffers can be organized and the stockings can be decorated nicely, while camping. On the other hand, it seems wise to keep things simple, while camping, because that provides the maximum relaxation factor. A little relaxation can go a long way during the preparations for the holidays.

The coast is clear — for choosing a campground on the waterfront. It might even be possible to get in at Refugio State Beach — the all-time favorite campground of many campers. The lake campgrounds, such as Cachuma and Casitas, are gorgeous places and feature plenty of wildlife viewing, as well as fun fishing options. Mountain campgrounds can be quiet and inviting places in late autumn, but it is wise to check with the U.S. Forest Service about closures before making a substantial drive.

Capt. David Bacon operates WaveWalker Charters and is president of SOFTIN Inc., a new nonprofit organization providing seafaring opportunities for those in need.

— Capt. David Bacon operates WaveWalker Charters and is president of SOFTIN Inc., a nonprofit organization providing seafaring opportunities for those in need. Visit to learn more about the organization and how you can help. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.