As temperatures drop, the appeal of winter camping continues to warm up among outdoor enthusiasts, with recent data from Kampgrounds of America (KOA) indicating a notable uptick in the number of campers seeking the tranquility of winter activities.
This trend, where campers embark on outdoor adventures during the colder months, signifies a notable shift from the traditional camping season that typically peaks from late spring to early fall.
KOA’s statistics reveal that winter camping has seen a steady increase, with more individuals and families opting to camp during what was once considered the off-season for outdoor recreation.
“Further solidifying the popularity of shoulder-season and late-year camping, 38% of campers say they will definitely camp this winter versus just 17% the year prior,” KOA wrote in a recent monthly research report.
“Another 27% assert that they will probably camp this winter, resulting in the potential for 65% of campers to experience cold-season camping,” showing an uptick in winter camping and why more campers plan to get outdoors in the coming months.
Kampgrounds of America (KOA) regularly conducts independent, non-biased research studies to monitor trends within the outdoor hospitality market, providing insights into the behaviors and preferences of the North American camper.
“Their 2023 report reveals camping makes up nearly one-third (32%) of the leisure travel market,” wrote Scott McConkey in his latest article, reflecting on the growing number of travelers. “Since 2014, the number of families who camp three or more times a year has grown by 174%.”
The rise in winter camping is not without its reasons. Campers are finding the quieter, less crowded parks appealing, along with the unique winter activities such as snowshoeing, ice fishing, and the simple joy of a campfire in the snow.
“The period between September and February presents a continued growth opportunity for camping and outdoor hospitality,” said Whitney Scott, senior vice president of strategy at Kampgrounds of America, Inc.
“While this initially stemmed from travelers looking for sparser crowds, we’re seeing guests connecting with the unique sites and experiences that can only be found in fall and winter,” she added, as quoted in the KOA report.
KOA’s report indicates that this increase is part of a broader trend of year-round camping, which has been on the rise in recent years. The data underscores a growing enthusiasm for outdoor activities, regardless of the season.
“Notably, new campers are especially enthusiastic about winter camping, with 63% planning their first winter outing,” the report added. “Campers are also interested in hunting trips that involve camping (33%), staying in an RV (32%) and/or camping at a ski resort (32%) this winter.”
These reports reflect the growing popularity of winter camping and the need for adequate preparation and regulation to accommodate the increase in demand, as Scott asserted, “Campers aren’t just telling us they’re optimistic. They are showing us with increased bookings.”
As winter camping becomes more popular, it’s clear that the definition of camping is evolving. With the right preparation and respect for the elements, campers are finding that any season can be camping season.