Kampgrounds of America (KOA) Inc.’s September Research Report found that 85 percent of campers have planned their fall trips, while winter camping intent has doubled year-over-year.

Further solidifying the popularity of shoulder-season and late-year camping, 38 percent of campers said they would “definitely” camp this winter versus 17 percent in 2022. Another 27 percent said they would “probably” camp this winter, resulting in the possibility for 65 percent of campers to experience winter camping.

“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 KOA. “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.”

New campers are enthusiastic about winter camping, with 63 percent of respondents planning their first winter outing. Among new and experienced campers, backcountry camping led the way for preferred winter camping experiences, attracting interest from 34 percent of all respondents.

Campers are also interested in hunting trips that involve camping (33 percent), staying in an RV (32 percent) and/or camping at a ski resort (32 percent) this winter.

Looking to 2024, the KOA’s September Research Report also found that 53 percent of campers booked at least one camping trip for 2024. Conversely, leisure travelers are more hesitant about 2024 travel, with 13 percent of respondents saying they secured a post-December trip. Some of this could result from campers having a positive economic outlook. As of September, 39 percent of campers “feel good” about the economy compared to 9 percent of leisure travelers.

“Campers aren’t just telling us they’re optimistic. They are showing us with increased bookings,” Scott asserted. “Our research tells us that nearly half of campers will travel and spend more as their economic outlook improves. With our advanced reservations up nearly 10 percent compared to last year, camping and outdoor hospitality has an incredibly healthy outlook.”

Photo courtesy KOA