Stay cool during summer camping with these temperature-dropping tricks.
Summer is just around the corner and camping season is in full swing. That means we’ll soon welcome back those soaring temperatures and high humidity levels. Folks often ask us, “How do you stay cool when camping in the summer?” While staying in the comfort of an AC-cooled RV is an option, we can’t exactly experience all camping has to offer if we stay indoors. Here’s how the Home While We Roam crew keeps their cool in the heat of Summer.
1) Hit the Pool
Nothing beats the heat of summer like a swimming pool! If you’re staying in an RV Park or resort, take advantage of the pool amenity. We meet lots of campers around the swimming pool. It’s a great way to unwind after a long, hot hike!
Our three favorite campground pools are at these resorts:
Catherine’s Landing, Hot Springs, Arkansas
Catherine’s landing pool area is tremendous! In addition to a beautiful and large swimming pool, they also have a great splash pad for kids.
Sam’s Family Spa, Desert Hot Springs, California
Ok, so a hot spring in summer may not sound awesome, but this spot has cold water pools, too. They boast six different natural spring-fed pools ranging in temperature from cold to hot to very hot.
The Campsites at Disney’s Ft. Wilderness, Orlando, Florida
Believe it or not, Disney’s Ft. Wilderness is one of the most epic camping destinations for a family. The pools on property are resort-style with great amenities. Anyone looking to beat the Florida summertime heat should consider spending some time at this resort.
2) Maintain Hydration — It’s Critical!
Medical science tells us that staying hydrated allows our body to regulate its temperature and prevent harmful water loss. If you aren’t keeping hydrated, then, in addition to feeling uncomfortable in the summertime heat, you could face serious medical issues like dizziness, muscle cramps and rapid heartbeat.
The best way to stay hydrated is to simply drink water, and drink lots of it! The tap water at your campsite often tastes a bit different than your home’s drinking water. This different or even bad taste may prevent family members from drinking as much water as they should. We have solved this challenge by ensuring we always have a ready supply of pure-tasting water from our Berkey Water Filter. The Berkey is one of our family’s favorite camping tools. We always have an unlimited supply of safe, bacteria-, chemical- and even viruses-free water. Let’s face it, when you have a ready water supply that always tastes great, it makes it so easy to reach for a drink and stay hydrated.
The Travel Berkey is the perfect size to use in an RV. We don’t leave home without it.
Home While We Roam Tip:
Due to its size, we use the Travel Berkey. It is large enough to keep our family of four hydrated but small enough to fit nicely on our trailer’s limited counter space.
3) Go Tubing
Tubing is a great way to keep the whole family cool during the hot summer months. Generally, river temperatures are going to be significantly cooler than hot daytime temperatures, and many tube trips are designed to last 2-4 hours. When it’s 95 degrees out with high humidity, a four-hour tube trip is a great way to spend a summer afternoon.
If you do take the family tubing, make sure to bring lots of sunscreen, hats and water. It probably goes without saying but when you’re in the middle of a river, there will be very little in the way of shade options. We also recommend you bring a pair of shoes you can wear in the water. The little ones in your crew will be much more comfortable walking through shallow sections when they know their feet are protected. Our favorite place to tube is down the French Broad River in Asheville, North Carolina, and our favorite outfitter is Zen Tubing.
4) Implement RV Ventilation and Airflow
Let’s face it, the stock fans found in most RVs aren’t quite up to the challenge of keeping us cool in the extreme temperatures of summer. The good news is that there are some great aftermarket solutions to keep you comfortable while spending time indoors.
In the world of aftermarket ventilation fans, Fan-tastic Vent and Maxx-Air Fan tend to stand out as the market leaders. Both offer great options like auto rain sensing, reversible fans for air-flow in or out and quiet operation. Installing an aftermarket vent is a pretty easy job, and both options can be installed by a DIY-minded individual.
We went with the Maxx Air Fan and could not be happier. We put it in ourselves (while camping) and It took about 2 hours to install. If you go the DIY route, you’ll need a tube of Dicor Sealant and a role of Butyl Seal Tape to complete the job.
The Snake River in Grand Teton National Park is a perfect place to sit and enjoy the water. Keep an eye out for moose doing the same.
5) Camp by a Creek
Camping by a creek epitomizes the outdoor experience. There is nothing quite like the babbling of a gently flowing stream to really help you connect with nature. Camping by a creek can also help to manage that summertime heat.
Because the water temperature of creeks and rivers is lower than the summer air temperature, the breezes that blow off the water cool the surrounding area. Science also shows us that vegetation that grows on the banks in the spring and then flourishes in the summer months can further contribute to lowering the overall temperature.
Of course, the real fun of camping by a creek is swimming and playing in it. Our kids spend hours in the creek when we’re encamped nearby, keeping cool and catching crawdads and salamanders.
6) Camp by the Ocean
At the height of summer, camping by the ocean is one of the best ways to keep cool. There are so many amazing places to stay by the beach.
On the Florida Panhandle, along the famous Florida State Road 30A, there are many beachfront campsites in every price range. If you’re looking for affordable, clean and easy, it doesn’t get much better than Topsail State Park. You’ll find shaded campsites under a canopy of pines with walkability to the whitest sand Florida has to offer.
If you want to spend a bit more, Camp Gulf in Destin is a luxury Good Sam Park you should keep in mind. They offer campsites directly on white sand beaches with great amenities, including a pool and a big slide!
Beverly State Beach along the Oregon coast is a popular campground steps from Spencer Creek and the Pacific Ocean.
Home While We Roam Tip:
Visit a Pacific Northwest beach in the Summer months! One of our favorite places to camp in this beautiful region is Beverly State Beach Park, just north of Newport, Oregon. The campsite facilities are nestled in a thick forest, which makes for a great (and shady) camping experience. The short walk to the beach follows the beautiful Spencer Creek, which empties directly into the Pacific Ocean. What is “cooler” than that?
7) Take a Wet Hike
There are lots of hikes in the U.S. that lead through rivers. You can find some of them here. If you have the good fortune to be in Utah’s Zion National Park in the summer, make sure you hike up the Narrows. This popular trek is one of the best ways to keep cool in the summer because the Virgin River never gets warmer than 60 degrees. The low temperature cools the air between steep rocks walls on each side.
The Narrows hike in Zion National Park follows the cool waters of the Virgin River.
Things to know about hiking The Narrows
- Most people like the “bottom-up hike.” No permit required, and you can take the park shuttle to it.
- Rent a walking stick and wear close-toed shoes. It’s possible to do the hike without this equipment, but much more enjoyable with.
- Be prepared for a walk before hitting the water. The trail from the shuttle to the Virgin River entry point is about 1 mile.
- It’s a kid-friendly journey, but make sure you are prepared. Our 8-year-old twins hiked two miles upstream. They didn’t need to swim at any point, but there are some strong currents in some places where a crossing is required.
- You will likely find a huge crowd at the river entry point. Don’t let this dissuade you. The crowds thin significantly within the first half-mile of the actual hike.
8) Ice, Ice, Baby
Having a chilled drink in the summertime is a must have. For those of you still relying on freezer trays for ice, or worse, just doing without, there is an inexpensive technology solution. Portable icemaker technology has come a long way, which is great for cold drinks and also for our wallets. Look for an icemaker that creates ice quickly and is OK to store outside. We set ours up on a table outside, where it’s easily accessible. Our research led us to Igloo’s version. It comes in cool colors and can make 26 pounds of ice in 24 hours.
9) Cook Outside
Cooking a great meal to enjoy with your family is a great way to spend a summer evening, but it’s also a great way to put more heat in your RV than your AC system can effectively handle. Choosing to cook in the great outdoors is another way to keep the inside of your camper cool. One of our favorite ways to cook when camped is over an open fire. It does take a little more work than using the outside kitchen or a gas grill, but nothing has more summer flavor than food cooked on an open fire. Also, plan for easy preparation breakfasts and lunches and save the cooking for dinners.
Home While We Roam Tip: In order to maximize our campfire cooking options, we always travel with a cast iron Dutch oven. A well-seasoned Dutch oven can make everything from bread to main courses to desserts.
10) Follow Cooler Temps
One of the best things about camping life is being mobile, which makes it easier to dodge the dog days of summer. When we take long trips, we like to head to higher elevations in the summer. This is also great for beating the crowds when everyone is heading south to the beaches. But if you don’t mind lots of people, National Parks in Montana and Wyoming have very moderate summer temperatures. As an example, if you’re in Yellowstone National Park in August, you can expect temperatures not to exceed 80 degrees during the day and approach freezing at night.
If you want to avoid crowds and stay cool, think New England destinations like Acadia National Park in Maine or Cannon Beach in Oregon. When we’re in Cannon Beach, we prefer to stay at Cannon Beach RV Resort.
Whatever your plans are for Summer break, don’t skip RV travel just to avoid extreme temperatures. We hope you use some of these tried and true tips, create a plan to keep cool and travel on.