A traditional Halloween celebration includes dressing up, trick-or-treating, and maybe attending or hosting a party for your family and friends. Many people also love decorating their house to add to the festiveness of the season. All of these customs are enjoyable, but if you are looking to try something different this year during the holiday consider a Halloween-themed camping trip! Whether you head out to the woods on Halloween itself or just for a weekend in the fall, there are several fun ways to bring Halloween to life while camping.
DECOR, DECOR, DECOR!
One of the best parts of Halloween is being festive with décor, both inside and outside of your home. Décor can also be a fun component of your camping trip, and there are several fun options to add Halloween spirit to your camping spot.
- Lighting – You can add a bit of the spooky to your campground lighting with fun inflatable solar lanterns featuring spiders and other creepy creatures. Or, choose a string of ghost lights that you can hang from your tent or RV.
- Linens – Say “boo!” to your friends and family with hand towels and washcloths portraying colorful pumpkins and witches. Practical things can be filled with Halloween spirit, too!
- Tableware – Liven up a boring picnic table with a bright tablecloth in orange and black, with your choice of scary creatures and sayings. And instead of the same plain paper plates that make camping cleanup easy, bring along some fun plates with a celebratory holiday theme.
- Pumpkins – Carving pumpkins around the campfire can also be a fun activity. Display your pumpkins around your campsite and add LED lights inside to add pops of light around the campsite.
Sweet and Savory Treats
What would many people consider the most important part of celebrating any holiday? Delicious food, of course! The Halloween holiday is no exception. Even if you are camping out, you can enjoy tasty and festive foods.
Use Halloween-themed food picks to create a delightful meat and cheese tray. Or cook up whatever hot dish you want and present it in a hollowed-out pumpkin. For everyone’s sweet tooth, prepare some hot cocoa over the campfire or stove, with tiny marshmallows on the top and serve in decorative Halloween cups. You can also use the seeds from those pumpkins you carved and roast them over the fire for a crunchy snack. Just add a little olive oil and salt and place them on a foil lined baking sheet on a grill over the fire and roast until crispy and light brown.
Here are some other tasty recipes to try for the slightly spooky appetites:
Witches Brew Goulash: First, chop up onion, fresh garlic, and some celery. Then start to brown some Italian sausage in a 12-inch cast iron camp Dutch oven over a campfire at medium heat. Once it is brown add your veggies and cook until softened. Add broth, canned tomatoes and your choice of beans to the mix. As it simmers, add your macaroni pasta. Cook until pasta is soft and enjoy!
Monsters Pasta: A simple way to ghost up your favorite pasta dish is to swap out the plain noodles and use novelty pasta that is shaped like bats, pumpkins, and witches. Most grocery stores stock up on these fun treats as fall rolls in.
Halloween Bats: Start with a package of Oreo Thins. Cut the cookie wafer in half and take apart. Unwrap some Peanut Butter Cups. Take a small dab of frosting and apply it to the underside of the cut cookie wafer near one tip and attach it to the center of the Peanut Butter Cup. Lastly, attach a pair of candy googly eyes on top of the cookie wafer wings in the center of the Peanut Butter Cup with a dab of frosting. There you have some easy, no bake, bat buddies.
Costumes, Games, and Crafts
Take costumes, but keep them simple while sleeping out in the wilderness. Consider purchasing a kit with temporary tattoos, rings and other small items. These types of kits usually also contain stickers and pieces to make small Halloween crafts, for a fun and easy holiday activity. But if Halloween is one of your favorite holidays, don’t be afraid to go all out even if you are celebrating at a campground. Great costume ideas include purchasing a sleeping bag that serves double duty as a costume, such as a wearable bag of your favorite science fiction character.
Do-it-yourself games are great additions to camping trips and you can make an easy game of night bowling by adding glow sticks to full 12-ounce water bottles. Use a softball decorated as a pumpkin to add a Halloween vibe to your bowling game. To add even more enjoyment to your campground Halloween celebration, bring along a few basic things and you can do traditional activities such as bobbing for apples or play Halloween-themed music and have a dance party. It’s simply not Halloween without Thriller and The Monster Mash.
Remember Blair Witch? If you want to creep out your campsite, try making the Blair Witch Stick Figures to hang from the trees or poke into the ground around camp. All you need is four dry twigs and some twine. See a tutorial here…
And, if your fellow campers don’t mind getting a bit spooked, take a hike in the dark with just a few flashlights. Tell scary stories as you walk along if you dare!
Spookiest Places to Go
If you want to take your Halloween Camping up a scare notch then location, location, location. All across the country are some spooky and not as spooky places to explore. From famous Halloween Haunts to family fun filled campgrounds. Here are the best places to find all of your favorite full moon activities:
- Goblin Valley State Park: The name alone of this area in Utah brings to mind all the things that go bump in the night! The park is known for its out of this world, strange sandstone formation towers known as goblins. They are quite beautiful but also eerie to give the perfect backdrop to some Halloween camping fun.
- Hermit Park: Younger ones may be too young to remember the famous Stanley Hotel. Most known for inspiring Stephen King’s book turned movie thriller The Shining. The hotel was notorious before it’s fame as one of the “most spirited hotels,”. The Stanley also hosts a few haunted events during the Halloween season. Events include The Shining Ball, a murder mystery dinner, and a Halloween Masquerade Party with dancing, spirited drinks, and festive costumes.
- Lums Pond State Park: Lums Pond Halloween Hoot is a popular annual tradition the Saturday before Halloween. When camping there be prepared to bring your Halloween decorations and try out for the Best Decorated Campsite contest. Each site is also encouraged to hand out all the candy sweets for trick or treating. Other activities include hayrides, pumpkin carving, pony rides, and face painting!
Most Haunted Campgrounds:
Antietam Creek Campground, Hagerstown, Maryland – 23,000 men died here during the Civil War and there are still reports of the sounds of military drummers, gunshots and cannons being fired, and sightings of ghostly soldiers.
Bannack State Park, Montana – This ghost town was once the site of several hangings and is said to be haunted by the spirit of Dorothy, a girl who drowned nearby.
Beaver Creek Campground, West Yellowstone, Montana – The lake here was formed by an earthquake that triggered a landslide that killed 28 campers in the night in 1959. Strange sightings can often be seen over the lake where the old campground is buried.
Big Moose Lake, New York – Reported to be haunted by the ghost of Grace Brown, an 18-year old murdered on the lake in 1906.
Braley Pond, Virginia – A horrendous gang murder in 2003 has turned this into the most haunted campground in Virginia.
Crystal Lake, Los Angeles, California – Said to be haunted by a family who were all mauled to death by a bear.
Fort Worden State Historical Park – This former military base turned campground is said to have shown evidence of unsettling experiences and paranormal activity.
Holcomb Valley Campground, Big Bear, California – The site of weekly hanging and murders, visitors often report strange sounds and sightings.
Holy Ghost Campground, New Mexico – Said to be haunted by a Spanish priest who was murdered in the 17th century. There have been reports of everything from strange activity to people disappearing.
Lake Morena Campground, San Diego, California – Over 40 years of unexplained activity and spooky sightings.
Malakoff Diggins State Historic Park, California – It is said that the historic buildings are haunted, and legend has it, a schoolmaster killed a child in front of the schoolhouse and hung the body in the rafters.
Even before the big night of Halloween you can partake in festive activities, and if you’re camping nearby one of these spots, even better. Check out pumpkin patches to search for that perfect Jack-o-lantern pumpkin and pick a few to decorate your campsite. Pumpkin patches start to pop up beginning of October and have a variety of spine tingling amusement beyond that great pumpkin search.
At Vala’s Pumpkin Patch in Gretna, Nebraska you can explore over fifty amusement park style rides. From Graveyard Golf to Stalk Cars, as well as multiple live shows, like the Pigtucky Derby Pig Races. You will definitely not be bored.
Cool Patch Pumpkins in Dixon, California holds the Guinness World Records for the largest corn maze in the world. That’s not all! At this patch you can zip around on pedal bikes before taking a corn bath.
At Craven Farm in Snohomish, Washington you can explore more than thirty different varieties of pumpkins. That means even the pickiest little ghoul in your family will be sure to find the pumpkin for them. They also have a 3-D Pumpkin Adventure, hayrides, and a sling to throw pumpkins at targets.
If you enjoy corn mazes the Queens County Farm Museum is the Halloween place for you. This small three acres in Floral Park, N.Y is the home to a confusing, twist and turn filled forty-five minute maze. The best part is if you start to get weary there are clues spread throughout the maze in nine hidden mailboxes plus corn phones to “tele-stalk” staff for help.
Kaitlin is a former ballerina who now travels around the country in an 18-foot converted school bus. Her and her tall one husband have welcomed 34 sweet children into their home the past eleven years. Although they would be a forever home for all of them they were able to adopt their daughter buckets and are legal guardians of their son monkey. Follow their crazy adventures on Instagram @runawaymusbus.