One of the things you think of when you hear camping is the storytelling around the campfire. We’ve seen this is numerous films and TV shows and even read about it in books – camp counselors sharing scary stories while campers circle the bonfire. It’s definitely something you can do but there are lots of other Halloween camping ideas you can think of that are more horrifically fun.
If you’re planning on going camping this Halloween, now is the right time to look for camping grounds. It’s better to reserve a camping spot now than to look for one on the day of your trip. With that in mind, here are some Halloween camping ideas for a spooky yet fun outdoor adventure.
Find the Creepiest Place to Camp Out
It’s not Halloween camping if you’re not spooked out by the place. We’re not saying you should set camp near a gutter and wait for a clown with a red balloon to say hi. There are plenty of spooky places where it’s allowed to set camp.
You’ve probably seen lots of horror films set in the woods. Even Into the Woods is a little scary despite all the singing and choreography.
Do a little research and look for forests that allow camping. Check out Forest Camping, the official website of the U.S. National Forest Campground Guide, to know more. For RVers, you can find the perfect spot for some Halloween camping here.
While doing your research, you may come across camping sites that are popular during this time of the year. Many thrill seekers stay in these “haunted” campgrounds because of their scary history. There’s the Winter Island Park in Salem, Massachusetts, which is where the Salem Witch Trials occurred in the 1600s. The Devil’s Tombstone Campground in Greene County, New York’s Catskill Forest Preserve is called such because the devil supposedly loved to hang out in the place. Check out more “haunted” Halloween Camping spots in this list by Active.
While you may find yourself near other campers, the fact that you’ll be out in the open surrounded by tall trees and with the stars above will certainly give you the creeps. Of course, you’ll still feel safe knowing you’re in a designated campground.
But if you really want to test your limits, you can camp in the middle of the forest where you’re isolated from other people.
Decorate Your Campsite
The woods, with the monster-looking trees and strange noises, are scary enough. If you want a real fright fest, however, you can decorate your campsite to make it look more terrifying.
Horror Movie Props
If you’ve seen Blair Witch Project, you probably still remember the stickmen or the strange cross-like things hanging from the trees. That’s one of the many Halloween camping ideas you can do to take the scare level up a notch.
Scary props like the stickmen might not sit well with young children. It would be better if you just use some classic Halloween decorations to at least give the campsite a spooky feel.
Come October, pumpkin farms will be in full throttle. Check out the nearest farm and get your supply of pumpkins for this year’s Halloween. You can carve the pumpkins and use them as decorations in your home or at the campsite.
Pumpkin carving takes a bit of effort and time if you’re not used to making them. Still, you should try making your own pumpkin lanterns. One way to make this task easier is to use special tools such as the Pumpkin Gutter. This simple device is attached to a drill before working on the insides of a pumpkin. As its name implies, it removes or scrapes off the “guts” of the pumpkin faster than if you’re using your hands and some simple tool. This is especially useful for huge pumpkins like the ones in the video below.
You’ll also need a set of carving tools designed especially for pumpkins. The Halloween Haunters carving kit comes with 14 different stainless steel tools including scoopers, scrapers, saws, and a hole cutter. Of course, there are sculpting and carving tools that pass professional standards.
If carving is not your thing, you can always purchase paper pumpkin lanterns. While they’re easier to pack and hang, they’re less scary. Plus, you should be extra wary about them since they’re made of paper and there’s a campfire burning nearby. The effect of a bunch of paper lanterns lined up leading to your tent is a nice touch, though.
Another safer option is to use flameless candles. The CelebrationLight Flameless Tea Lights Candles are battery-operated so there’s no worry of starting a forest fire. The flickering faux candles use LED bulbs powered by CR2450 batteries to provide light, which can last for up to 200 hours. Plus, you can operate all 12 tea lights with a remote control.
Spiderman, the Tom Holland version, is such a sweetheart but can you imagine how annoying it is to clean up his webs. Actually, the webs disintegrate after some time but if they were real webs, it would be extremely difficult and exasperating to get rid of them. Get some fake spider webs and place them all over your campsite. Put some on the trees, shrubs, and even on your tents.
Do Spooky Activities
Any list of Halloween camping ideas should include scary yet fun activities. We’re not just talking about cliff jumping or other extreme outdoor activities, we’re here to scare you out of your wits with thoughts of ghosts, monsters, and other things lurking in the dark.
Take hiking to an entirely new and scarier level by doing it during the witching hour, which runs from 12 midnight to 2 in the morning. Of course, you don’t have to stick to these hours. You can do your horror hike anytime as long as it’s dark.
Even if you’re just trying to scare yourself, this doesn’t mean you have to ignore safety. Before heading out into the dark, you should know everything you need to know to avoid getting lost while hiking.
Start with food and water. You’ll be in the dark, which makes it easier to get lost. If that happens, you’ll be glad you brought some nourishment with you.
Also, make sure you have the appropriate gear. A compass, map, and GPS tracker will keep you from losing your way, though it would be best if you did some research on the area beforehand.
The Garmin Foretex 401 Waterproof Hiking GPS is one of the best in the field. The high-sensitivity GPS receiver allows you to get reception even under thick foliage or in a deep canyon ala-127 Hours. It’s also capable of keeping track of routes, retracing your path, and checking your heart rate.
It’s also important to know how to find your way to safety without using such nifty gadgets. One method is to learn how to navigate by the stars.
It normally gets cold at night so be sure to wear the appropriate clothes, including headwear and gloves. Layer your clothing so you’ll have enough protection from the cold. Make sure you wear reflective clothing, as well. Bring a sleeping bag, emergency blanket, and poncho for additional warmth.
Don’t forget your light sources. Wear a headlamp so it would be easier for you to see where you’re going. Pack a portable camping lantern and torchlights, as well. Don’t forget the extra batteries.
The Shining Buddy LED Headlamp is a good choice for some night hiking. It provides 160 lumens of light with 5 different settings including a flashing red light for emergencies.
Pack a fire starter, some waterproof matches, and lighters. You’ll need them to start a fire if the need arises. Fire provides light, warmth and protection from wild animals. Plus, it makes it easier for rescuers to spot you in case you’re in trouble. Also, you can make hot coffee with fire and a portable cookset.
There are other items that should be included in your pack, especially if you’re going a night hike. Check out this packing list for an overnight hike to get a better idea.
Ghastly Trick or Treating
You can’t go around the campgrounds trick or treating unless it’s part of the camp activity. What you can do is do a ghost and treasure hunting activity, which could be one of the best Halloween camping ideas you can ever consider.
This terrifying trick or treating activity is the perfect alternative to going out on a long hike through the darkness. You can still enjoy the night but still within the safety of your camp. For added safety, pair the kids before this Halloween camping activity so they won’t wander too far alone.
(Related: 10 Camping Safety Tips For First-Timers)
Before night falls, set up scary props and treasures around your camp. The hidden treasure you want to hide will depend on you. They can be toys, candies or anything else worth finding in the dark. If you want to hide sweets, though, make sure they’re in a Ziploc so the ants and other critters won’t get to them before the kids (or even adults) do.
MARS has a candy bag made especially for Halloween. The bag contains 400 pieces of bite size versions of Snickers, Milky Way, Twix, and 3Musketeers chocolate bars plus small packs of m&m’s for good measure.
While each of the trick-or-treaters/treasure hunters should have their own headlamp, it would be safer if you bring along a camping lantern so you have a better view of what’s going on.
The Lighting Ever (LE) LED Camping Lantern is a good light source to have when you’re out “ghost” hunting. The 1000-lumen lantern provides 360 degrees of light, which is in full use especially when you hang it on a branch using any of the two built-in hooks.
(Related: 10 Top Camping Lanterns Every Camper Needs)
A typical campout is not complete without sharing ghost stories while gathered by the campfire and roasting marshmallows or hotdogs. If you’re Halloween camping, you can up the ante by reading as many ghost stories as you can so you can decide which ones to tell your fellow campers.
Roald Dahl’s Ghost Stores, for example, is a good book for your campfire storytelling just because it’s Roald Dahl. But these are not stories that the popular author made up. The stories are based on research he did. Dahl read 749 stories at the British Museum Library and picked the 14 scariest ones for this book.
You have to let your imagination run wild if you want to come up with the best Halloween camping ideas for this year’s outdoor fright fest. If you happen to have such brilliant ideas, we’d like to hear from you. Check out Gentleman Pirate Club, as well, for more camping and hiking tips.
Just a disclaimer – We have partnered with these companies because we use their products and/or proudly trust and endorse them – so we do receive a commission if you make a purchase or sign up for services. Often, we are able to negotiate special discounts and/or bonuses, which we will pass on to you via our links. We often get short notice on sale items available for 24-48 hours as we will pass these savings onto you.