Many privately owned and operated campgrounds have Halloween-, autumn harvest- and Oktoberfest-themed activities taking place throughout September and October, as well as other fun family activities. Some also have corn mazes and cooking competitions.
For instance, if you’re passing through the foothills of the Sierra Nevadas during the last two weekends of October and hear a lot of screaming, don’t panic.
You could be hearing participants in this year’s “best scream” contest, one of several Halloween-themed events taking place at Far Horizons 49er Village RV Resort in Plymouth, Calif. “Both weekends are sold out,” said Sue Trimble, office manager for the 329-site campground.
These aren’t your ordinary camping enthusiasts, mind you. The camping and RVing enthusiasts who book their sites during the last two weekends of October come with friends and family members and create their own haunted campsites.
“Sometimes groups of people will come and they’ll use two or three campsites and invite everyone in the campground to come in and visit their haunted RVs,” Trimble said.
The campground also invites drama students from neighboring Amador High School to come over and read scary stories to the younger campers.
“You’d be surprised to know what campground operators are doing at this time of year,” said Linda Profaizer, president and CEO of the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds.
“Instead of letting Labor Day be their last hurrah, many campground owners have discovered that they can keep having busy weekends right on through September and October, particularly if they have Halloween-oriented activities.”
Campgrounds affiliated with Kampgrounds of America (KOA) and Jellystone Park Camp-Resorts have been offering Halloween activities for years. But independently owned and operated campgrounds are also increasingly getting into the act.
“October is our busiest month,” said Dana Gabriel, co-owner of the Jellystone Park in Swansea, S.C.
The last three weekends in October, Gabriel said, are when the park gets really scary, with a Darkwood Plantation. Guests start their adventure visiting a haunted plantation house. They proceed into the gardens, a cemetery and a swamp where there is a voodoo witch.
“We have a mix of static props, animatronics and 10 or 15 actors who make it a pretty scary place,” Gabriel said.
The Winston-Salem KOA in Statesville, N.C., has generated a similar following with its Midway Wicked Woods, a frightening walk in the woods. “It is very scary,” said Jocelyn Hogue, a park manager, adding that the haunted trail is open to campers as well as the general public.
Campground operators aren’t limiting themselves to Halloween-themed activities. Many also offer other activities and entertainment, such as fall harvest festivals, Western-themed weekends and Oktoberfest celebrations.
Some campgrounds also offer corn mazes, including the Jellystone Park in Sioux Falls, S.D., which offers a seven-acre corn maze, with an easy section for young children and a more difficult section for teenagers and adults.
Here is a sampling of some of the activities and special events taking place at campgrounds and RV parks and resorts across the country through the end of October:
- American Family Campground, Godeffroy, N.Y.: This park will celebrate Oktoberfest Oct. 8 to 11 with a krautdogs over the campfire, an evening hayride and a Bavarian dinner.
- Four Paws Kingdom, Rutherfordton, N.C.: This park will celebrate Oktoberfest Oct. 2 and 9 with German music, a party and German food, including sauerbraten, spaetzle, knockwurst, brats, kraut, red cabbage, potato salad and more. The campground will also offer sausage bobbing for big and small dogs at its dog parks. A Mediterranean potluck is scheduled for Oct. 16 and will feature Spanish, Greek, Italian, Croatian French and other cuisines from the Mediterranean region.
- Land-O-Pines Family Campground, Covington, La.: This park offers a wide range of activities and entertainment this fall, including “Swamp Pop” band extravaganza Sept. 24 to 26; a “Pink Party” and walk-a-thon for breast cancer awareness month Oct. 1 to 3, with activities including a walk-a-thon, pink dessert, and a pink bingo party. A “not-so-scary” kiddie pre-Halloween activity weekend is scheduled for Oct. 15 to 17 with scary Halloween activities slated for the weekends of Oct. 22 to 24 and Oct. 29 to 31.
- Lazy River at Granville, Granville, Ohio: This park will host an Oktoberfest celebration on Sept. 24 with crafts, five stations of games, a DJ beer garden, and German food including brats, potato salad, apple dumplings and beer. The campground is also planning Halloween weekends, with campsite decorating contests, trick-or-treating and a haunted house on the weekends of Oct. 8 and 9; 15 and 16 and 22 and 23.
- Mountain Lake Campground and Cabins, Summersville, W.V.: This park will celebrate Halloween with costume and campsite decorating contests and trick-or-treating on the weekends of Sept. 24 to 26; Oct. 1 to 3; and Oct. 8 to 11, the latter of which will also include a Monster Mash Dance. A spooky haunted trail walk is also being planned for a time yet to be announced.
- Newport Dunes Waterfront Resort & Marina in Newport Beach: Special activities this fall include a Halloween party on Friday, Oct. 30, with a costume contest, music, games and dancing for people of all ages.
- Sacred Rocks Preserve in Boulevard: This park, located at the 4,000-foot level in the mountains east of San Diego, is planning a horse camping weekend Oct. 15 to 17, with free camping offered to those who bring a horse.
- Sea Pirate Campground, West Creek, N.J.: This park will celebrate its annual crab festival on Sept. 18. The campground will celebrate an early Halloween on Oct. 2 with a costume parade, trick-or-treating, a Halloween hayride and cupcakes and refreshments.
- Sky High Camping Resort, Portage, Wis.: This park will have Halloween costume dances and campsite decorating on the weekends of Sept. 17 to 19, and Sept. 24 to 26.
- Smoky Hollow Campground, Lodi, Wis.: This park will celebrate Oktoberfest Oct. 1 to 3 with a mix of adult and kid-friendly attractions, including music, homemade ice cream, root beer, brats and sauerkrat. The campground is also organizing pre-Halloween activities, including trick-or-treating, costume contests, haunted wagon rides, a haunted pavilion and opportunities to make your own caramel apple on the weekends of Sept. 17 to 19 and 24 to 26.
- South Haven Family Campground in South Haven, Mich.: This campground will have an apple festival on the weekend of Sept. 17 to 19 with apple crafts, apple juggling and opportunities to learn how to make applesauce and caramel apples. Halloween activities, including face painting, mummy wrap races, pumpkin carving contests, costume and campsite decorating contests and trick-or-treating are scheduled for Oct. 8 to 10, 15 to 17 and 22 to 24.
- Woodland Campground in Woodland, Pa.: This park will celebrate Halloween with family activities on Oct. 1. The park will also have an Oktoberfest celebration Oct. 9 with food, crafts and a flea market.
- The Woods Campground in Lehighton, Pa.: This park is having a country western weekend Sept. 24 to 26 with line dancing and a chili cookoff. The park will also have a “motorcycle leather weekend” Oct. 1 to 3 with a “Mr. and Mrs. Woods Leather Competition.” An Oktoberfest lunch is planned for the weekend of Oct. 22 to 24 with Halloween activities, including a haunted hayride and costume party on the weekend of Oct. 29 to 31.
For more information about private campgrounds in your area of travel, visit www.GoCampingAmerica.com. The site includes links to RV parks and campgrounds, which provide their own “activities” or event calendars.