For me it was probably about four years while camping at a cart-in site at Itasca state park (Mississippi headwaters woooo). A strong thunderstorm rolled through in the middle of the night. The lightning was so constant that we could see each other perfectly illuminated while we made the decision to head back to our car to spend the night so we didn’t get crushed by a tree.
Well…anytime lately when I’ve been camping it’s been intents… get it IN-TENTS! But there was once when I was camping with my grandparents that a tornado came within about 250 feet of our campsite. We were out on the boat and saw the storm brewing back to the west. We decide to head back to the campsite, and on the way my cousins hair started to stand up a bit. You could feel the electricity in the air… When it was all said and done the wind gusts tore the awning off the camper and we had to pick up scattered floaties, but we were luckily it didn’t get closer.
Canoe-Point State Park in NY. For me, the weather only seemed so intense because of all the unknowns in it, but this is definitely the most weather-intensive time for us thus far.
This was our first time Canoe-Camping. My wife and I had camped a lot, and had been canoeing for years - our favourite outdoor activity to do together! So we heard “Canoe-Point State Park,” and figured it must be especially for paddlers! We drove the car to the parking area for the Canoe-Point State Park in the Thousand Islands region, loaded up the gear, and started our journey. Weather forecasts that morning said 20% chance of rain…but that’s so low! So we started down the St Lawrence River in our Old Town Guide canoe. As we got what we assumed must be halfway, the skies darkened. Thunder soon rolled in the distance. After another 10 minutes, the water got a bit choppier…and then even choppier. But we were over half way (we thought!), and it probably would pass on after a short time…we had gotten a few days with 10-15 minutes of rain, and clear the rest of the time. So we pressed on. The waves (yes, now waves) grew bigger. Light rain started to fall. The intensity was growing. And we were wrong…when we thought “we must be halfway by now!” it was not at all.
Ignore the date on this photo, from before the storm. The date in the second one is correct.
Eventually, we made it! However, we had a few more bits of trouble due to this weather. Whenever camping at State Parks especially, we always buy wood and cook our food over that fire. On this trip, (1) we confirmed before going that we can pay via card upon arrival. Turns out, though, that firewood is NOT purchasable via card, only cash or check. And both were in the car…so no dry, pre-cut, bought from the park wood for us. (2) The wood around the island which we could forage and find was the most waterlogged, punky, rotten wood that I had seen! No chance of any of it burning!! (3) That summer at least, Spiders were overrunning the place! It was horrible!!! (4) The rain was come and go, all night!
As it turns out, and we confirmed this with the ranger before he left - we were the only canoe to have made it to the island campsite in the past number of years…despite the name, only very large motorboats were docked there! So, due to the rain, many of them stayed on their boats. One kind man lent us the use of his mini-trail stove, and we used it to cook a bit of our food before going to bed.
When we woke up, it was a BEAUTIFUL day, and we got the heck out of there. The amount of spiders was ridiculous, as well as just the damp, wetness of everything outside our tent! We knew that we should probably leave quickly, in case another storm blew in out of nowhere. So we did…packed up, and back on the water at 6:30 am. Made good time in the morning sun, as we hurried to the car.
We were camping, on my birthday, with the dogs and family and friends. It was the BWCA last year, actually. The wind kicked in, the dogs were drenched, the campfire was toast and my husband was trying to fix dinner. It was Wizard of Oz style wind blowing in off the lake. And I was trying to test out and review a piece of gear for The Dyrt. Ironically, it was a rain poncho!!! We had birthday cake in the tent (we were divided between 2 tents) and everyone sang happy birthday (some of them in the other tent…lol). We ate cake (made over the campfire earlier in the day) with sporks, which we shared. It was the most memorable birthday!! Sidenote: we were lucky in that storm as it cause lots of really bad problems other places.
Very very heavy rains in Arches National Park. I woke up in a flooded tent because it was pitched near a rock that had turned into a waterfall overnight, decided to cut my losses and headed out early-- then wound up blocked into a parking lot because the road washed out and had to wait for the NPS to come dig out the road with backhoes so I could leave.
also… A sandstorm on Assateaque Island in Maryland. I thought our tent was literally being trampled by the wild horses.
well this is backpacking, but on my first day on PCT on the canadian border (june 20th) we were hit with a crazy snowstorm, couldn’t see more than 3 feet infront of us and postholing near vertical cliffs. Couldn’t move my fingers very well at the end of the 26 mile day, so it took me like 20 minutes to set up my tent. Once I was in the tent, I tried to pour nuts into my hand, but couldn’t close my fingers so I just poured nuts onto the ground. Great way to start a journey
I hope you put that on your Dyrt resume!
That is horrifying! As a childhood fan of Misty of Chincoteague Island I’m very intrigued by camping on a horse island.
June in Colorado can be very dicey weather wise. We took both kids and our dog to a campground outside Colorado Springs that is at 9000 feet. Got there in the morning of June 3 and caught more trout in 10 minutes than we could all eat. We cooked what we wanted for dinner and put the rest on ice. About mid day, thunderstorms fired up and we had to bail out into the tent. We were stuck in the tent for the entire afternoon and all night. The thunderstorms passed and the temperature dropped 20 degrees in an hour, causing the water on the tent to begin to freeze. Overnight, we got 5 inches of snow. Late in the afternoon, some guy had hiked to the campground from the US Air Force Academy and he was wet and hungry. He was the recipient of our spare trout.
We got up in the morning of June 4 and listened to the weather report…more of the same. Family vote…bail!
Fast forward 10 years to the same campground over the 4th of July, but now we have a trailer, both kids, our daughter in law and 4 dogs…you guessed it. The same kind of weather. We bailed again. Now we live just outside that campground and at least we don’t have to bail when the weather turns bad!
Late April 2018, Day 2, Cade’s Cove, Smoky Mountains National Park
We knew “light rain” was forecasted. Meteorologists sometimes get it completely wrong!
We left our canopy at home because it simply didn’t fit in with all of our car camping gear, 2 kids and the cooler. We were enjoying our pre-dinner fire and the Solo Stove was just getting hot enough to start cooking when the skies started to darken and a sprinkle of rain started. The girls popped their raincoats on, unfazed by the temporary (or so we thought) inconvenience. I was at the picnic table prepping dinner when I simultaneously heard what sounded like rushing water and my daughter saying, “Mom, LOOK!” I turned my head and a wall of rain was barreling toward us. The girls jumped into the car and I hurried to zip up the one remaining open window of the tent. Within about 10 minutes our fire went out. Luckily, the water had already come to a boil and I grabbed our “emergency ramen” and we ate in the car while we waited for the torrential downpour to abate. Well, it didn’t. It rained full tilt the entire night. I had our Wenger Adler tent (it’s ginormous) for 14 years and it had never leaked, so I was very hopeful that it would continue to be up for the challenge. We all ended up having to sleep in the middle of the tent due to the puddles that surrounded us, and despite pulling our sleeping bag tight around our heads, my partner and I couldn’t escape the fat drips that landed on our exposed foreheads as we tried to sleep. The rain calmed down in the morning but didn’t completely stop until Friday afternoon. We spent the rest of the day Friday trying to dry our gear, which we did end up doing and had a fantastic time. We did get a new tent following this trip and since the Smokies, we have had rain on every camping trip since… but now we’re better prepared!
This was taken that Saturday on the side of one of the many trails we hiked that week.
I was 4 (now I’m 24) and my family and I were camping in Minnesota near Duluth. There was tornado warnings. We were sitting around the fire and then the storm started, just a light sprinkle, so my brothers and I went into our popup and started getting ready for bed. Our parents sat out to wait for the fire to go completely out then all of a sudden it just started pouring rain, when my dad came in, it looked like he was fresh outta the shower. It changed from rain to golf ball hail to insane wind. Rolling thunder, freaky clapping lightening, to me it felt like it lasted for 2 hours but really it was 30 minutes and then the wind chilled. The whole popup was shaking so hard I thought we were going to fly away. I was freaked when it happened obviously, but now it’s a great story.
These are some good stories! Yet through it all we still camp
My two extreme weather camping events happened in the Adirondacks, in and around the High Peaks area.
The first time, it was early November, and we were expecting fall-ish dry weather when it became full on deluge. All our gear got completely soaked, and because we were backpacking, our hike out was hindered by torrents forming on the trail. I still remember getting to the top of Algonquin and running from cairn to cairn so the wind wouldn’t blow us off the peak. The hike out was miserable; but decided to go to a hotel in Lake Placid so we didn’t have to sleep out again in our soggy sleeping bags.
Figuring snow was easier to manage than rain, we went out again in winter, expecting Marcy Dam not to be busy and being able to camp in a lean-to. That was not the case. Every lean-to was full, and we didn’t bring a tent, just a tarp meant to cover the front of a shelter. Oops. We found a tent site, packed down the snow with our snowshoes, then dug ourselves a snow shelter and anchored the tarp above our group of four with our poles. It was really cozy, and we were very proud of ourselves for improvising in this situation. Then I awoke in the dark, with water dripping on my face from the condensation, and the tarp probably only a few inches away vs the feet it was the night before. It had snowed heavily all night and we were almost completely buried! We dug ourselves out to find at least 2 feet of snow had almost covered us. No one would have known we were there. We sheepishly asked a lean-to camper as he was eating breakfast if we could share his lean-to for a bit to help dry our stuff out. Thankfully for us, he was heading up Marcy, and was totally ok with us taking it after he was gone. Saved!!!
Ha ha! My cousin and I were going to camp in Joshua Tree, arrived to find the campgrounds all full, and so snagged a hotel room for the night. We lucked out. Just as we walked out of the visitor’s center, a haboob-style dust storm moved in. We watched stuff blow away. We laughed as we looked out the window of our hotel, “The poor people who are stuck camping!” In the morning, the hotel was packed with campers who fled the storm. As we drove through trying to find an open spot in the early morning, people emerged from broken tents and from cars, eyes tired.
We were SOOOO glad we hadn’t been able to get a site the night before!
So not so much worst weather, but worst weather we ALMOST had to deal with and lucked out and missed!