The crisp air, the sound of leaves rustling underfoot, and the breathtaking colors of fall foliage make autumn one of the most beautiful times of the year. And what better way to experience it than by camping in the midst of all the splendor? While there are many places across the US to enjoy the changing leaves, some locations offer a truly unforgettable experience. In this blog post, we will take you on a journey to America’s most spectacular fall camping spots.
- Acadia National Park, Maine
- Blackwater Falls State Park, West Virginia
- Emerald Bay State Park, California
- Fall Creek Falls State Park, Tennessee
- Franconia Notch State Park, New Hampshire
- Glacier National Park, Montana
- Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee and North Carolina
- Guadalupe Mountains National Park, Texas
- Harriman State Park, New York
- Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Michigan
- Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
- Shenandoah National Park, Virginia
- Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota
- Yosemite National Park, California
- Zion National Park, Utah
Acadia National Park, Maine
Acadia National Park is known for its rugged coastline, spectacular mountain views, and beautiful fall colors. With over 120 miles of hiking trails that traverse rocky shores and dense forests, it’s a hiker’s paradise. In addition to hiking, the park is a great place to bike, kayak, or simply take in the scenery. Follow our two-day itinerary to see the best of Acadia.
Camping: There are three campgrounds in Acadia National Park, but the Blackwoods Campground is a popular choice as it’s open through mid-October and conveniently located on Mount Desert Island near the popular locations along Park Loop Road.
Blackwater Falls State Park, West Virginia
Blackwater Falls State Park in West Virginia is another must-see destination in the fall. The park is known for its stunning waterfalls, but during autumn, it becomes a paradise for leaf peepers. Visitors can hike along the Pendleton Point Overlook Trail for stunning views of the surrounding valleys and mountains. For a unique perspective, take a scenic chairlift ride to the top of the mountain and soak in the panoramic view of the fall foliage.
Camping: The park is set around the Blackwater River and offers 65 campsites for RVs and tents. They all have electric hookups and the campground has hot showers, laundry, and a dump station. The campground is open the last weekend in April through October 31.
Emerald Bay State Park, California
Emerald Bay State Park in California is not only a popular summer destination but also a stunning location for fall foliage viewing. Located on the shores of Lake Tahoe, the park offers a unique combination of vibrant autumn colors and scenic lake views. Visitors can take a leisurely hike along the Vikingsholm trail, which weaves through meadows of aspen trees and offers fantastic vistas of the lake. Another can’t-miss location is Eagle Falls Trail, which offers views of the stunning peak of the Eagle Falls waterfall.
Camping: Emerald Bay State Park has two campgrounds: the Eagle Point and Boat-In campground. Eagle Point has 100 sites with no hookups but does have a bathhouse with showers.
Fall Creek Falls State Park, Tennessee
Fall Creek Falls State Park in Tennessee is a hidden gem for fall foliage enthusiasts. The park is home to the highest waterfall in the eastern US, but during the fall, it’s the vibrant colors of the leaves that steal the show. Visitors can hike along the Upper Fall Creek Trail for a breathtaking view of the falls amidst the colorful autumn landscape. For a more challenging hike, visitors can try the strenuous Fall Creek Falls Trail that leads to a stunning overlook of the park.
Camping: This incredibly beautiful park offers 218 campsites with water and electricity, 202 traditional sites, 16 backcountry camping sites, as well as cabins.
Franconia Notch State Park, New Hampshire
Located in the White Mountains region of New Hampshire, Franconia Notch State Park is a popular destination for leaf-peeping. The park boasts captivating views of Cannon Mountain and the colorful trees surrounding the Flume Gorge. The park offers scenic drives and hiking trails that allow visitors to explore the natural beauty of the area. Take a stroll in the 800-foot-long Flume Gorge or a bike ride through the park’s serene landscape to admire the stunning fall foliage.
Camping: Franconia Notch State Park has two campgrounds: the Lafayette Campground and Cannon RV Park, both of which offer breathtaking views of the fall landscape. The Layfayette Campground is perfect for tent camping, with 97 wooded sites. Cannon RV Park has seven full hookup sites on the north shore of scenic Echo Lake. It is open year-round, but only has electricity (no water or sewer) during the winter.
Glacier National Park, Montana
Fall is the perfect time to visit Glacier National Park. The summer crowds have dispersed, and the park’s numerous lakes, waterfalls, and glaciers are still accessible before winter sets in. Nestled in the mountains of Montana, the park’s 734 miles of hiking trails are awash with brilliant autumn colors offering a breathtaking experience like no other. While there, visitors can take hikes to iconic locales like Avalanche Lake and Hidden Lake, as well as take in the views along the scenic byway in the park.
Camping: Glacier National Park has more than 1,000 camping sites across 13 campgrounds. Many Glacier Campground is popular for its proximity to great hikes. St. Mary Campground is perfect for those who like to plan in advance because it allows reservations. It is one of the largest in Glacier National Park with 148 sites and is the best choice if you have a larger camper. This year-round campground offers showers, toilets, and sinks with running water. It’s also close to shops and restaurants that sit just outside the park entrance.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee and North Carolina
Nestled along the Tennessee and North Carolina border, Great Smoky Mountains National Park serves as a stunning backdrop to experience the autumn colors of the Great Appalachian Valley. The park showcases an array of warm hues, from reds, yellows, and oranges, for an unforgettable fall aesthetic. Visitors can hike and enjoy spots like Andrews Bald Trail, the Cades Cove Loop, and the Oconaluftee River Trail to be mesmerized by the splendid shades. Of course, no visit to Great Smoky Mountains would be complete without taking in the stunning 360-degree views from Clingman’s Dome.
Camping: Great Smoky Mountains National Park’s 10 campgrounds offer breathtaking views of the mountains. Cades Cove and Smokemont Campgrounds are open year-round. None of the campgrounds have hookups or showers, so we always stay right outside of the park at Camp Margaritaville in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. It’s only a few minutes away from the park but has more amenities than I’ve seen anywhere else.
Guadalupe Mountains National Park, Texas
When it comes to fall foliage, Texas might not be the first state that comes to mind. However, at Guadalupe Mountains National Park, you can find the beautiful colors of autumn. The park boasts a variety of hiking routes and trails where visitors can witness the fall treasures and soak up the serenity of the season. Go back in time on the Smith Spring Trail and visitors can check out historic ruins throughout the park.
Camping: Guadalupe Mountains National Park has three campgrounds for tents or RVs. You can reserve sites in the Pine Springs and Dog Canyon Campgrounds six months in advance. There aren’t any hookups at the sites and both campgrounds have bathrooms with sinks and flush toilets, but no showers.
Harriman State Park, New York
Harriman State Park, located just 40 miles north of New York City, is the second-largest state park in New York and offers a wealth of outdoor recreational opportunities and natural beauty. The park boasts 31 picturesque lakes (two with beaches), such as Lake Welch, Lake Tiorati, and Pine Meadow Lake. Visitors can enjoy swimming, picnicking, boating, and fishing in these pristine bodies of water. Harriman State Park also features over 200 miles of marked trails, including a portion of the Appalachian Trail.
Camping: The Beaver Pond campground is perfect for RVs, trailers, and tents. It has bathrooms, showers, laundry facilities, and a dumping station. Cabin rentals are available at Baker Camp and Beaver Pond Campground. And if you’re looking for a more rustic experience, you can also camp at any of the many lean-tos located throughout the park.
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Michigan
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is a hidden gem on the southern coast of Lake Superior in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Fall is an excellent time to visit, with fewer crowds and cooler temperatures. Fall foliage in the park ranges from the dazzling reds of the sugar maple trees to the yellow oranges of the birch trees. Visitors can take a scenic drive or go on a boat tour along the picturesque Pictured Rocks cliffs to experience the stunning natural beauty of the area.
Camping: Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore has three campgrounds (Little Beaver Lake Campground, Twelvemile Beach Campground, and Hurricane River Campground) that are open from May 15 through October 15. Reservations are required at all three campgrounds and pets are not permitted at Little Beaver Lake. The Hurricane River flows into Lake Superior near the Hurricane River Campground’s picnic area. And it’s an easy 1.5-mile walk on the North Country Trail to the historic Au Sable Light Station. You’ll even pass some past shipwreck remnants on the way. If you prefer full hookups, the Munising / Pictured Rocks KOA is nearby.
Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
Located in the heart of Colorado, Rocky Mountain National Park is the perfect destination to experience the fall season. The park is known for its beautiful landscapes, including towering peaks, lush valleys, and stunning waterfalls. In autumn, the park is ablaze with vibrant colors as the leaves of the aspen trees turn a stunning shade of gold. Visitors can enjoy a scenic drive on the park’s Trail Ridge Road, where they will witness breathtaking views of the park’s fall colors. You can also explore the park’s many hiking trails, where you will be surrounded by beautiful foliage.
Camping: Rocky Mountain National Park has five campgrounds: Aspenglen Campground, Glacier Basin Campground, Longs Peak Campground (tents only), Moraine Park Campground, and Timber Creek Campground. However, all but one are seasonal and close in mid-September. Moraine Park Campground is typically open year-round, but it is undergoing renovation through 2024. If you want to stay outside the park, the Elk Meadow Lodge & RV Park in Estes Park has a large campground with great views of Rocky Mountain National Park. The town also has a free shuttle to the park’s visitor center.
Shenandoah National Park, Virginia
Shenandoah National Park is situated in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. The park is a perfect destination to experience fall foliage, with its 105 miles of skyline drive, which meanders through the park’s rolling hills and provides a stunning view of the fall color. The park is full of oak, birch, and maple trees, which provide a stunning show of orange, yellow, and red hues as the autumn season sets in. The park also offers many hiking trails, including the Hawksbill Mountain Trail, where visitors will witness the beautiful fall foliage up close.
Camping: Shenandoah National Park offers five campgrounds, including Big Meadows, Mathews Arm, Lewis Mountain, and Loft Mountain, all of which provide easy access to hiking trails and stunning vistas. You can even stay in a rustic cabin or a cozy lodge to enjoy the wilderness in comfort.
Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota
Theodore Roosevelt National Park, located in North Dakota, is a hidden gem among the US national parks, known for its rugged badlands, diverse wildlife, and historical significance. It is a haven for wildlife enthusiasts who go to see the bison, elk, and pronghorns. Theodore Roosevelt National Park also offers fabulous hiking and nature trails, as well as a 36-mile scenic loop drive that takes visitors through the North Unit and South Unit, providing breathtaking vistas of the badlands, grasslands, and the winding Little Missouri River.
Camping: Theodore Roosevelt National Park has two campgrounds. The Cottonwood Campground lies inside the southern section of the park, about 5 miles from Medora, ND. The Juniper Campground is in the northern section and is about 5 miles from Hwy 85.
Yosemite National Park, California
Known for its iconic vistas and waterfalls, Yosemite National Park is a popular destination year-round. However, in the fall, the park transforms into a riot of colors as the oak, maples, and dogwood trees change their leaves into shades of red, gold, and yellow. Visitors can take a scenic drive through the park, where they will witness the stunning foliage. Fall is also an excellent time for hiking, with trails offering breathtaking views of Half Dome, El Capitan, and Yosemite Valley.
Camping: Yosemite National Park offers 13 campgrounds that require reservations and they are always in demand. Campgrounds in Yosemite typically start to close in October, so make sure to plan your trip in advance. Reservations are available at different times depending on the campground. All non-lottery reservations are released at 7 a.m. Pacific time and sell out within minutes. If you’re interested in securing a reservation, take some time to read the park’s tips on getting a campground reservation in Yosemite National Park. Upper Pines Campground is the main year-round campground inside Yosemite Valley and has the best access to the park’s top sights, like Half Dome, Mirror Lake, and Vernal Fall.
Zion National Park, Utah
Situated in the heart of the American Southwest, Zion National Park is known for its towering sandstone cliffs and breathtaking views. The park is a perfect destination to experience fall foliage, with its stunning landscapes filled with golden aspens and cottonwoods. The park offers many scenic drives, including the Zion-Mount Carmel Highway, a stunning 10-mile drive where visitors can witness the beautiful fall foliage. The park also offers many hiking trails, including the Canyon Overlook Trail, where visitors will witness the beautiful fall colors up close. The South Campground is a great option for RVs and tents, and the Watchman Campground has electric hookups for those who want a little more comfort.
Camping: You can camp at one of Zion National Park’s three campgrounds, including Watchman, South, and Lava Point, all of which offer stunning views and easy access to hiking trails and scenic drives. Watchman Campground is the only one that is open year-round, so you’ll want to plan in advance. Watchman and South Campgrounds are located near the southern entrance by the town of Springdale. Both have amazing views and are located along the Virgin River. If you’d like more modern conveniences there are many options just outside the national park, including the Zion Canyon Campground.
As you can see, there are many options for camping in or near spectacular National Parks or State Parks during the fall when the landscapes transform into a vibrant canvas of rich, warm hues.
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