by S. Easton
September 9, 2021
Fall is here and the leaves will start their parade of bright yellows, orange and red coloring. It’s not only the Eastern United States that boast beautiful foliage. There are areas near your home that will surprise you with a stunning show and lure you into a great fall camping experience.
Is Fall a Good Time for Camping?
We think it’s a great time! Fall camping is special. The air is crisp and the nights call for cozy sleeping bags or cuddly warm blankets. The coffee tastes just a little bit better as you watch the wisps of smoke from the campfire swirl in the chill air. Mother Nature puts on her annual show of Autumn Colors and it’s totally awesome.
Discover Autumn Colors in the Catskills and Beyond
So where can you find these great camping hideaways? Of course, the Eastern United States is famous for its show of fall colors and if you live on the East Coast, no doubt you know the premiere spots for leaf-peeping. The Catskills are ideal for all types of campers, whether you’re into relaxing at the campsite or tackling local excursions. Throughout the entire East Coast, however, there are many family friendly activities to enjoy. Many of the Catskills small towns celebrate Fall Festivals and they have a fall foliage-viewing train on the Catskill Mountain Railroad. For stunning views hop aboard the Hunter Mountain chairlift. You can see forever…even the Vermont Berkshires.
The Catskill Mountains encompass almost 6,000 square miles and include forest preserves, a wide variety of wildlife, and many rivers and lakes. Peak foliage season is from late September through mid-October. ReserveAmerica.com suggests camping at Kenneth L. Wilson Campground or Devil’s Tombstone Campground. (both in New York)
Glorious Fall Camping in the South
For our Southern Camping Friends, Great Smoky Mountain National Park is a splendid suggestion. There are nearly 100 indigenous species of trees in the Smokies. So with such variety, you have an ever changing landscape from late September through late November. Higher elevations in the park will start the parade of colors. Can you just just imagine the bright shades of the scarlet oaks and the red maples? There are 850 miles of hiking trails in the Great Smokies, so you can experience the beauty of the trees up close and personal. Clingman’s Dome is the highest point in the Smokies and offers breathtaking panoramic views. Again, ReserveAmerica.com says check out the camping at Smoky Mountain Meadows, NC or Smokey Bear, TN Campgrounds.
Check out the Brilliant Fall Colors in the Midwest
If you live in the Midwest, fall leaves color all your landscape but for a get away fall camping trip, try the North Shore of Lake Superior. There are two distinct waves of changing leaves. During the last couple of weeks of September, escape to the “Highlands”. The ridgelines of the Sawtooth Mountains begin their color change mid-September. Then, along the shoreline of Lake Superior the leaves on aspen and birch trees display gorgeous panoramas lasting through mid to late October. Of course, activities are plentiful. You’ll be setting up camp and from there you can go backpacking, fishing and hunting. Bike or take a scenic drive along the shore-hugging North Shore Byway. Suggested campgrounds are Crescent Lake or Grand Marais Recreation Area, MN.
Autumn in Colorado is Golden
Autumn in Colorado is known for the aspen trees and their beautiful, fall, golden yellow leaves. In higher elevations the change of color can start as early as late August. One of the best places to enjoy this awesome show is Rocky Mountain National Park. Mid-September is generally the magical time to enjoy this golden display. This time frame also coincides with the Elk migration, when the animals move to lower land for the winter. Many picturesque small towns dot the countryside. Estes Park, being one of them, is a perfect staging area for camping or backpacking. There are hundreds of miles of trails in the area so you can take an easy walk or plan something more adventurous. You may want to set up base camp at Estes Park Campground at Mary’s Lake, CO or Estes Park Campground at the East Portal, CO.
Exhilarating Autumn Colors in the PNW
Then we move westward to the Pacific Northwest. Mount Hood National Forest in Oregon and the Columbia River Gorge bordering Oregon and Washington, divided by the mighty Columbia River is a show stopper, anytime of year, but the autumn leaves show off its majesty. Snow capped Mt. Hood, in all its glory, overlooks more than 1,000 miles of trails that lead to cascading waterfalls, lakes and rivers. There are more than 150 lakes and 14 wild and scenic rivers throughout the Mt. Hood National Forest. Foliage peaks from late September through late October. Guided hikes are available or hop aboard the Mt. Hood Railroad for a scenic old fashioned train ride. Sternwheeler boat excursions ply the Columbia River and don’t miss a hearty breakfast at the Multnomah Falls Restaurant, located at the base of majestic 620’ Multnomah Falls. The food is good, but the view is incomparable. Camping suggestions here are at Ainsworth State Park or Bensen State Recreation Area in OR*
Fall camping is fun, no matter where you choose to set up your home base. There are so many beautiful areas in these great United States to enjoy the changing seasons that it’s hard to just pick a few. But, wherever you pitch your tent, or park your RV, stop and relax. Enjoy the gorgeous scenery around you. Nature is truly amazing, isn’t it?
*ReserveAmerica.com has recommended all of the above mentioned campgrounds.