For those in the cooler parts of the country, summer might be the best time of year for camping. But for the rest of us, fall is the real start of camping season. Cooler days, mosquitos hiding, itchy plants dying off—there’s nothing a camper could want more. Oh, and there’s also a ton of pretty trees everywhere.
Pawtuckaway State Park, New Hampshire
Enjoy the early weeks of October among spectacular forest and boulders at this popular state park. There are activities for everyone, from rock climbing to mountain biking, kayaking to fishing. Choose from nearly 200 campsites nestled along the lakeshore beneath towering trees.
Housatonic Meadows State Park, Connecticut
Enjoy beautiful New England fall colors along the Housatonic River at this picturesque park. Though the river is too chilly for swimming, you can enjoy miles of fly fishing and canoeing in the clear water. Pack a picnic and don’t forget your camera! The park closes for the season on Oct. 11, so don’t wait too long to go see the eye-catching scenery.
Indian Cave State Park, Nebraska
With over 3,000 acres and 22 miles of hiking and biking trails, the scenery in this unexpected campground will leave you breathless. The best time for fall color viewing is in mid-October when the park hosts its annual Haunted Hollow festival. Featuring hayrides, games, crafts and contests for the whole family, you don’t want to miss out.
Ledges State Park, Iowa
In the middle of a state known for flat farmland sits a unique campground with geological and historical interest. Drive through the sandstone cliffs for scenic views and stunning foliage. Visit in early or mid-October for the best viewing season. Don’t miss the Crow’s Nest scenic overlook!
Lost Maples State Natural Area, Texas
Home to a protected grove of Uvalde maples, this park is renowned for its stunning foliage. With later changes than most of the country—prime visiting season is in November—Lost Maples boasts scenic river views, cliffs to hike, and several geocache opportunities. The park is perfect for a day trip or you can soak in nature with an overnight visit.
Lakeview Park Campground, Arkansas
Nestled in the Ozark Mountains, this lakeside campground boasts beautiful colors starting in mid-October. Whether you’re interested in hiking, boating, fishing, or wildlife viewing, there’s something for everyone. Keep your eyes peeled for the bald eagles that nest in the area. For a day trip, visit the stunning Buffalo National River, just an hour or so from your campsite.
Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
One of the busiest national parks, Rocky Mountain’s beauty exists year round. In late September to early October, though, Rocky Mountain Maples, Aspens and Narrowleaf Cottonwoods burst with golden yellow and deep, fiery orange. Watch for bighorn and elk, take a backpacking trip, go horseback riding or fishing.
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee & North Carolina
Probably one of the most famous fall foliage destinations in the country, the trees in the Great Smoky Mountains are stunning. Drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway or Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail for the most beautiful views. If you prefer to go by foot, try a short hike up to Inspiration Point or a portion of the famed Appalachian Trail. The best time to visit is late October to early November.
image ©istockphoto/Olga Kashubin