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View of the Sawthooth mountains of Idaho in the fall in the evening light.
Photograph: Shutterstock

The best fall foliage camping in the US

Book a plot at one of the best fall foliage camping spots if you want to sleep under a canopy of colorful leaves

Scott Snowden
Written by
Sarah Medina
Scott Snowden

If you enjoy camping and getting up and close and personal with Mother Nature, then why not try holding off on the traditional summer vacation and instead make plans for a fall getaway? Not only have most of the crowds retreated back to their urban encampments, but the crisp mornings, together with the fire-colored foliage simply cannot be beat. Add to that, the crackling campfire, toasted marshmellows and cozy sleeping bag and you have a holiday to remember. Moreover, most sites will also offer autumn activities like hiking, biking and kayaking without that blistering heat and humidity of summer.

Whether in pursuit of changing leaves, temperate climates, or a socially distant getaway, here are some of the best spots for fall foliage camping in the US. While some sites are good to go all season long, you’ll find shorter travel windows at high-elevation campgrounds like Stanley RV + Camp in Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains and northern latitude spots like Calhoun Campground in Beaverton, Michigan.

So, pack your warmest sweater and hit the road for one of these cool-weather campgrounds from California to New York. Even if you’re not up for chilly nights in a tent, the fall foliage is still worth a gander.

RECOMMENDED: Where to see the best fall foliage in the USA

Best fall foliage camping

Stanley, ID
Photograph: Shutterstock

1. Stanley, ID

In September and early October, Idaho's jagged Sawtooth Mountains become a vibrant, technicolor dreamland. Camp out beneath the changing cottonwood, aspen, and alder trees at Stanley RV + Camp (just outside the tiny town of the same name) where there are full RV hookups, spots for tent camping, and two charming no-frills A-frame cabins. Better yet? You'll find whistle-clean restrooms, laundry facilities, and a postcard-perfect river right across the street. For a more rustic night out, try the shores of Pettit Lake where the alpine views are breathtaking and the popular Alice Lake Loop starts right outside your door.

Cape May, NJ
Photograph: Tyler D. Way

2. Cape May, NJ

Known as America’s oldest seaside resort—made famous by its beaches and boardwalks—Cape May is also home to several camping destinations. At the Big Timber Lake RV Camping Resort, guests can enjoy wilderness with the conveniences of a modern campground. Hike through the stunning National Wildlife Refuge to see leaves change color in fall or discover some of the finest wines on the east coast at nearby vineyards. Additional amenities include a fishing lake, bocce ball, shuffleboard, and kayak rentals.

Beaverton, MI
Photograph: Shutterstock

3. Beaverton, MI

Central Michigan, along the Cedar River, offers plenty of cool campgrounds where you can splash in the water and admire the fall foliage. Gladwin City Park and Campground in Gladwin provides a tranquil escape for those looking to sit back and relax. Meanwhile, in Beaverton, Calhoun Campground occupies 40-acres of backwater land on Ross Lake with beautiful wooded sites facing the lake and activities such as boating, fishing, and trail hiking. 

Quarryville, PA
Photograph: Courtesy Yogi Bear's Jellystone Park™ Camp-Resort: Quarryville

4. Quarryville, PA

Home to picturesque rolling hills and bucolic countryside, this area thrives in the fall with some of the best leaf-peeping in the Northeast. Located on 63 wooded acres (that adjoin a scenic, 100-acre county park in Southern Lancaster), head to Yogi Bear's Jellystone Park Camp-Resort—here, you’ll find never-ending views of the changing leaves plus family-friendly amenities such as a water zone, trampoline, and mini golf.

Conway, SC
Photograph: Courtesy Sun RV Resorts

5. Conway, SC

This travel hotspot is known for beachside accommodations, but it’s also home to woodsy camping. You’ll find the best of both worlds at Carolina Pines RV Resort — it's still warm enough to hit up the beach or the pool in the fall, but you'll also enjoy views of the season's changing leaves. And don't forget to check out the Cherokee Foothills Scenic Highway (SC 11), where more than a half-dozen colorful state parks and their gorgeous fall leaves are all within easy reach.

Gardiner, NY
Photograph: Courtesy Yogi Bear's Jellystone Park Camp-Resort: Gardiner/ Bill Sferrazza

6. Gardiner, NY

Overlooking the winding Wallkill River and boasting dramatic views of the Shawangunk Mountain ridge, the Yogi Bear's Jellystone Park camp resort at Gardiner offers much more than just sprawling views. The 100-acre campsite is a top-notch adventureland complete with a water park, pool, mini golf, playground, and jumping pad. Campers can enjoy the endless outdoor activities and amenities—kayak on the river or just lounge by the fire—all while soaking in the beautiful scenery of the Northeast in autumn.

Port Angeles, WA
Photograph: Shutterstock

7. Port Angeles, WA

Spend a night on the edge of the world at Salt Creek Recreation Area and Campground in Port Angeles, Washington. Hanging over the Strait of Juan de Fuca, the site commands some of the most beautiful views on the Olympic Peninsula and it's the ideal home base for leaf-peeping around Lake Crescent and the Elwha River. The grounds also offer plenty of ways to play, with basketball and volleyball courts and horseshoe pits.

Paso Robles, CA
Photograph: Courtesy Sun RV Resorts

8. Paso Robles, CA

It doesn't get better than wine country in the fall. When the harvest is finished, sit back with a glass of vino and enjoy the scenery and the fruits of the land. At Paso Robles' Wine Country RV Resort, campers can choose from RV camping, one and two bedroom cottages, or unique chalet rentals. Activities are plentiful with live entertainment, dancing, wine tasting, and outdoor movies held in the wine garden. Oh and, the views are pretty great too!

North Java, NY
Photograph: Courtesy Sun RV Resorts

9. North Java, NY

For an autumnal getaway that offers endless views, this camping destination— with more than 100 acres of peaceful pines—is great for sightseeing and fall foliage. Nestled in the heart of Western New York’s Wyoming County, Yogi Bear's Jellystone Park Camp-Resort: Western New York offers fishing, swimming, and kayaking on the lake plus a 16,000-square-foot, multi-level interactive water zone that the kiddies will love. Plus you're just a one-hour drive away from experiencing Niagara Falls.

Moab, UT
Photograph: Shutterstock

10. Moab, UT

If you think you can't see fall foliage in the desert, think again. For incredible tent camping near jaw-droppingly beautiful canyons, mesas, and cliffs of Canyonlands National Park, head to CanyonLands RV Resort & Campground. Take in the incredible views as you swim in a pool backdropped by the state’s distinct red-rock landscape, or take a hike around the property and take in the seasonal sights.

Santa Claus, IN
Photograph: Courtesy Sun RV Resorts

11. Santa Claus, IN

With holiday festivities just around the corner, there’s no better destination to hit than Santa Claus, Indiana. At Lake Rudolph Campground & RV Resort, a two-time National RV Park of the Year, campers will find the perfect fall getaway with extensive accommodations that include Christmas cabins that are sure to excite the holiday-decor-in-October enthusiast. The resort also features its own Santa's Splashdown Waterpark, while it happens to be the closest lodging to Holiday World Theme Park.

Luray, VA
Photograph: Courtesy Camp Luray

12. Luray, VA

Located among the picturesque Blue Ridge Mountains, Yogi Bear's Jellystone Park in Luray, Virginia offers an inspiring camping experience. The campground's 73 scenic acres are situated just down the road from the popular Luray Caverns as well as the breathtaking Shenandoah National Park, where fall foliage is plentiful. On-site you'll find amenities such as a gem mining experience, pedal boats, a fishing pond, and an outdoor movie theater. If you're up for a drive, the Blue Ridge Parkway offers a colorful thoroughfare between Virginia and North Carolina.

Hunter Mountain, NY

13. Hunter Mountain, NY

The Catskills are the go-to getaway from city life for many on the eastern seaboard and all year round it offers beautiful, breathtaking scenery, from a winter wonderland to a sun-drenched summer weekend break. Plus, of course, it also includes fall and the phenomenal, fire-colored foliage that comes around October-time. Hunter Mountain is popular fan-favorite in this area and it offers a number of different campsites, some with quite entertaining names, including the Whip-O-Will site and Rip Van Winkle campgrounds.

The north shore of Lake Superior, MN
Photograph: Shutterstock

14. The north shore of Lake Superior, MN

As the topography of the land rises to the north and to the west, so the phenomenal fall foliage gets a little more dense and offers anyone within sight a stunning fire-colored spectacle to behold. The transformation begins in mid-September when the maple trees of the Sawtooth Mountains begin to change, then the leaves on aspen and birch along the shore of Lake Superior a short time later. This region of the country offers all sorts of outdoor adventures, including backpacking, biking, hiking, hunting, fishing and more. The City of Two Harbors campsite in Minnesota is one of the best places to stay.

Great Smoky Mountain National Park, NC
Photograph: Shutterstock

15. Great Smoky Mountain National Park, NC

The Great Smoky Mountain National Park actually straddles the state line between Tennessee and North Carolina and it covers an area of 522,419 acres, or 816 square miles. Within that sprawling size are nearly 100 indigenous species of trees, incorporating lush forests and a multitude of wildflowers that bloom all year-round, together with streams, rivers and waterfalls. The best time of year to pay respects to Mother Nature and enjoy the autumn spectacle is late October and early November and the best way to enjoy it is to camp out and enjoy the many hundreds of miles of trails at your leisure. Try the Fort Wilderness RV Park or the Mount Mitchell State Park.


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