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The best fall foliage camping destinations in the U.S.

Book a plot at one of these fall foliage camping destinations if you want to sleep under a canopy of colorful leaves

Written by
Sarah Medina
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While camping was insanely popular this summer across the U.S., we’re here to make the argument that fall foliage camping is even better. It’s not just that the crowds have all gone home; it’s the crisp mornings, colorful leaves, and nights spent cozied up in a sleeping bag in front of a crackling fire. Plus, although summer hogs the spotlight, there’s just as much outdoor fun in autumn—hiking, biking, and kayaking get way better without that blistering heat and humidity.

Whether in pursuit of changing leaves, temperate climates, or a socially distant getaway, here are some of the best campgrounds in the U.S. for fall foliage. 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. By mid to late October, winter is already showing its ruddy face (and we won’t be showing ours!). 

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. Head to some of our favorite fall foliage spots on four wheels or peep those leaves along autumn’s best bike trails. Better yet, make it a fall-themed road trip: you’ll find more than enough apple orchards, corn mazes, and pumpkin patches along the way for an unforgettable season.

RECOMMENDED: The dreamiest places to go glamping in the U.S.

Best fall foliage camping destinations in the U.S.

Stanley, ID
Photograph: Pixabay/CC

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.

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.

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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. 

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.

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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.

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.

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Port Angeles, WA
Photograph: Pixabay/CC

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.

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!

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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.

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.

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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.

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.

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