Leaf Peeping

As September squeezes out the final drops of summer, it’s time to gear up for autumn.

Cooler temps, campfires, pumpkins, and cranberry sauce—autumn brings many reasons to celebrate or to go RV camping.

The hillsides of New England are famous for their dappled assortment of species producing different shades, ranging between reds and greens. Pictured above Stowe Community Church, Vermont. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The hillsides of New England are famous for their dappled assortment of species producing different shades, ranging between reds and greens. Pictured above Stowe Community Church, Vermont. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Most notably, autumn is the season for leaf peeping. Remarkable fall foliage brightens up the land, changing hues from green and brown to vibrant yellows and oranges and fiery reds and golds.

Just as kids are heading back to school and the weather cools down, leaf peepers get ready to hit the road to witness nature’s display of dazzling colors.

Stunning fall colors are the focal point for many camping trips. Leaf peeping has evolved into an RV travel phenomenon, and, combined with the unreal scenery that often accompanies autumn’s most colorful destinations, can make for lasting memories.

Fall along the Blue Ridge Parkway is an experience RVers and other visitors return to again and again in order to enjoy the Blue Ridge Mountains fall foliage. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Fall along the Blue Ridge Parkway is an experience RVers and other visitors return to again and again in order to enjoy the Blue Ridge Mountains fall foliage. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Leaf-peeping, kicking through leaves, and hiking. New England is renowned for leaf-peeping, but you can go anywhere to appreciate the romance of nature in autumn.

The fall foliage season, when the changing palette of deciduous trees is in blazing bloom, is now starting. And the way to maximize your intake of color is to map out a driving route.

In September, October, and—in some spots—even November, color seekers can visit 31 states and drive more than 3,000 miles of national scenic byways, plus thousands of other scenic roads.

As the crisp air of autumn settles over the Shenandoah Valley, the hillsides take on the brilliant fiery tones for which the valley is famous. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

As the crisp air of autumn settles over the Shenandoah Valley, the hillsides take on the brilliant fiery tones for which the valley is famous. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Certain areas of the country—the Northeast corridor, the Southeast, along the Appalachian Mountains, and much of the Midwest and Sierras—produce the most striking and vibrant colors because of mild autumn days and cool (but not freezing) evenings. If daytime temperatures are too warm for an extended period of time, colors are less intense.

Here are the top autumn destinations on my radar for travel this year.

The fall colors in Vermont are simply unbelievable! With forests covering three-quarters of the state, and the highest percentage of vibrant maple trees in the country, Vermont explodes with colors once the leaves start to turn. Whether you are touring the state on a scenic byway, or enjoying a crisp autumn hike outdoors, almost everywhere you look in Vermont during the fall months is alive with bursting reds, oranges, and yellows.

Fall is my favorite time of year. The cooling temperatures, changing colors, and football season all combine to make for a fun time of year. Pictured above Lancaster County in Pennsylvania Dutch Country. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Fall is my favorite time of year. The cooling temperatures, changing colors, and football season all combine to make for a fun time of year. Pictured above Lancaster County in Pennsylvania Dutch Country. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Each season along the Blue Ridge Parkway has its own beauty with autumn bringing a brilliant patchwork of red, yellow, rust, and green with leaves like a blazing sunset, burnished gold and crimson, shimmering in the breeze. The scent of wood smoke on the crisp autumn air. Fall along the Blue Ridge Parkway is an experience RVers and other visitors return to again and again in order to enjoy the Blue Ridge Mountains fall foliage.

Enjoy Shenandoah National Park and the Skyline Drive, a 105-mile scenic byway with picturesque views of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Highlights include Staunton’s artsy Red Brick District, numerous campgrounds, hiking Old Rag Mountain, and a top-notch fishing scene in Waynesboro.

Temperatures are dropping, days are getting shorter and the leaves on the trees are slowly turning from green to yellow to orange and red. Pictured above Fish Lake, Utah. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Temperatures are dropping, days are getting shorter and the leaves on the trees are slowly turning from green to yellow to orange and red. Pictured above Fish Lake, Utah. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Pennsylvania Dutch Country means apple orchards, corn mazes, farmers markets, and what’s known as Antiques Capital, U.S.A. in Adamstown with more than 3,000 antique dealers. This has fall written all over it.

Combine Albuquerque, Santa Fe, and Taos, specifically if you can catch the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta (October 7-15, in 2017) with a few days in beautiful Santa Fe, where you can see the golden aspens along the mountain above the city.

There are so many other great fall destinations to consider: leaf peeping in Maine or New Hampshire, Utah Color Country,Boston before the winter sets in, Sedona and the Verde Valley.

A Road Through Beauty, the Cherohala Skyway’s 36 miles of scenic mountain views rival any scenic byway in the eastern US. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

A Road Through Beauty, the Cherohala Skyway’s 36 miles of scenic mountain views rival any scenic byway in the eastern US. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Most people don’t think of South Carolina as a fall foliage destination but autumn there is long and colorful, and best of all begins a lot later in the season than other destinations, which means you’ll be able to get in a “second autumn” if you’re coming from, say, the Rocky Mountain states. The best time to see the leaves here is mid-November through the first half of December. Visit Congaree National Park and take the 2.4-mile boardwalk hike through the park or paddle along Cedar Creek in a canoe. It meanders under canopies of spectacular fall foliage.

Worth Pondering…

Autumn carries more gold in its pocket than all the other seasons.
—Jim Bishop

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