Autumn Camping

Autumn is my favorite time of year. The cooling temperatures, changing colors, and football season all combine to make for a fun time of year.

It’s also a popular time of year to go RV camping.

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

In fact, many campers prefer fall weather to other seasons as they enjoy changing leaves, clear days, and better hiking conditions.

Of course, the brilliance of leaf color is a variable. It can be outstanding or it can be so-so, but it is almost always awe-inspiring. Fall weather conditions favoring formation of brilliant autumn colors are warm, sunny days followed by cool nights with temperatures below 45 degrees.

Before winter arrives, do like so many RVers—take to the hills and valleys, be a leaf watcher, and be inspired.

Chase a splash of red up a mountain road, and be rewarded by an endless valley filled with autumn colors. Wake up in your campground to the blaze of red and gold glory all around.

The scenic 78-year-old Blue Ridge Parkway is one of the country’s great autumn drives. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The scenic 78-year-old Blue Ridge Parkway is one of the country’s great autumn drives. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

From New England to the Pacific Northwest and the Smokies to the Santa Fe Mountains, this time of year brings glorious color to hills and valleys, big cities and small towns, and only the most distracted wouldn’t recognize the beauty that surrounds us.

The hillsides of New England are famous for their dappled assortment of species producing different shades, ranging between red and orange. The Sierra Mountains of California and Nevada, on the other hand, are known for their vast yellow forests of aspen and birch.

The single most popular spot for leaf watchers is the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. But there are a great many other spots to visit where the autumn spectacle is viewable—without the crowds.

A destination in itself, Mount Mitchell State Park (North Carolina) is a wonderful spot for sweeping views of the fall colors on the slopes below. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

A destination in itself, Mount Mitchell State Park (North Carolina) is a wonderful spot for sweeping views of the fall colors on the slopes below. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

A destination in itself, Mount Mitchell is a wonderful spot for sweeping views of the fall colors on the slopes below. Mount Mitchell is located about 30 miles from Asheville, and can also be reached by taking NC 128 off of the Blue Ridge Parkway at mile post 355.3.

Mount Mitchell State Park is an extraordinary 1,946-acre wilderness with miles of hiking trails, some short and easy while others are long and strenuous. Take a warm jacket as it is often windy at the summit. The seasonal restaurant is open from late-May through October, and is another place to enjoy Mount Mitchell fall colors.

The Hills are alive…at the Trapp Family Lodge near Stowe. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Hills are alive…at the Trapp Family Lodge near Stowe, Vermont. © 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 U.S. The elevations range from 900 feet above sea level at the Tellico River in Tennessee to over 5,400 feet above sea level at the Tennessee-North Carolina state line at Haw Knob.

The Cherohala Skyway crosses through the Cherokee National Forest in Tennessee and the Nantahala National Forest in North Carolina. Peak colors typically occur during the last two weeks in October, but that is dependent upon fall temperatures and in particular, the first frost date. The color change begins at higher elevations where you see the earliest changes in late September, and continue all the way into mid-November at the lower elevations.

Picture perfect scenery abounds here in the mountains and rolling hills of Northern Virginia. Pictured above entrance road to Shenandoah River State Park. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Picture perfect scenery abounds here in the mountains and rolling hills of Northern Virginia. Pictured above entrance road to Shenandoah River State Park. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Shenandoah National Park is a quintessential autumn foliage destination. Often overlooked during leap peeping season is the less crowded Shenandoah River State Park.

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.

Named for the river it boarders, Shenandoah River State Park is a peaceful and serene park. Picture perfect scenery abounds here in the mountains and rolling hills of Northern Virginia.

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 Sierras or northern New Mexico. The best time to see the colors 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 one of the many trails into the backcountry for miles upon miles of color. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Visit Congaree National Park and take the 2.4-mile boardwalk hike through the park or one of the many trails into the backcountry for miles upon miles of color. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Visit Congaree National Park and take the 2.4-mile boardwalk hike through the park or one of the many trails into the backcountry for miles upon miles of color. Another great option is to paddle along Cedar Creek in a canoe. It meanders under canopies of spectacular fall foliage.

This autumn promises to be spectacular! Don’t miss the chance to see it for yourself with a camping trip to find fall colors.

Worth Pondering…

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

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