Fall Camping Is Fall Foliage, Pumpkin Patches & Much More

It’s that time of year again and fall means pumpkin patches, corn mazes, and hay rides.

Sunrise with mist rising at our campground near Unadilla, Georgia.
Sunrise with mist rising at our campground near Unadilla, Georgia. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Of course one of the most compelling reasons to camp in fall is the burst of color on the trees as the leaves change to their autumn hues. Depending on the latitude and elevation, fall foliage is usually most stunning from September through October, but can linger into November. The reds, yellows, and oranges of the fall foliage will amaze you.

With the hot muggy days of summer behind us, camping takes on a new life. Chilly mornings, perfect hiking weather, and warm comfort food all come together to make fall camping a must-do for all camping enthusiasts.

The autumn season has always been a great time for camping. Few to no mosquitoes, cooler temperatures, beautiful colors, and quieter campgrounds all make it ideal. Winter will be calling before you know it so get out there this weekend and enjoy before the snowflakes start to fall. Many campgrounds close around Thanksgiving but many also have extended seasons so you can take advantage as long as possible.

In most areas of the country beautiful colors reign supreme during the fall season, which makes it a picturesque time to go camping. Though the northeast is known for its array of seasonal hues, there are a number of places from east to west and from north to south to go for an autumn camping trip.

If you’re not convinced, here are more good reasons to keep your RV or tent out just a little bit longer.

When camping in the fall, try apple picking, pumpkin picking and carving, attend local harvest festivals like Oktoberfest, Halloween events, and fall fishing derbies.

Cherohala Skyway
Fall is one of the most beautiful seasons especially along the Cherohala Skyway Scenic Byway, North Carolina. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Visit a farm market or u-pick orchard and discover the country’s harvest bounty.
Get out on a river for a paddling adventure.

Play a round of golf, where the rates, crowds, temperatures and bugs, are all lower.
Hike the backwoods trails and enjoy the quiet tranquility of the season.

Elk, moose, and deer are regulars in the mountains and migrating birds are everywhere.

Take your kids to a corn maze or haunted house.

Enjoy the fall beauty at a public garden or nature center where the autumn colors are in full display.

Take your adventures to the digital level by geocaching for treasures.

Look for roadside attraction such as the World’s Largest Cherry Pie (Traverse City, Michigan), World’s Largest Baseball Bat (Louisville, Kentucky), World’s Largest Pumpkin (Circleville, Ohio), World’s Largest Ham (Smithfield, Virginia), or World’s Largest Jackrabbit (Odessa, Texas).

Attend one of the many fall festivals and events being planned around your state—from art events to harvest celebrations and car shows to historical reenactments—there’s something for everyone.

Farmers market
Visit a farm market or u-pick orchard and discover the country’s harvest bounty. Pictured above a market in Holmes County, Ohio. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

And don’t forget the pumpkin patch.

To fully enjoy your fall camping trip, plan ahead and prepare a fall camping checklist.

Check the weather before you go: Don’t let the challenges of fall weather spoil your camping plans. Remember that warm weather can quickly turn. Depending on where you go, be prepared for the chance of snow, rain, or other severe weather.

Fall is known for temperature fluctuations, so pack layers of breathable, water-resistant clothing.

Even if the weather is predicted to be warm, pack a winter jacket, extra blankets, boots, and a snow shovel, just in case.

You don’t have to put your camping stuff away just yet.

Pack up the tent or RV, some cozy sleeping bags to keep warm, and hit the road for one of the many campgrounds across the nation.

Pumpkin Patch
And don’t forget the Pumpkin Patch. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Fall is one of the most beautiful seasons so come on out and enjoy a camping trip and take in some of that fall color.

Start your fall camping experience NOW! Create memories and go camping!

Worth Pondering…

There is magic in the air as September turns into October.

There is a ripening of the season as fruit trees grow heavy with red apples; leaves turn golden to reveal a harvest of pumpkins, squash, tomatoes, and peppers in the field; and grape vines hang heavy with clusters of newly turned black and golden grapes.

Enjoy your days and love your life, because life is a journey to be savored.

Grab the keys and let’s go RVing

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2013 Fall Foliage Forecast

The harvest moon made its appearance last week ushering in the autumnal equinox and the official first day of autumn on September 22.

2013 Fall foliage outlook (Source: AccuWeather.com)
2013 Fall foliage outlook (Source: AccuWeather.com)

This is the time of year where the landscape explodes with vibrant colors of red, yellow, and orange. What a perfect opportunity to camp in your RV and take in the full beauty of Mother Nature!

This year’s most vibrant display of foliage will occur across the mid-Atlantic, according to a recent AccuWeather.com report.

Meanwhile, surrounding regions may be hindered by flooding rain and unseasonable temperatures.

“Most important is really what happens at the end of September and beginning of October into the middle of October,” said Marc Abrams, professor of forest ecology and physiology at Penn State University.

“That’s really the crucial period.”

Abrams began observing how weather conditions affect fall foliage more than 25 years ago.

The AccuWeather.com 2013 Fall Forecast predicts near-normal temperatures and precipitation for the mid-Atlantic region, allowing bright, colorful leaves.

Typical peaks in fall foliage color across the U.S.

Cherohala Skyway National Scenic Byway (North Carolina and Tennessee) © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Cherohala Skyway National Scenic Byway (North Carolina and Tennessee) © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Meanwhile, those farther north may be somewhat disappointed. The Northeast is forecast to remain warmer than normal this fall.

Through September and October, temperatures will average two to three degrees above normal in upstate New York and New England, said Paul Pastelok Lead Long-Range Forecaster for AccuWeather.com.

Cold isn’t anticipated to return until sometime during November.

“That’s going to be problematic. It’s going to delay the peak coloration, and normally when we have warm falls the peak coloration is not the best,” Abrams said.

“Those cold temperatures are really, really important late September, early October.”

Cold temperatures will not be in short supply for the Midwest, where an early frost/freeze is forecast in October.

A hard freeze while leaves are still green will transition the leaf straight to brown, rather than allowing multiple colors to come out. It may also delay the peak of the season, Abrams said.

A frost, on the other hand, could be beneficial for the region.

“A frost helps to bring out the color. What happens is that the chlorophyll—which causes the green color of leaves—starts to break down. This basically exposes the other pigments like red and orange,” Abrams said.

Leaves in the Southeast will struggle to change color this year, as the region continues to be hammered by flooding rains into the fall.

A deluge will help the leaves stay green. A mild drought in late September and early October would have been more conducive, helping to move the leaves into senescence, Abrams said. Extreme drought can thwart fall colors, however, impacting the leaf size, vigor, and physiology. Much of the western half of the nation continues to be gripped by moderate to exceptional drought, particularly along the Rocky Mountains, the primary color-producing area of the West.

Details

AccuWeather, Inc.

Shenandoah National Park, Virginia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Shenandoah National Park, Virginia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

AccuWeather, established in 1962, is the World’s Weather Authority.

AccuWeather provides local forecasts for everywhere in the United States and over two million locations worldwide.

They also provide their products and services to more than 175,000 paying customers in media, business, government, and institutions.

AccuWeather headquarters in State College, Pennsylvania, is home to the greatest number of forecast meteorologists in one location anywhere in the world.

AccuWeather Enterprise Solutions, Inc., an AccuWeather company, specializes in weather-risk management consulting and state-of-the-art weather forecasting and services to utility, transportation, manufacturing, educational, and governmental clients throughout the U.S., Canada, and Mexico

Worth Pondering…

Whether the weather be fine,
Whether the weather be not,
Whether the weather be cold,
Whether the weather be hot,
We’ll weather the weather,
Whatever the whether,
Whether we like it or not
—Anon

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2012 National Parks Fall Foliage Guide

As summer comes to a close, the bright blues and greens that characterize the sunshiny season are replaced by a deeper, more vibrant palette.

But there are so many destinations to choose from, each with their own unique rainbow of fall colors.

The National Park Foundation (NPF) wants you to get outdoors and enjoy one of nature’s most spectacular seasons in your national parks.

In announcing the 2012 National Parks Fall Foliage Guide the NPF says, “These parks boast exceptional fall colors, however they represent only a few of the national park sites where foliage lovers can enjoy the spectacular spectrum of the season’s palette.”

The list below includes information on region-specific flora as well as estimated timing on the peak of their colors:

Nez Perce National Historical Park (Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington)

Peak foliage times range across the rivers, canyons, prairies, and mountains of this park which overlaps four states. The short-grass prairies of White Bird Battlefield (ID) and Spalding (ID) peak around mid to late October.  The plains and plateaus of the sagebrush steppe eco-region include a site called Buffalo Eddy (WA) where fall foliage also peaks around mid to late October.

Steamtown National Historic Site (Pennsylvania)

Board one of Steamtown National Historic Site’s special fall excursion runs through this brilliant countryside and you can feast your eyes on the colors of the season in the comfort of a coach. (Source: NPS)

Take a ride back in time on a 1920s era passenger car, with either a 1917-built steam or historic diesel-powered locomotive, to combine a view of the autumn scenery with the history of railroading. Peak is estimated to be October 7-20.

Sagamore Hill National Historic Site (New York)

Visit the site of Theodore Roosevelt’s home around mid-October to see the changing colors of oak-tulip tree, hickory, and copper beech. Sagamore Hill Day, a Fall Family Festival giving tribute to the agricultural heritage of the site, is conveniently planned for October 20 which is also Theodore Roosevelt’s 154th birthday!

St. Croix National Scenic Riverway (Wisconsin, Minnesota)

The St. Croix and Namekagon rivers create a 255-mile corridor with a variety of color from one end to the other, including maple, aspen, oak, and birch trees. Visit this park soon, as leaves are changing quickly, with peak colors from now through mid-October.

Mammoth Cave National Park (Kentucky) 

Foliage at this park includes the changing colors of black gum, poison ivy, and dogwood, peaking from mid to late October. Join the Friends of Mammoth Cave for a Walk-In-The-Park on October 6, and choose one of three different walks that are sure to suit your interests and abilities while allowing the perfect opportunity to support the park and view a variety of fall colors.

Vicksburg National Military Park (Mississippi) 

The location of a critical battle in the Civil War, this park has a brief period of fall foliage, usually lasting from mid-October through mid-November. Visitors can see changes in the hickory, pecan, and black walnut trees, among many others. Plan a visit around October 27, and the kids can participate in a “Shape Up, Junior Ranger Owl Discovery Walk.” This 1-mile walk teaches more about the park’s nighttime creatures, and is the perfect chance to test out this year’s Halloween costume.

Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park (Texas) 

For a fantastic foliage tour, start with a drive through the LBJ Ranch and tour the Texas White House. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Located in the Hill Country of Texas, leaves at this park change from mid-October through the end of November. The sumac, oaks, and haw holly add bursts of fall colors, while the pecans cover the ground and the purple flowers of the gay feather herb enhance the color palette and autumn atmosphere. For a fantastic foliage tour, start with a drive through the LBJ Ranch and tour the Texas White House. Make your way into Johnson City to visit the Boyhood Home and finish out your tour with a walk down the nature trail to the Johnson Settlement and the 1960s cabin and barns.

Flight 93 National Memorial (Pennsylvania)

This national memorial, dedicated to the brave passengers and crew of Flight 93 who fought back against terrorism on September 11, 2001, encompasses 2,200 acres of rolling hills, wild flowers, wetlands, and old-growth and newly planted trees.  Once a coal mine, this location has experienced a breathtaking rebirth as a place of national honor and reflection.  Peak viewing times span early to mid-October, but if you can’t get there in person, you can enjoy the foliage from the park’s live webcam.

Timeless in simplicity and beauty,
like its landscape, both stark and serene,
the Memorial should be quiet in reverence,
yet powerful in form,
a place both solemn and uplifting.
Paul Murdoch, Architect
(Source: NPS)

Several factors affect the intensity of fall shades at each park including moisture, temperature, and length of sunlight exposure. Visitors are strongly encouraged to contact parks directly for specific information on seasonal events and optimal viewing periods.

Details

National Park Foundation (NPF)

You are the owner of 84 million acres of the world’s most treasured memorials, landscapes, ecosystems, and historic sites—all protected in America’s nearly 400 national parks. Chartered by Congress, the National Park Foundation is the official charity of America’s national parks.

NPF works hand in hand with the National Park Service to connect you and all Americans to the parks, and to make sure that they are preserved for the generations who will follow.

Website: nationalparks.org

Share the Experience

With its breathtaking colors, autumn is also the perfect time to photograph nature’s beauty and the national parks can provide infinite inspiration. Amateur photographers are invited to submit their photos to the 12th annual Share the Experience photography contest for the chance to have their image selected for use on the America the Beautiful Federal Recreation Lands Pass.

Share the Experience entries will be accepted through December 31, 2012. For a complete list of rules and prizes as well as submit your photos, check the website below.

Share the Experience is the official photo contest of America’s national parks and federal recreation lands. Sponsored by Active Network, Destination America, Historic Hotels of America, and the National Park Foundation in partnership with the National Park Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the Bureau of Reclamation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the U.S. Forest Service, the Share the Experience Photo Contest showcases the more than 500 million acres of Federal Lands and draws entries from all across the United States.

Website: sharetheexperience.org

Worth Pondering…

National parks are the best idea we ever had. Absolutely American, absolutely democratic, they reflect us at our best rather than our worst.

—Wallace Stegner, 1983

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Top Fall Color Hotspots in National Forests

Fall colors are about to burst all over the country and the U.S. Forest Service wants you to get outdoors and enjoy one of nature’s most spectacular seasons in your national forests.

“Autumn is a wonderful time of the year to plan a trip to see the beauty of your national forests,” said Tom Tidwell, Chief of the U.S. Forest Service in an agency news release.

“As tree experts, we have incredible resources on our website to help you plan a great adventure this fall season.”

From coast to coast, state and local economies are boosted because of the fall season and for many rural communities, fall color tourism is a major source of revenue. Hotels, restaurants, and local shops rely on the influx of dollars generated by fall visitors.

For example, the New England area receives an estimated $8 billion in local revenues annually due to fall activities. Throughout the Midwest, millions of visitors hit the road to enjoy the sights. In the West, the mountains provide destinations filled with tourists seeking a glimpse of shimmering gold aspens.

Weather conditions in all areas impact peak viewing dates, so information provided on the Forest Service website and phone hotline will help visitors best plan their trips.

The Forest Service’s Fall Colors 2012 website (see link below) includes clickable maps that link to forest-by-forest fall color information and to state tourism and fall color websites.

The timing of color changes and the onset of falling leaves is primarily regulated by the calendar as nights become longer. (Source: fs.fed.us)

Some of the most popular family friendly features include locations of scenic drives and trails, coloring pages for kids, the science behind the season, and links to a tree database.

Photographs from visitors nationwide will be added to the site.

Following tradition, the Forest Service has turned on its Fall Colors Hotline (see toll-free number below). The hotline provides audio updates on the best places, dates, and routes to take.

Learn the best places on your national forests and grasslands to see the changing hues by calling the hotline then pressing the number of the area nearest you:

  • #1 for Montana, North Dakota and North Idaho
  • #2 for Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota and eastern Wyoming
  • #3 for Arizona and New Mexico
  • #4 for portions of eastern California, Nevada, southern Idaho, Utah, western Wyoming
  • #5 for California
  • #6 for Oregon and Washington State
  • #7 for Alaska
  • #8 for Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia
  • #9 for Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Vermont, West Virginia, Wisconsin

Details

U.S. Forest Service

The mission of the Forest Service is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations.

The agency manages 193 million acres of public land, provides assistance to state and private landowners, and maintains the largest forestry research organization in the world.

Forest Service lands contribute more than $13 billion to the economy each year through visitor spending alone.

National Forests in North Carolina (Source: fs.usda.gov)

Those same lands provide 20 percent of the nation’s clean water supply, a value estimated at $27 billion per year.

The Forest Service offers many activities such as hiking, biking, skiing, camping, birding, using cabins, driving for pleasure, harvesting mushrooms, and gathering firewood. Many of the facilities and services associated with these opportunities are free. Some do require fees or permits to help maintain, manage and improve the amenities that you enjoy.

Address: 1400 Independence Ave., SW, Washington, D.C. 20250-0003

Phone: (800) 832-1355

Fall Colors Hotline: (800) 354-4595

Website: fs.fed.us

Fall Colors Website: fs.fed.us/fallcolors/2012

Fall Colors Audio: Fall colors, and why the change starts when it does

Worth Pondering…

Millions of Americans each year use our national forests to go hiking, fishing, hunting, camping, swimming, horseback riding, and canoeing.

—Ric Keller

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