Best Spots for Camping in the Fall

With weather like this, we often dream of living outdoors.

People make a lot of fuss about the fall color up in New England. And while those Vermont and New Hampshire roads are beautiful, the South can give the Northeast some gorgeous competition.

Congaree National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Congaree National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

One of our favorite ways to experience fall beauty is on RV camping trips. Think about it: cooler temperatures are great for daytime hikes and clear skies make stargazing and gathering around the campfire for s’mores and ghost stories a must.

Whether you’re a Diesel Pusher type or a minimalist using a small camper or teardrop trailer, we’ve rounded up some of the most beautiful spots across the South to camp.

Congaree National Park

This National Park in South Carolina is known for its hardwood forest system and floodplains, which offer a variety of flora and fauna. The 27,000 acres of Congaree house the largest old-growth hardwood forest left in the South. Explore it through its trails and boardwalks, or canoe on Cedar Creek to enjoy the fall splendor.

For those with a curious mind, ranger-led programs are held on Saturdays year-round. Stay in one of two campgrounds in the park for a nominal fee, or camp in the backcountry (fires are not permitted there) for free.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park along Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Great Smoky Mountains National Park along Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Despite the widespread belief that mid-October is the best time to witness the colors of fall throughout the Smoky Mountains, the area remains an autumn spectacle well into November. If you’re looking for a beautiful fall destination south of the Mason-Dixon Line, the Smoky Mountains are tough to beat.

No matter which side of this national treasure you choose to explore, fall is the perfect time to do it. The majestic foliage, the waterfalls, the many camping options—there are many reasons to visit the Smokies. The most biodiverse preserve in the National Park Service with five different forest systems and a variety of flora and fauna on display are just another reason to visit.

One of the most popular places to see the leaves and wildlife (including white-tailed deer, wild turkeys, and black bears) is Cades Cove, a broad valley at the northwestern corner of the park on the Tennessee side.

Kentucky Bluegrass Country © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Kentucky Bluegrass Country © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Kentucky

In Kentucky, the scenery ranges from the Appalachians in the east to the many beautiful lakes in the south and west.

Nearly every single small (and big) town in the Bluegrass State celebrates the end of summer with its own festival. The following is but a mere sampling of what the Bluegrass State has to offer: World Chicken Festival in London (September 27-30, 2018), Ham Festival in Cadiz (October 12-17, 2018), and Mt. Sterling Court Days in Mt. Sterling (October 12-15, 2018).

The Okefenokee © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Okefenokee © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Okefenokee

Imagine a place where unusual creatures swim through mirror-top waters and exotic plants sprout from floating islands—a place where thousands of creatures serenade the setting of the sun each day.

The Okefenokee offers so much, one could spend a lifetime and still not see and do everything. Spanish moss-laced trees reflect off the black swamp waters, while cypress knees rise upward from the glass-like surface. Here, paddlers and photographers enjoy breathtaking scenery and abundant wildlife.

Along Fish Lake Scenic Byway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Along Fish Lake Scenic Byway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Utah

When it comes to Utah’s fall foliage, travelers pursue the leaf peeping road-less-traveled. Often overlooked for New England or the Smoky Mountains, Utah’s wide array of forests and state and national parks—each located at different elevations and receiving varying amounts of rainfall—make for a diverse foliage spectacle.

Utah’s geography creates a multitude of peak viewing times throughout the state, so you can come early or late in the season and still spot breathtaking colors courtesy of the canyon maples, quaking aspens, scrub oaks, Douglas hawthorns, serviceberries, and more.

Along Brian Head-Panguitch Lake Scenic Byway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Along Brian Head-Panguitch Lake Scenic Byway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Worth Pondering…

Early fall may be the most enjoyable time of year to travel. Summer crowds are gone, and the weather is pleasant nearly everywhere—no longer hot but not yet cold.

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