If you aren’t ready to tuck away your camping gear until next summer, then why not make plans for a fall getaway? There’s nothing quite like crawling out of a cozy tent to gaze up at a landscape draped in vivid hues of oranges, reds, and yellows. And after a hearty breakfast, hike or bike the area to properly soak in the breathtaking fall foliage.
The crisp air, brilliant blue skies, lower camping fees, fewer bugs, and drastically reduced crowds are more solid reasons to camp in September and October. But where can tent campers see the best fall foliage in the country? This fall camping guide will highlight 8 destinations that are perfect for leaf peeping. We hope they’ll inspire you to go outdoors this autumn.
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Now, let’s discuss the most beautiful places for tent camping in fall.
One of the best places to witness the beauty and splendor of fall is Stowe. Nicknamed the color capital, this former daily town offers visitors an opportunity to see the landscape transition from vivid green to shades of red, amber, and tangerine.
Vibrant colors paint the hills, countryside, and mountains, and there are plenty of ways to experience the spectacle. You can hike the many trails in the area, paddle a boat, or drive along the famous Route 100 byway. Aim to visit around mid-September through early October when the leaves are at their most colorful. Smugglers Notch State Park is the perfect place to pitch your tent.
Acadia National Park, Maine
Acadia National Park is one of the most popular parks for leaf peeping. The area boasts a mix of stunning evergreens and hardwood trees that will satisfy the yearnings of even the most avid leaf chasers. To take in the scenery, bike or hike the quaint old roadways that stretch for miles both inside and outside the park’s borders.
They traverse through beautiful hardwood forests, exposing the area’s untamed beauty. You can also attempt the granite peaks or just relax and enjoy the scenery from your campsite. There are three campsites here, and the best time to visit is in early October when the leaves are nearing their peak.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina
With over 100 species of native trees and leaves changing from deep greens to gorgeous hues of red, yellow, and orange, the Smoky Mountains Park is a top destination for viewing fall foliage. You’ll find countless places to enjoy stunning views, from the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail, Blue Ridge Parkway, to walking routes like the Lower Mount Cammerer trail.
The optimal time to marvel at fall foliage in the park is anywhere from mid-October to early November. There are around 10 developed campgrounds throughout the park, with amenities like restrooms, running water, and flush toilets.
White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire
Each fall, White Mountain National Forest puts on its own dazzling display of color. In fact, there are few places in the entire country where autumn is so spectacular, no wonder it was recently ranked as the best destination for fall foliage.
Apart from the flaming leaves along the Kancamagus Highway, you can observe wildlife like moose, explore small caves, discover a waterfall, admire blue lakes, or go antique shopping in the nearby towns. Peak leaf-peeping season is in full effect from the end of September through the second week of October. Campsites range from developed to primitive sites.
Taos, New Mexico
When it comes to leaf peeping in the Southwest, Taos must be the epicenter of autumn colors. This is the reason, so many painters and artists make this area their home. Here, the imposing Sangre de Cristo mountains awe with vibrant pockets of aspen groves bursting into a sunset-inspired wonder of yellows and oranges.
You’ll love the lovely weather and the host of activities in the area. Some popular pastimes include hiking, fishing, mountain biking, horseback riding, golfing, rafting, and hot air balloon trips. One must-visit place is the Taos Ski Valley. Color change here is best witnessed in October. Agua Piedra Campground in Carson National Forest is ideal for camping among painted trees.
Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison National Forests, Colorado
Another of the prettiest places for fall tent camping is Gunnison National Forest. Trails like the Dallas Divide and Kebler Pass provide an unmatched opportunity for experiencing the true beauty of fall in the forest.
There’s a lot to keep you thoroughly entertained, as the area features over 3,000 miles of hiking and biking trails, four byways for soaking in the landscape from your vehicle, six commanding peaks, 56 designated campsites, and nearly 4,000 miles of perennial streams. The region’s leaves start putting on a show in late September or early October.
Ludington State Park, Michigan
The rolling landscape of Ludington is a fantastic place to see a riot of fall colors. Hues of brilliant red, yellow, and orange grace the branches of aspens, elms, oaks, and maples, set amidst other evergreen trees. To observe nature’s colorful bounty, there are over 20 miles of trails that meander around forests, dunes, marshes, and beaches.
Beyond leaf peeping, you can paddle board on the white waters of Lake Michigan, swim in Hamlin Lake, explore a canoe trail, tube down the Sable River, discover a picturesque lighthouse, or observe bird life. The park is home to three campgrounds and more than 300 sites.
One more place to pitch your tent for fall exploration is Moab. It may be a desert landscape, but each autumn, the area explodes in a dazzling display of flaming colors. On top of the arboreal brilliance, there is an abundance of sandstone rocks that change colors.
Moab has a renowned outdoor scene, so you can rest assured you won’t have a shortage of things to do and see. You can explore the network of trails on foot or bike, go rafting on the Colorado River, ride the Moab zipline, try canyoneering, stargaze, or attend one of the local festivals. Leaf peeping season runs from late September until the end of October.
Create Fond Autumn Memories with a Fall Camping Trip
There you have it, our selection of the best tent camping destinations for fall foliage in the country. Visit any of the above getaways this autumn, and you’ll witness landscapes ablaze with yellows, oranges, and reds. Plus, these retreats have a host of activities to keep you engaged.
And after a long day on the trails, you deserve a good night’s rest. Invest in our quality sleeping pad to wake up fresh and ready for the next day’s challenge.