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The dog days of summer have us dreaming of crisp autumn air, leaf peeping, and camping. We asked TravelAwaits contributors to tell us about their favorite spots for fall foliage. Some shared nearby campgrounds, so we scoped out a couple of RVs you can rent in each autumnal destination. Here are the 16 most beautiful places to see fall foliage in the U.S. this year, according to our writers.
“The White Mountains of New Hampshire are probably the Granite State’s most famous spot for viewing fall foliage — for good reason,” TravelAwaits contributor Kara Williams tells us. “The scenic drive along the Kancamagus Highway is among the country’s most gorgeous areas for admiring blankets of bright orange, golden yellow, and fiery red leaves in autumn,” she says.
“If you’re looking for a fall RV vacation destination that might have slightly fewer visitors in September and October, consider the Lakes Region,” Williams recommends, “This area in the central part of the state is home to Lake Winnepesaukee, New Hampshire’s largest body of water. Here you’ll also find scenic Squam Lakes, where On Golden Pond was filmed. Whether you’re driving around the lakes, strolling through small towns like Meredith or Wolfeboro, seeking out covered bridges, taking a scenic boat cruise, or hiking in the area’s mountains, you’ll likely be able to enjoy pretty changing leaves. Keep up with where and when leaves are peaking with the state tourist association’s online foliage tracker.”
Williams suggests checking out “the campground in Ellacoya State Park sits on the edge of Lake Winnipesaukee in the small town of Gilford. It has 37 RV campsites with electrical, sewer, and water hookups.”
“While Shenandoah National Park is only a 75-mile drive from America’s capital, it’s a world away from the Washington, D.C. metropolis,” says Williams. “The Virginia national park is composed of more than 200,000 acres of stunning vistas of the Blue Ridge Mountains, gorgeous fields of wildflowers, and dozens of hikes for all abilities.
On an autumn cross-country RV road trip, my husband and I landed in Shenandoah National Park just as fall colors were erupting at the beginning of October. From the moment we entered the park and started motoring along Skyline Drive, our jaws dropped at all the incredible mountain views, and we frequently pulled over in our 32-foot motorhome to snap photos,” she remembers.
“If you have your heart set on staying in a Shenandoah National Park campground on a fall weekend, you’ll want to try to book in advance, as spots fill up fast. You could also test your luck and shoot for a first-come, first-serve day-of campsite, which is what my husband and I did in the centrally located Big Meadows Campground
Our home for two nights in this wooded area served as a great base for hiking. We were able to hop on one trail, the Lewis Falls Loop, right from our campsite. Trailheads for other popular day hikes, such as the Stony Man and the Upper Hawksbill, are just a short, scenic drive away,” shares Williams.
“If you are looking for a unique spot to find a rainbow of fall foliage colors this season, consider the Tri-Cities of Tennessee as your destination,” suggests TravelAwaits contributor Melody Pittman. “Activities range from seeing a NASCAR race at the Bristol Motor Speedway, hiking, boating, golf, and fishing at the pristine 950-acre Warriors Path State Park to exploring the fantastic Jonesborough Historic District nearby. Appalachian GhostWalks might also tickle your fancy.
Pittman has plenty of suggestions for how to spend your time in the Tri-Cities: “Fall screams cider to me, and you can have a delicious one at Gypsy Circus Cider Company in Kingsport. Bring the grandkids and hit the mazes and pumpkin patches, a drive-in movie at the Twin City Drive-In Theatre, and eat pastries from Blackbird Bakery. Drive to Tannery Knobs for the ultimate panoramic pictures of Johnson City and the Blue Ridge Mountains.”
“We found the most lovely RV park,” remarks Pittman, “Rocky Top Campground & RV Park in Blountville, nestled in a beautiful country setting, with close proximity to Bristol, Johnson City, and Kingsport. The campground has a homey feel with privacy and allows fire pits, something we’ve learned is not a given in RV life. You can choose between cabins and RV and tent sites.”
Land Between the Lakes, or LBL for short, is a national recreation area that straddles the border between Kentucky and Tennessee a couple of hours northeast of Nashville,” TravelAwaits contributor Robyne Stevenson asserts. “The recreation area sits between the Cumberland River and Kentucky Lake and Dam. It became national land when the government built the hydropower dam,” she says.
“Today there are campgrounds, boating access, hiking, and the reintroduction of buffalo and elk to the area inside a wildlife sanctuary. This is a beautiful drive on the 50-mile Woodlands Trace National Scenic Byway through hilly country, across tributaries, and even through the sanctuary where the wildlife is very close to your vehicle. In the fall, the trees turn brilliant shades of red and gold making a beautiful landscape. You can visit the Homeplace 1850s Working Farm and Living History Museum in the national area too. At the southern end of the area in Tennessee, you’ll find Civil War historical sites at the Fort Donelson National Battlefield,” says Stevenson.
“Interstate 24 runs east to west across the northern boundary. Get off at Grand Rivers to catch the Byway. There are plenty of campgrounds in the Recreation Area as well as the Kentucky Dam Village State Resort with camping on the west side of the dam. In the Recreation Area, there are several campgrounds including Hillman Ferry that offers family-style full hookups or stay at more rustic and remote sites on some of the lakefront coves along the Cumberland River. I stayed at Energy Lake Campground and found it captivating. October is your best month to see fall colors.
“My absolute favorite destination for doing a little fall foliage leaf peeping is Cheaha State Park in the town of Delta, Alabama,” TravelAwaits contributor Joe Cuhaj tells us. “The park is located atop the state’s highest mountain, the 2,144-foot-tall Cheaha Mountain, the centerpiece of the beautiful Talladega National Forest. Within the park, there are many locations where you can peer out over the rolling Southern Appalachians for its spectacular breathtaking views of Autumn in all of its glory.
The best sites within the park include Bald Rock which can be accessed via a short ADA-accessible boardwalk and a short, but rugged, little rock-strewn hike to Pulpit Rock which hangs out over the mountains and forest below.
For more glorious fiery fall foliage, travel the Skyway Motorway, a 100-mile long roadway that traverses the ridges of the national forest from the town of Piedmont to Cheaha State Park. The two-lane highway (also called the Talladega Scenic Byway) has been described as “Alabama’s answer to the Blue Ridge Parkway” with numerous pull-offs along the route where you can look down and get lost in incredible views of the hardwood forests below and the brilliant reds, oranges, and yellows of fall.
The Alabama Department of Tourism has set up a handy online fall foliage color tracker that provides the percentage of color you can expect throughout the season,” he says.
Cheaha State Park features the perfect campgrounds for RV campers. There are 77 recently remodeled sites in the park’s upper and lower campgrounds including four ADA-accessible sites. Each site has water and sewer hookups, 20, 30, and 50 amp electric hookups, picnic tables, grill, and fire ring plus clean and fully renovated (and heated) bathhouses.
“Cheaha is one of the state’s most popular parks so make your reservations early, warns Cuhaj, “Campgrounds fill up quickly when the fall racing season begins at the nearby Talladega Superspeedway. Check their schedule for race dates to help you plan accordingly.”
“After a year of full-time RV life, I can easily say that one of our best fall experiences was in Pelahatchie, MS, about 30 minutes outside Jackson,” Pittman pronounces.
“Pelahatchie is where you’ll find the Jellystone Park Pelahatchie, a family-friendly getaway to enjoy camping, RV life, cabin rentals, and the best of Halloween and fall fun,” says Pittman. “Think s’mores, wagon rides, a Fall Country Carnival weekend, and six weekends of Halloween haunts. Though near empty during weekdays (we loved having the park all to ourselves), the weekends are gangbusters, chock full of families who go all out decorating. Jellystone offers prize giveaways (including free stays) for the winners and has the massive campground property decorated to the hilt. Then, there is the highly popular Halloween Trail or Terror, which sells out quickly.
If you’ve ever loved decorating for Halloween, Jellystone Park Pelahatchie is the place for you. I kid you not when I say some people brought a U-Haul full of decorations for this highly anticipated event,” she attests.
Little Rock, Arkansas, proved to be a fun fall foliage destination,” according to Pittman. “The downtown is lined with gorgeous ginkgo Biloba trees, which turn a stunning shade of gold in the fall. We stayed a few weeks at the lovely wooded Little Rock North/Jct. I-40 KOA Journey to enjoy the local sights — the Clinton Presidential Library and Museum, the Old Mill (from the Gone with the Wind film), and Little Rocktoberfest fall festival with a stadium of craft beer. Our KOA was decorated nicely and put us in the fall mood upon arrival,” she recalls.
“Something I recommend about Little Rock is using this as the base camp to have a day or multi-day trip to Eureka Springs,” says Pittman. “We did not want to tow our RV up the steep hills, so we chose a road trip instead. Eureka Springs will take your breath away. Fall is the best time to visit and hike with the town decorated in flowers, pumpkins, and the gorgeous Ozark Mountains. Mid-October to early November is the optimal time to visit. Perhaps you will want to stay overnight at the Crescent Hotel and Spa, the most haunted hotel in America. You can also take a tour of the historic property.”
Pro Tip:Petit Jean State Park is about an hour outside Little Rock and one of the top spots for fall foliage,” she divulges.
According to TravelAwaits contributor Amy Piper, “Ludington, Michigan is a great place to explore the area’s lumber heritage in the fall. Ludington State Park offers tree-filled trails ablaze with crimson, amber, and tangerine. You can enjoy the autumn colors just by hiking the 21 miles of trails that go through forests, over dunes, and wetlands. In addition, the 1.8-mile walk to the Big Sable Point Lighthouse is a pretty trek year-round.
If you prefer to drive the back roads to enjoy the colors, follow one of the six Cultural Trails Ludington offers, such as The Agricultural Trail, the Barn Quilt Trail, the Lumber Heritage Trail, the Music Trail, the Sculpture Trail, and the Maritime Heritage Trail. In addition, they have combined individual sites featured on these trails to create a Fall Color Tour.
Pro Tip: After all that hiking, you’ll want to treat yourself. Try the House of Flavors in downtown Ludington for a meal or just some ice cream.”
Ludington State Park sits between the shores of Lake Michigan and Hamlin Lake in Ludington, Michigan,” Piper informs us. “It offers three campgrounds suitable for RV camping. The Beechwood Campground near Hamlin Lake primarily features generous-sized shaded sites with larger trees. It is an excellent fall campground to sit amongst the fall color, however, it is under construction and is not taking reservations for the remainder of the 2022 season.
The Cedar Campground is an open, sunny campground with 106 sites, including eight tent-only sites with no electricity.
Finally, the Pines Campground near Lake Michigan has 99 heavily shaded, modestly-sized sites,” Piper remarks.
“When it comes to fall color camping or RVing in Minnesota, it’s hard to beat our state parks,” according to TravelAwaits contributor Joan Sherman. “Gooseberry Falls State Park on our rugged ‘North Shore’ and Itasca State Park, home to the headwaters of the Mississippi River, are two beautiful choices,” she shares.
“Gooseberry Falls State Park is renowned on Minnesota’s North Shore for spectacular scenery along Lake Superior,” says Sherman, “Fall color comes alive in the park’s 1,700 acres of aspen and birch forests set amid evergreen constancy. There’s plenty of fall color hiking amid the sound of rushing waterfalls here, courtesy of the Gooseberry River. From the ample parking at the visitor center, walk along the falls via a short accessible trail to the Upper or Middle Falls. If you want more exercise, the longer one-mile Falls Loops Trail is a good option. Otherwise, you could pack a picnic lunch for the Picnic Flow area (an ancient lava flow) for views of Lake Superior, rugged and beautiful in every season.”
Pro Tip: “At all Minnesota state parks, you’ll need a state park vehicle permit,” Sherman warns, “Buy one online or at the park.”
“If you like biking, try the off-road, paved Gitchi-Gami State Trail,” she suggests. “From the trailhead near the campground, you can ride 15 miles north to the town of Beaver Bay and back again for beautiful (although sometimes, hilly) views of the lake, colorful aspen and birch forests, and Lake Superior shoreline (with some beach access).”
Pro Tip: “Before you go, download the Gooseberry Falls Go mobile app so you’ll have the park at your fingertips,” she suggests.
“In the land of 10,000 lakes, the 32,500-acre Itasca State Park contains some 100 lakes and is the oldest state park in Minnesota,” Sherman explains. “While this park has great hiking, canoeing, and kayaking on Lake Itasca, the popular Mississippi Headwaters on the north end of the park steal the show.
Start at the Mary Gibbs Mississippi Headwaters Center for a short (900 feet) walk to the Headwaters of the Mississippi River. There’s nothing like wading or rock-stepping your way (watch your footing) across the small stream that eventually becomes the mighty Mississippi, flowing 2,300-plus miles to the Gulf of Mexico.
Pro Tip: Don’t miss the chance to take your photo by the iconic post right at the headwaters. It’s a bit of a novelty for more than just location. The 1930s historical marker credits the river’s mileage at 2,552 miles, but since then, the river has been changed (shortened) by flooding and channeling, so the 2,300-plus figure is accurate.
If you’re feeling ambitious and would like a bird’s eye view of the fall color, park at the Aiton Heights Fire Tower parking lot and walk half a mile along the gravel/grass (and somewhat hilly) Aiton Heights Fire Tower Trail through a maple-basswood forest. You’ll pass three lakes (Mary, Allen, and Kasey), then you can climb the 100-foot-high fire tower for panoramic views of the Lake Itasca area,” Sherman says.
“Set against the fall colors of central Iowa, the Bridges of Madison County seem like a scene out of a Norman Rockwell painting,” relates TravelAwaits contributor Tim Trudell. “The colors — red, orange, yellow, and brown — pop off the maples, oaks, and aspens that call the Winterset area home. My wife and I love visiting the Bridges of Madison County and enjoy meeting friends there for a weekend of exploration and camaraderie.
With six covered bridges, Madison County serves as Iowa’s covered bridge capital. The Hogback Bridge is perfect for fall viewing, spanning a shallow creek, as it establishes a beautiful setting against the changing colors. While each bridge is the star of its location, Hogback offers one of the best fall views. A six-mile drive from town, the 97-foot-long bridge was built in 1884. Another covered bridge that stands out is Holliwell. Located about four miles east of town, Holliwell Bridge is easily accessed via gravel roads. Stretching 122 feet, the bridge makes for an impressive photo opportunity with the autumn colors behind it.
“With the best time for fall foliage beginning in mid-September, trying to pin down the exact time to visit is always a challenge. As you plan your trip, check EcoWatch for peak foliage. Combine your covered bridges tour with the annual Covered Bridges Festival on October 8-9, 2022. The festival features a parade, quilt show, tractor rides, and vendors. While in Winterset, visit the Iowa Quilt Museum with dozens of hand-sewn coverings on exhibit, as well as the John Wayne Birthplace and Museum,” Trudell tells us.
“When the weather grows cooler in September, Aspen is ablaze in its namesake yellow trees,” Williams attests. “I grew up in New England, accustomed to fiery orange and red changing leaves, but there’s something very striking and special about the stunning patches of bright yellow amid dark evergreen trees in the area’s mountains. Mother Nature does beautiful work in the Colorado Rockies, for sure! 
Area road trips from Aspen to view the best displays of golden aspens include driving curvy Independence Pass to the top of the Continental Divide.
Pro Tip: Vehicles over 35 feet long are prohibited, so this drive is only possible if you’re towing a car or in a smaller camper.
Other great nearby spots to view the beautiful gold leaves are Castle Creek Drive to the ghost town of Ashcroft, and further afield along Highway 133 from Carbondale to Redstone and beyond to the top of McClure Pass. Also, consider booking a shuttle reservation to the famous Maroon Bells twin peaks,” says Williams.
Difficult Campground is set amid trees in the White River National Forest at 8,180 feet in elevation southeast of Aspen,” Williams says, “It has 47 non-electric campsites that can accommodate vehicles up to 40 feet long.”
“Fall is a time of glorious weather in Arizona’s high country,” TravelAwaits contributor Cindy Barks remarks. “Owing to its altitudes that soar to the 6,500-to-9,000-foot-plus range, the White Mountains are always considerably cooler than the lowland deserts of the Phoenix and Tucson areas.
Interspersed with the mountains’ pine and fir trees are lovely stands of white-barked aspens and thickets of Gambel oaks. In late September and early October, the changing colors of the aspens and oaks alternate with the evergreen pines, creating a striking green-and-gold patchwork landscape,” she states.
Lyman Lake sits at just under 6,000 feet elevation and has summer high temperatures in the 90s and fall highs in the 70s and 80s,” according to Barks, “The park website notes that the warm, sunny days make Lyman “perfect for fishing, swimming, leisure boating, waterskiing, hiking, or just relaxing. Along with its varied activities, the Springerville-area state park also offers camping and rental cabins.”
“At the base of the San Francisco Peaks, Flagstaff lies at the highest elevation in the state,” TravelAwaits contributor Emese Fromm informs us. “In stark contrast with much of Arizona, covered by desert, forests surround the city. Most of its trees are evergreen, but large aspen colonies add color to the surroundings.
This makes Flagstaff a perfect year-round destination and a favorite of Phoenix residents in the summer. It is fall that best highlights its natural beauty, with its stunning autumn colors rivaling those of the country’s most popular fall foliage destinations.
Visiting Flagstaff in the fall should focus on walks through the aspen colonies, but the city has lots more to offer. From a walk in the historic center to a chairlift ride to the top of the San Francisco Peaks, visits to the surrounding national parks, and looking through telescopes at the Lowell Observatory, you’ll find plenty to do on your fall weekend in the city,” she says.
“Nature has blessed the Pacific Northwest with an abundance of forests,” TravelAwaits contributor Jo-Anne Bowen relates. “Trees such as alder, bigleaf maple, aspen, and cottonwood put on an autumn splendor of yellow, orange, and red. My favorite location to enjoy fall leaf peeping is the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, one of the gems of the Pacific Northwest,” she says.
“Begin your journey in Vancouver, Washington, and head east along Highway 14,” Bowen suggests, “Follow the north shore of the Mighty Columbia River for 32 miles to Beacon Rock State Park, a year-round camping park of over 4,000 acres and 26 miles of roads and trails which beckons one to hike and bike in the splendors of the fall. Beacon Rock is an 848-foot basalt volcanic plug. Use the park as a base and explore the surrounding small cities of Stevenson and White Salmon. The park is pretty year-round but especially in the fall with its autumn colors.”
TravelAwaits contributor Carol Colborn had a few favorite fall foliage spots to share, all within Anchorage: “Just at the southern end of the Anchorage Coastal Wildlife Refuge is Potter Marsh bird sanctuary, just 15 minutes from the center of the city. It is an ideal pastime for bird watchers, especially during bird migration time. Visitors can leisurely walk the Turnagain Arm, a wooden boardwalk that winds 1,550 feet from the parking area through the marshland habitat.
We saw geese feeding off the fish, mallards resting on fallen tree trunks, eagles hovering in the sky, and white swans gracefully gliding on mini ponds. Indeed, at least 130 bird species have been sighted here. Even moose are sometimes seen in the swamp. The thing I loved the most was the panoramic view it offers of Anchorage and the mountains. A forest of cottonwoods, birch, and spruce rim the open area, creating a portal to the woodlands. During fall, the colors make it easily the best scenic viewpoint around,” she shares.
“On our second visit to Anchorage, we went to the Eagle River Nature Center, 40 minutes from the city center,” Colborn tells us. “It has 10 miles of hiking trails in the river valley of the Chugach State Park. We paid a small parking fee and chose to walk the easy 0.75 miles of Rodak Trail. With lovely fall foliage all around, glacially-carved mountain faces, a running fresh river, and two wooden viewing decks, the explorer Mendenhall has called the valley ‘a miniature Yosemite.’ At Mile 12, you will find the log cabin where nature programs are conducted by the small nonprofit organization operating this picturesque mountain setting,” she says.
Pro Tip: “Twenty minutes away is the Eagle River Campground with 57 RV sites,” Coborn informs us.
“We spotted this lake from the highway while we were on the way down from the Eagle River Nature Center, Mile 24 of the new Glenn Highway,” Colborn recalls. “It is indeed a mirror lake, the water beautifully reflecting the birches and other trees. The fall season made the whole scene extraordinary. There was even a Filipino father and son fishing. It turns out it is their favorite fishing spot because it is regularly stocked by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. Its mean depth is more than 6 feet, it has a shoreline length of 1.4 miles, and even has a day-use picnic area and covered pavilion,” she says.
Pro Tip: “Just five minutes from the lake is Bobby’s RV Park,” according to Colborn.
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Laura Ray has lived in Atlanta, the Bay Area, SoCal, and Austin. After moving from Texas, she and her husband rambled about the Midwest in a camper for a couple of years before finally settling on 35 acres in their home state of Kentucky. When she isn’t clacking around on the keyboard (cat in lap), you can find her practicing yoga, gardening, or playing the ukulele. In addition to writing for Quillt sites such as SeniorsMatter.com and Oola.com, she’s also written for Zumper.com and served as Oola’s editor before becoming a Content Strategist for TravelAwaits. This travel-lover’s favorite destinations include Italy, the Greek isles, and Kentucky Lake.

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