Acadia National Park

Acadia National Park in the fall may be the most beautiful time of year for a camping trip there. (Photo by Rachel C on Unsplash)

Nature offers respite to many Americans, and the health benefits of a sense of “closeness” to nature can be profound. Hiking, camping, and even spending the day at a forest preserve or park can do a world of good for personal well-being. Those who love camping will attest, autumn is a great time to pack up the tent and head-on-out. Fewer bugs, mild temperatures, and stunning fall foliage are all reasons a person might want to indulge in a little fall romp. Our list of the top five best fall camping destinations in the United States could lead readers to some awesome adventures.

Camping in the fall is a truly magical experience that offers a unique blend of natural beauty and outdoor adventure. As the leaves transform into a breathtaking tapestry of red, orange, and gold, the crisp, cool air creates the perfect backdrop for a memorable outdoor getaway. One of the most enticing aspects of fall camping is the opportunity to escape the crowds that typically flock to campgrounds during the summer months. With fewer people around, you can relish in the tranquility of nature, soak up the serenity of the wilderness, and truly connect with the great outdoors.

Moreover, fall camping opens up a world of activities that are uniquely suited to the season. From hiking through forests adorned with vibrant foliage to roasting marshmallows over a crackling campfire under a star-studded sky, there’s a sense of coziness and nostalgia in the air. The cooler temperatures invite you to snuggle up in warm sleeping bags, sip on hot cocoa, and savor hearty campfire-cooked meals. Fall also brings the added excitement of wildlife sightings as animals prepare for the winter months. Whether you’re an experienced camper or a novice looking for a memorable adventure, camping in the fall promises a remarkable and rejuvenating experience in the heart of nature’s autumnal splendor.

Autumn camping in the United States is an excellent way to get back to nature. Take a crisp fall hike and set up camp in the perfect spot. Watch the sunset wash multicolored leaves in golden dusky light. Build a campfire, and with it, new memories to treasure. Whether alone or with companions, the clean air and night sky will greet campers as they venture out to some of the best fall camping that America has to offer. Let us know your favorites in the comments below!

People seated around a campfire
People seated around a campfire (Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash)

The List: Best Fall Camping Destinations, Per Travel Experts

1. Acadia National Park, Maine

The region of Maine that now includes the Acadia National Park has had human inhabitants stretching back 12,000 years and offers a wealth of natural human history in addition to stunning natural beauty. Acadia was declared a national park in 1929 by the U.S. Federal Government. Our Globetrotters loves this park for fall adventures. “Where better to start than in the northeast? The incredible Acadia National Park is one of the premier locations in the U.S. to visit in the fall. The serenity and beauty of the landscape are simply breathtaking. This park has four campgrounds (with over 600 individual sites). Each opens up to over 158-miles-web of hiking trails.”

Acadia National Park
Acadia National Park (Photo by Trevor Hayes on Unsplash)

Trips to Discover raves, “Acadia is an iconic place to be in the fall season and experience the great outdoors in a national park. Leaves begin to get more colorful at the beginning of September, so you can witness the colors for yourself even in the early part of the season. There are [five] campgrounds here, including the Blackwoods Campground, which is ideal for being among the trees and forest.”

Travel + Leisure offers some great details, “The park boasts nearly 50,000 acres of forests, 24 lakes and ponds, and… a scenic backdrop for all your adventures. You’ll also find five campgrounds to set up your tent: Blackwoods (close to Bar Harbor), Seawall (less touristy), Schoodic Woods (situated on the Schoodic Peninsula), Duck Harbor (located on Isle au Haut and only reachable from the mainland by mailboat) and Wildwood Stables (available to guests with stock animals only).”

2. The Catskills, New York

The northeastern United States transforms into a sun dappled panoply of gold and crimson every autumn. Camping in the Catskills can allow adventurers to enjoy the fall beauty beneath the shadow of the mountain. Hipcamp gushes: “Upstate New York doesn’t mess around when it comes to beautiful foliage, and the Catskill Mountains make for prime peeper-viewing during this gorgeous time of year. Whether you hike up a mountain, take a long drive, or attend a fall-themed festival, you’re sure to see amazing foliage in this part of the state.”

A car driving through the Catskill Mountains in the fall
A car driving through the Catskill Mountains in the fall (Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash)

“The Catskills in New York are ideal for all types of campers, whether you’re into relaxing at the campsite or tackling local excursions, and the area ranks among the best fall camping trips for the foliage change. There are plenty of hikes and drives that are perfect for admiring foliage. There are many family-friendly activities in the area as well,” adds Reserve America.

“This dreamy mountain range offers equally dreamy foliage destinations and mountain views — plus an array of farms and villages brimming with fall cheer. See the fall colors from several elevations by hiking Panther Mountain — be sure to stop at Giant Ledge for breathtaking views across the Catskills,” according to KOA.

3. Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee (& North Carolina)

Mountain ranges in the United States offer some of the absolute best camping available. The powerful combination of mountain and forest offers stunning vistas to explore and experience. TAXA Outdoors explains, “Home to 19,000 documented plant and animal species and one of the oldest mountain ranges in the world, the Great Smoky Mountains is a bucket list destination for many nature lovers. Take a scenic drive down Blue Ridge Parkway and explore the expanse of this multi-state range during September. Because tourist season peaks during the summer, the beginning of fall is the best time to visit if you want less crowds and more privacy.”

Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Great Smoky Mountains National Park (Photo by NATHAN MULLET on Unsplash)

“What’s Great About Fall Camping: The Smoky Mountains are some of the most popular camping destinations in the country. The leaves change through the mountains and hills of East Tennessee and North Carolina. It is one of the best ways to experience fall foliage,” claims Getaway Couple.

Virgin Experience Gifts also writes about this awesome area: “Riveting colors flicker through the foliage. Wildlife and waterfalls abound, and wildflowers stick around all year in most spots. Sounds like one of the best places to go camping this fall, right? Agreed! Not only is this popular camping destination a hot spot for a great escape, but it also claims fame as the most bio-diverse park in the U.S.’s national system, sporting FIVE different forest systems in the park.”

4. Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

Wyoming is home to Yellowstone National Park that has enough astounding campsites for its own Top Five Article. Just south of Yellowstone is the Grand Teton National Park, that offers an unbeatable variety of trees and wildlife. Campendium offers, “The fall season in Grand Teton National Park starts in early September and ends in mid-October. While short, those 6 weeks are glorious, often with warm daytime temperatures, sights (and sounds) of rutting elk, uncrowded trails, and even a dusting of snow in the higher elevations.”

A campsite in Grand Teton National Park
A campsite in Grand Teton National Park (Photo by makenzie cooper on Unsplash)

Our Globetrotters adds, “As summer fades into the fall season, the deciduous aspens start changing color from bright green to yellow. Wildlife starts migrating, too, as they seek better places to spend the winter. You cannot miss the bison and elks that come to feed on the lush montane vegetation.”

“The Grand Tetons are stunningly beautiful during any season, but they are uniquely special in the fall. Here you can go rafting, horseback riding, or take a long hike through the mountainous region. Backcountry camping is available if you want to get off the grid. Or you can camp at the developed campgrounds for electric-only hookups and full hookups,” states Trips to Discover.

5. Assateague Island National Seashore, Maryland

Rounding out our list is the gorgeous park at Assateague. Autumn beach camping is an experience that few other nature outings can rival. Travel + Leisure offers details so campers can make plans, “The Assateague Island National Seashore campgrounds are about nine miles south of Ocean City, Maryland, with 37 miles of beaches for camping, swimming, surfing, paddleboarding, crabbing, biking, kayaking, and spotting wild horses. Though Assateague Island National Seashore is located in both Maryland and Virginia, camping is only available on the Maryland side.”

A pitched tent on Assateague Island
A pitched tent on Assateague Island (Photo by Sara Cottle on Unsplash)

“In the mid-Atlantic, fall ushers in cooler weather, less crowded beaches, and beautiful autumn colors in coastal marshes. Assateague Island National Seashore offers up a spectacular fall camping experience, with quieter campgrounds and tree-crowned dunes,” informs Campendium.

Virgin Experience Gifts is enthusiastic about camping in Assateague, “Experience beaches, bands of wild horses, and camping on a barrier island! What more could you ask for from an enchanting fall camping trip?! If that isn’t enough, you can always kayak, go birding, dolphin-watch, and more.”

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