Did you know that there are 419 national parks in the United States? Even during the pandemic, there are a variety of fall spots where couples and families can watch the fall leaves change colors in the midday sun.
Fall is a great season to pack up the RV and take an extended camping trip, as there are fewer crowds, cooler temperatures, and some of the most beautiful foliage of the year that the entire family can admire all day long. Here are the top five destinations to go chase fall colors.
When Should You Plan to Leave?
The key to watching the foliage in the fall is viewing the leaves at their peak colors, but before they begin to fall off trees. The general rule of thumb to keep in mind is that leaves will start to change colors earlier in cooler regions, including northern and mountainous areas of the country. Leaves in Canada begin to change when the weather cools down, then the process continues into the United States in two major waves.
The first is a linear wave, running along the Rocky Mountain Range, where leaves at the peaks of the mountains change first. This wave spreads to the east and west. On the opposite coast, another wave spreads south across the Midwest and New England.
Trees along the Appalachian Range change earlier in the season, then the wave cascades down to the southern states, which hold the last lingering fall colors. Most leaves in the country will reach their peak in October, but this time frame is short and varies in different regions. Weather also plays a factor, drier and cooler days and nights will bring about the fullest and most exotic colors.
White Mountains, New Hampshire
We really enjoyed the fall season when we drove along the 34-mile Kancamagus Scenic Byway. We parked our RV on one end of the highway and drove our truck along the Kancamagus. You can opt to drive the entire byway if you choose without stopping or you can stop on the outlooks like we did and admire the different trails, views, and waterfalls.
If your RV is not as large as ours, you can stay right on the scenic byway in one of the campgrounds. There are 6 White Mountain National Forest campgrounds right on the byway. These campgrounds all have drinking water, bathrooms, picnic tables, and an open fireplace and they do not accept reservations. They are on a first-come, first-served basis.
We chose to stay at Maple Haven Campground because we had full hookups and it was close enough to the Kancamagus Highway. We definitely enjoyed staying at this campground, they had great customer service and nice RV spots.
Asheville, North Carolina
On top of being a beautiful fall destination, Asheville boasts the Blue Ridge Parkway, widely considered to be one of the most scenic drives in the entire country, especially in the fall. North Carolina is also home to Grandfather Mountain and the Mile High swinging Mountains, two destinations that are popular among tourists because of their vibrant, swaying leaves in September and October.
You can also drive an hour from Asheville to visit the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, one of the most popular parks in the entire country. North Carolina is truly pictorial and serene in the fall.
Vermont holds a special place in our hearts because it is where we got engaged. If you visit Vermont in the fall, you can drive along the Mt. Mansfield Auto Toll road to get the best views of the area or go for a hike along the many trails of the state. The deeper into the forest you go, the more scenery and serene wildlife you’ll get to see and share with your kids or significant other.
Most fun of all, Vermont offers hot air balloon rides and a chance to zip-line through the foliage, an awesome experience for the whole family. If you love heights as I do, there’s no better feeling than zipping along through the air, watching the beautiful trees and forest of the area whoosh by you as you fly. If you’re afraid of heights, you can always see the wonderful colors of the many natural lakes and rivers in the area via a kayak or canoe.
Upper Peninsula of Michigan
One of the first places Luis got to experience fall was in the UP (Upper Peninsula of Michigan). One year after we started RVing we took a last-minute trip to the UP after visiting our friends in lower Michigan and them telling us about it. We are so glad we decided to go because we had the opportunity to see the leaves changing during the month we spent there exploring.
We did an entire loop around the Upper Peninsula and stayed in several different casinos and some RV parks. Believe it or not, many casinos had full hookups or at least an electric hookup available. We used Campendium to help us choose where to stay and we left quite a few reviews with some pictures sharing where we stayed on their site.
Willamette Valley, Oregon
Perhaps you and your family like to take in nature with others and share in the scenic beauty of the land. If this is the case, you can always travel to Willamette Valley, where you can participate in a number of harvest and fall activities prevalent in the area. This valley is a fertile and tranquil place, running alongside the Willamette River which stretches from the Cascade Mountains of Eugene all the way to Portland. The valley is nearly one-hundred and fifty miles long; it’s filled with beautiful farmland, orchards, and vineyards which are great for stopping by and tasting the bounties the land provides each year.
You can hide or drive the valley because even the road offers a scenic route with abundant trees and other natural landforms. There are detours too, which lead to the foothills where there’s even more foliage. If you’re looking for a more public activity, you can join one of the fall festivals hosted nearly every weekend in September and October, which provide endless opportunities to sip on the local beer and wine while fully enjoying nature’s harvest.
Ready to Experience Fall Colors?
There are many fall destinations that are perfect for couples and families in their RV. Whether you go to New Hampshire, North Carolina, Vermont, the UP, or Oregon, there’s plenty to see and take in along the way, no matter which route you choose to take.
Writing and talking about it does not come close to experiencing fall. With that said make sure you get out there and experience fall colors before winter is here. It is a perfect time to pack up the RV and go collect some memories with your family. Don’t forget to have the camera ready to capture the beauty of mother nature as it transforms to different shades of yellow, orange, and red.
Where is your favorite place to visit when you want to experience fall?