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Summer is undoubtedly a popular time for RV trips, but many RV campers have their best experiences in the months that follow. Fall is a great time to visit some of the most scenic locations in North America, so we’re bringing you the best places to put on this year’s list.
10 Best RV Trip Ideas for Fall: Start Planning Your Trip Now
Many of the best RV trip routes for fall will take campers along the United States’ northern border. You’ll also find a wide selection of excellent campsites on both sides of the Rocky Mountains and even a few in America’s South and Southwest. No matter where you start your journey, you’ll find a great destination on our list.
1. Yellowstone National Park
The iconic American park is stunning year-round, and there is a special charm to visiting it in autumn. The mountain peaks begin to catch snow, and the foliage under the treeline starts to transform into beautiful hues of red and orange. Yellowstone is huge – you can visit from Wyoming, Montana, or Idaho – and contains enough land to warrant multiple trips throughout every season.
Plan on visiting from mid-October to November to catch the best autumn colors. Campgrounds may be full, so be sure to plan your trip in advance.
2. Great Smoky Mountains
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is famous for its serene landscapes and fall foliage. Located in Tennessee, the park is right next to the tourist-friendly town of Gatlinburg. If you’re looking to avoid crowds, you can skip the town and go straight into the backcountry with your RV.
Mid-October is the best time to visit, especially if you plan on sticking to lower elevations. Higher elevations can get cold quickly, so be sure to prepare for your trip beforehand.
3. Acadia National Park
One of the best places to experience an East-Coast autumn is in Maine’s Acadia National Park. Located off the Atlantic coast, the area offers picturesque views and minimal crowds. RVers will find numerous campgrounds in and around the park and can even visit Mount Desert Island, a unique biological reserve and one of the largest islands on the eastern seaboard.
Acadia National Park and Mount Desert Island feature numerous quaint villages with much to offer the traveling tourist. Plan on staying a few nights in the town of Bar Harbor for a unique look at local culture.
4. Steamboat Springs, Colorado
Located in Colorado’s Yampa Valley, Steamboat Springs is a small mountain town that offers visitors breathtaking views and year-round hot springs. While the state is generally better known for its ski resorts, Steamboat Springs offers something special for autumn RVers. Plentiful hiking, biking, and fishing spots make this one of the best places to camp out this fall.
If you plan on visiting the mineral water hot springs, you can make this trip during early or late fall. Hikers and fishers will want to stick to October and early November for the best experience.
5. Willamette Valley, Oregon
Willamette Valley is a 150-mile-long valley in the Pacific Northwest, just south of Portland. It follows the Willamette River down towards the Calapooya Mountains and features some of the West Coast's best autumn festivals. Wine festivals are particularly popular in the region, which is well-known for its vineyards, and autumn is the high season for them – you’ll find a new one every week.
These festivals typically take place between October and November, and they slow down as winter approaches. Plan your trip around the early months of fall for the best experience.
6. Torreya State Park
You might not think of Florida as the perfect autumn getaway, but Torreya State Park is a great choice for RVers in the American South. The park is located right on the southern edge of the Appalachian Mountains, making it a key transition from the Florida Panhandle to the rugged mountainous areas just to its north. As a result, it features a variety of ecosystems, from swamps to pinelands, often right next to one another.
With so many ecosystems to visit, Torreya State Park is a great choice for early to late fall. You may even extend your trip into winter and travel south to explore the rest of the Sunshine state.
7. Sedona, Arizona
States with four seasons are undoubtedly popular fall destinations, but deserts make an excellent choice as well. Sedona is one of Arizona’s most beautiful destinations, and fall is one of the best times to visit. In autumn, Sedona visitors can enjoy some of Arizona’s finest hiking trails without having to face the extreme heat of summer. You can also visit the Grand Canyon Railway nearby and enjoy some of its unique fall activities.
Temperatures remain high throughout October and start to cool off in November. Thanks to its dry desert climate, Sedona is an excellent destination even well into December.
8. Yosemite Valley
Yosemite Valley is one of California’s most popular destinations, and for good reason. Yosemite offers breathtaking views and excellent hiking opportunities throughout the entire year, and autumn is no different. Yosemite is popular with climbers, especially those who prefer to avoid summer crowds. Nevertheless, certain campsites can fill up quickly, so be sure to plan your Yosemite trip in time.
By the time December rolls around, Yosemite is close to freezing. Early autumn is the best time to explore one of America’s most iconic national parks, but later visitors may appreciate the absence of crowds.
9. Shawnee National Forest
The Shawnee National Forest is located in Illinois. It contains five different state parks, each with its own campgrounds and hiking trails. There are various rock structures, waterfalls, rivers, and natural bridges dotting the landscape, making this one of the best RV trips for autumn campers in the Midwest.
Shawnee National Forest is great for early and mid-autumn visits. The later you plan your visit, the smaller the crowds will be, but photographers will want to catch autumn leaves in mid-October.
10. Chippewa National Forest
Northern Minnesota is home to an exceptionally beautiful area, appropriately called the “Edge of the Wilderness Resort.” Located in the township of Marcell, Minnesota, the resort area is tucked neatly inside the Chippewa National Forest. It features 11 different properties with unique amenities and operations. RVers can comfortably travel the entire 47-mile scenic byway and camp along the way, stopping at Grand Rapids and Effie.
Chippewa National Forest gets cold quickly, so plan your visit for the early months of autumn. The Forest Service website has a useful Fall Color Report for planning your trip – peak color happens in early October.
Read More: 5 Tips to Elevate Your Camping Experience and A Guide to Boondocking!