Fall Camping is Calling
Most of us don’t get as much time away as we’d like, often blowing our entire vacation day balance between June and August when days are long and the kids are out of school. But if you’re an avid camper/backpacker - one who’s not keen on blazing temps and overstuffed car-camping loops - summer excursions can be less than ideal. Crowded national parks and maxed out trail quotas are just a couple of mild annoyances this time of year, especially if you’re dying for some solitude and privacy away from the hustle-and-bustle of the city and everyday distractions like smartphones and social media.
And yet if you do have the option of postponing your trip past Labor Day, fall camping offers all the same summer benefits minus the heat, crowds and noise. Plus, you’ll also experience a breathtaking array of fall colors brought on by the changing seasons, all while sipping warm cider beside a cozy campfire.
Here’s our short list of some of the best fall camping spots around. So read on!
Gifford Woods State Park – Nestled at the base of Killington and Pico peaks, Gifford Woods offers some of the best autumn foliage anywhere in the Northeast. With its close proximity to both the Appalachian and Long trails, the park remains a popular destination for hikers and boasts one of the few old-growth hardwood stands in the entire state. Accommodations include 4 cabins, 22 tent/RV sites and 20 lean-to sites spread over two camping loops.
Grayson Highlands State Park – Like Gifford Woods, Grayson Highlands State Park is suitable for both tent and RV campers and sits at an elevation of 4, 250 feet. Visitors can enjoy scenery ranging from expansive vistas overlooking nearby Mount Rogers and Whitetop Mountain, craggy outcroppings, tumbling waterfalls and streams. The 1.6 mile Twin Pinnacles Trail begins at the visitor center before reaching the highest point in the park, making it an ideal vantage point to take in fall colors.
Ledges State Park – Located 15 miles east of Ames, this Iowa gem offers a mixture of prairies, woodlands, sandstone cliffs and clearings. Forests of oak, hickory, maple and basswood give autumn enthusiasts plenty to take in, especially if done from the Central State Park bike route – a 91-mile path connecting Ledges with Big Creek State Park and Springbrook State Park. The park also offers 4 miles of hiking trails.
Anza-Borrego Desert State Park – Known primarily for its springtime wildflower blooms and rugged desert landscape, Anza-Borrego makes a prime fall camping destination thanks to cooler temps (mid-70s during the day to mid-50s overnight) and next to no crowds. As the largest state park in California, Anza-Borrego boasts 12 wilderness areas, five hundred miles of dirt roads and numerous hiking trails to ensure visitors achieve every bit the level of solitude they require during their vacation.