Campground reservations around national parks are highly sought after; go in the height of summer and you’re likely to end up camping miles away unless you’ve planned far enough ahead. But that’s the beauty of a fall adventure van trip. You can snag that coveted spot, the weather is crisp and beautiful, and you get to take in one of nature’s greatest shows. Here are our favorite camping spots to catch some spectacular autumn scenery.
Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area
Camp Taylor, Columbia, NJ
In addition to being about 90 minutes from NYC, this pristine, wooded RV campground is located next door to the Lakota Wolf Preserve. You can tour the preserve and hear the wolves howling at night right from your campsite notes Jeff Crider, Campground liaison for GoRVing.com. Adjacent to the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area and Appalachian Trail, Camp Taylor offer miles of hiking trails. He suggests visiting nearby Marshalls Farm stand for triple smoked bacon — a delicious treat!
What to Pack: A comfortable and warm shirt, like our Performance Flannel is softer than cotton, dries in a snap, and is extremely durable.
Cannonville / Bryce Valley KOA, Tropic, UT
Camp in spectacular and peaceful Bryce Valley, 12 miles from the entrance to Bryce Canyon National Park and nestled between the scenic cliffs of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. After settling in, pull out the camp chairs and watch the sunset light up the plateaus of this national monument. “This campground can be used as a base camp for visits to both Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks,” says Crider. “Zion National Park’s Virgin River Canyon is loaded with cottonwood trees, which turn bright yellow in late fall, usually by late October or early November.”
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Cherokee KOA Cherokee, NC
Set in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains, and in the heart of Cherokee tribal country, the Cherokee KOA boasts 360-degree views of the mountains. This resort-style campground is bordered on one side by the serene Raven Fork River and on the other side by three tribal trout ponds, so there’s a lot of great fishing to be had, says Crider. Be sure to book an RV site overlooking the tribal ponds.
What to Pack: The Long Distance Traveler Pant has plenty of pockets to store fishing gear without being too bulky and is eco-friendly to boot.
Gunnison National Park
Black Canyon Jellystone Park, Montrose, CO
This campground can be used as a base camp for fall foliage trips to Ouray, Silverton, and Telluride as well as excursions to Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. The latter features some of the deepest canyons and craggiest spires in North America according to Crider. Follow US Route 550 from Durango to Ouray, which markets itself as the Switzerland of America. This roadway, which is also known as the Million Dollar Highway, passes through some of the most spectacular mountain scenery in Colorado with thousands of aspen trees showing off their bright gold color.
Acadia National Park
Smugglers Den Campground Southwest Harbor, ME
Located on the quiet side of Mt. Desert Island, Smugglers Den has been owned by the Worcester family since 1969. Right from the campground, you can hike more than 25 miles of trails through Acadia National Forest, notes Crider. Be sure to catch the sunrise from Cadillac Mountain.
Yosemite National Park
There are many campgrounds located in Yosemite Valley itself, but you can also find great Forest Service campgrounds just outside the park, says Crider. Lower Lee Vining Campground is about 3 miles west of Lee Vining on State Route 120. Yosemite Valley has a variety of deciduous trees that boast beautiful fall colors, including live oaks, black oaks, maples and dogwoods, which typically reach their peak in late October and early November. Crider adds: “The aspens in Gibbs Valley, roughly three miles west of Lee Vining, are silhouetted against dark green pine trees, which make for beautiful contrasts when the sun is shining on the bright yellow aspen leaves.”
Gettysburg National Park
Gettysburg Farm RV Campground, Dover, PA
Marking the site of the Battle of Gettysburg and Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, Gettysburg National Park is the perfect spot for RVers who enjoy history. Gettysburg Farm RV Campground, just outside Gettysburg in Dover, Pennsylvania, combines RV camping with a working farm in the beautiful Pennsylvania countryside. Visitors can explore the 120 sprawling acres of the property or learn about farming in the area and help feed and care for the pigs, cows, goats, and llamas who live there. Run by Thousand Trails and Encore, the property offers numerous amenities including RV storage, laundry facilities, a game room, playground, and a business center.
Zion National Park
Watchman Campground, Springdale, UT
RVers will love the fall colors in Zion Canyon, which are usually best in late October. Fall is also great for incredible sunsets at Zion. “A popular hike just before sunset is along the Watchman Trail,” says Dan Wulfman, Founder, Tracks & Trails. “Zion may not be as visited as some of the other ‘Mighty Five’ parks, but you’ll love the soaring cliffs, red sandstone canyons and emerald pools that make this national park unforgettable, especially in the fall.” Just one-quarter mile from the South Entrance, the 176-site Watchman Campground offers plenty of comfort and convenience, as well as a shuttle stop for getting around the park. It’s open year-round and also quite close to the park visitor center, amphitheater and three hiking trails.
What are some of your favorite spots to camp in the fall? Let us know in the comments!