Top RV Destinations for Fall 2021
If the summer heat has you down, let thoughts of cool, crisp fall take you away. Fall can be a fantastic time for an RV camping trip. We’ve compiled a list of the top places to head this fall to catch nature’s beauty.
Fall Experiences Around the Country You Don’t Want to Miss
Fall can be a fantastic time for RV camping. Whether you want to fish, go apple picking, catch the changing colors, or just relax, fall can make for a great vacation time. Many head out in the fall to enjoy the cooler temperatures. There’s also something to be said for getting cozy with your loved ones and enjoying fresh apple cider or picking your own pumpkins.
Best RV Destinations for a Fall Road Trip in 2021
No matter where you’re hoping to go, you can find some fantastic fall experiences. But if you haven’t plotted out your journey yet, consider some of these locations.
1. Blue Ridge Parkway
Hailed as America’s Favorite Drive, the 469-mile run is the most-visited National Park Service attraction. Blue Ridge Parkway stretches from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to the Shenandoah National Park. On this drive, you’ll get close-up glimpses of mountains and waterfalls, with panoramic views of the scenery of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Trees surround the road, and the park has one of the longest fall leaf seasons in the world.
The Blue Ridge Parkway Association has plenty of travel resources to help you plan your trip. Use one of these itineraries to plot your journey. If your vehicle is on the taller side, check out the Tunnels page to ensure it’ll fit. There are eight National Park Service campgrounds along the way. Or, if you want hook-ups, check out this list.
2. Shenandoah National Park
Known for its breathtaking fall foliage, Shenandoah National Park lies 75 miles from D.C. This park has waterfalls, wildflowers, and more than 200,000 acres of wildlife, including deer, turkeys, and black bears. Skyline Drive takes you along the 105 miles of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Note that fall is a popular time to visit this park. However, it’s large enough that you’ll hopefully catch plenty of private views if you plan your trip well. Check out the park’s tips for beating the crowds.
Wondering where to go to get the best views? Check online every Thursday for pictures from three points in the park and a video update. They also have a fall color webcam. Plus, take a peek at the Smoky Mountains fall color prediction map.
3. The Upper Peninsula of Michigan
Head to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula (U.P.) for fantastic fall colors. But don’t take our word for it. USA Today readers voted the U.P. the best destination for fall foliage viewing two years in a row. More than seven million acres of forest put fall’s beauty on display. Then there’s the Great Lakes, historic lighthouses, and waterfalls. At night you may catch the Northern Lights as they dance across the sky.
There are plenty of other spots to check out during your trip to the U.P. Try Lake of the Clouds in Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park, one of the most photographed spots in the U.P. Or check out the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Tahquamenon Falls. Then head to the Soo Locks, a National Historic Site that is the “largest lock on the largest inland seaway in the world.”
4. The Great Smoky Mountains
The Great Smoky Mountains is America’s most visited national park. It has the hiking and fishing you’d expect in a national park. But the Smoky Mountains is also famous for its waterfalls, historic buildings, wildflowers, and burial landscapes. Known as the “Wildflower National Park,” it has more than 1,500 kinds of flowering plants, the most of any national park. They have more than 90 preserved historic structures, and their historic cemeteries give a glimpse of the legacy of this park.
The beautiful fall foliage appears over several weeks, depending on your elevation. Take the Clingmans Dome Road, the Blue Ridge Parkway, or the Foothills Parkway to soak up the views. The park has some 100 species of native trees in the Great Smoky Mountains, including yellow birch, mountain maple, pin cherry, sugar maple, scarlet oak, and hickory. You’ll witness an array of fall colors, as well as blooming wildflowers.
Expect crowds, especially during the last few weeks of October. According to the Great Smoky Park Service, the longest traffic delays hit Cades Cove and Newfound Gap Road (U.S. 441).
5. Acadia National Park
Plan a visit to Maine’s coast to visit one of the top-10 most visited national parks, Acadia National Park. It’s located on Mount Desert Island along the Atlantic coast and has both a saltwater and freshwater beach. There are also 158 miles of hiking trails and 45 miles of historic carriage roads with 17 bridges.
You’ll see iconic New England fall foliage juxtaposed against the dark conifer trees and blue ocean. One of the best ways to take in the views is on a 27-mile scenic drive that starts at Hulls Cove Visitors Center. Or drive to Cadillac Summit for expansive views. Visit Maine’s fall foliage website, which updates every Wednesday, to learn the best times to see the leaves.
One last thing that sets this place apart: The Acadia Night Sky Festival. It takes place from Sept. 29 to Oct. 3 and allows you to take in the night skies and learn more about star-gazing.
6. Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone is the first national park. It boasts diverse wildlife and more than 10,000 active hydrothermal features, including about half of the world’s active geysers. The wildlife includes 300 bird species, 16 fish species, and 67 mammal species.
You may know Yellowstone for its summer tourists, but there’s a special crowd who come for fall. With dazzling golden, yellow, and red tones, you can experience dazzling fall hues here. And there will be fewer people around at that time.
Some of the best spots to catch the fall vibrancy are Mammoth Hot Springs and the Blacktail Plateau Drive, Lamar Valley, and the Lewis River. Plus, the wildlife is on the move, which increases the odds of a sighting. You could see spawning brown trout (the best fishing spots are the Madison and Gardner rivers) and rutting elk. Catch black bears and grizzly bears, and see the fall raptor migration at Hayden Valley.
7. Glacier National Park
With a quieter park, active wildlife out prepping for winter, and vibrant trees, it’s easy to see why Glacier National Park in Montana is on this list. The “Crown of the Continent” covers one million acres, with more than 700 miles of trails. It also boasts historic ski chalets and lodges, forests, meadows, the Rocky Mountains, and lakes.
The park has what some consider two stages of autumn. The first is where the cottonwood and aspen trees transition to gold. One of the last trees to change during the second autumn is the larches. These deciduous conifer trees turn a striking gold color before discarding their needles. A good place to catch views of larch trees is on highway 2 around the park’s southern area.
Be sure to take Going-to-the-Sun Road, a 50-mile famous drive offering picture-perfect views of all that you’d want in a mountain getaway. But this time, it’s sprinkled with fall colors. The highest point you can reach by vehicle is Logan Pass, which is a great spot to see some mountain goats or Bighorn sheep.
8. Rapid City, S.D.
Rapid City is “The City of Presidents” with its presidential statues adorning the streets. It’s less than one hour from Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse Memorial. And it’s less than two hours from the Black Hills and the Badlands. Nearby Custer State Park has beautiful sights like the Needles Highway and Needles Tunnel, the Wildlife Loop Road, and Sylvan Lake.
But what really sets Rapid City apart is its annual fall events. Its popular Buffalo Roundup and Arts Festival takes place at the end of September in Custer State Park. Watch as they herd up 1,300 buffalo. There’s also the Great Downtown Pumpkin Festival that same weekend and the Fall Volksmarch at Crazy Horse Memorial. Visit Rapid City from Sept. 23-26 to hit all these events.
One other special event that happens each fall is the Black Hills Powwow, happening in October. This celebration of the Lakota, Nakota, and Dakota nations provides you with a cultural experience that is definitely something to see.
9. Aspen, Colo.
One of the best places in Colorado to view fall foliage is in Aspen. Soak in the brisk, sun-drenched air of this high-end ski town. Aside from all the outdoor activities, you’ll have fine dining and high-end shops at your disposal.
For scenic drives that will leave you in awe, first up, take the Maroon Creek Road to the Maroon Bells Scenic Area. One of the most photographed areas in all of Colorado, you’ll think you’re in a piece of art with the breathtaking views all around you.
Finally, check out these popular events happening during the fall. The Food & Wine Classic takes place in September, as does the Aspen Filmfest. And don’t forget about the world’s only full-contact rugby tournament for all ages, the Aspen Ruggerfest 53. These might not be the traditional events you expect during fall, but they’re worth it nonetheless.
With a full list of fall events and places to see, you’ll have plenty of options in planning your fall getaway. Enjoy the brisk weather and the vibrant fall foliage. Where do you think you’ll roam this fall?
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