Best Fall Camping Destinations

Camping is one of the greatest pleasures of fall. With the changing leaves, beauty abounds. We've gathered the best fall camping destinations across the United States.

Camping is arguably a great activity to do year-round (yes, even during the winter months). You never need an excuse to put your feet to the ground, hands to the trees, and spirit fully immersed into all that nature has to offer. As Walt Whitman said, “Now I see the secret of makingi the best person. It is to grow in the open air and to eat and sleep with the Earth.” 

With the proper gear, you can make your camping dreams come true, no matter the element. Across the United States, fall typically brings cooler temperatures, although the degree of the temperature drop and the exact lows of the day varies by region. One thing for sure is that fall means beautiful altered views of your surrounding area. 

changing fall leaves in tree over the lake

How one defines the best camping trip depends on the person. Maybe you’re more athletic, and the nearest hiking trails are essential to you. Perhaps you prioritize peace and the ability to fish quietly. Or maybe you’re fine as long as you can sit by a fire and enjoy the views. These many factors, of course, make it difficult to pin down the absolute best places to go camping this fall, but it’s a feat we the team have decided to take on. 

To us, the best fall camping destinations have it all: the ability to create a campfire, a range of hiking trails that vary in difficulty, proximity to a body of water to canoe, kayak, fish, or swim, and, of course, beautiful views of the changing fall leaf colors. 

couple fishing off deck in Canadian tuxedos

Curious to know if your favorite spots made the list? Well, grab your flashlights, plenty of water, your sleeping bag, and your tent. We’re going camping! 

Pine Grove Furnace State Park

Pine Grove Furnace State Park sits at the very northern part of the Blue Ridge Mountains and within the Michaux State Forest in Pennsylvania. This park is open year-round and expands across 696 acres. For those who enjoy fishing, you’re in luck! On the grounds are two mountain lakes, Laurel Lake and Fuller Lake. Laurel Lake has plenty of trout for the taking, as well as Mountain Creek. 

If that’s not enough water, this state park also has two beaches available for swimming. For hiking enthusiasts, walk along the Appalachian Trail, as this is the halfway point. Afterward, visit the Appalachian Trail Museum, the first hiking museum in the United States. 

Congaree National Park 

Congaree National Park in South Carolina is the oldest and most extensive range of hardwood forest in the South. Large bald cypress and loblolly pine are just two of the tree species available for your viewing pleasure. This 27,000-acre forest also has many wildlife visitors enjoying the ecosystem. Hiking options include the short Boardwalk Trail or more extensive treks into nearby backcountry. 

Visitors can join ranger-led canoe trips on Cedar Creek and learn about the natural and cultural history of the forest. You can also canoe and kayak along the Congaree and Wateree Rivers. Fishing is available as well. Campers can set up their tents in the park for a fee or decide to camp in the backcountry but know that campfires are not allowed if you choose the latter option.  

girl in hat with orange backpack on hiking trail with fall leaves/trees in background

Acadia National Park 

Acadia National Park in Maine is one of the top 10 most-visited national parks in the United States. Come for the plethora of changing fall leaves, stay for the many activities this park affords. Visitors can enjoy bicycling, ranger-led stargazing, swimming, freshwater, and ocean swimming on Mount Desert Island, tide-pooling, boating, and more. A hiker’s wonderland, Acadia features 158 miles of hiking trails. 

Campers have three options to set up their tent: the Blackwoods Campground, the Seawall Campground, and the Woods Campground. And don’t forget to bring your furry friend! Acadia is known to be a Dog-Friendly National Park. If you don’t have one, it’s okay. You may spot snowy owls, nesting looks and turtles, and baby seals on your adventure here.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park 

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is on the border between North Carolina and Tennesee. Loaded with wild black bears and wildflowers in the fall, this is a dream destination for any nature lover. Some of the more popular hiking trails lead you to Charlies Bunion, Alum Cave Bluffs, Andrews Bald, Chimney Tops, and Rainbow Falls. That’s right! We said falls, as in waterfalls. 

Grotto, Laurel, Abrams, and Rainbow are just a few of the popular waterfalls in the park, but there are smaller cascades along the park’s many rivers and streams. In addition to frontcountry, backcountry, and group campgrounds, visitors are able to stay in horse camps that come with hitch racks for their four-legged friends. 

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