There’s a slight edge in the air that can only mean one thing: time to find great fall camping spots! These rustic, outside opportunities abound throughout the U.S., with its diverse terrain and climates from coast to coast. Which makes it easy to find the best camping locations to suit your favorite autumn preferences.
So pitch that tent or saddle up that RV, and immerse yourself in the handiwork of the great outdoors as autumn makes its triumphant return. Marvel at stunning night skies, breathtaking mountains, crispy ‘n’ clean air, or the bold hues of majestic trees.
Whether you’re after vibrant fall colors or just a downright good s’more off the beaten path — these fall camping destinations are sure to offer gorgeous scenery, plenty of adventure, and an unforgettable camping trip.
13 Incredible Fall Camping Spots in the U.S.
You Need to See to Believe
1. Acadia National Park (Maine)
Spend a day journeying to one of the highest points of the East Coast: summit Cadillac Mountain, on Acadia National Park’s Mount Desert Island. Hiking up this beauty is the only place to view the “nation’s first sunrise” in the fall season, when the sun rises south of due east. On clear days, it also affords impressive views of peaks in Nova Scotia and beyond. Choose from traditional camping locations for tents, RVs and pop-ups, as well as ‘glamping’ options like cabins and cottages — all with varying amenities (or lack thereof) to boot.
2. Pine Grove Furnace State Park (Pennsylvania)
Located at the northern part of the Blue Ridge Mountains, this is one of the best places to go camping in Pennsylvania. Take advantage of a slew of rec activities within the park’s 696 acres. Hike the Appalachian Trail, or explore the surrounding Michaux State Forest. For fishing fans, nothing will compare to dropping a line in the park’s Laurel and Fuller Lakes, surrounded by a kaleidoscope of fiery tree colors. A number of designated tent and RV sites are available for use until mid-December — each with a fire ring and picnic table. Furry friends are allowed at certain sites for a fee (check in advance for availability).
3. Assateague Island National Seashore (Maryland)
Experience beaches, bands of wild horses, and camping on a barrier island! What more could you ask for from an enchanting fall camping trip?! If that isn’t enough, you can always kayak, go birding, dolphin-watch, and more. Keep in mind, though, that camping in this area can prove a bit ‘adventurous’ (even with an RV), when braving natural elements like sand, wind and lots of direct sunlight — so plan ahead and be prepared! Camp sites generally range from $30 – $50 per night. Reservation requirements vary, depending on location and time of year.
4. Congaree National Park (South Carolina)
Get lost in 27,000 acres of hardwood forest — the oldest left in the South! Saunter the boardwalks, take in an educational Saturday session with a park ranger, or canoe/kayak along the Congaree and Wateree Rivers. Fall is one of the best times to hit up camping areas in this neck o’ the woods, thanks to the nice relief from heat and humidity. Formal camping spots are available for a small fee. Folks are also welcome to venture into the backcountry area to camp for free (sans campfires).
5. Great Smoky Mountains National Park (Tennessee/North Carolina)
Riveting colors flicker through the foliage. Wildlife and waterfalls abound, and wild flowers stick around all year in most spots. Sounds like one of the best places to go camping this fall, right? Agreed! Not only is this popular camping destination a hot spot for a great escape, but it also claims fame as the most bio-diverse park in the U.S.’s national system, sporting FIVE different forest systems in the park. And it is the home to synchronous fireflies! (While this illumination is typically not in the fall, unfortunately, it’s a great excuse to head back in May or June for the two-week display — assuming you literally win the park’s lottery for admission to the show.)
6. Sleeping Bear Dunes “Up North” (Michigan)
Enjoy crisp lake air, plus a brilliant canvas of color so vibrant it almost looks fake. Early to mid-October is usually a wonderful time to catch these hues at their boldest. For more outdoor fun, layer up and head to the tiptop of the dunes for majestic panoramic views of Lake Michigan. Squeeze a workout in, if you dare, by bounding down the dune to the shoreline — because what goes down must climb back up! Camping spots range from public and primitive, to rustic or modern, and even private — so any fees vary rather widely, depending on the option you go for.
7. Percy Quin State Park (Mississippi)
This 1700-acre park is home to an abundance of magnolia trees, the 490-acre Lake Tangipahoa, plenty of wildlife, and even a championship golf course (Quail Hollow)! Percy Quin gives guests plenty of places to go camping. In addition to using basic tents, there are also 100 RV sites, 27 cabins, and even a small handful of villas and motel accommodations for those looking for something more along the lines of ‘glamping.’ With NOLA not too far from this area, rest assured this camping destination is a winner when it comes to finding a fun place to unplug and hit the reset button.
8. Big Bend National Park (Texas)
Admittedly, this fall camping spot may not sport the autumn tree colors that many other areas dazzle campers with. But guess what it does have?! A lovely lack of intense summer heat; loads of fossil evidence from the Cretaceous and Cenozoic periods; starry night skies that stretch to an eternity; and possibly even meteor showers when camping in October and November! So soak up some southwestern sun, saunter by cacti on a hike, or wander over the Mexican border on a mule (don’t worry, it’s legal entry)—all by day. Then kick back at your campsite of choice by night. Get your fill of primitive backcountry camping areas (by permits issued on first-come, first- serve basis). Or score a spot at one of the three main tent/RV frontcountry places to camp (reservations may or may not be required, depending on time of year and location).
9. Routt National Forest (Colorado)
Experience your own “Colorado Rocky Mountain high” near a lil’ slice of heaven known as Steamboat Springs. The stunning scenery will dazzle you, as the aspen trees flaunt their autumn attire — making for some of the most breathtaking fall camping spots in the nation! Treat yourself to a hike (with plenty of options for all levels of adventurers), then unwind after by soaking in the nearby Strawberry Park Hot Springs. The 104-degree mineral water will feel nothing short of glorious against the crisp mountain air.
10. Grand Tetons National Park (Wyoming)
This is one of the best places to camp in the U.S. if you want to feel small (in a good way), surrounded by the sheer magnificence of nature. With no shortage of outdoor activities, wildlife and scenery — it makes for a ‘grand’ escape indeed. Take your fishing, horseback riding, climbing, hiking and more to the next level in the Tetons’ gorgeous surroundings! Formal campgrounds typically operate until late-September or mid-October and are available by reservation. Backcountry camping spots are accessible in the fall with a free permit.
11. Canyonlands National Park (Utah)
What this camping destination may lack in colorful trees, it certainly makes up for in endless canyons! Which are just as impressive (if not more so). Don’t miss a chance to witness the area’s towering, flat-topped formations, ancient rock paintings, and lively whitewater rapids! Tackle Canyonland’s unique terrain by foot, mountain bike, horseback or SUV. And when you’re ready to relax, do so in rustic fashion at one of the area’s two places to camp (The Needles and Island in the Sky). Be aware that ‘rustic’ truly means rustic. Depending on location, facilities (including H2O!) are very sparse, if not non-existent. And camp sites (which range $15-$20/night) are very limited — so be sure to plan ahead and/or make reservations when possible.
12. Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park (California)
Need a little salty sea air in your autumn? Then this is the fall camping spot for you! Enjoy dramatic cliffs, bluffs and crashing waves — as well as hiking and a downright nice getaway from the city life. Be forewarned, however, that this area is an extremely popular camping destination in Cali. As such, reservations for sites often fill up six months in advance. It’s also wise to note any closures or other alerts issued by the park, as the accessibility in the area can be affected by rain, wildfires, or mudslides. But even if you have to wait to visit this sweet spot — be assured it’s definitely worth it!
13. Crater Lake National Park (Oregon)
Hold your breath and brave a dip in the U.S.’s deepest (and to be honest—probably chilliest) lake. Talk about an epic bucket list item to check off while on a camping trip! If swimming isn’t on your to-do list at this top camping spot, there’s plenty of hiking and incredible scenery to otherwise enjoy. Most folks take advantage of the Mazama (open til early October, hosting tents and RVs) or Lost Creek (open til mid-October, tents only) camping locations. However, backcountry camping is also available by permit, roughly through September depending on conditions.