You know it’s fall camping season when summer’s heat begins to fade, the leaves begin to put on their splendid show, and a desire to get outdoors has you digging through your camping gear. All the senses seem to alight with the invigorating, crisp air, the sound of leaves crunching underfoot, the vibrant colors, and the smell of the campfire.
Fall camping is unique on its own, but we’ve searched out experiences such as camping on the beach in a yurt, staying in a tiny house, and camping in a vineyard to make it even more special.
Pack your flannel and hot cocoa and get ready to enjoy these 11 fall camping destinations.
1. In A Treehouse, Hermann, Missouri
Nestled along the Missouri River, Hermann, Missouri, is a German-heritage village known for its annual Oktoberfest celebrations. What better place to see the fall foliage up close than a treehouse? The Cottage is home to three treehouses and a cabin. Sleep in the trees and enjoy fresh-made breakfast in the dining room.
Two of the treehouses do have steep stairs, but the third treehouse is on one level, so it’s easily accessible. Or choose the cabin with a personal hot tub. In addition to all the necessities such as a refrigerator, microwave, and Keurig coffee maker, each treehouse is situated amongst the trees for the most spectacular fall views.
The Cottage is a short drive from Hermann. Plan to enjoy the Oktoberfest festivities if you visit during October, or take a winery tour, visit the museums, and shop the quaint, walkable downtown area located along the river any time in the fall months. No matter when you visit, there’s usually live music on the patios and plenty of hearty German fare. Be sure to sample some of the 62 award-winning brats at Hermann Wurst Haus.
If you're traveling by train, the Amtrak depot is in the heart of the downtown area.
2. In A Hardwood Forest, Congaree National Park, South Carolina
Camp amidst 11,000 acres of a hardwood forest at Congaree National Park. Utilize one of the two park campgrounds for a small fee, or venture backcountry to camp for free (with a permit). The summer heat subsides in fall, making it a perfect time for camping.
Fascinating biodiversity exists here because of the expanse of old-growth bottomland hardwood forest -- the largest intact expanse remaining in the Southeastern United States. Camp in the natural beauty of the forest, sit on the shores of Weston Lake, explore the 25 miles of hiking trails, canoe the Cedar Creek canoe trail, or travel the 2.6 miles of boardwalk to explore the Congaree Wilderness.
Pro Tip: It's tent camping only, and RVs aren’t allowed; however, there are state parks and private campgrounds nearby with RV sites.
3. At Lake Tangipahoa, Percy Quin State Park, Mississippi
A mild climate paired with an abundance of magnolia trees and loblolly pines make Percy Quin State Park a great fall destination for camping. The state park was originally constructed in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps. The 1,700-acre park is home to the 490-acre Lake Tangipahoa. There are campsites for tent camping, RV sites, cottages, golf villas, and numerous cabins.
4. On The Beach, Long Beach Peninsula, Washington
Let the sound of the waves lull you to sleep when you rent a cabin, cottage, or yurt just 1,200 feet from the ocean at Long Beach RV and Camping Resort. Beach paths take you down to the Long Beach Peninsula in Washington with 28 miles of Pacific Ocean beachfront -- perfect for a fall camping getaway.
The city of Long Beach is just 2 miles away, so you can easily slip into town for shopping, museums, and dining. Outdoor activities abound nearby: Hike the trails, visit the West Coast’s oldest working lighthouse, ride a horse on the beach, or bike the Discovery Trail.
While you’re in Washington, you might want to hike at these locations.
5. On A Working Farm, Dover, Pennsylvania
In the heart of Amish Country, camp on a working farm with goats, horses, sheep, turkeys, and other farm animals at Gettysburg Farm RV Campground. Feed and pet the animals, and watch the planting and harvesting of crops during your stay.
The farm is located in the beautiful Pennsylvania countryside on 120 acres and is bordered by Conewago Creek. In addition to the working farm, the campground has tent sites and a rental loft unit.
Visit nearby Gettysburg for a side trip to learn about the area's Civil War history.
6. In A Vineyard, Bangor, California
Immerse yourself in the wine experience at a working vineyard. At Hickman Family Vineyards, you can camp or bring an RV to stay near the vineyards. In addition to wine tastings, you can enjoy hiking, swimming, and boating nearby. The weather is great year-round, with fall being an ideal time to camp. September is harvest month, so be ready to sample the grapes fresh from the vine.
7. Atop A Mountain, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee/North Carolina
Straddling both Tennessee and North Carolina, America’s most-visited national park, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, puts you front and center for the fall foliage. There’s the beauty of the ancient mountains, wildlife and waterfalls, and a lingering quality of Southern Appalachian mountain culture.
Camp backcountry or frontcountry in the park, or get rugged and stay at the LeConte Lodge, accessible only by foot. High atop Mount LeConte, at an elevation of 6,593 feet, you’ll hike 5 to 9 miles to get there, depending on the route you take. Once there, you’ll stay in a hand-built, rough-hewn log cabin with propane heat, kerosene lanterns, clean linens, warm blankets, and hearty meals in the dining room.
8. In A Sheepherder Wagon, Navajo Nation, Arizona
Sleep in a sheepherder wagon, a canvas bell tent, a cabin, or a traditional Navajo hogan on the Navajo Nation at Shash Dine EcoRetreat. Pieces of the past like arrowheads and petroglyphs can be found as you explore the area. You’ll also find Navajo Churro sheep, goats, horses, cows, chickens, and friendly dogs on the ranch, raised in accordance with Navajo traditions.
9. In A Tiny House, Welches, Oregon
Stay in a tiny home with a view of Mount Hood at Mt. Hood Tiny House Village in Welches, Oregon. You’ll choose from one of seven perfectly appointed tiny homes for a unique glamping adventure.
At this village located just an hour outside of Portland, you can enjoy the beauty of the Pacific Northwest in your personal tiny home. Each home has its own personality and name. Ingrid, for example, features a Scandinavian design with sleek, modern lines. Ingrid sleeps five in a 358-square-foot space that includes a full bath, kitchen, beds in the loft, and a pullout couch on the first floor.
10. In A Teepee, Torrey, Utah
At the national park, explore almost 100 miles of natural wonders, including canyons, domes, cliffs, and natural bridges.
11. Near Big Sur River, Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, California
About 30 minutes south of Carmel, you’ll find some of the most popular camping areas in the U.S. At Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, choose from one of 189 RV and tent sites close to the Big Sur River. During peak season, enjoy an evening program at the Campfire Center.
On the western slope of the Santa Lucia Mountains, walk along the river banks and among redwoods, oaks, sycamores, cottonwoods, maples, and other varieties. Wildlife in the area includes bobcats, black-tailed deer, gray squirrels, birds, skunks, and more. Hike the scenic trails, including a self-guided nature trail. Take the Valley View Trail for spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean and Big Sur Valley.
If you’d rather not camp, Big Sur Lodge is located in the park and has 62 guest rooms, a conference center, a cafe, and a grocery store.
Pro Tip: Reservations are required and are sometimes booked up to six months in advance.