Summer has a funny way of slipping away every year. Though it feels like you have all the time in the world to plan a camping trip in June, a constant schedule of barbecues and other social commitments can quickly eat away at your plans to get out of town. The next thing you know, the weather is already cooler. Just because the temperature isn’t soaring doesn’t mean you have to give up on your getaway. In fact, fall might actually be the better season for a stay in the great outdoors.
Camping in autumn means you’ll actually be able to sleep instead of lying awake in a pool of sweat, and you’ll have the best views of the changing leaves. Plus, ReserveAmerica points out many campsites offer reduced fares after Labor Day. And if crowds aren’t your thing, sites are generally less packed in the fall.
While it can get cold at night, particularly later in the season, a little bit of preparation is all it takes. Check out The Wilderness Society’s tips for successful fall camping to learn everything you need to know. Then, all you have to do is figure out where to go. We’ve highlighted six of the best destinations to pitch a tent in the upcoming months. Fall vacation might become the new summer vacation.
1. Indian Cave State Park (Shubert, Nebraska)
This 3,052-acre site boasts 22 miles of trails for hiking and biking as well as a prime location along the Missouri River, which is ideal for those who prefer to catch their supper. The area is home to a variety of fish, including bass and carp. As the name suggests, this park is home to an impressive cave. The massive stone structure is a popular attraction thanks to the ancient petroglyphs scratched into the walls.
Though Indian Cave State Park is a great place to camp during the warmer months, it’s known for some especially beautiful fall foliage. Folks who prefer to camp in an RV should note the option to stay in the vehicles is only available until the end of October, sometimes a bit longer. Traditional tent camping, on the other hand, is permitted year round.
2. Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest (Springerville, Arizona)
If a busy work schedule kept you from enjoying the warmth of summer, consider heading to this national park in the eastern half of Arizona. The location enjoys warm daytime temperatures, near 60 degrees Fahrenheit in November, all year. At 2 million acres in size, picking a spot can be a little bit intimidating. Fodor’s recommends Fool Hollow Lake Recreation Area as a prime spot for fishing, boating, and bird watching.
Keep in mind, it can get pretty chilly at night. If you’re planning on camping without an RV, make sure you have the appropriate gear. For more information on the park, visit the U.S. Forest Service website.
3. Little Moose Management Unit (Greenville Junction, Maine)
Many campsites across the U.S. close as soon as it starts to get cold, but not Little Moose. This park stays open all year, making it an ideal location for folks who prefer camping when it’s a little bit cooler. Activities include hunting, canoeing, and snowshoeing. Hiking might be the best choice, though. You have options throughout the park, including Little Moose Mountain.
Amenities are few to be found here, so this is definitely a destination for those looking for a true escape. This also means you should quadruple check your packing list to make sure you have everything you need, with one exception: firewood. In order to reduce the risk of invasive species, the park requests visitors purchase their fuel as close to the site as possible.
4. Tuweep Campground (Grand Canyon, Nevada)
Though most people who trek to the Grand Canyon spend their time on the south rim, Outside Online says those in-the-know head north to Tuweep Campground. This site is actually better in the fall than during the summer, as it’s far too exposed to host a comfortable stay during the hottest part of the year. Getting there is not particularly easy, and as many as 25% of people experience a flat tire en route. But the effort is worth it once you’re greeted by the phenomenal view of the Colorado River. Be aware you won’t have access to water or cell phone service while here, so you’ll likely want to keep the trip to a few days.
5. Merck Forest and Farmland Center (Rupert, Vermont)
Another option for camping any time of year, Merck Forest & Farmland Center offers visitors the choice between traditional campsites and cabins. The rustic stays are equipped with wood-burning stoves, bunks, and a nearby outhouse. Some cabins can sleep as many as 12, making them a great choice for a guy’s weekend. You have plenty of options for hiking, but the wagon and sleigh rides are fun for groups. Reservations are required, so be sure to book in advance.
6. James Island County Park (Charleston, South Carolina)
Going camping doesn’t mean you have to be hundreds of miles from civilization. It doesn’t even have to include a forest. For something a little less rustic, try camping on the beach at James Island County Park. The Active Times highlighted this site for its proximity to historic sites, great restaurants, and shops. Check out some of Travel Channel’s suggestions on places to eat.
Guests can stay in cottages or at the campground, though even the outdoor accommodations are pretty posh. The campground offers a whole host of amenities including bike rentals and free Wi-Fi. Getting to town is also incredibly easy. The park provides a shuttle service to other areas in Charleston for $10 per person.