Follow the Fall Foliage

Grab your pumpkin spice latte and hit the road

Happy autumn! One of my favorite parts of the season is coming: beautiful fall foliage in brilliant shades of orange and red. These seasonal colors will be on full display up and down the east coast, and it’s a great time to explore the changing landscape and peak foliage on a camping trip and support the Great American Campout as the weather cools.

As always, a camping trip offers a great chance to spot wildlife, including some that may be preparing for winter as you’re out and about this fall. I’ve created a list of spots along the coast that are featured in Ranger Rick’s Travels: National Parks, that offer great opportunities for the whole family to enjoy the outdoors together. Pick up a copy to learn more about these great parks!

Acadia National Park, Maine


Expected Peak Foliage: late September to mid-October

Camping: Acadia has multiple campgrounds that are available into the fall. The park offers primitive, group, RV, and horse camping. Reservations are recommended. Learn more:

Wildlife to See: Moose, white-tailed deer, and peregrine falcon

You Don’t Want to Miss: Taking in the view from the top of Mount Cadillac, the highest point along the Atlantic Coast at 1,530 feet tall

Shenandoah National Park, Virginia


Expected Peak Foliage: early-to-mid October

Camping: Shenandoah has four campgrounds and allows backcountry camping. The campgrounds can be reserved and group camping is available. Most of the campgrounds also can accommodate large RVs. Learn more:

Wildlife to See: Bobcat, white-tailed deer, and Virginia opossum

You Don’t Want to Miss: Exploring some of the Appalachian Trail to look for cascades and waterfalls

Great Smoky Mountains National Park, TN and NC


Expected Peak Foliage: mid-October

Camping: The Great Smoky Mountains offers backcountry, group, horse, and developed camping with restrooms. Learn more:

Wildlife to See: Black bear, elk, and black-chinned red salamander

You Don’t Want to Miss: A bike ride down Cades Cove Loop Road, the most popular bike-riding place in the park

Congaree National Park, South Carolina

Photo from NPS

Expected Peak Foliage: mid-to-late October

Camping: Congaree has two campgrounds that can accommodate tent and group camping. Backcountry campers are allowed with a permit. RV and car camping are not allowed. Learn more:

Wildlife to See: Barred owl, green anole, and river otter

You Don’t Want to Miss: A hike along the trails to see the park’s dozen Champion Trees, which are the largest tree known for each species

Everglades National Park, Florida


Expected Peak Foliage: early November

Camping: Everglades has two drive-in campgrounds that can accommodate tents, RVs, and groups. Backcountry camping is also allowed on ground, beach, and elevated sites. Learn more:

Wildlife to See: Florida panther, American alligator, and manatee

You Don’t Want to Miss: Canoeing down the Wilderness Waterway to see unique wildlife to the region

Pledge to CampSee the leaves change when you camp this fall