Nature Alert: The Ultimate Guide to Fall Camping for Peak Foliage

One of the best parts of fall (besides all the delicious pie, of course) is the foliage. Think of campfires under wooly warm blankets, stargazing beside falling leaves, and epic golden sunsets that twinkle through amber leaves. And the best part is that there are lots of amazing places across the US to see fall foliage—prime leaf-peeping doesn’t just happen in New England, folks! Use our handy foliage prediction map to guide you to the right time for a fall camping trip under a canopy of changing leaves, then read on for our top fall camping tips.

Check out some of our favorite places to experience the best fall foliage magic.

Best destinations for fall camping

Photo by Clay Banks

The Catskills, New York

When to go: Mid-October

Upstate New York doesn’t mess around when it comes to beautiful foliage, and the Catskill Mountains make for prime peeping during this gorgeous time of year. Whether you hike up a mountain, take a long drive, or attend a fall festival, you’re sure to see amazing colors in this part of the state. Here are some of our favorite campsites in the area.

Magic Forest Farm, Coeymans Hollow

The name alone has us raising our hand (and yes, it really is as magical as it sounds). Tucked in the foothills of the Catskills, this farm offers tent campsites with access to amenities and plenty of nearby adventure. Just minutes away from waterfalls like Horton Falls and gorgeous hiking, the 225-acre spot also offers firewood for purchase. Did we mention the Hosts make most of their own food, including things like milk and butter? Again, yes, please.

The Mountain Top at Wright’s Farm, Gardiner

Camp on a working farm at 400 feet for sweeping mountain views and the chance to wander among centuries-old orchards. This Host’s family has been farming the land for over 100 years, so they know a thing or two about fresh produce and conveniently sell fresh-picked apples, cider donuts, and local meats in a year-round farm store. Bring your four-legged friends to explore the peach and apple orchards on this 450-acre farm, also home to a brewery and weekend live music. Minnewaska State Park Preserve is just 10 minutes away.

Robibero’s Retreat, New Paltz

A winery by day and a campground by night, Robibero’s offers wide-open field camping and onsite vino tastings. It’s also set just outside historic New Paltz, so Hipcampers get access to all of the charm in town too. Just make it back for time under the stars, sipping a fine red in a camp chair by the toasty fire pit.

Catskill Adventure, Hamden

Choose between a tent camping platform and canvas glamping tents for your stay at Catskills Adventure, a prime spot for the fall camping season. At just over 100 acres, this historic property houses an 1800s barn set beside the brook that runs throughout the land to a nearby waterfall. Nearby, Hipcampers can find all of the cider mills, breweries, antique stores, pumpkin patches, and farm markets of their dreams.

Malouf’s Mt. Campground, Fishkill

Outdoor enthusiasts love this hike-in camping spot set in the foothills of the Fishkill Ridge. Choose from 10 tent sites, each with access to a picnic table and a bathhouse with toilets, hot showers, and dryers, plus miles of trails in the surrounding wilderness.

Photo by Tom Bricker

The Great Smoky Mountains

When to go: Early to mid-October

In addition to having amazing views of the changing leaves, the Smoky Mountains are also just an incredibly beautiful place to spend a few days. Straddling the border of North Carolina and Tennessee and covered in a great blue haze, these southerly mountains take on a natural magic and mystique that has enchanted visitors for centuries. Pack a base layer, headlamp, light flannel, and binoculars, then book one of these gorgeous spots in the Great Smoky Mountains to watch the seasons change.

Rusty Acorn Farm, TN

Take in the grand views of the Smoky Mountains on this pet-friendly Eastern Tennessee homestead. Hipcampers can enjoy hot water showers, fire pits, and a wide-open sky overhead, plus 50-amp water and sewage RV hookups.

The Heart Center, NC

Just off of the Appalachian Trail and surrounded by Nantahala National Forest, The Heart Center is 30 acres of seclusion and connection with nature. Pack your camping gear and choose from a tent campsite or a full glamping yurt, perhaps the pick for first-time cold-weather campers.

Smoky Mountain Meadows, NC

Smoky Mountain Meadows promises serene and rustic camping experiences to suit different preferences and needs. Accommodations range from tent and RV campsites to pet-friendly camping cabins equipped with beds, linens, and heaters—all set in a picturesque valley near the Nantahala Gorge. The RV hookups are a convenient perk for roadtrippers.

Smoky Mountain Mangalitsa Farm, NC

Tent campsites, RV sites, and canvas glamping tents mean campers have options at Mangalista Farm. This private campground is especially scenic too, with farmland views, a nearby river, and mountains all around.

The Woods at Sole Farm, GA

Tuscany-like landscapes (complete with the Host’s villa, of course), ancient trees, and mountain views. What could be better? Not much. Unpack your tent, warm sleeping bag, and sleeping pad creekside, then paddle out into the Chattahoochee. This Habersham County escape is perfect for your fill of majestic rolling hills and crystal-clear stargazing.

Photo by Hipcamp Photographer Kassidy Paige

The Ozarks

When to go: Late October

Although a bit lacking in that crisp-air chill characteristic of the season, the Ozarks are still a beautiful place to experience fall foliage. In the central US, these remote highlands cover parts of Arkansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma. Fluorescent pinks and oranges define southern foliage, and a variety of trees form a different kind of fall bouquet, one that we like just as much as the classics.

Oran Mor Community, MO

This place is like a giant outdoor bed and breakfast, complete with awesome neighbors, shared communal meals (included in your booking!), and incredible hiking. The Oran Mor Community raises livestock, cultivates gardens, and prides itself on hosting workshops for visitors. If you’re interested in tent or car camping with side of local culture, this rustic community makes for a great getaway.

Arcadia Valley Outdoors Land, MO

At 150 acres, this spot is perfect for families with kids. Campsites are secluded with plenty of space between them, boats are available for use, and bike rentals are also offered. On-leash pets welcome!

Open-air Meditation Sanctuary, AK

The northern Arkansas Open-air Meditation Sanctuary offers Hipcampers a place to recharge in the great outdoors, plus a few essentials (like a fire bowl and firewood) to help you along. The artsy little town of Eureka Springs offers great eats and coffee only a 10-minute drive away, so you can wander nearby trails and still get in a great meal before throwing in the towel.

Dockley Ranch, MO

A hilltop cabin, comfy RV site, or a secluded tent campsite—the southern Missouri Ozarks are calling and you should go. This cozy retreat welcomes solo campers and groups of up to 14 at some sites, though some of the furrier four-legged Hosts (like dogs and alpacas) have also been known to stop by. Switchback trails lead down to a private waterfall, and guests can choose from a variety of activities like canoeing, hiking, or exploring the local music scene at the Oldfield Opry.

Photo by Sonja Wilkinson

Rocky Mountains, Colorado

When to go: Early to mid-October

Colorado breeds a different kind of fall foliage, and one that looks striking in its golden hues against a backdrop of blue mountains. Even on cloudy days, this honey-amber foliage makes for an incredibly memorable outdoor experience across the Rocky Mountains, especially with the many evergreen pines interspersed among the landscape. At 12,095 feet, Independence Pass, which closes in the wintertime, is the middle of the scenic drive between Leadville and Aspen—two legendary camping and adventuring destinations during any season. Explore these nearby Hipcamps.

Weston Pass Hut, Leadville

Enjoy the golden season of Colorado from this Leadville backcountry lodge. Accessible via primitive roads (high-clearance vehicles recommended), this campsite offers panoramic mountain (and wildlife) views from its perch at 11,000 feet. This hut is a shared space (with 20 rooms) so be prepared to meet your neighbors.

Rustic Creek Ranch, Bailey

Sage View Ranch, Paonia

Gondola Village, Red Cliff

Hike in to the Holy Cross Wilderness in this choose-your-own-adventure backpacking retreat. Pick from a variety of trails to arrive at your “Scandanavian-designed” cabin, a minimalist bright blue abode on top of a mountain (with more mountain views beyond). Warm up by the fire inside and be sure to explore the nearby paddling and climbing opportunities.

Historic Ranch at Mt. Princeton, Buena Vista

This campsite is meticulously cared for by its Hhosts, and offers a lot more than just mountain views (although there are those, and they’re stunning). Pitch a tent or pull up to the RV hookup on this remote farm at the base of Mt. Princeton, with miles of nearby trails, wildlife, and hot springs.

Photo by Dane Deaner

Eastern Sierra, California

When to go: Late September to early October

Every year visitors flock to the Eastern Sierras to view the orange-gold foliage of the aspen and cottonwood trees. The varying degrees of elevation have trees peaking at different times, but it’s generally best to visit between late September and early October. Check out these nearby Hipcamps where you can take in the all the colors of the season with rushing streams and majestic granite canyons in the background.

Southgate Summit

Aptly named for its proximity to the world-famous park, this cozy campsite offers six acres of pine and oak trees intermingling with granite structures. Located just at the edge of Sierra National Forest, you can enjoy all the beauty of the area without the crazy crowds. Hiking trails, swimming holes, and a short drive to southern Yosemite are all within a stone’s-throw, meaning you can venture out with the best of them before returning to a quiet camp.

Paradise Shores Camping

Pull up in your camper, or rent one here. Either way, you can plan on staying in prime lakefront real estate with beautiful views of the Bridgeport Reservoir and the mountains beyond. This amazing location means easy access to epic climbing, hiking, and adventuring in the Sierra and it provides the perfect spot to admire the changing seasons.

Diamond Gulch

Organic Farm Camping

Watch the leaves turn from this quiet farm retreat near Owens Creek. Camp under a sprawling Blue Oak tree, and wake up to the sounds of birds chirping and dragonflies buzzing. Fall asleep under the stars by a fire pit then purchase fresh fruits and veggies (or farm fresh eggs!) from your host for a one of kind all-organic breakfast.

Photo by Hans Isaacson

Michigan

When to go: Early October

Wineries, apple picking, and a full range of autumn colors—what isn’t to love about Michigan in the fall? Shorter days and cooler nights cue the transition of summer into an array of red, orange, and yellow leaves that crunch underfoot along trails and country roads on the Upper Peninsula and all over Michigan. Take a peek at some of our favorite spots to celebrate fall by the Great Lakes and near Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park.

Harvest Village Farmstay, Le Roy

This organic farm is a gorgeous spot for an outdoor getaway in the northern part of the state. Camp under pines by a grassy meadow and wake up to the smells of a homemade country breakfast (courtesy of your hosts). Only an hour from Lake Michigan or Sleeping Bear National Park, this quiet site also offers a variety of nearby trails and activities.

Forest Overlooking River. Rapid River

Nature and Nurture Farm, Dexter

Camp just minutes from downtown Ann Arbor on this organic heirloom vegetable seed farm. Check in with your hosts ahead of time for a farm-to-table meal, and pitch your tent in the woods or field of their quiet 122-acre farm. Proper sanitation is a must for these hosts so make a plan for packing everything (and we mean everything) out. If you’re not into the wag bags, contact your host and arrange for a porta potty rental beforehand.

Organic Apple Orchard and Farm, Berrien Center

Lucky for you, fall also means apple picking. Camp in a small hollow among the orchards of this 49-acre organic farm in Southwest Michigan. Seasonal festivities run frequently during the day, but at night the farm quiets down except for the crackle of the fire and a breeze that runs through the orchards. Kayaking, biking, and hiking are all accessible from this idyllic campsite.

Fieldguide Farmhouse, Central Lake

Experience some autumnal bliss from this quiet Northern Michigan property shared with a traditional stone farmhouse. Set up camp in a meadow along Intermediate Lake, where you can kayak or hike, then catch the bright blue sky melting into evening over a splash of the fall foliage.

Photo by Hipcamp Engineer Myles Tan

Acadia National Park, Maine

When to go: Early October

Northern Maine is a classic choice for an escape into the colors of fall. Fog rolls in daily over the magical seaside Acadia National Park, once a vacation land for wealthy pioneers. Wander its many trails, climb mountain peaks for panoramic views of the changing colors, and enjoy that hearty crisp air characteristic of New England. Escape to one of our favorite Acadia region Hipcamps, and don’t forget to snag a pumpkin spice latte on the drive up.

Camps of the Pioneers

Arrowheads and other artifacts are common to find in these quiet campgrounds, just 15 minutes north of Acadia National Park. Settle into a Mongolian Wall tent to the tune of crackling wood-burning stove, or pitch your tent on six acres of protected land near the popular fishing community of Union River. Epic wildlife views and hiking abound in this northern corner of Maine.

True Serendipity Homestead

Maine Wild Blueberry Bliss

Center Pond Farm

This private low-key camping grants visitors easy access to canoeing, kayaking, and boating, all while grilling over an equipped fire pit. Set up camp under the trees by the water, fish during the days or discover nearby trails. This Phippsburg site is a bit of trek from Acadia, but close enough to the ocean to guarantee a similarly quintessential Maine experience.

Gartland Lake Getaway Camp

A pet-friendly, peaceful cabin in the woods overlooking LIttle Ellis Lake, just minutes from Coos Canyon and Tumbledown Mountain. Great for moose watching, campfires, stunning sunsets, and outdoor adventures of all kinds.

Photo by Hipcamp Host Rod Morrison

Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

When to go: Mid-October

Autumn is a magical time to visit Yellowstone. The grasses and leaves are turning a tawny golden hue and summer crowds have all but dwindled down. Temperatures drop and bison and elk roam the scenic grasslands with bright blue peaks sitting against the skyline. It’s a cozy and quiet time to get your outdoor fix, and we’ve got just the camps to get the job done.

The Park at Swan Valley, ID

Big Quiet Cowboy Camping, WY

As is only appropriate for this camp name, a cowboy breakfast is included during your stay. Located halfway between Powell and Cody, this spot is a convenient one-hour drive from Yellowstone. But this 450-acre farm is so beautiful you may not want to leave, and with nearby fishing (a creek runs through the grounds), hiking, or horseback riding, there’s plenty of ways to take advantage of the scenery.

Fisherman’s Paradise, ID

Southwest of Yellowstone is the ultimate fisherman’s retreat. Nothing says fall more than the crisp weather, good fishing, and fresh catch cooking over the fire. Set up camp under the pines in this remote haven, and enjoy a private stream all to yourself. Close enough to town for an easy plan b, there’s plenty of grub if the fishing is unlucky.

The Aspen Grove Inn at Heise Bridge, ID

Golden Skyfall, MT

Just 45 miles from Yellowstone is a 170 acre sustainable farm just begging to be photographed. Nestled in golden fields with blue mountains not far off, this Bozeman-based camp leaves plenty of room to pitch a tent or spend the night in an actual tipi. Sample the local produce (including honey made right onsite) and explore the miles of nearby biking, hiking, and skiing trails.

Photo by Grant Jacobson

Columbia River Gorge

When to go: Late September to mid-October

Enola Hill at Mt. Hood

Pendarvis Farm

The Falls at Elk Prairie

Creekside Hood River Basecamp

Nash Valley Farms

Photo by Abby Mortenson

Vermont

When to go: Late September to early October

The Northeast is one of the very best spots in the country to see changing fall leaves.

La Lu Farm Campsite

Nestled in the Green Mountains on a subsistence farm where you can pet goats, enjoy farm-fresh food, day hikes, even aromatherapy and cooking classes!

Onion River Campground

Set along the Winooski River where you can park your RV or pitch your tent in an apple orchard, by a pond, or in a high meadow. Walk along the historic, tree-lined rail bed, fish for brown trout in the river, and enjoy hot showers and campfires.

Birds Eye View Vermont

Feel Good Farm

Fox Farm Campground

Photo by Rachel Veale

Lost Maples State Natural Area, Texas

When to go: Late October to early November

Low Gear Farmstead

Pitch your tent in a natural pecan orchard along the San Saba River, where you can paddle, rock climb, and stargaze to your heart’s content.

Grapevine Springs Retreat

Seco Ridge Campgrounds

Little Creek Canyon Homestead

Rio Frio Glamping


Need more info on when to go fall foliage camping?

No matter what part of the US you’re heading to for your next fall camping trip, there’s bound to be a Hipcamp steeped in fall foliage nearby. Use our interactive fall foliage map to find out exactly when to time your trip for peak fall colors.

Larissa Runkle is a writer, gardener, and herbalist living in the San Juan mountains of Colorado. Her work has been published in lifestyle publications, and she's also the creator of the weekly newsletter Rooted In.

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