Fall Foliage Teardrop Camping Trips
It’s that time of year when the kids go back to school, the days are noticeably shorter, the nights are cooler, and the leaves are changing color. We’re moving from the multiple shades of summer greens to the bright yellows, reds, oranges, and golds of autumn. It is the perfect time for a weekend camping trip.
This is a great time of year to spend a few nights away from home in your teardrop or squaredrop camper. Nothing matches the crisp evening air while sitting by a campfire as the sun dips below the horizon. If you don’t have a tiny camper yet, now is a great time to rent one for a weekend to see if you enjoy it. Use this link to view teardrops that are available to rent in your area. It’s prefiltered on teardrops, just enter in your own location. Try cooking a pizza over a fire using a cast iron skillet or make a Dutch oven cheeseburger pie. And for dessert, instead of the usual roasting of marshmallows over the fire for s’mores, try the sugar cone s’mores recipe for a less messy way to enjoy a s’more.
This is the best resource to find out when and where the changing leaves are expected to be at the peak. Keep in mind that no tool is 100% accurate. It is intended to help better plan any trips so you have the best opportunity to catch the leaves at their peak colors. That article also explains the science behind leaves changing color.
There are so many great locations across this country to view the best that fall has to offer, that it’s tough to just choose a few. Here is our list of 6 gorgeous locations for fall road trips that offer stunning views.
Blue Ridge Parkway, Virginia and North Carolina
This is often referred to as “America’s Favorite Drive” as it follows the Applalacian mountain chain. Plan on spending at least three days exploring this treasured road as it covers over 450 miles from Shenandoah National Park in Virginia to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina. There are over 100 different species of trees that paint the mountains in the season’s colors. This byway is marked with mileposts all the way from the two parks mentioned above and there maps available to explain what sights or activities there are near each mile marker. For example, at milepost 316, there is Linville Falls, a hidden waterfall that makes for a great day hike. Milepost 355.4 is Mount Mitchell which is above six thousand feet above sea level and is part of the Southern Sixers chain of Appalachian mountains. Richland Balsam Overlook, which is the highest point of the parkway, is located at milepost 431.
For a remote camping retreat, try Mount Pisgah campground which is nearly 5000 ft above sea level.
Blue Ridge Mountains, Georgia
If you have time to continue driving south or you are looking for beautiful foliage without the colder temperatures further north, then drive the Blue Ridge Mountains in Georgia. Start on the Russell Brasstown Scenic Byway which goes through the mountains following the Chattahoochee River. This scenic drive is only 40 miles long but has plenty to offer. It is recommended to allow at least three hours for this drive as there are many stops along the way to explore. Be sure to stop at Brasstown Bald, which is the highest point in Georgia as it offers the ultimate vista for viewing the fall colors.
Covered Bridges Loop, Connecticut
It’s hard to go wrong in New England in the fall. We recommend a nearly 100 mile loop trail that includes the cities of North Canaan, Windsted, Torrington, New Preston, Kent, and back to North Canaan. South of North Canaan, stop in the Falls Village (Canaan) to experience a village set in the mid 1800s. The churches, streets, and houses have maintained their 19th century appearance. The buildings on Main Street include examples of Greek Revival, Italianate, and Queen Anne styles of architecture that remain unchanged since they were built. The Appalachian Trail runs right through town, so it’s a great location for a day hike.
We recommend staying at the southernmost point of this route at Lake Waramaug State Park near New Preston. On days when the wind is calm, the vivid fall colors are mirrored on the lake and it has become a mecca for sightseers and photographers.
Peter Norbeck Scenic Byway, South Dakota
This 68 mile scenic byway weaves its way through the Black Hills in southwest South Dakota. Many visitors come to view Mount Rushmore National Memorial, but don’t miss the Chief Crazy Horse monument several miles down the road. When this sculpture is completed, it will be the largest in the world. We’ve been through this area in early September, before the leaves were changing and it’s already an impressive drive. By waiting for peak or near peak foliage colors, you would have the benefit of seeing the monuments and other granite pinnacles with a colorful backdrop. Allow a minimum of 3 hours for this trip, but you could easily spend the entire day if you stop and explore.
There are plenty of camping locations in the Black Hills National Forest as well as nearby Custer State Park.
Grand Mesa Scenic Byway, Colorado
This scenic byway is only 63 miles long and connects Mesa (to the north) and Cedaredge (to the south) as it climbs over 11,000 feet as it passes nearby lakes and trails. While the drive is short, there are numerous activities to partake in order to see the fall beauty of the Grand Mesa. Grand Mesa mountain is the largest flat topped mountain in the world as it spans over 500 square miles. We recommend making this a weekend trip so you can enjoy every sight as you hike, bike, or drive to the beautiful lakes, meadows, and forests which are filled with pines and aspen trees which will turn golden in color in the fall.
There are several campgrounds on the Mesa that you can stay at or you can also find a great boondocking spot if that’s your preference.
Black River National Forest Scenic Byway - CR 513, Michigan
By far, this is the shortest of the drives on the list at only 15 miles, but this remote area of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan is not to be missed. This byway is surrounded by one million acres of the Ottawa National Forest which is a hardwood forest that is basked in color during the fall. This part of Michigan experiences the color change a few weeks earlier than the lower peninsula of Michigan. There are several waterfalls to explore in this area with Bond Falls being the crown jewel of those in the area. The view from the bottom of the falls is ADA compliant as there is a boardwalk leading from the parking lot to the different viewing platforms. There are also some trails that can lead you to the pool at the bottom or you can climb a series of steep (and very wet) steps to view from the top. To cap off the trip to this area, stop at Copper Peak, a former ski flying hill, which is the highest in North America. By combining the chairlift ride and an 18 story elevator ride to the main observation deck. Others may choose to continue their climb on foot and go an additional eight stories to the starting gate. From there, you will enjoy the highest, unobstructed view in the Midwest overlooking 2500 square miles, three states, and Canada.
There are many camping opportunities in this area and it’s easy to find a site.