For some RVers, the first sign of frost on the ground is an indicator to winterize their 25′ baby and settle down in once place for awhile.
For others, the first frost means getting that RV movin’ south for the winter: she may cruise like a champ on the pavement, but there is no way she’s conquering mountain passes in the snow. Florida, Arizona, Southern California – any place where the sun is still shining.
For others still, frost-covered grass is the first indication of some of the best sightseeing you’ll ever witness while on the road.
This post is for those folks.
1. Great Smoky Mountains, North Carolina and Tennessee
As one of the only National Parks in the United States that does not charge for entry, the Smoky Mountains are a popular RVer’s destination year-round (you’ll remember it as #35 on our RV bucket list). In the autumn, though, the Smoky Mountains come to life in a whole new way: full of bright, brilliant, majestic colors.
When to go: Fall colors generally reach their peak between mid-October and early November in lower elevations where sugar maples and scarlet oaks burst with yellows, oranges and reds.
Note: The Great Smoky Mountain National Park attracts a huge amount of guests during the last three weeks of October. Prepare for some traffic delays along Cades Cove and Newfound Gap Road, or (better yet) stick to the roads less travelled.
Where to stay: Balsam Mountain Campground up in the mountains of Tennessee is one of the Smoky’s best kept secrets. For the RVer who still wants to feel close to nature, BMC is an electricity-free campground, so the chances for star gazing and a little peace and quiet are unlike many RV parks and campgrounds.
Note: It’s chilly at the Balsam even in the summer, so you’ll be happy cuddled up in your RV this fall. Remember to pack warm outdoors gear if you’re planning on doing any hiking!
2. Lake Michigan, Southern Michigan
Activities abound in Southern Michigan as soon as the leaves begin to turn. Farmers markets overflowing with autumn harvests, you-pick crops, canoeing, golfing, wine tasting, haunted houses and corn mazes – you and your family will be busy from sun up to sun down.
When to go: Early October. The coast of Lake Michigan is full of festivals, markets, and parties that will appeal to the whole family. Check out the Southwest Michigan Tourist Council for event listings open to the public.
Where to stay: Singing Sands RV Park is only a stone’s throw from the waters of Lake Michigan and a short jaunt to South Haven, a quaint town full of fun fall events and outings.
3. Amish Country, Southern Pennsylvania
Take a trip back in time: over 40 percent of the farmland in and around Intercourse and Gap, PA is owned by Amish and Mennonite farmers. The fall foliage provides a bucolic backdrop for the traditions and lifestyle of the region’s citizens, and makes for a unique fall trip for you.
When to go: Late-October is the perfect time to start a drive through Pennsylvania Dutch country: the leaves will be rich and colorful, the air that perfect fall-chill.
Note: Hoping to start your RV travels a little earlier in October? Start your New England trip early up in northern Maine and Vermont, and wind your way down the coast and over to Pennsylvania for a full season of leaf peeping.
Where to stay: Don’t tie yourself down to specific campgrounds on this trip — the fun is in the adventure! Don’t be afraid of boon docking here and there to truly enjoy New England in the fall.
Images courtesy of: gail des gardins (via Flickr), vegetarianorganicblog.com, and David Kozlowski (via Flickr)