in Camping / by Nick Jaynes
The weather is changing. That crisp breeze is in the air, the leaves are fading into golden hues, and, for many of us, a sense of adventure comes with the seasonal transition. If you are looking to head towards the Northeast end of the United States to explore the beauty of the fall landscape, we have some must-visit places to add to your list.
From incredible hikes and breathtaking views, to stunning road trip routes and stargazing meccas, check out some of our favorite fall destinations in the Northeast United States.
Robert H. Treman State Park – Ithaca, New York
Tucked in the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York, Robert H. Treman State Park is an ideal destination for families and hiking fanatics. The park follows the path of Enfield Creek and features miles of hiking trails with views of gorges, waterfalls, and tree-filled valleys. The colors in the fall reflecting off the water is a sight that can take anyone’s breath away.
Being situated just southwest of Ithaca, it is easy to plan any number of day trip excursions. Within a couple hours drive you can be at the shores of Lake Ontario, exploring the museums of Rochester, or seeing the awesome fury of Niagara Falls.
The biggest problem with planning a camping trip to Robert H. Treman in the fall is getting the timing right. The camping season ends on November 11th, so you need to plan your trip earlier in the season.
Moraine State Park – Portersville, Pennsylvania
A lot of folks forget that Pennsylvania features some of the most scenic countryside in the entire country, so allow us to remind you what incredible sites and scenery exist in the northern foothills of the Appalachian Mountains.
If you head just north of Pittsburgh you will find Moraine State Park. Surrounding Lake Arthur, Moraine gives visitors access to more than 42 miles of shoreline that snakes around the 3,200-acre lake.
For the hiking crowd there are nearly 30 miles of trails, as well as trails for horseback riding and mountain biking. Beyond the general beauty and scenery of the lake and the surrounding forest land, Moraine State Park is a great destination for wildlife observers and birders. The shallowness of the lake makes it ideal for marine birds like herons and kingfishers, but you can also see birds of prey like bald eagles and osprey.
The only downside to Moraine is you can’t camp directly in the park. Thankfully there are plenty of campgrounds right near the park entrances. We recommend Bear Run Campground for first time visitors.
Shenandoah National Park, Virginia
Head a little farther south to Virginia and you can explore one of the greatest wild areas left in the United States. Draped across the ridge of the Appalachian mountains like a jade velvet cloak, Shenandoah is more than 200,000 acres of unspoiled nature and wonder. There are scenic overlooks with literal miles of visibility, more than 500 miles of marked trails, five dedicated campsites, as well as plenty of swimming, fishing, animal watching, and more.
Best of all, this incredible wilderness is accessed by one of the most beautiful drives on planet earth, the Skyline Drive. Skyline Drive rides atop the Blue Ridge Mountains and splits the park in half. It is 105 miles from end to end and it features 75 individually named overlooks to allow you to stop and appreciate the view. If you can get there at sunset during the peak of leaf season, it looks like it’s on fire with gold and ruby leaves rustling in the fading light. Even if you don’t take advantage of the park, the drive through alone is worth the trip.
If you do want to camp, this is another one where you need to hit the season early. Between the end of October and November, all the campsites in Shenandoah are closed. Skyline drive is also closed as winter approaches, as the mountain road becomes dangerous and unpassable in snowy conditions.
Road Trip Adventures
While camping is the most fun you can have with your Roofnest rooftop tent, one of the benefits is that you can drive wherever you want. Camping in the Northeast is hard in winter as almost all campgrounds north of Washington DC close in October, but that doesn’t mean you can’t hit the open road and enjoy the sights available in New England this fall.
Here are some of our favorite places to visit, even if you can’t go camping:
Bar Harbor, Maine
A tiny town nestled next to Acadia National Park, Bar Harbor is one of our favorite fall retreats. Acadia’s unique wildlife and plants mean the park is a speckled quilt of deep amber leaves and bright evergreen patches scattered amongst the dark gray of the bald granite outcroppings.
During the day you can book ferry trips to visit the various islands in the area, or even head out into the ocean for a whale watching excursion and maybe catch a glimpse of some humbacks or minke whales.
When the sun sets, you will find plenty of food and nightlife activities to keep you occupied until the sun rises again. Just make sure you don’t forget to take a minute to look up into that starry night sky and try to catch a glimpse of the northern lights.
White Mountain National Forest – Campton, New Hampshire
If you want to stick inland on your fall road trip to find all those beautiful maple syrup farms and sleepy villages with their covered bridges, head towards White Mountain National Forest. Situated in the heart of the New Hampshire mountains, White Mountain National Forest is an 800,000-acre sprawling wilderness that wraps its way around many small villages and towns, providing an experience akin to exploring America before it became the sprawling concrete empire we know of today.
Inside the White Mountain National Forest area you can find 25 different waterfalls, 58 covered bridges, and hundreds of miles of hiking trails and scenic driving roads.
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