Autumn Across America
Sample the fall colors and local flavor at 10 RV-friendly destinations that put their own distinctive stamp on the season
If the RV lifestyle has taught you anything, it’s that there’s always a surprise around the next bend in the highway. As with any trip, discovering something new is what the journey is about. Here, we’ve handpicked 10 far-ranging regions that will leave you feeling like you found more than just a great place to soak in the colors of fall — although you’ll find plenty of those, too! Buckle your seat belt because you’re in for a memorable ride to these eclectic RV destinations from Nevada to New Hampshire.
If music is a must for your leaf-peeping RV tour and you have an interest in the blues, make plans to attend Arkansas’ King Biscuit Blues Festival (www.king biscuitfestival.com) in Helena. One of the nation’s foremost blues showcases, the festival takes place every Columbus Day weekend (October 8 to 11, 2014) in the only downtown area between Memphis and Vicksburg that’s directly on the Mississippi River.
“The King Biscuit Blues Festival provides the unique opportunity for RV travelers to camp right on the Mississippi River and experience both the charm of a small Delta town and the energy of one of the top blues festivals in the country,” says Julia Malinowski, director of the Helena Advertising and Promotion Commission.
In addition to the festival’s first-come, first-served campsites at Helena River Park, a couple of nearby locations
Darling RV Park
Close to the festival with free round-trip shuttles and dry campsites (no hookups). 662-302-3206
Fred Garrison RV Park
Thirty-two RV sites with water, electric and sewer hookups.
If you’d like a record-breaking landmark to go with your fall color tour, central Kentucky’s Cave City may be just the ticket. “Cave City has hosted travelers since 1816, when Mammoth Cave began providing tours to what is now known as the longest cave system in the world,” says Jeff Lawson, president of the Cave City Chamber of Commerce.
Just 5 miles outside Mammoth Cave National Park, Cave City offers more than 53 acres of scenic roads, forests and waterways to enjoy and explore. Travelers to this area have
a variety of means to see its natural beauty, from hiking trails and horseback riding to canoeing, flying through the treetops on ziplines and dining at Park Mammoth Resort’s scenic Lookout restaurant.
Located on the original Louisville-Nashville stagecoach turnpike (now U.S. Highway 31W), the Cave City area progressed naturally over the years from stagecoaches to RVs and now hosts a number of RV campgrounds:
Cave Country RV Campground
Spacious full-hookup sites for RVs from small popups to large fifth-wheels.
270-773-4678 | www.cavecountryrv.com
Diamond Caverns RV Resort and Golf Club
Full-hookup RV sites, swimming pool, 18-hole golf course, trails, pets welcome, in neighboring Park City.
877-570-2267 | www.rvonthego.com
Mammoth Cave Campground, Mammoth Cave National Park
Paved campsites, no hookups, picnic tables, fire rings, restrooms, ¼ mile from national park visitor center.
877-444-6777 | www.recreation.gov
Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park at Mammoth Cave
Full hookups, pull-through and back-in sites, family activities.
800-523-1854 | www.jellystonemammothcave.com
For something totally out of the ordinary this fall, stop by the Nevada mountain town of Virginia City in time for the World Championship Outhouse Races (www.visitvirginiacitynv.com), October 4 and 5. Costumed teams of outhouse racers vie for glory in this high-spirited annual event.
“The weather in early fall is just perfect,” says Deny Dotson of the Virginia City Tourism Commission. “It’s one of our busiest times. The International Camel and Ostrich Races are in early September, and, of course, there’s the World Championship Outhouse Races.”
Close to Reno and Lake Tahoe, Virginia City is a great location for RVers with one campground in town and another just 20 minutes away:
Gold Dust West Casino and RV Park
Back-in and pull-through full-hookup sites, in nearby Carson City.
775-885-9000 | www.gdwcasino.com
Virginia City RV Park and Market
Campground is within walking distance of the historic downtown, full-hookup sites, convenience store and laundry room.
775-847-0999 | www.vcrvparknv.com
If lakes and fall foliage make the perfect travel combination for you, head to Ely in northeastern Minnesota, a gateway to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. As Ely’s tourism director, Lynda Fryer, shares, “It’s where only the birds tweet! And RV camping offers a great way to leave your worries behind and enjoy the great outdoors and our small-town charm.”
Fall is an ideal time to explore Ely and its surroundings. “With 500 lakes in a 20-mile radius — right in the middle of the Superior National Forest — our area is breathtaking in the fall with spectacular colors, warm days and cool, clear, starlit nights,” Fryer says. Ely’s big autumn event, the Fall Harvest Moon Festival, takes place the weekend after Labor Day, but there’s still plenty to see and do in October, minus the crowds.
Several state park and national forest campgrounds accommodate RVs in the Ely area:
Bear Head Lake State Park
Drive-in campsites with electric hookups; noted for earning the 2010 title of America’s Favorite Park in
a campaign sponsored by Coca-Cola.
218-365-7229 | www.dnr.state.mn.us
Birch Lake Campground, Superior National Forest
Back-in campsites for small to medium RVs, no hookups, easy lake access.
877-444-6777 | www.recreation.gov
Fall Lake Campground, Superior National Forest
Pull-through and back-in sites, 50-amp and water hookups, fishing, swimming, boating and Boundary Waters access.
877-444-6777 | www.recreation.gov
South Kawishiwi Campground, Superior National Forest
Pull-in campsites, electric hookups, swimming beach, hiking trail, shallow boat landing.
877-444-6777 | www.recreation.gov
When it comes to leaf-peeping must-sees, New England, naturally, tops the list. If you’re headed that way, each fall the northern New Hampshire town of Berlin hosts its colorful RiverFire (www.riverfirenh.com) on
the Androscoggin River.
Held October 18 this year, the festival highlights the beauty of the Androscoggin, says Sylvia Poulin of the Berlin Main Street Program. “The fires on the boom piers in the middle of the river, the carved pumpkins on the walking bridge and the HorrorFest haunted house, along with all the elements of a festival with music, food and entertainment, make for a wonderful day to help celebrate the history of the river and enjoy the beautiful fall season.”
Several campgrounds accommodate RVers traveling in this area:
Dolly Copp Campground
Spacious campsites, no hookups, largest campground in White Mountain National Forest.
877-444-6777 | www.recreation.gov
Shaded big-rig-friendly sites, cable TV, some sites open to reach satellite signal, in Shelburne.
603-466-3872 | www.timberlandcampgroundnh.com
Twin Mountain Motor Court and RV Park
“No rig is too big,” is the claim. Pull-throughs with full hookups, cable TV, Wi-Fi, in Twin Mountain.
603-846-5574 | www.twinmountainmotorcourtrvpark.com
White Birches Camping Park
Wooded sites that can accommodate large RVs, laundry room, grocery, showers, in Shelburne.
603-466-2022 | www.whitebirchescampingpark.com
One charming Southern stop for your fall festival tour is Mount Airy, North Carolina, also known as “Mayberry” from The Andy Griffith Show (see “In Search of Mayberry,” August 2013 issue). Jessica Icenhour Roberts of the Mount Airy Visitors Center recommends an October visit to enjoy the beautiful fall colors along the Blue Ridge Parkway and nearby Pilot Mountain, Stone Mountain and Hanging Rock state parks.
Mount Airy is in the heart of Yadkin Valley wine country, home to more than 34 wineries and one of the largest and oldest fall events in the South, the Autumn Leaves Festival (www.autumnleavesfestival.com), taking place October 10 to 12 this year. “The festival captures the spirit of rural America and showcases the local old-time and bluegrass music that is a big part of Mount Airy’s heritage,” says Icenhour Roberts.
Nearby RV accommodations include two Mount Airy campgrounds and one in nearby Pinnacle:
Beechnut Family Campground
Full hookups, Wi-Fi, swimming pools, waterslide, zipline, horseshoe pits, play area. 3
36-320-3802 | www.beechnutcampground.com
Greystone RV Park
Pull-through sites with concrete slabs, stocked catch-and-release pond, next to Pilot Knob State Park in Pinnacle.
336-368-5588 | www.greystonervpark.com
Full hookups, big-rig friendly, Wi-Fi, cable TV, community fire pit, fishing ponds.
336-789-6199 | www.mayberrycampground.com
Civil War history and crisp fall apples are a package deal when traveling in the greater Gettysburg area of Pennsylvania in autumn. During the first two full weekends this October, Adams County’s National Apple Harvest Festival (www.appleharvest.com) celebrates its 50th year. The festival has something for everyone with hundreds of arts and crafts dealers, demonstrations, contests, food stands and entertainment.
Festival spokesperson Dawn Bodenberg calls it “an old-fashioned, fun-filled family event that offers a truly down-home, feel-good time.” The South Mountain Fairgrounds where the festival takes place has a rustic setting with brilliant fall foliage. The surrounding countryside encompasses some of the East Coast’s most productive agricultural areas, including the Adams County Fruit Belt, where orchards extend for miles along the eastern slope of the South Mountain Range.
Two Gettysburg campgrounds and another in neighboring Gardners host traveling RVers:
Artillery Ridge Campground
Drive-through RV sites, full hookups, fishing, basketball, game room, weekend ghost stories, close to the battlefield.
717-334-1288 | www.artilleryridge.com
Deer Run Camping Resort
Full-hookup sites, swimming pool, country store, mini-golf, 20 minutes from Gettysburg in Gardners.
800-955-0208 | www.deerruncampingresort.com
Full-hookup sites that accommodate any size RV, recreational amenities, ice cream parlor, RV repair facility, 3 miles from downtown. 888-879-2241 | www.gettysburgcampground.com
Cooling down after Texas’ long, hot summer, fall is an ideal time to visit Fort Worth, home to art museums with some of the best collections in the country. If you travel to this north Texas locale this autumn, get a taste of the Old West at the Red Steagall Cowboy Gathering and Western Swing Festival (www.redsteagallcowboygathering.com), October 24 to 26, at Fort Worth Stockyards National Historic District.
“The festival features the best in family oriented activities where visitors can experience the true
West,” says event spokesperson Rebecca Brian. “This authentic Western event will have cowboy poets, Western entertainers, chuck-wagon cookoffs, fiddling contests, dances and a Ranch Rodeo where teams of ranch hands from famous Texas ranches compete.”
Local RV accommodations include two campgrounds in Fort Worth and one just west of the city:
Avondale RV Park
Full hookups, concrete RV pads, laundry room, nearby golf course.
817-247-9364 | www.avondalervpark.com
Cowtown RV Park
Full hookups, big-rig sites, RV supplies, dog runs, in nearby Aledo.
888-441-7878 | www.cowtownrvpark.com
Eagle Resort’s RV Park
Shaded sites, dog walk, fishing, boat dock, country setting near Fort Worth Wildlife Refuge Center.
817-237-2527 | www.eagleresorts-rv-park.com
One fall festival unites not only autumn leaves and colorful mountain views but live music and craft beer to boot. Those four relaxation factors combine to make the small town of Roseland, Virginia, one attractive destination during the three-day Festy Experience (www.thefesty.com), held October 10 through 12 this year at the Devils Backbone Brewing Company concert grounds.
“The Festy Experience treats you to a weekend of 360-degree views of the vibrant autumnal peaks of the Blue Ridge Mountains while you sample some of the best beer central Virginia has to offer, all to the soundtrack of amazing live music,” says event spokesperson Delia Stephenson.
The Festy Experience is family friendly with tent camping and a Kids Zone. RVers can pay to dry camp on the grounds or take advantage of full hookups at several RV parks in the
Shenandoah Valley Campground
Shaded pull-through and back-in sites, indoor hot tubs, waterfall, fishing, on the Middle River in Verona.
800-310-2580 | www.campingisfun.com
Staunton/Walnut Hills KOA
Pull-through and back-in sites, 2-acre fishing lake, swimming pool, RV supplies, in nearby Staunton.
540-337-3920 | www.koa.com/campgrounds/staunton
Stoney Creek Resort
Full-hookup sites, lakeside setting, electric golf cart rentals, family-owned campground in Greenville.
540-337-1510 | www.stoneycreekresort.net
For fall colors and handcrafted wine in the Pacific Northwest, pay a visit to southeastern Washington’s Yakima Valley. With nearly half of the state’s yearly wine production made from Yakima Valley grapes, the area is an ideal destination for wine and fall festival enthusiasts.
“Fall is an exceptional time to experience the Yakima Valley,” says Yakima Valley Tourism’s John Cooper. “Being an agricultural region, there are amazing colors as the fruit trees and vineyards turn golden and red. Plus, we have many festivals that celebrate the harvest and bounty.”
On October 4, there’s downtown Yakima’s Fresh Hop Ale Festival (www.freshhopalefestival.com), where you can sample freshly brewed ale while enjoying local food and music. On October 11 and 12, there’s Catch the Crush (www.wineyakimavalley.org), where participants tour vineyards, pick grapes, stomp in vats, and wine and dine at 40 Yakima Valley wineries. For more harvest fun, Bill’s Berry Farm (www.billsberryfarm.com) in Grandview hosts its annual Apple and Pumpkin Festival the first four Fridays and Saturdays in October.
Outdoor recreation and RVing are popular activities in the Pacific Northwest, and the Yakima Valley has its share of RV campgrounds, including the following three:
Circle H RV Park
Paved sites include some 60-foot pull-throughs, barbecues, fire pits, swimming pool, laundry room, free showers.
509-457-3683 | www.circlehrvpark.com
Trailer Inns RV Park
Shaded full-hookup sites, big-rig friendly (up to 90 feet), indoor pool, playground, propane, pets welcome.
800-659-4784 | www.trailerinnsrv.com
Yakama Nation RV Park
Full-hookup sites, free Wi-Fi, heated indoor pool, hot tub, saunas, fitness center, jogging path, in Toppenish.
800-874-3087 | www.ynrv.com