For our October Best Campgrounds Series, we asked Dick Mansfield from Vermont Birder, Ingrid from Live Laugh RV and Brett Neilson to share with us their favorite campgrounds for viewing the fall foliage.
Groton State Forest – Vermont
Since most Vermont state parks have good fall colors it is not easy to pick a favorite but we vote for the campgrounds in the Groton State Forest. When you see the spectacular crimson and orange trees covering rocky hillsides and all the small bodies of water, it is easy to envision the hundreds of Native Americans and French who used these water routes to reach Canada and Massachusetts. You can also see why a century ago, when the railroad was running (now a great rail trail) this forest was a hotbed of logging.
New Discovery State Park is the one we like best. Because of its Civilian Conservation Corps history, not only does it have some lovely old structures but also has well-spaced sites. There are two close-by sister state parks, Stillwater and Ricker Pond, which are delightful as well and have their own devotees who return year after year.
Like all Vermont state parks, there are no hookups but New Discovery has RV sites that ring some grassy loops with lovely tall pines. Some are sized for big rigs. The rustic restrooms and coin-operated showers may remind you of “summer camp” but are clean and well-kept. Part of the campground is set aside for camping with horses. There are no wi-fi or 4G signals in the campground. You’ll find a lot of pop-up campers and smaller rigs – this is definitely rural camping in Vermont’s second largest forest.
Most Vermont parks close after Columbus Day weekend (some after Labor Day) so the best time to visit for fall color is during the last week of September and first few days of October. Reservations are likely needed for the weekends and can be made six months in advance online. Calling the campground during season is also a great way to find the best available site. – Dick Mansfield, Vermont Birder
Photos by Michelle Childs
Ridgway State Park – Ridgway, CO
One of our favorite state parks to visit any time of year is Ridgway State Park. Located in western Colorado and surrounded by majestic mountains in all directions, this park offers a little something for everyone; hiking, biking, swimming, boating, fishing, back country 4×4 exploring, and quaint mountain towns for shopping and dining. During late spring and early summer while the prairie grasses come out of hibernation the mountains are still covered in a beautiful blanket of white. By July, the landscape graces us with a rainbow of colors provided by meadows of wildflowers. And then there’s fall… Aahhh, Colorado shows us her gold as the quaking Aspen turn a lovely golden hue and Elk can be heard bugling in the distance.
Ridgway State Park offers three different and unique campgrounds. The most popular being the Elk Ridge Campground which is nestled amongst pine trees atop a mountain mesa overlooking Ridgway Lake.
Our favorite is the Dakota Terraces Campground. It is situated in a meadow setting with open views and within walking distance to the visitor center and swim beach. This is the only area of the park that is open year-round. There’s a camper services building with laundry facility, flush toilets, pay showers, and dump station. Downside: it is located along highway 550 and thus road noise can occasionally be heard.
Dakota Terraces and Elk Ridge Campgrounds offer electric only and the sites are varied in size, length and level. Internet can be sporadic. We’ve stayed in sites 3, 15, 18, and 20 with our 31’ 5th wheel and have had no issues parking or being able to work via the internet. Those looking for full hook-ups and big rig friendly sites will enjoy the Pa-Co-Chu-Puk Campground located below the damn and along the river, but do note, internet connection is unlikely at this campground.
Fall is a great time to visit Colorado’s western slope. Summer tourist season is over and winter season hasn’t started. Plus, who can resist those mountain views touched by gold? – Ingrid, Live Laugh RV
It never fails that the first signs of fall come into the Heber Valley in early September. Driving along US-40 just north of Heber, Utah, you can start to see the early signs of the colors changing. Generally speaking within a few weeks of the first signs, the various mountains surrounding the valley light up in a sea of reds and yellows. Two of the most popular locations in the area for getting fully immersed in the colors are Guardsman Pass and the Alpine Loop. If at all possible travel these areas during the week to avoid all the local crowds. If limited to a weekend, you should find Sundays less crowded than Saturdays.
The Heber valley is located in Wasatch County and has several great campgrounds in the immediate area. To the North sits Jordanelle State Park. To the West is the Wasatch Mountain State Park. To the South you have Deer Creek State Park and the Mountain Valley RV Resort. – Brett Neilson