Fall Colors and Festivities
Top 10 RV destinations across America to enjoy this October
While every now and then you’ll meet a solo RV traveler, the majority of us take part in the leisure travel that defines the RV lifestyle with our partners, family and friends. That said, for every RV traveler who wants to enjoy the drive to soak in fall colors this season, there’s another riding shotgun who’s just itching to get out and enjoy the festivities and happenings in local towns. We searched high and wide, from north to south and east to west to bring you these top 10 unique finds we recommend you discover this fall that offer your RV-traveling crew the best of both worlds: fall colors and fun festivals!
Seasonal Colors, Southwest Style Found in Flagstaff, Arizona
For those who are hundreds of miles west of the Mississippi River, leaf peeping in renowned places like New Hampshire is hard to fit in on a weekend. However, as a unique place to experience what many leaf peepers seek in an authentic fall season, Flagstaff (www.flagstaffarizona.org/fall) is an ideal and frequently unexpected Southwest destination in autumn.
“Flagstaff experiences excellent fall conditions and is fortunate to have mild days with crisp cool nights and several areas with large stands of aspen, which glow golden for a few weeks,” advised Joanne Hudson, Public Relations Specialist for the Flagstaff Convention & Visitors Bureau.
To experience the season at its most exhilarating conditions, visitors are encouraged to hit the trails at the around-8,000-foot elevation, where aspen trees give off a golden sunshinelike glow.
One popular fall attraction (through October 13, 2013) is to take the Scenic Chairlift Ride at the Arizona Snowbowl, where you are carried up to an elevation of 11,500 feet. From there you can see for more than 70 miles. In autumn, the peaks below have a golden patchwork of fall color mixed with the deep green of Ponderosa pine and conifer trees.
Area RV parks include:
Black Barts RV Park, 928-774-1912, www.flagstaffarizona.org/flagstaff_locations/black-barts-rv-park
J&H RV Park, 928-526-1829, www.flagstaffrvparks.com
Woody Mountain Campground & RV Park | 800-732-7986 | www .woodymountaincampground.com
Midwest Fall Fun in Mountain View, Arkansas
Fall foliage is a good reason to hail to Mountain View, Arkansas, throughout the season — but that’s just the start when it comes to finding fun and adventure in this family friendly destination. At the beginning of October, visitors and locals alike can enjoy the Herb Harvest Festival (October 4-5, 2013); and at the end of the month, food is front and center for entertainment with the town’s 31st Annual Arkansas BeanFest & Championship Outhouse Races (October 25-27, 2013), which features a bean and cornbread cook-off, “Parade of Outhouses” and “Outhouse Races,” music throughout the town’s Courthouse Square, a talent show, crafts and food. Information on both events is available at www.ozarkfolkcenter.com/events.
The area also boasts high-adventure activities and destinations like Loco Ropes Treetop Adventure, Blanchard Springs Caverns (described as “one of the most extraordinary finds of the century” in Life magazine, located in the Ozark National Forest just north of Mountain View), and the hands-on Ozark craft and music-filled Young Pioneer Program. There are also opportunities to celebrate like a local in the “Folk Music Capital of the World” by bringing your instrument and joining in the pickin’ sessions held every Saturday night at the Courthouse Square next to Pickin’ Park.
Area RV parks include:
Holiday Mountain Resort | 800-395-7108 | www.holidaymtnresort.com
Mountain View RV Park | 800-793-3161 | www.mountainview-rvpark.com
Ozark RV Park | 866-OZARK RV | www.ozarkrvpark.com
Drinking in Fall Colors — Sonoma County Style
Just 35 miles north of San Francisco, Petaluma serves as the gateway to Sonoma County’s wine country, with October being an ideal time to visit for the season’s colors and festivities. It’s also the magical time of year known as the “crush,” the culmination of the year-long process of growing wine grapes. Many wineries in the area host special events surrounding their harvest. A popular Sonoma County fall event is the Tolay Fall Festival (held October 10-14, 2013, and October 16-20, 2013). Held on a 1,769-acre regional park near Petaluma, the festival includes nature walks, a giant straw maze and pumpkin patch and ranger-led hayrides.
One well-known and highly rated RV facility is the San Francisco North/Petaluma KOA, where many RVers make their home base for day trips to the dramatic Sonoma Coast, the majestic redwoods or wine tasting at one of Sonoma’s 350 wineries.
Area RV parks include:
Napa Valley Expo RV Park | 707-253-4900, ext. 102 | www.napavalleyexpo.com/f-rvs.html
San Francisco North/Petaluma KOA | 800-562-1233 | http://koa.com/campgrounds/san-francisco
Wine Country RV Park | 707-795-9333 | www.winecountryrvparksonoma.com
Fall Nature Spectacular Found in Crisp Colorado Colors and Mountaintops
While Colorado’s capitol building is known for its Beulah Red Marble, the state is also a much sought-after destination for color splendor found in its fall foliage. Leadville and the Twin Lakes area are two such notable sites to find Colorado’s colors shining brightly during fall. RV travelers who take the Top of the Rockies National and State Scenic Byway will travel through both towns with a stunning view that only altitudes rarely falling below 9,000 feet can offer. Views include snowcapped mountains — including the two highest peaks in Colorado — covered in patches of green, gold and fiery orange, the largest glacial lake in the state, ghost towns and more.
Leadville is one of Colorado’s most historic and authentic mining towns. A 70-square-block section of Downtown Leadville has been designated a National Historic Landmark District with Victorian architecture and many antique and specialty shops as well as great restaurants. It’s also the highest elevation incorporated city in North America, with fresh alpine air and clean, cool water. The Leadville Colorado & Southern Railroad offers two-and-a-half hour trips through the Arkansas River Valley, which is a destination in itself for fall color. Twin Lakes and Turquoise Lake offer fishing, hiking and national forest campgrounds.
An RV park that is open year-round:
Leadville RV Corral | 719-486-3111 | www.mountainrvpark.com/t-location.htm
Follow the “Fall Flock” to Idaho
Visitors flocking to the Sun Valley, Idaho, area for its fall foliage and mountain scenery in October will find themselves in very interesting company in the middle of the month with the 17th Annual Trailing of the Sheep Festival (October 10-13, 2013, www.trailing
ofthesheep.org) in nearby Wood River Valley. The event celebrates the 150-plus-year tradition of moving sheep from mountain summer pastures south through the valley to traditional winter grazing and lambing areas. This annual migration provides an experience of Idaho living history.
“The Trailing of the Sheep Festival is the perfect event for celebrating the history and heritage of the West. It’s a beautiful time of year here and there’s culture, fabulous food and entertainment all weekend long. This one-of-a-kind festival draws people from around the world — and they love it!” said Mary Austin Crofts, executive director of the Trailing of the Sheep Festival.
An RV park that is open year-round:
Meadows RV Park | 208-726-5445 | www.themeadowsinketchum.com/rv
Commemorate Columbus Day with Cranberries in Massachusetts
Millions of leaf peepers pour into New England annually to see the region’s amazing changes of color. While en route to see the leaves change, RVers looking for a family friendly and unique event will find both at the Cranberry Harvest Celebration. The festival takes place over Columbus Day weekend (October 12-13, 2013, www.cranberryharvest.org) at the A.D. Makepeace Company, a leading cranberry grower in Wareham, Massachusetts. The festival is cosponsored by the Cape Cod Cranberry Growers’ Association and Ocean Spray and annually averages about 32,000 attendees who can learn about cranberry harvesting and enjoy food, rides and games.
“This is a great festival for young and old,” said Linda Burke, vice president of marketing and communications for A.D. Makepeace Company. “We focus on the fun, but it’s educational as well. We guarantee that you will leave here knowing something about cranberries that you didn’t know before.”
Area RV parks include:
Bourne Scenic Park | 508-759-7873 | www.bournescenicpark.com (open March 29-October 27)
Gateway to Cape Cod RV Park | 877-570-2267 | www.rvonthego.com/massachusetts/gateway-to-cape-cod-rv (open April 12-October 20)
Shady Acres Campground | 508-866-4040 | www.shadyacrescamping.com (open April 15-October 15)
Wine and Covered Bridges Welcome Fall in Ashtabula County, Ohio
Fall foliage is a must-see in Ohio with October being the peak month for leaf peeping. For Midwest RVers with more than a little leaf peeping on their mind, an experience akin to one you may find in California’s Napa Valley for wine country can be found in Ohio in Ashtabula County (which boasts the production of 65 percent of all Ohio grapes). Recommended stops on the Ohio Wine Country tour are the Ferrante Winery and Ristorante, where 22 wines are paired perfectly with the restaurant’s upscale dining menu, as well as Chalet Debonne Vineyards, the largest estate-winery in Ohio. Interestingly, wineries pair well with covered bridges for local tourist activities. Visitors are invited by Ashtabula County to check out its 18 covered bridges, most of which are historic and renovated, during the annual Ashtabula County Covered Bridge Festival (October 12-13, 2013) or with a self-guided driving tour. The tour includes the Smolen-Gulf Bridge, the longest covered bridge in the United States.
Area RV parks include:
Geneva State Park, open April to November, with a limited number of electric sites maintained for camping through the end of December | 440-466-8400 | parks.ohiodnr.gov/geneva
RV accommodations at Pyma-tuning Adventure Resort | 888-226-8899 | www .pymatuningadventureresort.com.
The campground is open year-round but nonmembers need to call five days in advance for reservations.
Autumn Events Celebrate American Indian Culture and the Old West
With six national parks, 12 state parks and 42 recreation areas, RVers would be wise to make South Dakota a statewide series of destinations for the fall. Autumn scenery throughout the state includes yellow aspen, crisp red maple, sumac, oak, elm and ash trees. Some of the best scenic drives in the state include the Native American Scenic Byway, Peter Norbeck Scenic Byway, and Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway, which travels along incredible limestone cliffs and the breathtaking Spearfish Canyon.
Adding to the state’s autumn fun are many events and festivals that celebrate the local culture. The Wild West Songwriters Festival in historic Deadwood (October 10-13, 2013) commemorates the tradition of storytelling through song with Deadwood’s Wild West history in mind. The 27th Annual Black Hills Powwow in Rapid City (October 11-13, 2013) is one of the premier American Indian cultural events in the country. The event brings together hundreds of dancers, singers and artists and thousands of spectators who come out to enjoy the indigenous song and dance.
Nearby RV parks open year-round include:
Heartland RV Park | 866-HILLSRV (445-5778) | www.heartlandcampground.com
No Name City RV and Cabins | 605-347-8891 | www.nonamecity.com
Wyatt’s Hideaway Campground | 605-892-0600 | www.wyattshideaway.com
Fall Festivities in the Foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains
RV travelers on the journey for good-old-fashioned seasonal fun will find ample options in October by stopping in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Beyond planning activities to enjoy the foliage within the most-visited national park itself, there are multiple destinations in the foothills of the park to commemorate the season.
The nearby town of Sevierville, Tennessee, hosts several events, including the annual Smoky Mountain Harvest Festival during the entire month of October. The festival is a celebration of autumn, with pumpkins, hay bales and fall themes to welcome visitors. Attractions in the area include zip lining, horseback riding, scenic helicopter tours and unique adventures like crossing America’s longest swinging bridge on the hour-long Swinging Bridge Adventure at Foxfire Mountain (www.foxfiremountain.com).
Another must-stop for RVers making the area a destination in October is the 150-acre theme park of Dollywood (www.dollywood.com) in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Dollywood’s National Southern Gospel & Harvest Celebration (October 2 to November 2, 2013) features daily concerts throughout the park by Southern gospel’s most popular artists, which are free with park admission.
There are a number of RV resorts open year-round in the area including:
Cove Creek RV Resort | 877-570-2683 | www.covecreekrvresort.com
Cove Mountain RV Park | 865-453-1041 | www.covemountainrvresort.com
Ripplin’ Waters Campground | 865-453-4169 | http://ripplinwatersrv.com
Bridge Day Marks Peak of Leaf Peeping in Southern West Virginia
The leaves in southern West Virginia typically peak around the end of September through the third week of October. While leaf peepers visit West Virginia parks and scenic byways to see the change of color, there are also a number of October festivals to keep tourists entertained, one of the larger ones being Bridge Day (October 19, 2013, www.officialbridgeday.com), an annual event on the New River Gorge Bridge outside of Fayetteville, West Virginia. The attraction of Bridge Day is the “B.A.S.E. Jumpers” and rappellers who travel from all over the world to jump, be catapulted, or rappel the 876-foot-tall single-span arch bridge.
“Bridge Day is one of the most exciting, breathtaking events in the state of West Virginia. The explosion of color on the West Virginia mountains is the perfect backdrop for viewing the B.A.S.E. jumpers taking a leap of faith off the New River Gorge Bridge,” said Lisa Strader, social media coordinator for Visit Southern West Virginia. “It’s also the only day the New River Gorge Bridge is open to pedestrian traffic.”
RV-friendly resorts and campgrounds nearby include:
New River Campground | 304-632-9821 | www.newrivercampground.com (open March 1-October 31, some winter sites available by request)
New River Gorge Gateway Center Camping and RV Park | 304-574-1802
Rifrafters Campground | 304-574-1065 | www.rifrafters.com/rv-camping .html (open until October 31, only 12 RV sites)