Charming Small Towns With Stunning Fall Colors

 Tupper Lake, NY


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 Tupper Lake, NY

Autumn Palette

Many people are eager to say goodbye to summer, including leaf peepers everywhere. They're already gearing up for that magical time of year when autumn transforms the countryside into a stunning display of colors. To help you find the best places across the United States and make the most of this vibrant season, we've identified charming small towns or communities known not only for their fall foliage display but where you can also camp nearby to further enhance your communing with nature. Please let us know which places you would recommend in the comments.

Related: Cheap Fall Weekend Getaway Spots

Fish Creek_012DSC_1428
Fish Creek_012DSC_1428 by Dave (CC BY-NC-ND)

Fish Creek, Wisconsin

In the heart of Wisconsin's Northern Door Peninsula, the village of Fish Creek is known for its breathtaking scenery. The community is also home to a variety of shopping and entertainment, including a vibrant arts and culture scene — some of which you can still take advantage of, despite COVID-19.

Where to Camp: Fish Creek is the gateway to the popular Peninsula State Park, home to 468 campsites. Camping is available year-round, though this fall rangers will be looking for people holding annual passes ($38 for non-resident, available to purchase online).

Related: 22 Small Towns with Vibrant Art Scenes

Spartanburg, South Carolina

Spartanburg, South Carolina

A small southern town full of charm, Spartanburg is at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains, meaning it's an ideal place for fall leaf-peeping drives (in addition to enjoying the colors in town). Spartanburg is also home to the nationally recognized Milliken Arboretum, where there's a system of trails ideal for taking in the changing colors. 

Where to Camp: Pine Ridge Campground, a family-owned campground open year-round, is just outside Spartanburg.

Related: Scenic RV Trips You Can Enjoy Over a Weekend

2012 Downtown Georgia photo contest entry
2012 Downtown Georgia photo contest entry by Georgia Historic Preservation Division, DNR (CC BY-SA)

Hartwell, Georgia

Hartwell's charming downtown area includes shops, restaurants, a brewery, a music venue, and Hart County Community Theater. The town also sits on the shores of picturesque Lake Hartwell, which provides a stunning backdrop for foliage drives. The area is home to at least eight foliage routes

Where to Camp: Open year-round, Watsadler Campground is near Hartwell Dam overlooking the "Big Water" section of Lake Hartwell. Many of its campsites are tree-covered waterfront locations, providing a fantastic view of the lake in all of its fall glory.

Related: Affordable Fall Getaways for Empty Nesters

Twin Lakes Campground

Pendleton, South Carolina

Also along the banks of Lake Hartwell, tiny Pendleton oozes quintessential small-town charm and is another ideal place to take in the colors of the season, says Laura Seabolt of the site Lake Hartwell Guide. "Pendleton has one of the cutest downtowns in the area. It surrounds a central park where they often hold festivals and their historic town hall now serves as a fine dining restaurant," Seabolt says. 

Where to Camp: Twin Lakes campground, which has 102 campsites, is among the most popular in Pendleton and is a great base for foliage drives, Seabolt says.

Cape Henlopen State Park
Cape Henlopen State Park by Mike Mahaffie (CC BY-NC-ND)

Lewes, Delaware

A tiny community where you'll find amazing fall views and plenty of camping, Lewes is another top choice for leaf peepers. One of the best ways to take it all in is driving along the 13-mile Historic Lewes Byway, which takes travelers through Cape Henlopen State Park and into historic Lewes. 

Where to Camp: There's a long list of campsites available within Cape Henlopen State Park, a 7,000-acre expanse at the juncture of the Delaware Bay and the Atlantic Ocean.

Related: Tiny Travelogue — 50 Small Towns to Visit Across the U.S.

Brandonrush by Brandonrush (CC BY)

Fayetteville, Arkansas

One of the most popular things to do in the small town of Fayetteville, below the Ozark mountains, is to enjoy the outdoors. The area is home to 3,000 acres of natural areas and parks and miles of scenic regional trails for hiking and biking. 

Where to Camp: One of the area's most popular camping (and hiking) sites is Devil's Den State Park, which offers dozens of campsites and several trails that lead to breathtaking views.

Related: 14 Memorable and Challenging Multi-Day Hiking Trips

Woodstock, New Hampshire

Lincoln and Woodstock, New Hampshire

The 800,000-acre White Mountains region of New Hampshire is the destination for fall foliage viewing, known for its natural splendor. The air is crisp and cool, and the trees on the mountains and valleys turn vibrant shades of yellow, orange, red, and purple. The back roads, scenic vistas, sweeping mountain views, waterfalls, and lakes throughout the area make for extraordinary leaf-peeping. Lincoln and Woodstock are two neighboring small mountain towns that are legendary in the region and make an ideal base for taking it all in. 

Where to Camp: The Lincoln/Woodstock KOA offers drive-thru RV sites as well as large wilderness sites for tenting.

Related: The Most Underrated Town in Every State

sampson state park

Romulus, New York

A small town in Seneca County in the heart of New York's Finger Lakes region, Romulus is among the favorite fall destinations for travel blogger Taima Ramsey, founder and editor of the site Poor in a Private Plane. "In the fall, enjoy one of the many hikes in nearby Watkins Glen or Taughannock Falls, where you can take in the beautiful fall colors," Ramsey says. Mostly an agricultural region, Romulus is also home to a variety of historical museums and nationally renowned wineries.


Where to Camp: The 2,070-acre Sampson State Park, in Romulus, includes 243 electric campsites.

Related: Cheap RV Parks in All 50 States

Alum Creek State Park
Alum Creek State Park by Betty B (CC BY-NC-ND)

Delaware, Ohio

A charming small town about 20 minutes from downtown Columbus, Delaware is another place known for its breathtaking fall colors. One of the best places to immerse yourself in the scenery is at Alum Creek, a 4,630-acre state park that includes a 3,387-acre reservoir. Many visitors opt for kayaking, boating or paddle boarding to see the beautiful fall foliage colors by water. 

Where to Camp: There are 286 electric campsites at Alum Creek State Park featuring both wooded and sunny areas, some of which overlook the lake. 

Rappahannock River Cruise: Richmond County Shoreline
Rappahannock River Cruise: Richmond County Shoreline by Virginia Hill (CC BY-ND)

Urbanna, Virginia

On the Rappahannock River on Virginia's Middle Peninsula, Urbanna (population 442 as of the 2020 census) is about an hour outside of Richmond, making it an easy destination for a last-minute fall getaway, says Randy Berman of When it comes to charm, it doesn't get much better than historic Urbanna, which is home to seven buildings that have been in continuous use since the Colonial period. This tiny tidewater town is notably home to a fall oyster festival, which attracts about 75,000 visitors a year, Berman says.

Where to Camp: Along the banks of the Rappahannock River, Bethpage Camp Resort not only offers a picturesque location, it's also been dubbed the "Best RV Park in the Nation" and has received various other accolades from the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds.

Related: The Most Luxurious RV Resorts Across America

Dublin, Ohio

Dublin, Ohio

With more than 1,136 acres of parkland and more than 100 miles of bike paths, the town of Dublin offers plenty of places to enjoy the colors of the season, whether it's hiking across a prairie or exploring a wooded path. There are also four beautiful waterfalls in the area that add to the beauty of a fall hike. Mix things up a bit and explore historic downtown Dublin, which is home to more than 70 pieces of public art. 

Where to Camp: One of the campgrounds closest to the tiny community of Dublin is Pastime Campground in the village of Plain City, about 8 miles from Dublin. 

Fall In Moberly Park Trenton Missouri
Fall In Moberly Park Trenton Missouri by Ido Genealogy (CC BY-NC-ND)

Moberly, Missouri

A unique town in the center of Missouri, the fall colors in Moberly are beautiful, says Michelle Greenwell, a tourism specialist with the Moberly Area Chamber of Commerce. The best time to see the region's foliage in its full glory is October, says Greenwell, who also suggests visiting the Shepherd Farms pecan orchard (open as of Oct. 1) to buy some locally sourced pecans and see how they're shelled. The farm operates one of the largest pecan orchards in the state. 

Where to Camp: Within Rothwell Park's 465 acres, Thompson Campground puts you amid trails, fishing, boating, and more. There's an RV park, primitive areas designated for tent camping, and year-round shower and restroom facilities. 

Greenville, Maine

Greenville, Maine

In the heart of the Maine Highlands region, the small town of Greenville has long attracted outdoor enthusiasts. The town is home to Moosehead Lake, the state's largest at 40 miles long and 20 miles wide. Looking for a memorable way to take in the foliage here? Venture to a peninsula in the middle of the lake and hike up to the top of Mount Kineo.  

Where to Camp: There are a variety of campgrounds in the area including Moose River Campground, which offers 48 large wooded or sunny campsites. There's also a store onsite for visitors. Moosehead Family Campground is another option, just 1 mile south of Moosehead Lake.

Cumberland, Maryland

Cumberland, Maryland

Autumn in Alleghany County is spectacular, and one of the best small towns to serve as a base for exploring this picturesque region is Cumberland. Established in 1787, Cumberland is a historic town among the Appalachian Mountains. One of the most memorable ways to take in the stunning foliage of the region is aboard the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad

Where to Camp: Rocky Gap State Park offers 278 individual campsites as well as mini-cabins and yurts.

Related: 20 Spectacular Trails That Used to Be Railroads

Beartrap Meadow Color
Beartrap Meadow Color by Eric (CC BY-NC-ND)

Casper, Wyoming

In the heart of Wyoming, Casper is home to just under 60,000 people and sits at the base of Casper Mountain. The town is known for both its world-class outdoor recreational opportunities and its lively downtown. September and October are ideal times to visit the area, local tourism officials say. Not only are the fall colors starting to appear, but you'll also see animal migrations starting to take place. Head to Casper Mountain to get the best views of the foliage — either from a drive along the road or via one of the many biking and hiking trails. 

Where to Camp: Fort Caspar Campground offers 86 RV sites and 10 campsites. There are also two fishing ponds and walking trails to take in the scenery.

Autumn in Rockport Harbor 01
Autumn in Rockport Harbor 01 by smilla4 (CC BY-NC)

Rockport, Maine

A quintessential small Maine town, Rockport is considered a hidden gem along the state's mid-coast region. It was even named one of America's prettiest towns by Forbes. Peak foliage season in Rockport is typically the second to last week of October, says Kurosh Hashemi, founder of the travel site Road Goat, who says Rockport is his favorite place to take in the season. "The red, yellow, and orange colors of the trees, wrapped in remnants of green, contrasts beautifully with the blue hues of the water in the harbor and with the hills behind," Hashemi says. 

Where to Camp: To enjoy nature to the fullest, book a camping site at nearby Lobster Buoy Campsites. "There's possibly no campsite in the country with a better view. Tent sites sit right on the beach overlooking the shimmering water and to the island on the other side, surrounded by the fall colors," Hashemi says. No site at Lobster Buoy is more than 150 yards from the seashore. 

Tupelo, Mississippi

Tupelo, Mississippi

While Tupelo may be most famous for being the birthplace of Elvis Presley, it also happens to be a noteworthy place to see fall foliage. Home to about 38,000 people, Tupelo is the headquarters of the Natchez Trace Parkway, an 8,000-year-old Native American trail that has been turned into a scenic byway. The drive is canopied by trees and visitors will find very few cars on the road. There's also no stop lights — just trees and open road. 

Where to Camp: Located 6 miles from Tupelo, Tombigbee State Park includes 20 developed campsites for RVs or tents, as well as a primitive camping area and cabins.

Related: Amazing Places to Take a Selfie in All 50 States

Estes Park, Colorado

Estes Park, Colorado

Estes Park is a Colorado mountain village that's widely recognized as the base camp to Rocky Mountain National Park. What better place to explore the foliage of the season? 

Where to Camp: During the height of fall foliage, experience some of the best views around by signing up for a cliff-camping experience with Kent Mountain Adventure Center. The experience runs through September, which is prime aspen viewing time in Colorado and involves sleeping on a rock wall high above the ground. For those with a fear of heights, Rocky Mountain National Park also offers plenty of camping. (Reservations are currently required for entry.)

Lebanon, Pennsylvania

Lebanon, Pennsylvania

Near Lancaster County and the city of Hershey, Lebanon is a community of about 25,000 founded in 1740. One of the best ways to take in the foliage here is by biking or walking on the Lebanon Valley Rail Trail, a 15-mile recreation trail that will take you on a scenic route through the county. Tourism officials say the fall colors begin to peak during the third week of October, and Lebanon provides a stunning show. 

Where to Camp: Hershey RV & Camping Resort offers a quiet campground setting on 200 acres of farmland in the heart of Pennsylvania Dutch Country.

Fall on the mountain
Fall on the mountain by UGA CAES/Extension (CC BY-NC)

Blairsville, Georgia

Nestled in the north Georgia Mountains, Blairsville (population 652) is just a short drive from one of Georgia's most notable landmarks, Brasstown Bald. Within the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests, the Brasstown Bald Recreation Area & Visitor Center is the highest point in Georgia, rising 4,784 feet above sea level. It's an ideal place to take in the stunning fall colors of the mountains around Blairsville. And on a clear day, Brasstown Bald visitors can even get a glimpse of the downtown Atlanta skyline, more than 100 miles away. 

Where to Camp: Crossing Creeks RV Resort & Spa is on 100 acres and is surrounded by the picturesque Coosa and Anderson creeks. The campsite options include creek-side lots.

Alpine, Arizona

Alpine, Arizona

Tucked away at an elevation of more than 8,000 feet in Arizona's White Mountains, the small town of Alpine (where the population is about 154, according to the 2020 census) is a treasure trove of fall colors. The mountains surrounding Alpine are covered with ponderosa pines, fir, and aspen trees. To make the most of your visit, hike nearby Escudilla Peak, which is Arizona's third-highest mountain at 10,912 feet above sea level. 

Where to Camp: The Alpine Divide Campground offers a picturesque setting at the foot of Escudilla Mountain in a cool, quiet grove of ponderosa pines.

Leavenworth, Washington

Leavenworth, Washington

A quaint Bavarian-themed town east of Seattle, Leavenworth's beautiful fall colors begin to make their appearance in mid- to late-September through October, says travel writer Adria Saracino, creator of The Emerald Palate. "In addition, it's perfectly located for taking hikes to explore larches, evergreen trees that change colors like deciduous trees," Saracino says. The larches put on their display for only two to four weeks and the time frame changes every year, so locals scour the Washington Trails Association's website to find out when the trees are changing colors, Saracino says. 

Where to Camp: Amid an alpine setting, the Leavenworth RV Resort offers a trendy alternative to camping. The facility provides a variety of tiny houses for rent.

Related: Places to 'Travel Abroad' Without Leaving the U.S.

Bastrop state park

Bastrop, Texas

Just 30 miles southeast of Austin, Bastrop is situated along the banks of the Colorado River. The community, known for its charming downtown, live music, and mouth-watering food, is also home to the 6,000-acre Bastrop State Park, a popular stop for those looking to be immersed in nature. Activities at the park include hiking, fishing, nature programs and geocaching. 

Where to Camp: There are numerous campsites throughout Bastrop State Park, some of which offer full hook-ups, others electricity or water.

Fayetteville, West Virginia

Fayetteville, West Virginia

A small town along the New River Gorge, Fayetteville boasts that it's an outdoor lover's haven. The town is surrounded by mountains that provide a vibrant show of color in the fall. The leaves throughout the region are said to be some of the brightest in the East, and they change sooner than New England's, starting as early as September and peaking toward the end of the month. One of the best ways to take it all in is to simply drive down the country roads where you'll see miles of uninterrupted color. 

Where to Camp: Just minutes from downtown Fayetteville, West Virginia Adventures offers tent camping, cabins, and RV sites with hook-ups. 

Cedar City, Utah
Sara Edwards/istockphoto

Cedar City, Utah

As the weather starts to cool, the area around Cedar City, a community founded in 1851, prepares to put on a dramatic show. With a backdrop of striking red rocks and southern Utah's national parks, Cedar City provides an unmatched destination for fall foliage viewing. Peak season for fall color viewing runs from September through October. One of the best places to take it all in is Cedar Breaks National Monument, where alongside incredible foliage and towering aspens in their fall finest there are incredible red rock views, hiking trails, and unparalleled night sky viewing. 

Where to Camp: Camp at 10,000 feet elevation at Point Supreme (though not the overlook, which is closed until 2022), open until late September. 

Watkins Glen, New York

Watkins Glen, New York

A town that's home to numerous farm-to-table restaurants as well as awe-inspiring waterfalls, Watkins Glen is yet another notable fall getaway option in New York. Don't miss trekking through Watkins Glen State Park to take in the foliage. Said to be the most famous of the Finger Lakes State Parks, Watkins Glen is known for leaving visitors spellbound. That's due in large part to the fact that within two miles, the glen's stream descends 400 feet past 200-foot cliffs, and generating 19 waterfalls along its course. 

Where to Camp: There's a long list of camping facilities with Watkins Glen State Park, providing visitors a prime location for foliage viewing. 

Nashville, Indiana

Nashville, Indiana

This longtime artist colony in southern Indiana offers plenty of galleries, antique shops, local wineries, and historic architecture, as well as exceptional fall foliage. Leaves throughout the region start changing colors in late September, and the show continues through early November. But typically, the second to third week of October is the best time to take it all in. One of the best ways to observe the changing colors is via a hike at Brown County State Park. The largest of 24 state parks in Indiana and nicknamed the "Little Smokies" because of the area's resemblance to the Great Smoky Mountains, the park occupies more than 15,000 acres. 

Where to Camp: Camp in the heart of the foliage show at Brown County State Park. There's a variety of campgrounds with different levels of amenities to choose, some including electricity.

Peninsula, Ohio

Peninsula, Ohio

A quaint town in northeast Ohio, Peninsula is just outside Cuyahoga Valley National Park, making it an ideal place to spend some time taking in the fall colors. This lesser-known national park is a refuge for native plants and wildlife. There are also deep forests, rolling hills, and open farmlands. Another notable option for taking in the area's stunning colors is a ride on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad Fall Flyer. The two-hour train ride takes passengers through the area's breathtaking scenery on Saturdays and Sundays in October. 

Where to Camp: Among the area's top campgrounds is the Streetsboro/Cleveland SE KOA, where an 18th century building serves as the campground store and registration area. There are also fishing ponds onsite.

Grand Marais, Minnesota

Grand Marais, Minnesota

Locals like to say that Minnesota offers a bounty of the three Cs — charming small towns, campgrounds, and fall color. One of the best places to find all three is Grand Marais, a harbor town flanked on one side by countless acres of wilderness and by Lake Superior on the other. The town itself is known for its arts culture, natural beauty, and unique shops and galleries. 

Where to Camp: East Bearskin Campground is on the shores of East Bearskin Lake, with many camping sites right on the water.

Jemez Springs, New Mexico
Jemez Springs, New Mexico by psyberartist (CC BY)

Jemez Springs, New Mexico

An hour northwest of Albuquerque along the Jemez Mountain Trail National Scenic Byway, Jemez Springs truly dazzles in fall. Travelers can expect to see the route lined with yellow sunchokes, and orange and gold-hued cottonwood trees. The backdrop of the Jemez Mountains and terra-cotta-colored mesas makes the scene even more memorable. 

Where to Camp: Jemez Falls Campground is open May to November and has 52 sites.