Best Places for RV Travel this October

Eight places where summer isn’t quite over; days are long and evenings are balmy and the crowds have slipped away

We’re still living through the pandemic, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of ways to enjoy October. With much of the US and Canada still dealing with high caseloads of COVID-19, don’t let up on social distancing, washing your hands, and other protective health measures.

Sure, there’s something magical about the crisp autumn months with their bright leaves and bonfire smoke and pumpkin spice lattes. Happily, RV travel in October is a no-brainer: school’s back in more or less, national parks are less crowded and it’s sunny and warm everywhere from the Smoky Mountains to the wonders of Utah. And the options are endless.

Brasstown Bald, Georgia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

September, October, November, and December are where the names that derive from gods as people end and numeric-naming conventions begin. Thanks to the Roman rearranging the numeric names don’t correspond when the actual month appears on the calendar. Octo is Latin for eight and it follows that Novem is the ninth and Decem the tenth month.

But in 46 B.C., the beginning of the Julian calendar bumped each of those months backward to create the calendar we all know and use today. Good thing the Roman Empire fell so they could stop moving months around.

Bernheim Forest, Kentucky © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

October is not a particularly common month to set out on adventures—which is what makes it an especially great time of year to travel. You’ll be able to dive into authentic experiences—without having to contend with packs of school children or tour groups.

Planning an RV trip for a different time of year? Check out our monthly travel recommendations for the best places to travel in July, August, and September. Also check out our recommendations from October 2019.

Texas Hill Country: Guadalupe River at Kerrville © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Texas

“The stars at night are big and bright” the popular American song goes, “Deep in the heart of Texas.” Well, the stars aren’t the only features worthy singing about—the Lone Star state has everything from wild rivers and craggy mountains to world-class climbing and mountain biking.

Padre Island National Seashore © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

You’ve got your Wild West—Big Bend Country, Chihuahuan Desert. Then heading roughly clockwise, you’ve got your Davis Mountains, the Panhandle, and the Hill Country. Then you’ve got your Wild East—swamps and bayous—and way far south, the barrier islands fronting the Gulf of Mexico.

Galveston State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

When you wander in Texas, you catch on quickly as to why the locals are so full of state pride. It’s wild and freewheeling, a place apart, a place you don’t mess with—but you’re sure to enjoy.

Lancaster County © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania is likely way more mountainous than you might think. The state is really just a collection of jagged mountains, none of which are exactly towering in stature (the high point is only 3,213 feet), but all are impressively rugged in their topography. Hikers on the Appalachian Trail say the portion that runs through Pennsylvania is more rock than dirt.

Lackawanna State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The only flat part of Pennsylvania is in the far southeastern corner; otherwise the state is dominated by the Appalachian, Allegheny, and Pocono Ranges. And more than 50 percent of the land is still forested housing an unreal number of state parks: 109 at last count. Even the coast is rugged. Yeah, Pennsylvania is landlocked but it has a coast along Lake Erie. You can even surf there.

New River Gorge and Bridge © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

West Virginia

“Almost Heaven,” “Wild and Wonderful”…West Virginia has a few different nicknames and they’re all pretty accurate. While the western portion of the state is mostly flat, the eastern slice is a tangle of rugged mountains, churning rivers, and deep sandstone gorges, earning it another fitting nickname: the Mountain State.

Babcock State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

West Virginia is stocked with world-class rock climbing in the New River Gorge and Seneca Rocks, world-class whitewater on the Gauley and New rivers, and world-class mountain biking and hiking all over the Appalachians.

Glade Creek Grist Mill © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

If that’s not wild enough for you, West Virginia even has one of the only two legal BASE-jumping sites in the country, New River Gorge Bridge in Fayetteville. Thousands of people gather every third Saturday in October to watch daredevils BASE jump into the Gorge below. You ready?

Highway 12 Scenic Byway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Highway 12 Scenic Byway

The red rock majesty of Utah is on triumphant display on State Route 12 winding between Capitol Reef and Bryce Canyon national parks. The 124-mile strip has funky small towns and very few entry points, so it takes a map and determination to witness the steep sandstone canyons and bluffs of purple sage, and to tackle the narrow cliff-hanging ridgeline road called The Hogback.

Okanagan Valley at Penticton © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Okanagan Valley

Canada produces wine: there’s your first surprise. Canada produces good wine: there’s your second. The Okanagan Valley, in the south of British Columbia, is the country’s largest wine region, a place of rolling, vine-covered hills that fall gently into pristine rivers and lakes. There are more than 100 wineries here with most offering tastings and plenty with excellent restaurants on site.

Okefenokee © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge

This refuge covers a 438,000-acre swamp with some of the best wilderness canoeing in the South. Technically, the swamp is the headwaters of the Suwanee River, but it’s a beast unto itself with small islands surrounded by dark, tea-colored water thick with alligators and carnivorous plants. Get a canoe, reserve some camping platforms, have fun.

Cherohala Skyway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Cherohala Skyway

Travel the Cherohala Skyway and enjoy panoramic vistas as you wind through the Southern Appalachian high country. It winds up and over 5,400 foot mountains for 18 miles in North Carolina and descend another 23 miles into the deeply forested back country of Tennessee. The road crosses through the Cherokee and Nantahala National Forests thus the name “Chero…hala”. Peak colors typically occur during the last two weeks in October.

Helen © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Helen, Georgia

European charm permeates the crisp mountain air of Helen in northeast Georgia. The minute you set foot in the town you’ll notice heavy Bavarian influences in the architecture, bakeries, and restaurants. Although the Festhalle won’t be hosting Helen’s traditional Oktoberfest celebration in 2020 due to COVID-19 precautions, you can still experience the alpine-style village in the fall. The city’s restaurants, shops, and amusements still will be open and offering their own Oktoberfest fun for all. There are boundless outdoor opportunities, namely hiking in Chattahoochee National Forest, tubing on the Chattahoochee River, and alpine-themed mini-golf courses.

Autumn can be many things. It can be the dreamy scent of bonfire smoke on restorative air; pumpkins on porches; blazing leaves.

Worth Pondering…

I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.

―L. M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables