4 Epic Places to Watch the Leaves Change

Leaf-peeping season is coming

All the leaves are changing, the temperature is falling, and the sky is gray… well, not yet. I’m just mentally preparing for fall. I love the crispness in the air perhaps because it triggers a snowbird response in me that tells me it’s time to start packing the RV for travel to warmer climes. Georgia O’Keefe said, “I have done nothing all summer but wait for myself to be myself again,” and while that’s not really the whole story of what I did this summer (I’m guessing Georgia O’Keefe wasn’t dealing with back-to-back years of a COVID pandemic), it’s pretty close!

Cooler weather is around the corner and with it comes the changing of the seasons and the changing of the leaves. Here are four epic places you can usher in autumn and her sea of color.

Omni Mount Washington Resort © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Bretton Woods, New Hampshire

The Omni Mount Washington Resort is the quintessential New England four-season luxury resort. Plan a fall foliage visit where you will be wrapped in the White Mountains red, orange, and yellow canvas. The resort offers a number of outdoor activities where you can experience the best White Mountain vistas.

Omni Mount Washington Resort © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The resort is set amidst nearly 800,000 acres of White Mountain National Forest offering the opportunity to enjoy any number of outdoor activities including mountain biking, horseback riding, disc golf, hiking/walking, fly-fishing, rock climbing, and just plain exploring.

The Omni’s Donald Ross-designed course offers golfers spectacular mountain views that are particularly gorgeous during the fall foliage display. Enjoy a scenic ride on the Bretton Woods Skyway Gondola for breathtaking views of Mount Washington and the Presidential Range. The 12-minute ride up takes you to the new Rosebrook Lodge. For the adventure seekers, a Bretton Woods Canopy Tour can literally immerse you in the gorgeous autumn foliage.

Omni Mount Washington Resort © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Whatever road you choose to travel in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, you’ll find easy driving, fabulous scenery, and a wealth of recreation. Nearby scenic attractions include Mount Washington Cog Railway, Crawford Notch State Park, Franconia Notch State Parkway, and Mount Washington Auto Road.

Cherohala Skyway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Cherohala Skyway, North Carolina and Tennessee

The Cherohala Skyway crosses through the Cherokee National Forest in Tennessee and the Nantahala National Forest in North Carolina. The name “Cherohala” comes from the names of the two National Forests: “Chero” from the Cherokee and “hala” from the Nantahala. The elevations range from 900 feet above sea level at the Tellico River in Tennessee to over 5,400 feet above sea level at the Tennessee-North Carolina state line at Haw Knob.

Cherohala Skyway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Fall is a beautiful time of year on the Cherohala Skyway. Cool weather arrives and the changing leaves are spectacular. The leaves begin changing color as early as September in the higher elevations and continue through mid-November in lower elevations. The dogwoods, poplars, and sourwoods are some of the first to transform. The red oaks, hickories, and white oaks change later and often hold their leaves until late fall.

Cherohala Skyway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

There are several spectacular scenic vistas on the Tennessee side. Brushy Ridge and Turkey Creek overlooks are good picnic spots. You’ll pass the turn-off for Indian Boundary Waters which offers great camping and back road dual sport/jeep explorations.

On the North Carolina side, Huckleberry Knob (near MP 8) is one of the favorite stops for visitors. At 5,560 feet, it’s the highest peak in the Unicoi Mountains. It’s an easy 2.4-mile roundtrip hike in the Nantahala National Forest with only a 400-foot elevation gain along a former forest service road.

Brasstown Bald © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Brasstown Bald. Northeast Georgia Mountains

Brasstown Bald is Georgia’s highest peak, so take note to visit early. The colors will change sooner on this peak than in other places in the Georgia Mountains. The Brasstown Bald Visitors Center sits atop Georgia’s highest mountain at 4,784 feet above sea level. Surrounded by the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest, its cloud-level observation deck offers stunning 360-degree views of the Southern Appalachian Mountains and valleys. On a clear day, one can see four states.

Brasstown Bald © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The unique circular building is home to an 8,000 sq. ft. museum featuring interactive cultural and natural history exhibits. A short film about the dramatic weather and changing seasons at Brasstown Bald plays regularly in the mountain top theater. The summit can be accessed from the parking lot by shuttle service or hiking the half-mile Summit Trail. Additional hiking trails are also available. A gift shop offers forest-related merchandise including locally made goods. A small fee is required for park entry and the shuttle bus. Enjoy picnicking, hiking, and scenic views.

Additionally, the surrounding areas of Blairsville offer Vogel State Park and several fun waterfalls.

Freedom Trail © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Boston in the Fall

It’s leaf-peeping time in New England and you don’t have to go any further than Boston Common to see fall colors. Boston is at its most beautiful in the fall. As the leaves turn, Boston’s parks put on an unforgettable show complementing the historic architecture. While you’re there, walk the Freedom Trail to explore some of the city’s historic sites—walk the 2.5-mile red line leading to 16 nationally significant historic sites. 

Freedom Trail © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Two centuries separate the creation of the Boston Common and the Public Garden and what a difference that period made. In 1634 the Common was created as America’s first public park; it was practical and pastoral with walkways built for crosstown travel. In contrast, the Public Garden was the first public botanical garden in America. It was decorative and flowery from its inception featuring meandering pathways for strolling.

Worth Pondering…

Autumn . . . the year’s last loveliest smile.

—William Cullen Bryant

Must-See under the Radar Small Towns to Seek Out this Fall

Fall into something different

Here comes fall and while some RVers are no doubt lamenting the end of summer there are many reasons to be excited about autumn’s arrival. If you’re looking to take advantage of the season but in need of a bit of inspiration, consider kicking off shoulder season in one of these under-the-radar small towns.

Urbana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Urbanna, Virginia

Turn off the main road or cruise up the Rappahannock River from the Chesapeake Bay to the charming and friendly historic Colonial port town of Urbanna. Home of Virginia’s Official Oyster Festival (November), more boats than folks and laid back innkeepers, shopkeepers, chefs, and townspeople. You will see where tons of tobacco were loaded into ships to sail back to Europe and the Famous Mitchell map is displayed at the visitor center located in the James Mills Scottish Factor Store.

Waterboro © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Walterboro, South Carolina

For those reminiscing about the warmth and familiarity of an authentic small town, Walterboro provides the perfect opportunity to step back through time. Nature lovers can take advantage of South Carolina’s year-round balmy weather and enjoy the quiet solitude of the ACE Basin and Walterboro Wildlife Sanctuary (formerly Great Swamp Sanctuary) which is accessible from downtown. Visitors are reminded of the town’s early days as a summer retreat—tree-lined streets where quaint homes with broad porches and beautiful churches date to the 18th century. Treasure-hunters love scouring the village’s dozen antique shops, finding everything from high-end antiques to fun vintage souvenirs, or shopping the Colleton Farmers Market for farm-fresh produce and delicious homemade food products.

Wetumpka © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Wetumpka, Alabama

The name is a Creek Indian word meaning “rumbling waters” describing the sound of the nearby Coosa River. The Coosa River flows through the middle of the city dividing the historic business district from its residential counterpart. Bibb Graves Bridge, a focal point of the City was built in 1937. Proceeding across the Bridge to the largely residential west side discover a number of historic and beautiful homes and churches within a five-block area mainly on Tuskeena Street. On the largely historic business district east side, the Wind Creek Casino overlooks the beautiful Coosa River.

Stowe © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Stowe, Vermont

Stowe makes for an enjoyable spring or summer vacation (thanks to its outdoor offerings and events), a fun fall trip (thanks to its kaleidoscopic foliage), and a great winter getaway (thanks to its ski slopes). This quaint Vermont town is set in a valley and backed by mountains which means exploring Mother Nature by foot, bike, ski, or zip line is the top priority for most travelers. When it’s time to wind down, visit one of the area’s breweries.

Tombstone © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Tombstone, Arizona

Tombstone is a notorious, historic boomtown. Originally a mining hotspot, Tombstone was the largest productive silver district in Arizona. However, since that was long ago tapped dry, Tombstone mostly relies on tourism now and capitalizes on its fame for being the site of the Gunfight at the O.K Corral—a showdown between famous lawmen including Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday and the Clanton brothers. East Allen Street is worth exploring: its boardwalks are lined with shops, saloons, and restaurants. Visit the Cochise County Courthouse and gallows yard which is now a museum.

Helen © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Helen, Georgia

The year was 1969, and Helen, Georgia, once a thriving lumber town, had fallen into decline. Jobs were scarce and the desolated main street did little to attract the attention of new investors and residents. Just when things were at their bleakest, three local businessmen hatched a scheme to renovate the business district to inject new energy into the town. They called on a local artist who recast the town in a new alpine light and within months many of the old buildings had new German-inspired facades that began to inspire the imagination of tourists. Almost 50 years later, Helen is the third most visited town in the state of Georgia, and yet this little piece of Bavaria in Appalachia is home to little more than 500 residents.

Berea © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Berea, Kentucky

In Berea, you can celebrate Kentucky crafts by visiting dozens of artist’s studios, galleries, and stores. The Folk Arts and Crafts Capital of Kentucky, Berea is ranked among the top art communities in the U. S. Nestled between the Bluegrass region and the foothills of the Cumberland Mountains, Berea offers visitors over 40 arts and crafts shops featuring everything from handmade dulcimers and homemade chocolate to jewelry stores, art galleries, quilt-makers, and even glassblowing studios. Sculptures of mythical beasts, vibrantly painted open hands, and historic architecture are a few of the delights as one wanders the town and college. Berea is a growing, unique, and creative community—a place where it can indeed be said that the—Arts are Alive!

Whitehall © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Whitehall, New York

With stunning views from land and water, you will definitely need your camera when you visit Whitehall. Located just outside of the Adirondacks, Whitehall sits on the southern end of Lake Champlain. Its strategic location on the New York-Vermont border allowed the town to become the “birthplace of the US Navy”. Take a trip up to The Skene Manor, affectionately known as “Whitehall’s Castle on the Mountain.” This symbol of turn-of-the-century wealth overlooks the harbor and offers additional views of the region that can be missed at lower elevations.

Moab © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Moab, Utah

This eastern Utah town serves as a gateway to the otherworldly rock formations found in Arches National Park and the numerous canyons and buttes in Canyonlands National Park. One of the top adventure towns in the world, Moab is surrounded by a sea of buckled, twisted, and worn sandstone sculpted by millennia of sun, wind, and rain.

Placerville © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Placerville, California

At its incorporation in 1854, Placerville was the third-largest town in California after San Francisco and Sacramento. Originally named Old Dry Diggins and later in 1849 as Hangtown, Placerville became an important supply center for the surrounding mining camps. Today the town is significantly tamer and its historic Main Street is an antique collector’s dream filled with stores carrying furniture, rusty old mining tools, and other products from bygone eras. Placerville is just minutes from over 50 farms and ranches of the Apple Hill area as well as award-winning wineries.

Worth Pondering…

This is not another place.

It is THE place.

—Charles Bowden

Best Places for RV Travel this November

The best destinations in America for RV travel in November

Winter has officially arrived in the northern states and Canada which means getting up and going home in the dark usually in the cold and blowing snow. It is snowbird season time to head south until the sunlight finally peeps through again around March or April. Happily, Palm Springs and the Desert cites are basking in a mellow, pre-Christmas glow.

Dauphin Island, Alabama © 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. Novem is Latin for the ninth 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.

Myakka River State Park, Florida © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

And if you want to see how winter is really done, leave behind the bone-chilling cold and epic white-outs for the sunny and warm southern states.

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

Alabama Gulf Coast © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Alabama

There’s more to Alabama than college football. The state has a variety of terrain that stretches from the white sandy beaches lining the Gulf of Mexico to the surprisingly rocky mountains that make up the last gasp of the Appalachian chain in the state’s northern reaches. In between, you have biking trails, tumbling waterfalls, boulder fields that punctuate the tops of mountains, and caves that run for miles beneath the surface.

Frances Beidler Forest © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Feel the Beauty and Serenity of an Ancient Forest

Frequented by photographers and nature lovers from around the world, Audubon’s 18,000-acre bird and wildlife sanctuary offers a beauty unsurpassed in the South Carolina Lowcountry. Frances Beidler is the world’s largest virgin cypress-tupelo swamp forest—a pristine ecosystem untouched for millennia. Enjoy thousand-year-old trees, a range of wildlife, and the quiet flow of blackwater, all from the safety of a 1.75-mile boardwalk.

Ashton Villa, Galveston © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

I Still Dream of Galveston

Strung along a narrow barrier island on the Gulf of Mexico, Galveston is a beautiful blend of graceful Victorian and early 20th-century mansions, bungalows, and cottages, along with a stunning historic downtown lined with tall palm trees and shady live oaks.

Natural Bridges National Monument, Utah © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon

There’s nothing more dazzling than the firework-bright lights of The Strip at night. And nothing more tempting than the red and black flashes of a spinning roulette wheel. And what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. Then get the hell out of Vegas on a road trip from here down to New Mexico through the canyons of Utah via the awesome Grand Canyon.

Creole Nature Trail © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Creole Nature Trail

Louisiana’s prairies, marshes, and shores teem with wildlife and a drive along the Creole Nature Trail All-American Road gives visitors a chance to experience nature’s bounty up close. In fact, signs along the route mark favorite spots for alligator crossings. The beauty of this remote terrain, often referred to as Louisiana’s Outback, is readily accessible and includes four wildlife refuges as well as 26 miles of natural Gulf of Mexico beaches. Other features include untouched wetlands, small fishing communities, and ancient cheniers—sandy ridges studded with oak trees, rising above the low-lying coasts. Bring an ice chest—you’ll find lots of places to buy (or catch!) fresh shrimp, crabs, and other seafood.

Hunting Island © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Hunting Island State Park, South Carolina

Climb to the top of Hunting Island lighthouse to survey the palm-studded coastline. Bike the park’s trails through maritime forest to the nature center, fish off the pier, and go birdwatching for herons, egrets, skimmers, oystercatchers, and wood storks.

Myakka River State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Myakka River State Park, Florida

Seven miles of paved road wind through shady hammocks, along grassy marshes, and the shore of the Upper Myakka Lake. See wildlife up-close on a 45-minute boat tour. The Myakka Canopy Walkway provides easy access to observe life in the treetops of an oak/palm hammock. The park features three campgrounds with 90 campsites equipped with 50 amp electrical service and water; some sites also have sewer hook ups.

Bosque Del Apache © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Bosque Del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, New Mexico

Established in 1939 to protect migrating waterfowl, Bosque Del Apache National Wildlife Refuge is home to more than 350 species of birds. Tens of thousands of Snow Geese and Sandhill Crane winter in the refuge as well as Ross’s Geese and many species of duck. Friends of the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge host a Festival of the Cranes in November (weekend before Thanksgiving) that includes events, classes, and even a photography contest. A 12-mile auto tour and numerous hiking trails are the primary means of exploring the refuge.

Worth Pondering…

And finally Winter, with its bitin’, whinin’ wind, and all the land will be mantled with snow.

—Roy Bean

8 Best Fall Vacations for your Autumn Getaway

We’ve rounded up the best fall vacations for every type of traveler

Crisp, cool weather and brightly colored foliage make fall the perfect time for RV travel. The road trip is quintessentially American, and, autumn is the perfect time to pack up and hit the open road to see this vibrant season change before your eyes. Whether you head to the mountains or elsewhere to spot the changing leaves or opt for an autumn activity, we’ve rounded up the best fall vacations for every type of traveler.

Travel restrictions and guidelines are changing as the coronavirus pandemic continues to evolve, so be sure to check with any destinations, RV parks, or attractions to ensure they’ll be open when you visit.

Here are the eight best fall vacations for your next autumn getaway.

Cradle of Forestry, Pisgah National Forest © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Asheville, North Carolina

Nestled in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains, Asheville has everything you could want in a fall getaway. The quaint downtown area is filled with unique shops, galleries, breweries, and restaurants. Go for a hike in nearby Pisgah National Forest to spot beautiful waterfalls among the changing leaves or take a scenic drive through part of the park to take in the beauty without working up a sweat. The Biltmore Estate is another popular Asheville attraction worth visiting; this Gilded Age mansion is the largest privately owned house in the US complete with gardens and a winery.

La Sal Mountain Loop Road © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Moab, Utah

To be fair, we had to drive a little far afield of Arches National Park to see fall leaves in this corner of Southern Utah. But boy was it worth it. The La Sal Mountain Loop Road is a 60-mile tour well beyond the bustle of Moab and Arches that takes more than two hours straight-through and longer planning time for stops. Some of the best views are at overlooks pointed back over the red rock formations of Castle Valley as the road winds and climbs to more than 10,000 feet. Along the way, the vegetation changes from the juniper and pinyon common on the Colorado Plateau to the larger evergreen pines and colorful aspen blend that make this season so popular.

Brasstown Bald © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Blairsville, Georgia

When fall makes its much-anticipated appearance in North Georgia, in-the-know leaf peepers head to one spot: Brasstown Bald near Blairsville. As the state’s highest peak—4,784 feet above sea level—Brasstown Bald is also among the first to display the season’s fall colors. On clear days, you’ll see four states even without the help of the on-site telescopes. Nearby, take a scenic drive through the national forest via the Russell-Brasstown Scenic Byway. From the byway, stop at Vogel State Park which offers ample camping, plus fishing, hiking, and lake swimming. The 4-mile Bear Hair Gap Trail offers a bird’s-eye view of Lake Trahlyta and the golden vegetation that surrounds it.

Petrified Forest National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Flagstaff, Arizona

Flagstaff is a nature lover’s dream in fall. This Arizona city is surrounded by national forests, monuments, and parks, so there’s plenty to see and explore at this time of year. Learn about Native American history and culture at Wupatki National Monument where you’ll find pueblos that were occupied 900 years ago and visit the Petrified Forest National Park to see petrified wood and the hills of the Painted Desert. Grand Canyon National Park is just an hour and a half away so you can easily take a day trip to this incredible national park and enjoy milder weather and fewer crowds compared to the summer months.

Sacramento River at Redding © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Redding, California

The east coast gets a lot of credit for beautiful fall colors, but you’re in the West, well? West coasters deserve autumn splendor, too, and you don’t have to RV across the country just to enjoy some. Northern California has a fantastic fall season and it’s already blazing. The Shasta Cascade region is 25 percent of California’s area but with only 3 percent of California’s population. That means there are a ton of non-people, not-city space for trees, trees, and more trees. Plus, up there in far NorCal, those trees are arranged around wild and scenic rivers, mountain lakes, actual mountains, and even a handful of volcanoes. Less than an hour’s drive from Redding sits beautiful Lassen Volcanic National Park.

My Old Kentucky Home State Park in Bardstown © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Bardstown, Kentucky

Bardstown might be best known for being the bourbon capital of the world. However, it was named the ‘Most Beautiful’ small town in America by Rand McNally and USA Today. If you’re not a bourbon fan, don’t let that stop you from visiting Bardstown. The distillery tours and tastings might make a convert out of you…as they did me. The history of bourbon making is fascinating as are the distilleries and sites themselves. For more than 225 years, the southern hospitality, historic surroundings, fine restaurants, and friendly accommodations in Bardstown have made folks feel right at home. Civil war history runs deep in these parts, and a tour of the various museums and sites will surely be an education you’ll not soon forget.

Lookout Mountain © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Chattanooga, Tennessee

It’s no wonder Chattanooga’s nickname is “the Scenic City.” It’s tough to find a place in and around town that’s not a nature lover’s paradise. Chattanooga offers many options to see the brilliant changing colors by foot, boat, train, air, bike, or Segway. Take a cruise into the Tennessee River Gorge where you’ll see nature’s brilliant canvas of fall colors aboard the Southern Belle. Try something a bit more unique on the downtown Tennessee River with the Chattanooga Ducks or rent your own boat and go exploring on your own. Jump aboard the Tennessee Valley Railroad or Lookout Mountain Incline Railway for a variety of train rides that take you through the beautiful Tennessee valley or straight up Lookout Mountain.

Jacksonville, Oregon © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Medford, Oregon

Fall in southern Oregon is absolutely stunning! Every tree bursts out in beautiful oranges, reds, and yellows making for the perfect weather to get outside and with that comes pumpkin patch fun and grape harvest celebrations. The aroma of autumn is carried through the Rogue Valley, across apple orchards, whistling through corn mazes, and rustling the orange, red, and yellow leaves falling from the trees. Steeped in history, the nearby entire town of Jacksonville is designated a National Historic Landmark. Explore the roots of the area from the days of the 1850s gold rush to now through a variety of historical tour options including a self guided walking tour and trolley tour.

Worth Pondering…

Early fall may be the most enjoyable time of year to travel. Summer crowds are gone and the weather is pleasant nearly everywhere—no longer hot but not yet cold.

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

Best Road Tips to close out Summer

Road trip-worthy travel ideas for summer’s golden hour

The weirdest summer in generations is coming to a close and while the Summer of the Road Trip will no doubt transition into the Autumn of the Road Trip, there’s still time to squeeze out a few drops of summer fun before fall shows up. So by all means, hit the beach, visit a lake town, taste the latest vintage. Head out to some of America’s most treasured outdoor spaces for warm nights and brilliant stars. Pick some apples and watch the fall colors emerge. Yeah, this summer’s weird, but it’s still out there.

Daytona Beach, Florida © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

If you need inspiration for things to do this month, we’ve got a few ideas so you can safely sate your travel bug. Here are some of our favorite places to go this September—all are road trip-worthy. 

Take one final beach getaway

September is a severely underestimated month to hit the beach. In the before times, that was largely because of school being back in session (less crowds!) and post-Labor Day price drops (less money!). And despite jumping the gun on all this pumpkin spice “fall” nonsense, the weather out there is still great. 

Edisto Island, South Carolina © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

It’s worth visiting Edisto Island just for the drive down Highway 174, a National Scenic Byway featuring live oak trees draped in Spanish moss. Once on the beach, the geographical isolation maintains a lost-in-time feel. There’s an intriguing mix of family vacationers and locals here.

Botany Bay Plantation © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Hurricanes have taken their toll on Edisto Beach with erosion leaving a mere strip of beachfront at high tide—the positive side of which is the boneyard beach left behind at Botany Bay Plantation where trees emerge from the surf as the ocean overtakes the maritime forest. 

Edisto Island © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Edisto is quiet and the rules reflect that. Parking is easy at any of the 37 public beach access points. Dogs are allowed but must be leashed from May 1 to Oct. 31. Edisto’s dining scene is mostly fried-seafood-and-beer joints like the timeless Whaley’s.

…Or visit a lake town

Wolfeboro, New Hampshire © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The best beaches aren’t always on the ocean: Michigan, for instance, offers 3,000 miles of pure coastal bliss on four Great Lakes. The case of the best Michigan beach town remains unsolved but in Wisconsin, the obvious answer is Door County. 

Patagonia Lake State Park, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

And in Arizona, camp and swim at Patagonia Lake State Park. Nearly 80 miles south of Tucson, Patagonia Lake State Park is a popular destination where you can hike, camp, fish, boat, and bird watch. The lake has separate areas for swimming and boating. The park is limiting admission to help promote social distancing and has reached capacity as early as 9 a.m. on some busy weekend days. Mask use is required in ranger stations, restrooms, and other buildings as well as whenever you cannot maintain social distance.

Explore Central California, in and beyond Yosemite

Amador City in Gold Country © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Now that school’s back in session—whatever that means—the crowds in national parks should be dwindling. That should mean it’s easier to nab a pass into Yosemite which has been operating on a reservations-only basis to keep the usual crowds (4 million a year) at bay. But if you find yourself denied access to Half Dome, don’t fret. Just outside of the park in the Sierra Nevada Mountains is a historic part of California most tourists don’t even realize exists. In Gold Country, nature’s just as stunning, the Old West charm is abundant, and the options for adventure are endless.

Murphys, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Welcome to the California wine region you didn’t even realize existed, the antithesis of Napa. The town of Murphys is overflowing with the stuff, courtesy of 25+ tasting rooms dotting Main Street—and thanks to their abundance of patios and converted parking lots, most are open..

Go apple picking

Apples along the Blue Ridge Parkway, Virginia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Get those picnic baskets ready: its apple picking season! Whether your favorite, Honeycrisp or Red Delicious, a day trip to an apple orchard (many of which are family-run) can be a pleasant escape from the hectic pace of the modern world. Still, most farms are operating differently this year, so expect timed entries and socially-distanced festivities. Drink some cider. Savor a fresh-baked apple pie.

Hit New England for that summer-to-fall sweet spot

Von Trapp Family Lodge near Stowe, Virginia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Apple picking is cool and all, but OMG, who’s excited to peep some leaves? While there are many places to catch fall colors, there’s nothing quite like New England, a region that’s cornered the market on that crisp, golden, late-summer, early-fall feeling. 

Fall splendor in the parks

Lassen Volcanic National Park, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

If you’re thinking about visiting a national park this fall, you’re in luck. There’s a secret many travelers with flexible schedules have long known: national parks are best in autumn. Of course, that’s not true of every national park—there are more than a few that are best visited at other times of the year. But, generally speaking, fall can be a spectacular time to visit the nation’s parklands. The temperatures have dropped and the crowds have thinned, meaning you can enjoy the scenery while social distancing. Just remember, as winter draws nearer, snow can cause road closures at Glacier, Yellowstone, Lassen Volcanic, and Rocky Mountain National Park.

Worth Pondering…

We know that in September, we will wander through the warm winds of summer’s wreckage. We will welcome summer’s ghost.

—Henry Rollins

Fantastic Fall Foliage…and Where to Find It

“Leaf peepers” and “color spotters” will search for peak fall glory with camera in hand

This is starting out as a complicated season for leaf peepers.

Brasstown Bald, Georgia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

As the Northeast sweltered through record October heat, parts of the Rockies and northern Plains were buried under wildly early snow—and we drove through it from Great Falls to Billings. Late heat and early cold can stifle some of the most photo-worthy foliage, but large swaths of the country will soon be engulfed in the brilliant yellows, oranges, and reds ahead of the approaching winter.

Stowe Community Church, Vermont © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Forested areas host a variety of tree species. The evergreens shed leaves or needles gradually as their name suggests. The leaves of deciduous varieties change from green to yellow, orange, or red before letting go entirely.

Shenandoah National Park, Virginia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

During the summer, trees produce chlorophyll, the pigment that turns leaves green and allows trees to use light to make food sugars. At the same time, trees manufacture carotenoid, a yellow to orange pigment that is hidden by the green chlorophyll during the summer months. When the production of chlorophyll slows with the onset of fall, the carotenoid’s bright color can emerge. This yellow pigment also helps the leaf absorb different wavelengths of light that the green chlorophyll cannot.

Whitehall, New York © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Certain species begin to produce another pigment, anthocyanin, when the seasons begin to change. This is what turns forests red and orange. Anthocyanin is also responsible for the red, purple, black, and blue colors in certain foods high in antioxidants (think raspberries, purple cauliflower, and black rice). This crimson pigment allows trees to continue storing just a little more sugar and nitrogen to have on hand for the next year.

Cherohala Skyway, North Carolina © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Some areas of the country are more likely to experience those bright red and orange leaves than others. New England is a perennial fall destination because of its abundance of tree species contributing bright colors.

Goshen, Indiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The best color displays occur in forests that have a diversity of species and trees that have the tendency to turn red.

The progression of fall creates a wave of color across the country with grassy plains and farmlands in the Midwest drying up, and the trees of the East Coast rolling from green to yellow/orange/red to brown.

Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Leaf peepers prowl different parts of the country to find their own special spots for the best fall colors. An annual photo-foraging is like a Christmas present as leaf peppers run around the country unwrapping all these presents.

Bluegrass Country, Kentucky © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Dazzling colors can be seen in numerous regions outside New England. Wisconsin, Michigan, and Minnesota are great places to go with forests that blend bright yellow birch, beech, and aspen with red maple. Farther south, a mix of oak and hickory forests in Arkansas provides stunning views, especially at higher elevations in the Ozarks.

Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, New Mexico © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Even as far south as New Mexico, yellow oaks can be seen on mountainsides, along with sporadic flashes of red maples.

Near Brian Head, Utah © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Moving west, yellow dominates. Western U.S. forests are predominantly evergreen, where species of juniper, spruce, and fir are better adapted to the more extreme temperature and moisture shifts. The deciduous trees in the West, including aspens, tend to display strong yellows.

Cedar Breaks Scenic Byway, Utah © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

There are pockets of beautiful color all over the West but there aren’t a lot of people there. So the majesty can go unseen in some places.

When it comes to tracking down those optimal fall colors, some years can be good and some years can be poor.

Jacksonville, Oregon © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Moderate stress, such as changing seasonal temperatures and the amount of daylight, helps induce the onset of leaf-color change, but more severe stress can mute the vibrancy of autumn’s palette. Drought limits the ability of tree leaves to produce sugars which can also lead to early leaf drop.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

But this season is expected to be superb. In New England, low evening temperatures have helped jump-start the fall colors. This will eventually wave down the eastern United States, down through Appalachia and beyond.

Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

We wish you luck in your leaf-peeping endeavors. Don’t wait too long because before you know it, the best of fall foliage season will quickly pass only to find solace in pumpkins and corn mazes.

Worth Pondering…

October, baptize me with leaves! Swaddle me in corduroy and nurse me with split pea soup. October, tuck tiny candy bars in my pockets and carve my smile into a thousand pumpkins. O autumn! O teakettle! O grace!

―Rainbow Rowell, Attachments  

Otherworldly National Parks

National parks come in many different sizes and features. Some parks make one feel as if they’re on another planet.

A trip to a national park can make for a great fall vacation. In fact, it makes for a great vacation any time of the year.

Bryce Canyon National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Of course, if you plan on going to some of the most popular national parks in the U.S., like the Grand Canyon and Great Smoky Mountains National Park, you might end up fighting the crowds. And, while all of the 421 park sites (including 61 official national parks) in the National Park Service system are unique in their own way, there are a few underrated parks that deserve some attention for their particularly strange or peculiar features that you can’t find anywhere else.

Petrified Forest National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

For instance, did you know it was possible to travel to another planet in your RV? Otherworldly national parks like Carlsbad Canyon in New Mexico, Bryce Canyon in Utah, and Petrified Forest in Arizona all feature unique landscapes that you wouldn’t expect to find in America.

Canyonlands National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

There are thousands of incredible hiking trails, campgrounds, forests, lakes, waterfalls, and mountain peaks throughout the country, but only at these national park sites can you find something fascinating, something unique, or even something downright weird.

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

Bryce Canyon National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

If you’re looking for interesting red and pink rocks, you can’t do better than Bryce Canyon. The national park is known for its fascinating rock formations and hoodoos, as well as its gorgeous, starry skies at night. Some of the best places to visit in the park include Sunrise and Sunset Point and Fairyland Canyon where you can get eye-level with hoodoos.

Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona

Petrified Forest National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Walk among the flat-topped mesas and sculpted buttes of the Petrified Forest National Park and you’ll surely feel like you’ve been transported to another world—or perhaps to the moon. This ancient forest in the middle of the desert became fossilized over time as minerals like quartz slowly replaced the wood remains. The park’s Blue Mesa Trail takes hikers into the heart of the otherworldly badlands—an eerie landscape dotted with mounds of multi-colored petrified wood.

Carlsbad Caverns, New Mexico

Carlsbad Caverns National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The otherworldly subterranean landscape of Carlsbad Caverns National Park is—justifiably—New Mexico’s most famous attraction. Take the self-guided audio tours of the Natural Entrance and Big Room. Then sign up for a 1.5-hour ranger-led tour through the four Kings Palace chambers, which lie some 830 feet beneath the park’s surface and contain hundreds of eerie geological formations. A “bat show” takes place at Carlsbad Caverns every evening from Memorial Day through October.

Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Arizona and Utah

Glen Canyon National Recreation Area © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Drive the long stretches of highway that cut through the Colorado Plateau to Glen Canyon National Recreation Area and it will be hard to miss the colorful bluffs, mesas, buttes, and canyons that dominate the landscape. Glen Canyon lies in the middle of the Colorado Plateau, an area that can be characterized by its high elevation and arid to semi-arid climate. Take some time to explore this vast landscape, and you will find traces of dinosaurs that roamed this area millions of years ago during the Mesozoic Era.

Canyonlands National Park, Utah

Canyonlands National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Just outside of Moab rises a kaleidoscope of tilted and carved geology laid down over the eons. Baked by time, Canyonlands features an eerie landscape cut by canyons, rumpled by upthrusts and elongated fault blocks, and even pockmarked, some believe, by ancient asteroids. There’s the red and white Cedar Mesa sandstone, the grayish-green Morrison Formation, pinkish Entrada sandstone, and tawny Navajo sandstone, just to name some of the geologic layers. Stacked like pancakes, they help make Canyonlands the most rugged national park in the Southwest.

Worth Pondering…

Nature was here a series of wonders and a fund of delight.

—Daniel Boone

We Found the South’s Best Fall Color

Fall is the perfect time of year to head to the South on an RV road trip

Our collection of breathtaking views might end the debate on the South’s most beautiful season.

Take a stroll through the golden leaves of autumn as we share the South’s best fall color.

Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest

Bernheim Forest © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Bernheim Arboretum in Clermont (about 30 miles south of Louisville, Kentucky) includes 15,625 acres of fields and forests, as well as over 40 miles of hiking trails that weave their way through the forest and a bike route that winds along the fall-color-filled Long Lick Creek.

Bernheim Forest © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Whether it’s hiking one of the many trails, fishing in Lake Nevin, enjoying public art, reading under a tree, or taking advantage of one of the many informative programs, Bernheim offers visitors unique opportunities to connect with nature.

New River Gorge

New River Gorge © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

New River Gorge National River in West Virginia is known for its white-water rafting, fishing, and hiking. A rugged, whitewater river flowing northward through deep canyons, the New River is among the oldest rivers on the continent.

New River Gorge © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The park encompasses over 70,000 acres of land along 53 miles of the New River, is rich in cultural and natural history, and offers an abundance of scenic and recreational opportunities. Hiking along the many park trails or biking along an old railroad grade, the visitor will be confronted with spectacular scenery.

New River Gorge © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The park provides visitors with an opportunity to learn more about the cultural history of the area and visit some of the historic sites within the park. There are many possibilities for extreme sports as well as a more relaxing experience.

Cades Cove Color

Cades Cove © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Spreading across 800 square miles of southern Appalachian Mountains in Tennessee and North Carolina, the nation’s most visited national park offers acres of fall color. One of the most popular places to see the leaves and wildlife (including white-tailed deer, wild turkeys, and black bears) is Cades Cove, a broad valley at the northwestern corner of the park near Townsend, Tennessee.

Autumn in the Bluegrass

Bluegrass Country © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

In Kentucky, the scenery ranges from the Appalachians in the east to the many beautiful lakes in the south and west. However, the area that most symbolizes the state is that of the central Bluegrass region. The gently rolling hills are lined with white and black fences where the thoroughbreds graze, defines this area. 

Bluegrass Country © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Its beauty is even more noticeable with the falling yellow and red leaves on a sunny autumn afternoon. It is a unique and special place with more than 400 horse farms dotting the region.

Shenandoah Valley

Shenandoah Valley © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

In the heart of Shenandoah Valley, Virginia, make a stop at Showalter’s Orchard, where visitors can stroll on more than 40 acres of land that overlook the Valley. The u-pick orchard grows more than 20 varieties of apples, some of which are turned into a sweet, fresh apple cider. Taste something stronger and buy a bottle of Old Hill Hard Cider.

The Blue Ridge Parkway

Blue Ridge Parkway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The winding Blue Ridge Parkway stretches 469 miles in the Appalachian Highlands. Drive the southern 40 mile section as it winds through Western North Carolina’s Jackson County. Be sure to stop at the parkway’s highest point, the Richland Balsam Overlook at 6,053 feet.

Bosque del Apache

Bosque del Apache © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Bosque del Apache stands out as one of the country’s most accessible and popular national wildlife preserves—for wildlife and human visitors alike—providing a seasonal home, November through March, for up to 12,000 sandhill cranes, 32,000 snow geese, and nearly 40,000 ducks.

Bosque del Apache © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Many thousands of bird watchers, photographers, and nature lovers from around the nation and beyond follow them here. And there’s no better time or way to appreciate all that the 57,000-acre refuge has to offer than attending the annual Festival of the Cranes, the week before Thanksgiving.

Bosque del Apache © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Worth Pondering…

I love the fall season. I love all the reds, gold, and browns, the slight chill in the air, and watching the geese fly south in a V.

Top 6 Insta-Worthy Fall Destinations

Don’t mourn the end of summer. Make a date with Mother Nature to ponder the stunning colors of fall foliage.

Fall is officially upon us, and if the copious amounts of pumpkin spice didn’t give you a hint, the cooler temperatures and shorter days just might.

But what most everyone looks forward to about fall is the beautiful window of color as the trees transition for winter. Warm hues of red, orange, and yellow become commonplace for a few weeks, creating a paradise for nature lovers and photographers alike.

Blue Ridge Parkway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

However, with a country as massive as the United States, it can be hard to pinpoint the best spots to visit, especially when the color clock is ticking fast. So here is a list of the top six Insta-worthy fall destinations in the US, going from west to east.

Bosque del Apache © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

But before you scroll down and view the list, here is a quick tip to game plan and see these beautiful fall destinations at the best times. Locations that are more northern and/or are in higher elevations tend to transition into color first and fastest.

The Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina

Blue Ridge Parkway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Blue Ridge Parkway, beginning south of the Great Smoky Mountains and located in the beautiful state of North Carolina, offers one of the most beautiful drives in the country. The road is not only beautiful in fall, but is a true engineering marvel. Stretches like the Blue Ridge “Aqueduct” were built to wind and tower above the trees, and offer a bird’s eye view to some of the most magical fall colors in the country.

Blue Ridge Parkway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Sourwoods, poplars, and maples offer every kind of red and crimson hue and are striking beautiful, especially in the morning, when the fog routinely covers the mountains, and swirls around these colorful trees. The Blue Ridge Parkway is a perfect southern Appalachian getaway and a world class fall destination for photographers and nature lovers alike.

Zion National Park, Utah

Zion National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Fall in Utah and the Southwest is one of the most unique you will ever experience. Most do not think about southern Utah as a fall foliage destination due to its desert landscape, but Zion is unique in that it has a thriving desert environment, fed by the powerful Virgin River, which creates a thriving oasis on its massive canyon floor.

Zion National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

In the fall, the thousands of cottonwoods that call the canyon floor home turn bright yellow and offer an incredible contrast to the massive orange, pink, and red sandstone walls and cliffs of Zion Canyon. It almost doesn’t seem real, but that colorful contrast at photo destinations like The Narrows and The Watchman are a marvel to photograph and will be at the top of your fall portfolio.

Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, New Mexico

Bosque del Apache © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

They don’t call New Mexico the “Land of Enchantment” for nothing. Bosque del Apache stands out as one of the country’s most accessible and popular national wildlife preserves—for wildlife and human visitors alike—providing a seasonal home, November through March, for up to 12,000 sandhill cranes, 32,000 snow geese, and nearly 40,000 ducks.

Bosque del Apache © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Many thousands of bird watchers, photographers, and nature lovers from around the US and beyond follow them here. And there’s no better time or way to appreciate all that the 57,000-acre refuge has to offer than attending the annual Festival of the Cranes, always held the week before Thanksgiving.

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee

Great Smoky Mountains © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

There is a reason why this region is home to one of the busiest national parks in the US. In fall, the Smoky Mountains truly shine, with some of the most vibrant fall colors you will see. A southern subsection of the Appalachian Range, the Smokies are home to some of the largest mountains in the eastern United States.

Great Smoky Mountains © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Summit destinations like Clingmans Dome, one of the park’s highest spots, is a perfect spot for sunrise and a purely fall experience you have to see to believe.

The Adirondacks, New York

Adirondack Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Adirondacks offer a fall escape with an outdoor playground that is the largest natural wilderness region in the eastern United States. In the fall, this area explodes with color, with bright reds, oranges, and yellows from the oak, maple, birch, and beech trees that grow in this region.

The Green Mountains, Vermont

Near Stowe, Vermont © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Vermont is known for its tasty maple syrup and beautiful Green Mountains that attract winter sport enthusiasts from around the world. But that combination of beautiful mountains and maple trees creates a mecca for fall color.

Morris Farms Sugarworks © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The deep reds and oranges in this area are truly remarkable, and if you take the Green Mountain Byway, from Waterbury to Stowe, you have the perfect opportunity to experience this state in its fall splendor, surrounded by charming farms and towns.

Worth Pondering…

Autumn . . . the year’s last loveliest smile.

—William Cullen Bryant