32 Charming Small Towns With Stunning Fall Colors

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Fayetteville, Arkansas
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Autumn Palette

As sad as it is to say goodbye to summer, leaf peepers everywhere are 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 32 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.

Related: 40 Restaurants Where You Can See Dazzling Fall Foliage

Fish Creek, Wisconsin
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Fish Creek, Wisconsin

Located 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.

Where to Camp: Fish Creek is the gateway to the popular Peninsula State Park, home to 468 campsites. Camping is available year-round.

Related: 22 Small Towns with Vibrant Art Scenes

Spartanburg, South Carolina
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Spartanburg, South Carolina

A small southern town full of charm, Spartanburg is located 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: A family-owned campground open year-round, Pine Ridge Campground is located just outside Spartanburg.

Related: Best Short-Haul RV Vacations

Lake Hartwell, Hartwell, Georgia
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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 different foliage routes.

Where to Camp: Open year-round, Watsadler Campground is located near Hartwell Dam overlooking the “Big Water” section of Lake Hartwell. Many of the 51 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

Pendleton, South Carolina
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Pendleton, South Carolina

Also located 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, said 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 said.

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, Lewes, Delaware
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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 located at the juncture of the Delaware Bay and the Atlantic Ocean.

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

Fayetteville, Arkansas
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Fayetteville, Arkansas

Located below the Ozark mountains, one of the most popular things to do in the small town of Fayetteville 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
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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

Taughannock Falls, Romulus, New York
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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 said. 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, located in Romulus, includes 245 electric and 64 non-electric campsites.

Related: Cheap RV Parks in All 50 States

Delaware, Ohio
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Delaware, Ohio

A charming small town about 20 minutes from downtown Columbus, 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.

Related: 17 Places to See Spectacular Fall Foliage

Urbanna, Virginia
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Urbanna, Virginia

Located on the Rappahannock River on Virginia’s Middle Peninsula, Urbanna (population 406 as of the 2010 census) is about an hour outside of Richmond, making it an easy destination for a last-minute fall getaway, says Randy Berman of RVontheGo.com. 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 an annual fall oyster festival, which attracts about 75,000 visitors a year, Berman said. Just in case leaf peeping isn’t your only priority.

Where to Camp: Located 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
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Dublin, Ohio

With more than 1,136 acres of parkland and over 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. Keep in mind however that this campground closes Nov. 1.

Related: The Best Bike Trails in All 50 States

Rothwell Park, Moberly, Missouri
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Moberly, Missouri

A unique town located 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, said Greenwell, who also suggests visiting the Shepherd Farms pecan orchard 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: Located 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.

Related: Bucket List RV Trips

Moosehead Lake, Greenville, Maine
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Greenville, Maine

Located in the heart of the Maine Highlands region, the small town of Greenville has long attracted outdoor enthusiasts. The town is home to the state’s largest lake. Moosehead Lake is 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, located just 1 mile south of Moosehead Lake.

Cumberland, Maryland
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Cumberland, Maryland

Autumn in Alleghany County is a spectacular site to behold 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 located 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, which offers a three-hour “Fall Foliage Experience” ride from Cumberland to Frostburg.

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

Casper, Wyoming
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Casper, Wyoming

Located 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.

Rockport, Maine
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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 personal 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 said.

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 said. No site at Lobster Buoy is more than 150 yards from the seashore.

Related: 14 Under-the-Radar Places With Amazing Fall Foliage

Lake Cascade State Park, Cascade, Idaho
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Cascade, Idaho

A tiny mountain town on a huge lake, Cascade is quite literally surrounded by trees. All of which makes for an unforgettable fall escape. Autumn is a particularly beautiful time to take a drive in the mountains around Cascade, which showcase the changing colors of aspens and tamaracks set amid the backdrop of evergreens. There are also plenty of hiking options, including the Frank Church Wilderness Area, just east of Cascade, which is the largest roadless wilderness area in the lower 48 states.

Where to Camp: At Lake Cascade State Park, there are 279 campsites spread amongst 10 campgrounds with views of Lake Cascade and the North Fork Mountain Range.

Tupelo, Mississippi
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Tupelo, Mississippi

While Tupelo may be most famous for being the birthplace of Elvis Presley, it also happens to be a noteworthy place to observe 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 nature-oriented 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
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Estes Park, Colorado

Estes Park is a Colorado mountain village that’s widely recognized as the base camp to Rocky Mountain National Park. In other words, what better place could you base yourself 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.

Lebanon, Pennsylvania
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Lebanon, Pennsylvania

Near Lancaster County and the city of Hershey, Lebanon is a community of about 25,000 people and was 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.

Blairsville, Georgia
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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. Located 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 located on 100 acres and is surrounded by the picturesque Coosa and Anderson creeks. The campsite options include creek-side lots.

Alpine, Arizona
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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 145 according to the 2010 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
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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 said. 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 said.

Where to Camp: Located 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: 18 Places to ‘Travel Abroad’ Without Leaving the Country

Bastrop, Texas
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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
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Fayetteville, West Virginia

A small town located 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: Located just minutes from downtown Fayetteville, West Virginia Adventures offers tent camping, cabins, and RV sites with hook-ups.

Tupper Lake, New York
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Tupper Lake, New York

Located in the famed Adirondack Mountains, Tupper Lake is a quaint town that was practically made for fall. The welcoming, family-friendly town is home to nature-themed learning centers such as the The Wild Center and the Adirondack Sky Center & Observatory, and hiking trails offering breathtaking views. In fact, locals like to say the best way to see the vibrant reds, yellows and oranges of the season is to hike up one of the Tupper Lake Triad, three mountains that are accessible for casual leaf peepers — Mount Arab, Coney Mountain, and Goodman Mountain.

Where to Camp: Fish Creek Pond offers 355 sites, 319 of which are directly on the lakeshore.

Cedar Breaks National Monument, Cedar City, Utah
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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, which is open until mid-September.

Watkins Glen State Park, Watkins Glen, New York
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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.

Brown County State Park, Nashville, Indiana
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Nashville, Indiana

This longtime artist colony in southern Indiana offers plenty of galleries, antique shop, 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 from including those with electricity and without.

Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Peninsula, Ohio
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Peninsula, Ohio

A quaint town in northeast Ohio, Peninsula is located 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
Photo credit: Kenneth_Keifer/istockphoto

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 that is 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 located on the shores of East Bearskin Lake, with many camping sites right on the water. The campground is open through Nov. 1.

Jemez Springs, New Mexico
Photo credit: 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: Located in the scenic San Diego Canyon, with spectacular red rock canyon and mesa views, Vista Linda Campground is open year-round.

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