Retired Nationwide Park Rangers Share Their Prime 8 Spots For Fall Tenting

“Tenting in nationwide parks within the fall is a good way to commune with nature,” says retired Nationwide Park Ranger Marilyn Irwin. Who couldn’t use a bit of commune with Mom Nature? Irwin says, “most nationwide parks have campgrounds the place vacationers can park an RV or pitch a tent.”

We reached out to Irwin and some different retired rangers to inform us their favourite locations to camp within the fall. Beneath you may learn concerning the nationwide parks they recommend visiting in autumn in addition to their really useful campgrounds. Needless to say campgrounds close to nationwide parks are extraordinarily well-liked, so make sure to make reservations prematurely.

Large North American bull elk with aspen trees during the rut in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

Giant North American bull elk with aspen bushes in the course of the rut in Rocky Mountain Nationwide Park

Photograph credit score: Tony Campbell /

1. Rocky Mountain Nationwide Park

“If you happen to love the outside within the fall, get pleasure from seeing wildlife that are extra energetic within the fall, like mountain climbing or stress-free in lovely areas, and feeling the peace of a stunning sundown on the finish of your day, think about tenting in one of many nationwide parks,” says Irwin. “Perhaps Rocky Mountain Nationwide Park will name your identify for a visit to recollect.”

“In Rocky Mountain Nationwide Park, there are 5 front-country campgrounds,” she tells us. “Every lovely within the fall and accessible by driving on to them.”

Moraine Park Campground

“Every of Rocky’s campgrounds has distinctive options,” Irwin shares. “Moraine Park Campground is tucked between two moraines with an expansive view of mountains. The close by meadow with the Massive Thompson River operating via it’s a good place to identify elk and mule deer any time of the yr. Within the fall, it’s a superb place to observe the elk rut [their mating ritual].”

Professional Suggestions: “For the previous a number of years, Rocky has had a timed entry system,” says the previous ranger. “Guests between Could 27 and October 10 are required to have timed reservations. A campground reservation provides entry to the park at any time and a timed entry reservation isn’t wanted.” She additionally notes that “pets usually are not allowed on trails within the park however are allowed at front-country campsites.”

cacti at sunset Organ Pipe Cactus campground

Organ Pipe Cactus Campground

Photograph credit score: Nationwide Park Service

2. Organ Pipe Cactus Nationwide Monument

Positioned in southern Arizona, Organ Pipe Cactus Nationwide Monument is understood for its wealth of the distinctive cactus species that’s whimsically named after a pipe organ. The area additionally stands out for its heat and sunny winter climate that enables for stellar mountain climbing, biking, and tenting from about November via March. Former Nationwide Park Ranger Phil Selleck tells us about his favourite locations to camp close by.

Twin Peaks Campground

“For RV and tent tenting, there may be the Twin Peaks Campground,” Selleck says. “After the center of October, there are good temperatures and never loads of campers. With the temps falling in November, the variety of campers picks up. There are 174 pull-through RV websites and 34 tent websites. For organized teams, there may be additionally a bunch campsite. The campground has restrooms, showers, and ingesting water.”

For individuals who wish to expertise the quiet and views of the desert panorama, that is the place. Generator use is restricted to 2 hours within the morning and a couple of within the afternoon in 112 campsites; you’ll be capable of hear cactus wrens within the morning. Get pleasure from tenting amongst mature saguaro and organ pipe cacti.”

Alamo Canyon Campground

“For extra quiet tent tenting off the primary highway, try the Alamo Canyon Campground,” suggests Selleck, who says the campground boasts “great hikes into the canyon.” Selleck says to “search for pyrrhuloxia [dessert cardinal] and phainopepla, that are birds which are distinctive to the desert.”

Professional Tip: “Bear in mind a flashlight when out at night time,” reminds Selleck. “There are 5 species of rattlesnake within the park, and they’re quite common.”

autumn colors along Grand Portal Point at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

Grand Portal Level, Pictured Rocks Nationwide Lakeshore

Photograph credit score: John McCormick /

3. Pictured Rocks Nationwide Lakeshore

“Within the Pictured Rocks space, temps get very cool within the fall, and, aside from deer season, ought to have fewer campers,” Selleck says. Listed here are his favourite locations to pitch a tent close to Pictured Rocks.

Bayview Campground

“About 90 minutes east of the park, on the Hiawatha Nationwide Forest, is Bayview Campground,” explains Selleck. He describes the campground as “quiet and really scenic” and reminds potential campers that reservations are mandatory.

Primitive Tenting Alongside Lake Superior

“The Forest Service permits ‘dispersed’ tenting with particular guidelines on how and the place to camp within the forest,” says Selleck. “So if yow will discover a spot that falls inside their pointers, you might be able to discover your personal little Lake Superior getaway.”

Professional Suggestions: “The journey from Bayview Campground to Image Rocks takes you by Whitefish Level the place there’s a shipwreck museum that talks concerning the 300-plus Lake Superior shipwrecks (keep in mind the Edmund Fitzgerald?). Simply west, there may be Tahquamenon Falls State Park. You might also stumble throughout the Two Hearted River, made well-known by Hemingway. In any case, it’s a good way to search out Pictured Rocks Nationwide Lakeshore,” says the previous nationwide park ranger.

Fallen Roof Ruins

Fallen Roof Break at Bears Ears Nationwide Monument’s Cedar Mesa space

Photograph credit score: Colin D. Younger /

4. Glen Canyon Nationwide Recreation Space

Glen Canyon Nationwide Recreation Space can have fewer campers and cooler temps within the fall,” Selleck informs us of his remaining suggestion for fall. Right here’s the place he likes to camp close to the realm that surrounds Lake Powell and lies in each Utah and Arizona.

Halls Crossing RV & Campground

Halls Crossing RV & Campground is run by a concession and is just about an strange campground,” feedback Selleck. “However it’s the location greater than something. It is likely one of the lesser-used areas of the park, and the surroundings simply to get there may be nice. For a part of the journey, Monument Valley dominates the horizon. There are great views of Bears Ears and Pure Bridges Nationwide Monument is only a brief facet journey on the way in which.”

The views from Corridor’s Crossing are great, particularly the darkish sky. You may see the Water Pocket Fold of Capitol Reef Nationwide Park and Navajo Peak, for instance. And 10 minutes from the campground, should you stroll out throughout what appears like unremarkable terrain, you’ll uncover small canyons that slender to slots earlier than they attain Lake Powell — quiet and exquisite.”

Sunrise in autumn at Shenandoah National Park.

Dawn in autumn at Shenandoah Nationwide Park

Photograph credit score: LHBLLC /

5. Shenandoah Nationwide Park

“Cool crisp fall nights await in Shenandoah Nationwide Park,” remarks former Nationwide Park Ranger Rebecca Harriett. “The park has 5 campgrounds that do require superior reservations,” she tells us, “particularly in the course of the busy autumn season. Campgrounds are open from early spring till late fall. Weekends are the busiest time so strive for a weekday go to if attainable.”

Massive Meadows Campground

Massive Meadows in the course of the park is the biggest, but in addition closest to Massive Meadows Lodge for meals,” Harriett informs us. “It’s centrally situated for campers who like being close to the primary park customer heart and the concession lodge. Campers can eat on the lodge eating room or tavern in the event that they don’t wish to cook dinner.”

Loft Mountain Campground

“Loft Mountain is the smallest, however quietest,” Harriett tells us. “You may’t go incorrect with the stunning night time skies.”

Lewis Mountain Campground

Lewis Mountain Campground is my favourite as a result of it’s smaller than the others, however has a camp retailer for straightforward resupply,” says Harriett.

Professional Suggestions: “All the campgrounds are close to simply accessible mountain climbing trails, which is my favourite a part of Shenandoah Nationwide Park,” continues Harriett, “They’re particularly lovely in spring when wildflowers bloom, however autumn brings beautiful fall foliage. The Rose River Loop and Rapidan Camp trails are my private favorites. The Appalachian Path runs parallel to Skyline Drive for 101 miles, so it’s simply accessible for many who wish to set foot on the long-lasting long-distance path. The night time sky at Massive Meadows may be fairly spectacular additionally.”

Cape Lookout at sunset

Cape Lookout at sundown

Photograph credit score: Moonborne /

6. Cape Lookout Nationwide Seashore

“Folks normally affiliate seashore tenting with the summer time,” says Harriett, “however I benefit from the seashore in early fall (mid-September to the tip of October). The crisp night time air will preserve the bugs at bay, however fishing, birding, and beachcombing shall be most nice. The water might even be heat sufficient for a September swim.”

There are not any designated campgrounds at Cape Lookout, however loads of house to discover a secluded spot for seashore tenting. Most guests take the park concession ferry from the east finish of Harkers Island, North Carolina, to both Shackleford Banks or Core Banks South close to the Cape Lookout Lighthouse. The park’s customer heart is situated on the marina so campers can get up-to-date details about the climate and issues to see and do on the islands. Campers must be self-sufficient although, together with bringing sufficient water as there are not any camp shops inside the park. There’s a seasonal seashore shuttle that may haul you and your gear to your seashore location for a small price, however verify the ferry’s web site for present working hours. Backpackers can simply hike to the seashore and choose their spot.”

Professional Tip: “The one downside to fall seashore tenting is the potential for hurricanes, so be aware of the climate earlier than heading out,” provides Harriett.

Th Lighthouse on Ocracoke Island shines against a colorful North Carolina sky at dawn.

Ocracoke Island Lighthouse is the oldest working lighthouse in North Carolina and the second oldest within the U.S.

Photograph credit score: Kenneth Keifer /

7. Cape Hatteras Nationwide Seashore

Cape Hatteras Nationwide Seashore is a greater choice for fall seashore tenting for many who don’t wish to tough it,” Harriett contends.

Ocracoke Campground

“The seashore has a number of designated campgrounds, however the one on Ocracoke Island is my favourite,” she says. “Like many nationwide park campgrounds, it’s best to make reservations forward of time. Test the park’s web site for charges and facilities. We’re tent campers so don’t require a lot. This campground is close to the Village of Ocracoke which has many great seafood eating places and taverns. Plus, it’s enjoyable to only wander round testing the quaint retailers and the historic museum. Attending to Ocracoke requires taking a automobile ferry, however is nicely definitely worth the effort, including to its attraction.”

Guadalupe Mountains National Park fall foliage in front of peak

The final week of October and the primary week of November are usually the most effective instances to see fall foliage in Guadalupe Mountains Nationwide Park.

Photograph credit score: G B Hart /

8. Guadalupe Mountains Nationwide Park

“If you happen to’re tempted to go to Yellowstone for its one hundred and fiftieth anniversary, think about visiting Guadalupe Mountains,” says former Nationwide Park Ranger Greg Jackson, “It’s additionally celebrating an anniversary in 2022: 50 years as a park.”

“Each Yellowstone and Guadalupe Mountains are well-known for his or her backcountry mountain climbing experiences,” says Jackson. “Guadalupe Mountains Nationwide Park is primarily a road-free wilderness expertise. It doesn’t have the most important front-country infrastructure of Yellowstone. Come for the mountain climbing and tenting. Mountaineering choices are plentiful. There are trails to swimsuit everybody’s skills and endurance.”

The two developed campgrounds are good and typical for an arid setting. Nearly all of tenting is within the 10 wilderness campgrounds. I discussed that the park is primarily a wilderness expertise, proper?”

The park does get busy on weekends in its two brief peak seasons, spring and fall; midweek, not a lot. And out of doors of peak season, not a lot in any respect. As you’ll count on by its location in west Texas, adjoining to the New Mexico border, summer time is sizzling. Winters are comparatively delicate however can have some severely chilly climate because of the park’s elevation.”

The elevation additionally provides a little bit of a shock for this a part of the world — fall colours. From mid-October to mid-November, in among the canyons, there are precise deciduous bushes with precise leaves that may flip shade. Whereas this will likely not impress these within the northeast, for this a part of the world, it’s fairly one thing.”

Enjoyable Reality: “If you happen to’re searching for further comparisons to different parks, each Guadalupe Mountains and Yosemite are identified for large monoliths referred to as El Capitan,” explains Jackson. “The Guadalupe Mountains model is a part of a fossilized reef. So you can even evaluate it to Capitol Reef Nationwide Monument — besides the Guadalupe Mountains model was an actual reef, and the opposite simply seemed like one to those that named it.”

Professional Tip: “The park is commonly mixed with a go to to close by Carlsbad Caverns Nationwide Park and White Sands Nationwide Park,” he says. “These touring west on Interstate 10 can even choose up Chiricahua Nationwide Monument and Saguaro Nationwide Park in Arizona on the journey.”

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