10 Most Stunning Fall Foliage Campervan Trips
Uncategorized @en-gb, National Parks, Trip Ideas & Guides
The United States and Canada have some seriously road-trip-worthy fall foliage displays – and a campervan is hands down the best way to soak up as many of these fleeting sights as possible. Imagine the cooling air, your favorite hot beverage in the cupholder and the highway ahead of you flanked with flaming red and orange…get your flannel on and your cameras ready, people. This is going to be epic.
Below, we’ll list some of North America’s most iconic autumn drives and loops, and the Escape locations closest to them.
*Note: In most areas of the country, dependent on location elevation and that year’s weather conditions, peak foliage will occur from mid-September through mid-to-late October, although beautiful displays will likely be visible both before and after this time. It’s always a good idea to check with the State or County you’ll be visiting to see if they have a foliage tracker!
Begin: Lake Louise, AB (2 hrs from Calgary depot)
End: Jasper, AB (4.5 hrs from Calgary depot)
Distance: 144 miles (232 km)
This world-famous road runs from Banff National Park to Jasper National Park and offers the unique opportunity to see flaming fall colors against a backdrop of glaciers and the towering Rockies.
Where to Stop: Take photos at the Bow Lake Footbridge. If you’re up for a hike, try Larch Valley or Pocaterra Ridge (both around 6.5 miles round trip), which will highlight the beauty of larches in the fall.
Where to Camp: Rampart Creek Campground in Banff offers reservable sites, while you will find first-come, first-served sites at Waterfowl Lakes and Mosquito Creek.
Things to Note: This is grizzly bear country – do your research and exercise caution.
Pacific Marine Circle
Begin and end: Victoria, BC (3 hrs from Vancouver depot)
Distance: 179 miles (289 km)
Here you’ll see foliage against highly varied landscapes including coastal views, old-growth forests, and winding hills.
Where to Stop: Explore the beautiful grounds of the 108-year-old Hatley Castle in Victoria for some truly unique photo opportunities.
Where to Camp: Camp on the coast at Jordan River Regional Park or Juan de Fuca China Beach Campground. Inland, on the other side of the loop, try Cowichan River, Provincial Park.
Begin and End: Snohomish, WA (1 hr from Seattle depot)
Distance: 400 miles
Washington State bills this loop as their Ultimate Road Trip, and fall is an amazing time to visit. Along the loop, you’ll see a vibrant mix of aspen, ash, and red oak – don’t forget to stop and enjoy the apple orchards and vineyards, which have their own brand of fall color.
Where to Stop: Plan your trip to coincide with Leavenworth’s famous Oktoberfest.
Where to Camp: Earthlight campground in Orondo, WA for outrageous views and plenty of privacy. If those five campsites are full, try camping at Deception Pass and take in some truly impressive sunsets.
Mount Hood Scenic Byway
Begin: Troutdale, OR (20 mins from Portland)
End: Gresham, OR (25 mins from Portland)
Distance: 105 miles
At a modest 100 miles, this quick trip is perfect for a weekend getaway – but you’ll still find plenty of sites and attractions to entertain you. Capture the brilliance of the leaves surrounding spectacular waterfalls, many are visible right from the side of the road.
Where to Stop: Explore Timberline Lodge, a National Historic Landmark that is one of the best examples of Architect Gilbert Stanley Underwood’s National Park Lodges.
Where to Camp: Trillium Campground in the Mount Hood National Forest offers jaw-dropping views of Mt. Hood as well as plenty of recreational opportunities.
SAN FRANCISCO and LOS ANGELES
Highway 395, Eastern Sierra CA
Begin: South Lake Tahoe, CA (3.5hrs from San Fran Depot, 7.5 hrs LA depot)
End: Los Angeles, CA (6 hrs from San Fran Depot | 0hr LA depot)
Distance: 450 miles
Commit to the entire route or simply explore a portion. The full trip will offer an incredibly diverse array of landscapes, including lakes, rivers, waterfalls, and canyons. While Highway 395 is a bucket-list road trip for many, it is particularly spectacular in the fall – especially if you dedicate some time to exploring color along the side roads.
Where to Stop: Bishop Creek Canyon is one of the top fall foliage destinations in the country and will not disappoint.
Where to Camp: At one of the campgrounds in the Alabama Hills (Tuttle Creek, Lone Pine, and Portuguese Joe Campground) or, for more amenities (but still great views) the Boulder Creek RV Resort.
San Juan Skyway
Begin and End: Ouray, CO (5.5 hrs from Denver Depot)
Distance: 235 miles
The San Juan Mountains themselves offer an amazing array of colors, only accented by the brightly changing leaves. Those afraid of heights mind find themselves white-knuckling it a bit on some of the steep, winding roads, but the views might just be worth it.
Where to Stop: Take a break from the highway and take a scenic ride on a steam location on the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad.
Where to Camp: South Mineral Campground or Cayton Campground, both in the San Juan National Forest.
Trail Ridge Road
Begin: Estes Park, CO (1.5 hrs from Denver depot)
End: Grand Lake, CO (3 hrs from Denver depot)
Distance: 48 miles
An option closer to Denver is Trail Ridge Road, located in Rocky Mountain National Park. This is the highest continuous paved road in the United States. Some people may find the winding alpine roads a bit nerve-wracking, but ample opportunities to pull off and admire the colors blanketing the mountainsides and valleys will help calm the nerves.
Where to Stop: At the Summit, elevation 12,183 feet, after which the trail begins to descend on the opposite side of the Continental Divide.
Where to Camp: Moraine Campground, Rocky Mountain National Park. Listen at night for the bugling of the elk, who are in their breeding season in the fall.
Things to Note: The Trail Ridge Road closes seasonally in mid-October, and will frequently experience some snow even before that, due to its high elevation.
Great River Road (Wisconsin Section)
Begin: Potosi, WI (3.5 hrs from Chicago depot)
End: Prescott, WI (6 hrs from Chicago depot)
Distance: 250 miles
The Great River Road is a National Scenic Byway that follows the Mississippi River for 3,000 miles, through 20 states. It’s worth any campervanner’s consideration as a full, epic road trip – but if you’re looking for fall color, the northernmost section in Wisconsin should be your pick. A highlight will be the autumn leaves against the bluffs at Grandad Bluff Park in La Crosse, WI.
Where to Stop: people in Wisconsin really, really love their cheese. Stop at one (or more) of the creameries or retail locations along the route to sample some and find out why.
Where to Camp: Grant River Corps of Engineering Park, where you can hop over to the Potosi Brewing Company (founded in 1852!) for a Pilsner and supper. Or, try Wyalusing State Park in Bagley, WI, for a site perched on a bluff about the river.
Maine Coastal Route 1
Start: Kittery, ME (5 hrs from New York Depot)
End: Ellsworth, ME (9 hrs from New York Depot)
Distance: 200 miles
Fall foliage in Maine will showcase nearly every color imaginable, ranging from red to yellow, orange and even purple. Pair that with a view out over the bold, rocky coastline, and it’s a postcard-worthy scene. US Route 1 runs from Kittery all the way up to Houlton, ME, on the Canadian border – and if you have more time, it’s definitely worth continuing. From Kittery to Ellsworth, however, you will get a charming mix of charming coastal towns, inland forests, and the rocky, more rural Midcoastal area, along with the option to explore Acadia National Park.
Where to Stop: One of the state’s famous roadside antique stores or clam shacks or visit one of the many iconic lighthouses for a picture-perfect view.
Where to Camp: Hermit Island Campground is a popular option for both visitors and Mainers alike that offers coastal camping and several beaches. (No dogs are allowed.) Another beautiful coastal camping opportunity is Wolfe’s Neck Oceanfront Camping in Freeport, ME.
Vermont Route 7
Start: Pownal, VT (3.5 hrs from New York depot)
End: Highgate, VT (7 hrs from New York depot)
Distance: 170 miles
This rural route meanders through charming towns, scenic landscapes, and historic sites, all of which are made more picturesque against the background of fall color. Take your time and enjoy a beer at one of the many renowned breweries, walk through a covered bridge, or take a photo of one of the many quintessential New England homes or churches.
Where to Stop: Fall is the peak of the harvest, so take advantage of one of the many roadside veggie stands or farmer’s markets.
Where to Camp: Find a dispersed (free!) site along Kelly Camp Trail (FS Road 74) in the Green Mountain National Forest. For something with way more amenities, but with a great fall hillside backdrop, try the Green Mountain Family Campground in Bristol, VT.
Book A Fall Foliage Campervan Roadtrip This Year!
No matter where you want to explore the fall foliage this year, Escape has a depot perfectly situated to get you up close and personal with some of the most stunning displays the United States and Canada have to offer. Fall foliage displays are fleeting, though – book NOW and plan your adventure today!