For some outdoor lovers, fall is the time to go camping in Virginia. When the first cool fronts sweep over the Allegheny Mountains, bringing that crisp autumn air, tent and RV campers visualize themselves by a cracking campfire, deep in the woods, up in the mountains, along the lakeshore and beside the coast, overnighting in the beautiful and bountiful landscapes that comprise Virginia.
Virginia boasts a long autumn season, extending the fall camping possibilities. By early October, leaves start peaking in the western part of the state, along the highest mantles of the Appalachians. From there, autumnal glory spreads to lower elevations and easterly across the Piedmont, marching on to the Atlantic Ocean, where color hangs on well into mid-November.
The key component to fall camping in Virginia is setting yourself up where deciduous trees will be losing their chlorophyll and revealing their underlying cornucopia of color, whether they are red maples, yellow tulip trees, orange oaks or maroon sweetgums. A mix of trees is preferred, where the varied shades contrast and complement one another — perhaps with a touch of green pines to set off the vibrant hardwoods.
And that fall smell in Virginia – drying leaves warmed by a golden sun, hot apple cider spiked with cinnamon wafting through the brisk eve and lazy curls of smoke drifting up from wood embers — it’s a clarion call to go camping!
Here are 10 Virginia fall camping destinations that cover the gamut of the state from high to low, from west to east, allowing you to experience the singular pleasure of pitching your tent or parking your RV in the Old Dominion’s autumn splendor. Along with each campground description is a suggested fall color walk you can undertake while at the campground. The campgrounds are listed from earliest fall color to latest fall color.
– GRAYSON HIGHLANDS STATE PARK –
Nearest Town: Independence
Fall Color Peak: Early October to mid-October
What You Need to Know: This is Virginia’s highest campground
GPS Coordinates: 36.62124, -81.48448
Fall starts early here on Virginia’s rooftop. Perched at 4,250 feet, the campground at Grayson Highlands matches the high standards of the rest of this state park. The campground will suit both tent and RV campers seeking fall’s dramatic color show. The state park has trails galore for campers to enjoy vistas from craggy outcrops or waterfalls from tumbling streams. A relaxed atmosphere here nearly guarantees a welcome respite from the stress of day-to-day life.
The camping area is stretched out in oak-maple woods with a distinct loop for RVs. Bathhouses and reservable campsites make overnighting here even easier. Water spigots are scattered nearby all campsites. A dump station serves RVs. The Country Store, adjacent to the main campground, is open on weekends.
Recommended Fall Color Walk: Take the 1.6-mile Twin Pinnacles Trail, accessing the highest point in the state park. Along the way it passes several interesting environments and caps it off with a fine view from Little Pinnacle, then makes an encore at Big Pinnacle, before looping back to the visitor …read more