O.K., now is the season to really get out there and enjoy our National Parks!  The crowds have diminished as have the number of cars clogging the roads, parking lots and pull outs.  The only drawbacks are that services begin to shut down, as the parks begin their changeover to the winter season.

But don’t despair, there are abundant locations that cater to the fall season RVer!  It just takes a bit of research in the parks your itinerary will take you through.  Often the northern National Parks will start closing their services and campgrounds by the third week of September, with final services closed by mid-October.

The National Park Service has an online website where a quick search (search icon found in the upper right corner of the NPS web site) by either state, region or park name will take you to the specific park of your inquiry.  By clicking on the tab noted as “Plan Your Visit” on any park location, you will find campground information which includes locations, number of sites and the amenities found at each campground.  An example of this can be found by following this link.


Dispersed Camping Spot

Dispersed camping becomes more available as many of the locations that were filled during the summer months now become vacant, often later in the day.  There are many RVers that enjoy this style of camping.  By checking with the local BLM or USFS Ranger Stations you will often be rewarded with sites available for your use. There are a limited number of National Parks that do have dispersed camping available. Check in at the Backcountry Office for these often-sought-after sites.


Fall Colors

By far, the first reason many RVers are visiting our National Parks this time of the year is because of the beautiful colors many of the trees, shrubs and grasses are exhibiting.  This transition happens quickly, like a wave across a lake in that the far northern parks will begin seeing these changes occurring early in September.  The fall colors begin showing in northern Wyoming by the third week of September, with Colorado showing their splash of color by the end of September and New Mexico by the middle of October.


Bull Elk

Additionally, viewing wildlife is a popular activity that many Rvers enjoy during the Fall season.  Bull Elk bugling begins with the first sounds echoing in the canyons as August comes to an end.  This begins the season where the bull elk begin gathering cow elk for their harems, while defending other bull’s advances by rutting battles which often sends the less powerful bull elk scattering into the nearby forests. These battles unfold in large meadows surrounded by the colorful Aspen trees as they too battle with losing their leaves to the winds of fall.

One of the popular parks for viewing Elk is the Moraine Valley of Rocky Mountain National Park.  While the campgrounds in the park are shutting down for the season, many nearby RV Parks are still available for the fall RVer to make reservations.  Here's a great link to find these RV Parks, as well as things to do while visiting Rocky Mountain National Park.


Moose are Active in the Fall

Moose are just as active during the fall season and have their own fan club with the numerous RVers that are flocking to our National Parks.  During the summer season, Moose are dispersed widely throughout the valleys and meadows of the parks.  When the nights become longer and the daytime and nighttime temperatures begin to fall, changes begin to be seen and heard from the park’s wildlife.  One of these majestic animals is the bull moose.  They are often found along the streams and colorful meadows grasses and willows of the valley floors, vying for the numerous cow moose as they too gather for this yearly event.


View at a Safe Distance

Be sure to view these large and powerful ungulates at a safe distance of 25 to 100 yards.  During the rutting seasons, these large wild moose can become much more agitated and quicker to charge those that venture too closely.  Very different to the mild manner behavior often observed in the remainder of the year.


Fishing is Popular in the Fall

A popular respite with many RVers is to grab the fishing rod and go fishing!  Whether a spinning or fly rod, the cooler days and nights are a perfect time to venture out in the lakes and rivers of our National Parks. With the colder nights, flying insect hatches are coming later in the morning, making fishing even more exciting with trout and other top feeding fish species as they are often fighting for these water skating insects.  This is prime time for the RVers that work hard to find that right lure or fly to fish with. 


Beautiful Sunsets

The one thing we can’t forget to talk about is the beautiful weather and scenery to encounter during this time of the year!

The sunsets in locations near and around rural areas with harvest underway causes a period of some of those moments that are unforgettable.  With the increase of dust in the atmosphere from harvesting operations, the evening sunsets are naturally colored beyond description.

All fee areas in the United States offer the America the Beautiful Pass for all National Parks and Federal Recreational Land Pass Series.

These passes may be used for access to National Parks and over 2,000 Federal Recreation areas for a nominal fee, as well as senior and disability opportunities. Enquire at each site, or online for additional information, as well as discounts on services where available. More information about our National Parks can be found in a previous article, RVing in Our National Parks.

Happy Camping!

Bryan Appleby
Author: Bryan Appleby
From the very beginning, at the age of 13, when Bryan planned and left on a solo bicycle trip around the western half of his native state of Kansas, he has been traveling somewhere, often in remote locations. He is known for his extreme boondocking, often for periods up to 8 weeks away from civilization and any resupplies. Bryan has more than 4,000+ consecutive nights (12 years with only 64 of those nights in campgrounds) while full timing. The outdoors has been an emphasis on this father & grandfather, taking him to occupations as a State Trooper and a National Park Ranger. Now, as a retired State Trooper and again working as a seasonal National Park Ranger, Bryan has been exploring America with his RV, kayaks and motorcycles, recording all of these adventures with pen and his camera.

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