Fall offers an abundance of traditions, from apple-picking excursions and enjoying pumpkin-spice-anything-and-everything to setting out to see fall foliage throughout the USA. Can you think of a better way to spend fall than chasing and catching fall foliage in New England’s many rustic and historic towns and roadways? We can’t either!
Today we highlight the top leaf-peeping destinations in what is arguably one of the most beautiful parts of America. While we had a tough time narrowing down our picks from the abundant options, we feel great about our list of leaf-leaping destinations. To help you discover and explore the most breathtakingly fiery leaves in the area this autumn, check out the details below!
Kick off the season in the beautiful state of Maine since, being the easternmost U.S. state, you’ll find the earliest seasonal changes, starting as early as late September. The best thing about starting your foliage frolicking in the Pine Tree State is that you can experience leaf color changes in various environments, from the coast to mountains, parks, and farmlands. Here are some top spots to park your campervan to leaf gaze in Maine:
Aroostook State Park
Maine’s first state park, located in far northern Presque Isle, offers spectacular foliage peeping, thanks to featuring nearly 1,000 forested acres. Hike through the beautiful woods to see the glorious colors canopied overhead.
You’ll have plenty of camping options, but make sure to make reservations as early as possible since everyone, locals, and visitors, will be seeking their last gasp of temperate weather before winter sets in.
At the relatively small Aroostook State Park Campground, there are 30 camping sites that allow for camping vehicles up to 35 feet long. The campground provides showers and a kitchen shelter for guests.
Acadia National Park
Perhaps one of the most idyllic spots to catch fall foliage is the stunning Acadia National Park, located in Bar Harbor on Mount Desert Island. You’ll have to plan your trip a little later to enjoy the color explosion since coastal Maine stays warmer in September. Plan your trip for around mid-October to experience fall at its peak, while also having the opportunity to do some kayaking, hiking, and bird watching.
While there, be sure to visit top spots like Cadillac Mountain to experience the place where the sun first hits the U.S. in the morning. Isle de Haut features a beautiful lighthouse and five rustic campground sites. Make sure to plan a stay at this site far in advance, since spots are limited, and the area is only accessible by mail boat.
Additional Maine Fall Foliage Sites to Consider
- Moosehead Lake in northern Maine
- Camden in southeastern Maine
- Baxter State Park in north central Maine
- Bethel in southwestern Maine
Learn more about the eight distinct regions of Maine and the many campgrounds where you can stay to enjoy the fall foliage in comfort.
The timeline for leaf watching in New Hampshire isn’t too different from Maine, but you can follow this foliage tracker to help you determine the peak times to visit to see nature’s fireworks on brilliant display. Similarly, you can experience the changing leaf colors in various settings, from the seacoast to the mountains.
Let’s explore the Granite State to find some of the best destinations for you and your family to visit in your campervan:
Great North Woods
Much of the state is known for its scenic drives, but the Great North Woods is spectacular. Not only will you see the leaves in full glow in late September and early October, but you might also get a glimpse of moose, bears, deer, and many other animals and natural wonders. However, some of the most beloved leaf-spotting sites in small towns are nestled along and on the highways and byways, including Route 16 through Milan and Route 26 through Dixville Notch.
Would any visit to New Hampshire be complete without a drive through the White Mountains? Try not to skip this stop on your leaf voyage. While you might be too early to arrive in late September, it isn’t out of the realm of possibility that you’ll bear witness to the blazing leaf-changing spectacle here. And if you do, the colors tend to linger for a few weeks. To play it safe, you might plan to visit during the first week of October.
Additional leaf-lingering sites farther south in New Hampshire include:
- Dartmouth-Lake Sunapee
- Merrimack Valley
- Monadnock Region
Here are some campground options to consider when planning your White Mountain National Forest stay.
If you want to schedule your New England fall foliage trip for later in October, you need to go farther south into Rhode Island. The Ocean State offers all the leaf-glimpsing glory you crave, so let’s find some great spots to visit!
Newport County is your destination if you want to visit a quaint, seaside fall foliage extravaganza. Although you’ll be surrounded by water on all sides, there are plenty of trees here. First, stop at the Little Compton Historical Society for a quick lesson in farming and trades before sneaking off to see the countryside. If you’re like us, you probably can’t resist the thought of seeing fall foliage along the shoreline. In that case, visit the Cliff Walk to explore this coastal trail to enjoy the sights, sounds, and scents all around.
Sure, it’s the capital city, but some caloverscionados like to visit cities from time to time. You might be one of them. If so, you’ll love Providence, sitting on the banks of the Provide River and its extension, the Seekonk River; both leading to the Atlantic Ocean.
In town, you can enjoy a panoramic view of the tree-dappled cityscape from Prospect Terrace where you can enjoy a bird’s eye view from the Roger Williams Memorial Statue. Next, trek over and up Neutaconkanut Hill, the city’s 88-acre wilderness park to catch another spectacular view of Providence.
Additional leaf-viewing spots in Rhode Island:
- South County
- Warwick and West Bay
Rhode Island offers plenty of campervan-friendly camping options, and you’ll find details here.
The Final Three New England States Are Much More Than Honorable Mentions in the Fall Foliage Department
We don’t want to leave out Vermont, Massachusetts, and Connecticut, so we’ll add some highlights for each stunning state.
- Vermont: Visit Manchester, Waitsfield, Woodstock, and Montgomery in late September and early October.
- Massachusetts: Visit Greater Boston and Merrimack Valley, Cape Cod, the Berkshires, and western and central Massachusetts in early to mid-October and later. You could easily drive along any highway and enjoy the scenic color explosion along and in the medians of the highways.
- Connecticut: Visit Haystack Mountain State Park in Norfolk, Litchfield Hills in Kent, and the Mohawk Hills State Forest across Cornwall and Goshen in late September and early October.
Check here to learn about 14 top campgrounds in New England, so you can make your reservations, load up your campervan, and hit the road just in time for the dazzling fall foliage.