Autumn is a spectacular time of year, especially for RVers who are able to chase the vibrant fall foliage and then camp amongst the colors.
New England is often considered the top leaf peeping destination, and with good reason: By late September the air is crisp, the humidity is gone, pumpkin patches and apple orchards are in full swing, and the colors are unrivaled. Reds, yellows, oranges and even purples explode across the landscape, showing off for travelers every year.
New England also offers the unique advantage of being able to follow the changing season as the fall foliage starts high in the North and melts down from Maine, into Vermont and New Hampshire, then into Massachusetts, down to Connecticut and Rhode Island. If you time it perfectly, you can experience a full month of eye-popping perfection. Or, you can take advantage of the long season as it descends from Maine, and pop into the right time in the right location to match your schedule.
This New England fall foliage RVing guide will take you on a journey through four states and a wide variety of unique attractions. It includes Harvest Hosts locations as well as traditional campgrounds. It also includes some fantastic spots for taking photos, eating fresh food, and enjoying drinks with a view.
We will start in Maine and make our way to New Hampshire, then Vermont, and finally end near Boston, Massachusetts.
Stop 1: Bar Harbor, Maine – Home of Acadia National Park.
View from the top of Precipice Trail in Acadia National Park
Home of Acadia National Park, Bar Harbor is the perfect place to start your autumn RV tour. Give yourself at least 2-3 days here so you have time to drive around the park, go on an amazing day hike, visit the famous Bass Harbor Lighthouse at sunset, and enjoy fresh cooked lobster by the ocean.
Best RV Camping: Bar Harbor / Oceanside KOA. Camping tip: Pay extra for an oceanfront site—it is more than worth it! This is one of the top rated campgrounds in the world because of the ability to camp with your own private beach and waves crashing just feet from your door.
More information: KOA Oceanside
Your private campground on the ocean. Site 340 at Bar Harbor / Oceanside KOA
What to do: Enter the park and start at the Visitor Center at Hull’s Cove to grab a map. From there, drive the Park Loop Road for stunning views and plentiful stops.
You can drive the loop in about 1 hour without stopping, but most people take a few hours in order to enjoy the overlooks and walk some of the trails.
Five of the most popular stops on the drive include:
- Sieur de Monts Spring: In addition to the natural spring, it features the Wild Gardens of Acadia, the Abbe Museum and the Park Nature Center.
- Sand Beach: Enjoy the popular ocean beach, with walking trails along it.
- Thunder Hole: Enjoy spectacular thunderous sounds of the ocean if you time it right.
- Otter Cliff: Easy access from a parking lot takes you to this scenic view of rocky terrain and thrashing waves.
- Cadillac Mountain: This is the highest point on the Atlantic coast, and one of the first places the sun shines in the United States. A lot of people drive up here to see sunrise, but regardless of the time of day, the 360 degree views are simply stunning.
Additional sunset must-see: Be sure to visit Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse located in the southwest portion of Mount Desert Island to capture this iconic shot:
Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse at Dusk
Stop 2: Boothbay, Maine
Downtown Boothbay, Maine
Boothbay is a charming oceanfront town, complete with incredible restaurants, breweries and shops. It is a quintessential New England autumn stop.
Best RV Camping: Boothbay Craft Brewery. This delightful craft brewery has award-winning beer, cider, kombucha tea and delicious woodfired pizza to boot. Best of all, it is a Harvest Hosts location, so members can stay overnight with no camping fees. If you aren’t a Harvest Hosts member, you can pay to stay, and it is well worth the small price of admission. Be sure to say hello to the adorable husband and wife owners: Lori and Win Mitchell!
Boothbay Craft Brewery
Where to eat: If you are looking for a lunch spot to eat the highest rated seafood in town, check out Shannon’s Unshelled. For dinner, try the cozy Harborside Tavern.
Stop 3: Bretton Woods, New Hampshire
Mount Washington Hotel
Home of the majestic Mount Washington Hotel and the Mount Washington Cog Railway, Bretton Woods is not to be missed. After spending the day riding the Cog Railway up Mount Washington, you can end with dinner and a night cap on the sweeping wrap around deck at the hotel, before heading back to spend the night at the base of the mountain in the railway parking lot.
Best RV Camping: Mt. Washington Cog Railway. Another Harvest Hosts location, our members are invited to spend the night in the large gravel parking lot with unobstructed views of Mt. Washington and the entire train operation. In autumn, the mountainside explodes with intense fall foliage. Enjoy a drink beside your RV while watching the trains climb up and down the mountain, which is no small feat.
Harvest Hosts RV Camping at Mount Washington Cog Railway
What to do: Take the Mt. Washington Cog Railway to the top of Mount Washington, of course! Be sure to make reservations, as trains do fill up. The Mt. Washington Cog Railway opened on July 3rd, 1869 and was the first mountain-climbing cog railway in the world. It climbs 3,588 feet to the highest summit in northeastern US, with an average grade of over 25% and a maximum grade of 37.41%! (Because of this, the seats are slanted so you don’t feel like you are falling out) Fun fact: The lowest recorded temperature at the summit was -49 Fahrenheit and the highest wind velocity ever observed was by the Mt. Washington observatory in April, 1934: Clocking in at 231 MPH!
Where to eat: Be sure to grab a bite or at least a drink on the massive wrap-around deck at the Mount Washington Hotel. Complete unobstructed views of Mount Washington and an old school feel.
Wrap Around Deck at Mount Washington Hotel
Stop 4: Woodstock, Vermont
Oozing New England heritage and charm, Woodstock is home to picturesque autumn scenes that would give Norman Rockwell chills (his museum also happens to be located in nearby Rutland, VT).
Best RV Camping: Quechee/Pine Valley KOA in White River Junction, Vermont. An easy drive to Woodstock and plenty of other scenic Vermont activities, this KOA provides an in-the-woods feel that is perfect for capturing the perfect New England fall foliage splendor.
What to do: Be sure to spend an afternoon walking through quaint Woodstock, visiting art galleries, walking through the covered bridge and eating at one of the outdoor cafes. If you have time, make a trip to nearby Sugarbush Farm to taste fresh cheese (14 varieties!), authentic Vermont maple syrup and other fresh foods.
Bonus photo op: If the foliage is cooperating, you can capture one of the most iconic New England fall foliage photos by visiting Sleepy Hollow Farm. Note that this is private property, so stay on the street to capture your shots without disturbing anyone. This isn’t an official tourist destination, so to find it enter this into your GPS: 3488 Cloudland Rd., Woodstock, VT.
Sleepy Hollow Farm in Woodstock, Vermont
Stop 5: Boston, Massachusetts
Boston Common in Autumn
Boston needs no introduction, but it is worth noting that autumn is a fantastic time to visit as the city comes alive with vibrant fall colors.
Best RV Camping: Harold Parker State Forest Campground. 133 Jenkins Rd, Andover, MA 01810. Like most cities, getting your RV into or even near Boston can be a huge hassle, and there are very few good campground options. Located just 20 miles north of Boston, this 84-site state park has over 3,000 acres of hardwood, hemlock and white pine forest. So you are close to the action, but camping in the peaceful woods with all of the autumn feels.
Reserve online through Reserve America: Harold Parker State Forest Campground
Where to visit: Take a stroll through the Public Garden, Boston Common and The Esplanade. If you want to see beautiful homes amidst the autumn splendor, visit Beacon Hill, Back Bay, Bay Village and the South End. If you’re feeling adventurous, grab a coat and jump on a Boston boat tour to see the colorful tree-lined skyline from the water.
There you have it, the perfect New England fall foliage RV adventure, packed with four states and a lot of variety! Timing your trip to coincide with peak fall foliage is surprisingly easy. Simply use some of these tools to help:
- Yankee Magazine’s New England Peak Color Map – Every year this map is updated to provide an estimate of when the colors will blaze through the states. Pick a date and the map will show you where to expect peak or past prime foliage. You can even press the play button to watch the colors sweep through as the dates change.
- Maine Fall Foliage Map (with weekly updates)
- New Hampshire Foliage Tracker
- Looking for unique places to camp while you’re on your trip? Check the Harvest Hosts interactive map! Zoom in on New England to see what types of unique RV camping experiences you can find as a member. We have dozens of incredible farms, wineries, breweries, and even museums throughout New England.
Are we missing any of your favorite New England autumn RV spots? Let us know in the comments!
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