Fall travel guide

Explore beaches, back roads, vineyards, and more during the West's golden season

The West's best fall travel experiences

It's the absolute best time to be outdoors, when some of our unique landscapes come brilliantly alive

Camping's secret season
Photo by David Fenton; written by Sara Dickerman, Peter Fish, Kelly Mickle, Loren Mooney, and Cristina Tudino

Camping's secret season

Kelsey Sheofsky, co-owner of Shelter Co. luxury camping service (shelter-co.com), shares her reasons why this is the best month to take your weekend getaway outside.

The fire becomes the camp centerpiece. “Mornings start with coffee around the fire,” says Sheofsky (pictured with her husband, Mike). Evenings mean dinner, stories, and games around the fire.

You have the place to yourself. Most campgrounds have ample availability, and though higher-altitude locations are getting cold, many desert, coastal, and lowland forest areas “actually become more enjoyable in fall, because you don’t sweat to death,” says Sheofsky. Do watch the weather, though. “If it’s supposed to be epically bad, skip the trip. If not, then it might be incredible.”

Food is for lingering. Out are summer’s grab-and-go sandwiches and chips. In is anything that warms you. Tomato soup with grilled cheese. Pancakes. Hot cornbread. Anything grilled. Cocoa all day long.

There’s more time to enjoy the night. Look up—the fall sky has stars that you didn’t see in summer. Lighting your camp becomes more important too. “We use LED lights in the tent,” says Sheofsky. “Outside, Coleman or Kirkman lanterns. You can’t beat them in terms of portability and output.”

Cozy is comfortable. Cooler temperatures plus longer nights add up to big sweaters, flannel coats, whiskey in flasks, plaid wool blankets, and other touches that make the outdoors feel homey.

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