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

Where to camp in autumn
Photo by David Fenton; written by Sara Dickerman, Peter Fish, Kelly Mickle, Loren Mooney, and Cristina Tudino

Where to camp in autumn

The desert’s open again. Picacho Peak State Park, southeast of Phoenix, closes for summer, but comes alive again in fall. Dominated by the 1,500-foot spire, the park has 85 campsites and a sleek visitor center. From $15; azstateparks.com

More than wildflowers. Vast, rugged Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, northeast of San Diego, is famed for early-spring desert blooms, but late fall is lovely here—daytime highs in the 70s, lows in the 50s—ideal for hiking the Borrego Palm Canyon Trail. $25; parks.ca.gov

The forest before the rains. Near Santa Cruz, Big Basin Redwoods State Park (pictured) has really big trees, nearly 140 tent sites, and 36 tent cabins. November’s the last chance to camp under coast redwoods before Northern California’s rainy season. Tent sites $35, tent cabins from $75; parks.ca.gov

Four-star camping. El Capitan Canyon Resort, on the coast above Santa Barbara, has luxury safari tents, cabins, and yurts. December 1 brings lower rates and 2-night minimum weekend stays instead of summer’s 3. Safari tent from $155; elcapitancanyon.com

Maui without the hotel bill. The rustic cabins at Wai‘anapanapa State Park get mixed reviews, but this is the glorious Hana coast—even beach tent camping here isn’t exactly roughing it. Tent sites $18, cabins $90; hawaiistateparks.org

Easy-access red rocks. Valley of Fire State Park, just an hour from Vegas, has some of the most spectacular scenery not enshrined in a national park, and is its temperate best this time of year. $20; parks.nv.gov

A cool time in the desert. In Snow Canyon State Park, near St. George, UT, November nights can dip into the 40s, but days in the 60s are ideal for exploring the park’s red cliffs and black lava rock valleys. From $16; stateparks.utah.gov


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