For many families, fall marks the beginning of the new school year and the time to put away the barbecues. But for three- and four-season RVers, it’s time to begin planning fall and winter RV vacations. For these intrepid campers and road-trippers, the change in season means it’s time to hit the road again. Here at Guaranty RV, we’re always excited to see the leaves change color in our beautiful hometown of Junction City, Oregon. Not only does it mean our beloved Oregon Ducks and Beavers are back on the field, but also we get to appreciate all of autumn’s glory right here in the place we love most.
On the other hand, fall is also the perfect time to get away, so we’ve put together some great trip ideas to get you out on the road this season, and to keep you prepared for the weather changes in your RV. We think a 2016 autumn road trip is a great way to round out the year before the holidays.
Family Favorites: Pumpkin Patches, Corn Mazes, Haunted Houses, Oh My!
When you own an RV, you have the luxury of visiting all the best spots for fall festivities. Autumn is a slow season at many of our favorite campgrounds, which makes it an excellent time for RVing. Also, many destinations offer discounts this time of year, since they’re expecting most RVers to pack away the motorhome, travel trailer or camper for the winter. For those of us who RV year round, that’s a big bonus.
Whether you are traveling alone, with a special someone, or the whole family, fall is a great time to visit some of the best pumpkin patches in the U.S. These farms provide a variety of squash and gourds, so you’re sure to come home with the best decorations and the perfect jack-o-lantern. Need some tips for pumpkin carving? Here you go! This fall adventure has more to offer than just pumpkins, though. At the best patches you can also enjoy the farm animals, fresh produce and fall scents that will linger with you.
Another fun fall tradition involves getting lost in a maze of corn. From mazes carved like witches, to state maps, this adventure is not for the directionally challenged. Some of the best corn mazes in the U.S. will take you through tunnels, over bridges and may even spook you if the corn maze is haunted.
Speaking of spooky attractions; some RV travelers will enjoy hunting down the most popular haunted attractions in the U.S. For other RVers, a pumpkin spice latte or homemade apple cider is the only fall craving that exists.
Fall Foliage Trips for the Hiker
For those who fancy a good hike and a beautiful campground, a fall camping adventure might be perfect for you. You’ll find scenic trails and spectacular views in these 15 popular fall camping spots. Of course there are specific hikes that are particularly beautiful during the autumn season in most states. For example, in Washington and Oregon, we’re particularly lucky because we can enjoy canyons, creeks and mountains, as well as the best coastal hikes, all within an easy drive. If you’re planning to be near Guaranty RV in Junction City this autumn, we’re just an hour from the famous Sweet Creek Trail in Mapleton, which is an easy hike and is especially delightful in the fall.
For those RVers who are outside of our neck of the woods, check your local TripAdvisor or state tourism sites for the best short fall hikes.
Fall Foliage Trips Without a Hike
You can also enjoy the beauty of fall colors without leaving the comfort of your RV. There are plenty of scenic roads throughout Oregon and the U.S. that will allow you to enjoy autumn with your heater cranked up.
If you’re planning to be on the East Coast, you can take the back roads and check out state parks in Vermont, a state famous for its fall color. If you fancy a road trip based on spectacular autumn scenery but you’re closer to the Rockies, check out the beautiful mountains and famous white barked trees in Aspen, Colorado. These mountains are some of the most photographed in the world.
You might not think of Oregon when you think of autumn leaves—after all, we’re famous for our big conifer forests—but there is plenty of fall foliage to see within our home state. In fact, the Columbia River Gorge made Fodor’s Travel Top 10 Fall Foliage in the U.S. List. The Gorge is at it’s autumn finest from mid-September through mid-October. You can enjoy stunning nature, and a comfortable RV stay in Hood River. While you’re there, it’s a short drive to Portland, where you can linger in the famous Portland Japanese Gardens, which are particularly impressive this time of year. (Note: Due to construction and the restoration of Kingston Avenue, the Garden will be closed from October 17 – October 21, 2016. There will also be a temporary interruption to Garden Shuttle service from October 10 – October 28.)
Another local option to enjoy the fall color without leaving the comfort of your RV, is to drive up the McKenzie River and check out the beautiful Cougar Reservoir.
Know Before You Go
Since Fall is in full swing, it is important to plan the details of your trip before you take off on your adventure. First, check the weather and road conditions before traveling anywhere. Some of the most accurate weather predictions can be found on The Weather Channel. Trip Check is a great place to check road conditions and road construction! Always have your GPS or a mobile app running to check construction as well, because long lines of traffic can definitely put a damper on a vacation.
A great app to keep up with traffic delays is Waze. This app reports traffic delays by real users, so the information is always up to date.
Prepare Your RV for Cool Weather Travel
Although it is not quite time to worry about winter traveling, it is still important to prepare before you leave because autumn weather can change quickly. These tips will help you make sure your RV is ready for your fall trip.
Here are our Top Suggestions for Road Safety in the Fall:
Make sure the tires are in good condition in case you hit wet roads. To check the tire tread, try the penny test.
Check that tires are properly inflated, this will prevent hydroplaning in fall conditions.
Ensure the brakes are in good working condition, especially because roads may be extra slippery.
Keep your propane tanks full.
Check the generator and make sure it is running properly.
Since you might hit some fall rain, make sure the seals on your RV are nice and snug.
Double check your heat sources to make sure everything is working properly.
Check your RV’s lights, for safety at night.
It is also a good idea to store a flashlight in case of emergencies.
Make sure your first aid kit is up to date, stocked and ready.
Check your supply of blankets and sleeping bags. Will you need more with the cold weather?
Bring extra floor mats to keep the mud out of your RV.
Make sure you have emergency blankets, gloves and hats.
It is important to check out your entire RV before a trip, but especially as the weather turns, to ensure safety. If you have any questions about what you need to prepare for your fall adventure, our helpful staff would be happy to chat with you.
Don’t Forget to Prepare for Your Pets, Too!
As the weather gets colder, and you’re packing your RV with the proper supplies to keep friends and family comfortable on the road, don’t forget to pack for your pets too.
If you plan to hike on your fall travels, you know it’s important to pack comfortable walking shoes, multiple layers of clothing and a good water bottle for hydration. Pets need some similar items. Since fall is a generally wet and/or chilly season, particularly if you’re getting out in the farm fields or into the woods hiking in all that fall color, there are several ways to keep your animals warm and dry. A jacket or sweater to keep them warm in the cold is a good start. If the ground gets especially cold, dog boots and paw protectors can also be helpful. And remember that a lot of animals don’t like windy or stormy weather, so if you are traveling with a pet, be sure to keep them with you where they feel safe. Also, as much as we all might enjoy seeing our dogs jumping in the mud puddles, it also usually causes us to grimace when we realize we’ll be cleaning muddy paw prints off the floor for days. On your fall excursion, remember to pack extra towels to dry your pooch off before he comes inside; this will also help your pet warm up more quickly.
With the beautiful scenery, and safe road conditions, fall makes a great season for RV travelers. Whichever adventure you choose this fall, our team at Guaranty RV wants to help you stay comfortable and happy on the road. If you have any questions about your fall travel plans, how to prepare your RV or what to expect, our friendly staff would be happy to help! Don’t forget a camera to capture all of the unforgettable moments on the road!
Photo: Phil Varney