Archive for September, 2008

Fall Foliage Guide Information For The United States

Tuesday, September 30th, 2008

You probably know by now that fall is my absolute favorite time of year and my favorite time to camping. But, it’s not as much fun when I go somewhere to camp and see great fall color only to find that I am either too early and only see a sea of green or am too late and the only color is on the ground where all the leaves have fallen. fall leaf picture

That happened several years ago when I went to Vermont and found peak color has occurred the week before. There was still good color but considering I had driven several hundred miles to see it, I was disappointed.

So with that thought in mind I put together a fall foliage guide in 2007 that listed fall foliage hotlines to call and websites to visit for up-to-date fall color information in the United States. Last week I checked each of the website links and called each of the hotline numbers to make sure everything was still current and it’s a good thing I did. I was amazed at how many phone numbers had changed or were no longer valid and how many websites had changed.

So if you want fall color information for any state in the U.S. that has trees who drop their leaves and put on a great fall color show, check out my updated Fall Foliage Guide.

Happy Fall Camping!

fall colors picture

Experience The Bounty of OREGON The Fall

Monday, September 29th, 2008

If you have been reading this blog the last several days you know about the five day fall camping destination series I have doing. Hopefully you have enjoyed reading about the first four destinations I featured which were Vermont, Michigan, North Carolina, and Georgia.

For the last destination in the series we are heading all the way across the county to the west coast and the state of Oregon.

Did you know Oregon has over 150 state parks (187 if I counted correctly), 53 of which have campsites or overnight lodging? Plus it is also home to Crater Lake National Park. That’s a lot of nature to enjoy!

To enjoy the best fall colors call their fall foliage hotline at 800.547.5445 or visit them online at There are weekly updates. The fall color season typically starts in mid-September and can last through October but varies depending on the amount of precipitation the area receives.
Champoeg State Park Picture
Champoeg State Heritage Area is a great place to watch the oak and ash trees change colors and shed their leaves. It is located on the south bank of the Willamette River near St. Paul and is less than 30 miles from Portland.

The park has 12 full hookup campsites, 67 electrical campsites, 6 yurts, 6 cabins, 3 group tent areas, group RV area, group RV camp with meeting hall; 6 walk-in tent sites and a hiker/cyclist camp. So it pretty much has a campsite for every type of camping enthusiast.

Pets are welcome. They need to be on leash no longer than 6 feet in most areas of the park but there is a designated off leash area for pets where they can run around and get rid of their excess energy (or at least a little bit of it). The park is open year around although loop A closes from November through March, the group camps are closed October 1 through May 24 and the yurts are going to be closed October 27, 2008 through March 22, 2009 because of A loop restroom construction. Reservations for Champoeg are available through

butteville store pictureThe park is a great place for history buffs. It is where Oregon’s first provisional government was formed in 1843 and has museums and historical markers so visitors can learn about what life was like for people who lived there in pioneer times.

Also located in the park is the Butteville Store which was founded in 1863 and is considered the oldest operating store in Oregon, although sadly it is closed this time of year (it’s open from Memorial Day weekend until the last weekend in September).

Other activities to do in the park include walking hiking, biking, fishing, canoeing, playing disc golf or my favorite activity while camping – just relaxing and enjoying the view!

If you visit the park on Saturday, October 4, 2008 you can enjoy the Apple Harvest Festival being held there from 1 pm to 4 pm. There will be cider pressing, dutch oven baking, apple ornaments, music, garden produce to purchase, plus fresh-pressed apple cider to drink, yummy apple butter to eat, and desserts from the dutch ovens to gobble up.
oregon covered bridge picture
For a great scenic fall drive, take a day trip to Cottage Grove (about 2 hours away) and drive the Cottage Grove Covered Bridge Tour Route where there are 7 covered bridges to view. It’s a 20 mile drive but allow a couple hours to enjoy it. For more information including the specific driving route, click here to go to the TravelOregon website.

If you enjoy wine, check out some of the wineries in the area. The Williamette Valley (which is where Champoeg is located) is the one of Oregon’s major wine growing regions. Click here for information on 16 wineries located in the area. The trip to visit all of them is 37 miles when starting from Eugene, Oregon, but that’s a lot of wineries to visit even for me and I’m a wine lover!
oregon vineyard in fall picture
Bald Peak State Scenic Viewpoint, with a 1,629 foot elevation is nearby and worth a visit just to see the view. Try to go on a clear day because you’ll be able to not only see a gorgeous view of the Wilamette Valley but of 5 peaks of the Cascade Mountains – Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Ranier, Mt. Adams, Mt. Hood, and Mt. Jefferson.

And, if you are golfing fanatic like my brother-in-law is, there’s a Golf Gear Hub course just 5 miles away – the OGA Golf Course near Woodburn, which in addition to being named one of the most affordable golf courses in America by Golf Digest, it’s a certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary. oregon pumpkin farm picture

To find more things to see and do in the Willamette Vally in Oregon, such as enjoying area festivals, visiting a pumpkin farm or visiting an apple orchard, check out the TravelOregon website. oregon bounty logo picture

And, if you a “foodie,” autumn is a great time to visit Oregon because it’s when Oregon highlights the bounty of the state during Oregon Bounty, October 1 to November 30, 2008.

This concludes my fall camping destination series. I sincerely hope you are able to get out and enjoy at least one great fall camping trip. Thanks to the miracles of modern technology, while you are reading this post I am enjoying a 10 day camping trip in Northern, Wisconsin (or at least I hope I’m enjoying it because the weather forecast I checked just before I left on Saturday had a chance of rain all week and cool temperatures). I’ll post pictures of the trip, rain or shine, when I get back the second week of October.

Happy Fall and Happy Camping!

Enjoy Fall Beauty at Vogel State Park and Amicalola Falls State Park in GEORGIA

Sunday, September 28th, 2008

Fall is starting to show itself where I live. The trees are just starting their annual color transformation with their leaves just beginning to show a tint of sun kissed gold. Plus, here and there, a few early leaf droppers are starting to turn orange. fall leaf picture

When this post goes live on the blog, thanks to the magic of technology, I will be on a camping trip in northern Wisconsin where I get to be outside in the wonderful fall weather for 10 whole days! I just hope the weather is nice and not too stormy and rainy.

But today, day 4 of my 5 day series (day 1 was Vermont; day 2 was Michigan, and day 3 was North Carolina) on great fall camping destinations, focuses on a state several hundred miles from northern Wisconsin. It’s Georgia, with a focus focus on Vogel State Park and Amicalola Falls State Park.

VOGEL STATE PARK vogel state park picture
Vogel State Park is one of Georgia’s most popular state parks and is located at the base of Blood Mountain in the Chattahoochee National Forest. It is a popular fall destination because the trees in the Blue Ridge Mountains turn from a sea of green to a gorgeous vista of reds, oranges, and golds.

The park has 103 tent/trailer/rv campsites, 18 walk-in campsites, 35 cottages (3 are dog friendly!) and primitive backpacking campsites.

There are 17 miles of hiking and backpacking trails and the 2,174 mile Appalachian Trail is nearby. There are also opportunities for fishing in the park’s 22 acre lake and miniature golf.

A fall hoedown is taking place at Vogel State Park during its prime fall foliage viewing season. The hoedown is on Saturday October 18, 2008 from 2 pm to 9 pm and will feature hayrides, campfire and dancing, a professional storyteller around a bonfire, with chili and drinks available for purchase.
dahlonega gold museum picture
Some of the nearby attractions include the Blue Ridge Mountains and Appalachian Trail I mentioned earlier; the Dahlonega Gold Museum which features an award winning film telling the story of the beginning of the gold rush in North Georgia along with exhibits that include a large hydraulic cannon and nozzle that was used to blast soil from mountainsides; and the Cabbage Patch Kids Babyland General Hospital where they are celebrating their 25th anniversary (remember when Cabbage Patch Kids were so popular that people were fighting over them in the stores?). brasstown bald picture

If being up as high as possible without leaving the ground is your idea of fun, visit Brasstown Bald Mountain, which is the highest point in Georgia at 4,784 feet above sea level. It’s less than an hour’s drive from Vogel State Park and on clear days you can see 4 states (Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina, and South Carolina) from the top of the mountain.

And, if you’re looking for a nice scenic drive to take while in the area, drive the Richard Russell Scenic Highway – Highway 515. It’s a 40.6 mile drive that the NSBP (National Scenic Byways Program) suggests allowing three hours to enjoy.

Plus there are ample opportunities for antiquing in the area plus, fall festivals, rafting, fishing, and golf.

moccasin creek state park picture
Other nearby state parks include Moccasin Creek State Park (55 tent/trailer/rv campsites, wheelchair accessible fishing pier, lake fishing, 1 mile interpretive trail, and 2 mile Hemlock Falls hiking trail); and Unicoi State Park and Lodge (82 tent/trailer/rv campsites, 34 walk-in campsites, squirrel’s nest camping shelters, 30 cottages, tennis courts, hiking, biking, and fishing) are also nearby.

AMICALOLA FALLS STATE PARK amicalola falls state park picture
Amicalola Falls State Park is another popular Georgia State Park and is less than 50 miles from Vogel State Park, so you could split your trip into two segments and camp at both parks.

At 729 feet tall, Amicalola Falls State park has the tallest cascading waterfall east of the Mississippi River (pretty easy to figure out how the park got its name isn’t it?); gorgeous views; 12 miles of hiking trails; trout fishing; great scenery for “shutter bugs;” and several lodging options with 24 campsites, 14 cottages, 56 lodge rooms, and the unique Hike Inn. hike inn picture
hike inn at amicalola falls state park picture
What is the Hike Inn? I wondered that too. It combines getting out into the wilderness and hiking with having creature comforts like soft beds, hot showers, and a family style meals you don’t have to cook!

That means no lugging of food and sleeping gear while on your hike. All you need to bring is water to drink while on the trail, clothing and socks, hiking boots, rain gear, toiletries, sunscreen, insect repellent, a first aid kit and a flashlight – things that you’ll either be wearing or able to fit in a normal sized backpack.

And, if you don’t mind heading there after the color has peaked, consider visiting the park for their Appalachian Thanksgiving on Thursday November 27, 2008 for a traditional Thanksgiving buffet with Appalachian cultural demonstrations, or visit them on Saturday December 6, 2008 for their Christmas Open House where there will be choir performances, gingerbread houses on display, winter hayrides, and visits with Santa!

Peak fall foliage viewing in north Georgia where Vogel State Park and Amicalola Falls are located is typically from October 15 to October 31, but check the fall foliage report for the area to see for yourself what the color is like before heading there to avoid disappointment like I experienced several years ago when I planned a visit to Vermont but ended missing the best color for that year by a week. Fall color updates for Georgia and the rest of the United States can also be obtained by calling the National Forest fall color hotline at 1.800.354.4595 or by visiting their webpage.

Quote from Elizabeth Lawrence (writer and garden designer born in Marietta, Georgia in 1904) “Everyone must take time to sit and watch the leaves turn.”