The weather's cooling down, but we're still a long way from winter. As the foliage is just starting to turn and the season's are just starting to shift, September is a great time to strike out for the great outdoors and do some backpacking—or some car camping, if that's more your speed. Wildlife is incredibly active as everyone prepares themselves for the more dormant months that lie ahead, lower heat makes a day of hiking more endurable and enjoyable for many, and the nights still stay above freezing in most of the country, meaning you can get by with most standard camping equipment.
Sounds enticing, right? If you're rarin' to go but don't know where to go to, I've put together a short list of some of my favorite spots around the country. Chances are one of these is near enough your neck of the woods, so get your gear in your pack and head out there before the snows start up.
Green Mountain National Forest, Vermont
Fall tends to come a little early to the cooler parts of New England, making September the perfect time to visit the Green Mountain National Forest in Vermont. Enjoy car/tent camping at any of the five State-run campsites (no hook-ups, so you'll actually have to rough it) and backcountry camping is allowed anywhere in the Forest unless specifically posted otherwise.
If you're able to step away from the work a day world for a few weeks, you can hike the aptly-named Long Trail, a nearly 300-mile hiking path that follows the mountain ridge from Massachusetts to the Canadian border. Camp anywhere along the route and enjoy some of the best views the state—and the country—have to offer.
Ozark National Forest, Arkansas
If you prefer a bit of a balmier backcountry experience, head south this September and enjoy the freedom (and free prices, for most sites) of the Ozark National Forest in Arkansas. With more than 320 individual campsites spread across 23 campgrounds—some with RV spots and hookups available—even the less intrepid can enjoy a trip to the great outdoors, and backpacking enthusiasts will find plenty of untamed adventure here, too.
Though the forest is open year-round, many campsites close in October. This makes the end of the season a great time to go Ozarking for those in search of some extra solitude.
Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska
There's no getting around the fact that this one takes a bit of effort to get to, but a visit to Alaska's Glacier Bay is something everyone should experience at least once. September is a great time to go, too, as you'll avoid the summer crowds—and the endless sunshine that can wreak havoc with your internal clock—while your likelihood of getting snowed in is slim to none.