Photo courtesy of Coconino National Forest

Don’t hang up your tent poles yet. Extend the camping season with sublime scenery and some of the best animal sightings of the year.

Good-bye, sweaty sleeping bag nights. Farewell, merciless mosquitoes. When the heat and summer crowds subside, that’s your cue to get outside and camp. Yes, the days are getting shorter, but they’re also full of color. And the magic continues after dark, when bioluminescence flickers along Pacific shores, and the aurora borealis dances around northern stars. Autumn casts its spell on wildlife too: Grizzlies fatten up with berries; elk bulls unleash their bugles; and salmon struggle up rivers to spawn. For the fish, it’s a final endurance test. For the rest of us, it’s the 100th great reason to unfurl a blow-up mattress.

(Read the full fall camping guide in the October 2017 issue of Sunset)