By: Stephanie Montague, Military Spouse

Looking for a quick escape this fall? Plan an affordable getaway by staying on a military base!

The military has many amazing recreation facilities, but you don’t even need to use them to plan a great vacation! You can simply choose an area of the country you want to visit, find a local base, and stay “Space-A” in temporary lodging.

Space A Lodging or space a air transportation = savings!

With accommodations averaging around $60/night, it’s an inexpensive way to gain access to top destinations. While you’re there, you can take advantage of base services, like recreational equipment rental and Outdoor Adventure tours.

Here are four ideas to get you started with fall vacation planning!

 

  1. Niagara Falls, NY

The Niagara Falls area is a great spot to view fall foliage and, of course, the massive waterfalls shared between the United States and Canada.

Where to Stay

Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station is less than 5 miles from the famous Falls and right next to Niagara Falls International Airport. At only $60 per night, the Niagara Lodge is a bargain and the perfect place to stay while exploring the region.

What to See and Do

The main attraction is Niagara Falls State Park, where you can see (and feel) the Falls up close. You can also walk the many trails throughout the park, rent bicycles, or take guided tours.

Other local attractions include Old Fort Niagara, a historic fort that was, at various points, occupied by France, Great Britain, and the United States. The Darien Lake theme park is open on weekends in the fall.

If you want to relax and let someone else do the driving, the Discover Niagara Shuttle is free. It allows you to hop on and off at 17 popular destinations in the area.

You can also grab your passport and head across the border to Canada to see another view of Niagara Falls and try your luck at some of the casinos!

  1. Little Rock, Arkansas

There’s a reason why Arkansas is nicknamed “The Natural State.” Full of great opportunities for camping, hiking, biking and rock climbing, it’s also a fantastic place to view fall leaves.

Where to Stay

Little Rock AFB is located about 25 miles northwest of downtown Little Rock. Visiting quarters at the Razorback Inn range from $60 to $69 per night. They also have pet-friendly temporary lodging facilities (TLFs) for $73.

What to See and Do

The Little Rock area is full of amazing places to enjoy the great outdoors, all within a couple hours of the base.

Little Rock AFB is less than a 90-minute drive to Hot Springs National Park, where you can visit the thermal pools, tour the historic Fordyce Bathhouse, or hike the many trails throughout the park. Petit Jean State Park is about 75 minutes from the base and has the state’s highest peak. Ozark National Forest is also within 2 hours by car.

If you are not using Space A air transportation, take the scenic routes for all these trips and enjoy the beautiful drive along the way!

Don’t forget to check out Little Rock AFB Outdoor Recreation to see what trips they have on the calendar.

  1. Colorado Springs, CO

Colorado Springs is an outdoorsman’s paradise. Surrounded by forested mountains, it’s the perfect fall destination. The Visit Colorado Springs website even has a detailed forecast of when the leaves will change colors.

Where to Stay

You have a choice of several military installations if you want base lodging in Colorado Springs.

The IHG Army Hotel at Fort Carson has rooms starting at $62 per night (plus tax). Pikes’s Peak Lodging at Peterson Air Force Base has rooms ranging from $44/night for Visiting Enlisted Quarters to $75/night for a suite. You can also stay on the beautiful campus of the Air Force Academy at the Rampart Lodge. Visiting Quarters are $60/night and TLFs are $63.

What to See and Do

Pike’s Peak is the famous mountain in the area; you can hike, drive, or take a train to the top! If you’re up for a challenge, try the Manitou Incline, a trail on Pike’s Peak that is slightly less than one mile in length but has an elevation gain of nearly 2000 feet. Other popular nature areas are Garden of the Gods Park and Cheyenne Mountain State Park.

Colorado Springs also offers opportunities for rock climbing, horseback riding, and mountain biking.

If you’re a golfer, check out the Air Force Academy’s Eisenhower Golf Course. One of the two 18-hole courses has been named the top Department of Defense golf course and a top 100 course in the U.S.!

  1. Boise, ID

Boise, also known as “The City of Trees” is the perfect place to enjoy autumn leaves.

Where to Stay

The Sagebrush Inn at Mountain Home AFB, an hour southeast of Boise, offers one-bedroom units ($60) and TLFs ($63).

What to See and Do

If there’s something you like to do outdoors, you can probably do it here. MHAFB is surrounded by National Forest areas and mountains, offering many opportunities for climbing, hiking, fishing, camping, mountain biking . . . you name it! The area also has numerous hot springs.

One well-known feature of the city of Boise is the Boise Greenbelt, a 25-mile path along the Boise River. Walk, run, or bike this picturesque route to enjoy the changing leaves.

Mountain Home AFB’s Outdoor Recreation program also offers tons of fun classes, tours, and multi-day trips, including whitewater rafting and kayaking.

For more ideas and details to help you plan your trip, the Visit Idaho website is an excellent resource.

What Part of the U.S Do You Want to Visit?

There are dozens of locations around the U.S. for great fall getaways, and if you take advantage of your access to military bases, you can plan a family vacation without breaking the bank. Taking Space A air transportation to your destination will save even more money. Use this fall foliage prediction map of the entire continental U.S. to pick a destination that works with your schedule and budget.

What’s your favorite fall destination? Let us know in the comments!

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Stephanie is a communications consultant and freelance writer. She is the founder of Poppin’ Smoke, a website designed to encourage members of the military community to use their military benefits for (fun) travel. Stephanie and her husband have been traveling the world since he retired from the Army in 2015. Through Poppin’ Smoke, Stephanie shares everything she and her husband learn about Space-A travel, using military benefits while abroad, and getting the most out of travel experiences.

Stephanie Montague

Military Spouse