The Most Incredible Places to See Fall Foliage in the US
Summer may be over but the fun continues as the country's most incredible scenic spots will turn into a spectacle of yellow, gold, orange, and red.
There's no other time of year quite like fall. Brisk, cool mornings give way to warm afternoons, and the change in temperature causes leaves to change from shades of green to a sea of warm colors before winter sets in. Oak, ash, maple, and hickory trees transform before your very eyes and turn small towns into the most amazing places to visit during Fall.
While there's a long list of incredible places to see Fall foliage, it may take far too long to mention them all in one blog. So we've picked our favorites from the pile to help you decide where to enjoy the season
Fall is a festive time of the year in Stowe, and it’s the perfect place for a getaway to see Fall foliage. The Fall's color capital comes alive during the season as bright colors dot the hills and countryside. While covered in snow during winter, the trees show off their vibrant colors during Fall.
There are a lot of activities to do in Stowe, Vermont during the Fall. These include hiking through red, yellow, and orange woodlands, trying pumpkin beer and apple cider doughnuts, and going to pumpkin patches and corn mazes.
In Aspen, Fall is truly unforgettable. Days that feel pleasant and appear to be summery might suddenly turn cold overnight. The sudden change in temperature can set off a wave of colors among the aspen trees, willows and tundra plants, creating one of the most colorful displays of autumn in the US.
Mountain biking through the forest, hiking through the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness, touring historical landmarks, or simply driving around town are some of the wonderful fall activities to do in Aspen. Aspen continues to prosper despite the off-season, with many of its restaurants, shops, and attractions remaining open through October.
Because aspen groves share a root system, they are regarded as a single organism and undergo color change as a unit. Visitors who come around September often have the best opportunity of seeing the peak of the colors, however, the timing of their change is affected by a variety of circumstances and varies slightly each year.
Shenandoah National Park
The majority of the trees in Shenandoah National Park are made up of red oak and chestnut trees, but other species like poplar, maple, birch, and ash are also prevalent. They all work together to provide an incredible pallet of fall colors at Shenandoah National Park, each one occupying its own unique place in the ecosystem of the park.
Because of its higher elevation, Skyline Drive is the best place in Virginia to enjoy the fall foliage in October. The 105-mile Skyline Drive traverses the park while largely following a ridgeline. The picturesque route curves from north to south and has 75 overlooks with stunning east and west vistas.
One of the most popular places to visit on the East Coast during Fall is Adirondack Park. It boasts one of the longest fall foliage seasons in the nation making it a fantastic getaway for leaf-viewers, hikers, and couples seeking to take in the Adirondack Park's natural beauty.
Get to areas like Saranac Lake, Lake Placid, and Wilmington early in the season to enjoy the mountains in all its splendor as peak foliage happens a little earlier in the higher elevations. The Adirondacks will have you falling in love with it time and time again with its plethora of hiking, kayaking, mountain biking, and adventure opportunities. Or travel to Tupper Lake for stargazing, hiking with kids, fishing, and magnificent golf scenery.
It’s not surprising that Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is considered one of the best destinations for Fall color in the US. From mid-September to mid-October, the Upper Peninsula’s seven million acres of hardwood and pine forests are drenched in fiery hues of yellow, orange, and red mixed with rich green and brown. The region is bordered by three Great Lakes and is perhaps best known for its harsh winters. In the fall, however, the forests of the Upper Peninsula put on a colorful display that rivals those of the Northeast.
The Lake of the Clouds in the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park promises heavenly views in Michigan’s largest state park. This gorgeous park has it all, cascading waterfalls, a landscape that changes with the seasons, babbling rivers, picturesque hiking trails, a 35,000-acre forest, and so much more.
New River Gorge
Like most parks, New River Gorge National Park tends to be busiest in the summer. But those willing to don a light jacket in the fall will be treated to the season's reds, oranges, and yellows while enjoying fewer crowds.
Arguably the best way to see the fall foliage is to get out on the trails. Long Point Trail is an easy favorite that offers an incredible angle of the New River Gorge Bridge, one of the most scenic overlooks in the park. Another popular hike in New River Gorge National Park is the Endless Wall Trail. This thrilling route traverses the rocky cliffs that tower around 1,000 feet above the river.
There are also plenty of other adventurous activities that will provide unique views of the seasonal landscape. For a stunning aerial view, you can scale the sandstone cliffs on a guided rock climbing trip or walk under the New River Gorge Bridge, 850 feet above the New River on a Bridge Walk tour.
New England is world famous for being quite spectacular in the fall and there are plenty of great places across the six states to enjoy the season. This includes North Conway in New Hampshire, a quaint little town, nestled in the middle of the White Mountain Region. And while you can always visit any time of the year, fall is definitely the most beautiful time to stay.
An excellent way to view Fall foliage in North Conway is by booking a Mountaineer ride. It’s the one that goes far enough into the Mt Washington Valley and that’s where the best views are. The secret is to time it around peak foliage where the display of colors is absolutely spectacular. The entire trip takes more than 5 hours and it can get a little long, especially on the way back near the end. So if you plan on doing it with little kids, the shorter rides might be more suitable.
Great Smoky Mountain National Park
The Fall colors of Great Smoky Mountains National Park put on a spectacular show similar to New England. These maple, oak, and hickories display colors anywhere from mid-October to early November in the mid and lower elevations.
The annual show of fall colors attracts huge numbers of sightseers, especially during the last three weeks of October. Areas in the park which experience the longest traffic delays are Cades Cove and Newfound Gap Road (U.S. 441).
Even though there are no motels or rental cabins located within the national park, communities surrounding the national park offer a wide choice of accommodations including hotels, cabins, bed and breakfasts, and campgrounds. October is a busy month in the park, so it is advisable to make accommodation reservations as early as possible.