Top Places to See Fall Foliage in the U.S.
The most beautiful places to see fall foliage span from coast to coast. If you travel to any of these fall foliage destinations, look forward to breathtaking views.
1. Lake Superior, Mich.
Michigan's Upper Peninsula might be off the beaten path, but the fall colors in the nearly undisturbed wilderness here are well worth the trip. In a state known for its coastal views, Lake Superior boasts some of the best autumn scenic drives. Travel over the Mackinaw Bridge and head to Copper Harbor to admire the contrast of Lake Superior's freezing waters with the warm foliage.
According to the Michigan Fall Color Map, colors peak on the shores of Lake Superior from the beginning through the middle of October. Bundle up if you go hiking — the weather can be frigid this time of year.
2. Aspen, Colo.
Colorado's stunning vistas come alive in autumn. Visit this ski resort town in the fall to enjoy the shimmering colors on a backdrop of the snow-covered Maroon Bells Mountains. The fall foliage in Aspen peaks in September and the beginning of October, when the city's namesake aspen trees don their golden-yellow glow.
There's plenty to do here, from hiking popular trails in the Maroon Bells to taking a bike ride along the Rio Grande Trail. Make sure you stop by Maroon Lake to see the leaves and mountains reflected in the glacial pool.
3. Cape Cod, Mass.
Cape Cod is famous for its lighthouses and beaches in summer, but the region is also a prime location for spotting crisp New England fall foliage.
From touring a cranberry bog to playing a round of golf at some of Massachusetts' most scenic golf courses, autumn in Cape Cod offers a wealth of activities. Nickerson State Park is a great place to hike, surrounded by the vibrant leaves of American beech, sassafras and red oak trees. Take a drive along Historic Route 6A to enjoy rolling hills, quaint white churches and some of America's oldest villages.
4. Stowe, Vt.
A tour of the amazing places in the U.S. would be incomplete without Vermont. Stowe, Vt., has earned the moniker "Fall's Color Capital" for a reason — the town offers some of the best fall foliage in the country, from scarlet red maple leaves to the golden yellows of birches painting the hilly countryside.
Check out some of the fall activities for leaf peepers in Stowe, from hiking to taking a scenic drive along Auto Toll Road. Zip lining and sky rides offer an aerial view of leaves, while a kayaking trip on a reservoir will get you some healthy exercise to burn off the calories you consumed when sampling the local maple syrup.
5. Shenandoah National Park, Va.
Finding higher elevations is the key to catching eye-popping fall foliage, and Shenandoah National Park in Virginia is an excellent place to do it. As you go higher into the mountains, leaves start turning earlier, so you may see fall foliage in Shenandoah as early as September and late as November.
Shenandoah's gorgeous Skyline Drive is a must-see, with 105 miles of scenic views along the Blue Ridge Mountains. Camping is popular in the park, though travelers should be aware that autumn brings a surge of visitors and some sites may be full.
6. Bar Harbor, Maine
From strolling through local shops downtown to catching the Acadia Night Sky Festival, Bar Harbor is an excellent place to view autumn colors and enjoy the season on the East Coast. Immerse yourself in Maine's vibrant nature trails at Acadia National Park or go kayaking or whale watching to admire the foliage from the water.
As the fall colors progress from the north of Maine, the foliage in Bar Harbor typically peaks at the end of October. You can also check out the Maine foliage report to predict when the leaves might be at their best.
7. Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tenn.
As the most visited national park in the U.S., Great Smoky Mountains National Park is stunning all year long, but especially in the autumn. The fall foliage spreads across the mountains from mid-October through November, creating an ocean of color best enjoyed from high up.
Hike the Appalachian Trail to Clingmans Dome, the highest point in the Great Smoky Mountains, to get a bird's-eye view of the spectacular foliage. The observation tower from this peak offers panoramic views of the park. Other beautiful hikes include Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail, which provides lookouts for enjoying the fall colors without leaving your car, and Rainbow Falls.
8. New York City, N.Y.
Though New York City may not immediately come to mind when you think of the best places to see the leaves in fall, the city provides a surprising amount of autumn colors if you know where to look.
Head to Brooklyn to stroll through the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Visitors can enjoy yellow ginkgo leaves, scarlet oaks and the garden's katsura tree, which progresses from yellow and orange to red and pink during the fall. Another classic location in New York City is Central Park, where you can admire the reflection of the fall foliage and skyscrapers in the pond as you eat a meal from a New York food truck.
9. Pine Creek Gorge, Penn.
Called "the Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania," Pine Creek Gorge is a stunning place to see fall colors. The gorge is part of Pennsylvania's Tioga State Forest and is 1,450 feet deep at its lowest point, offering sweeping outlooks from various points so visitors can admire every angle.
The best time to visit is in late September through early October, when the array of trees in the gorge turn golden, red, orange and purple with dashes of evergreen. Hike or bike through the Pine Creek Rail Trail to revel in the foliage up close.
10. North Shore, Minn.
Minnesota's North Shore offers renowned scenic drives along frigid Lake Superior and a bright blaze of autumn colors.
Frequent stops along the North Shore are the best way to enjoy the drive. Walk along chilly waterfronts, look out over lakeside cliffs and explore Split Rock Lighthouse before hopping back in the car. Be sure to stop at Gooseberry Falls State Park to admire the stunning foliage over the rushing waterfalls.
11. Pocono Mountains, Penn.
The Pocono Mountains in northeastern Pennsylvania stretch over 2,400 square miles. Since the mountains cover three color zones, visitors can enjoy a longer fall foliage season. Colors peak in mid-to-late October, but you can check the fall colors forecast for up-to-date information.
Pennsylvania's Pocono Mountains are a great place to enjoy a range of autumn activities as you go leaf-peeping. Visitors can kayak, go horseback riding, golf and zip line to get a thrill while admiring the fall foliage. For a more laid-back view of the Poconos, take a train up into the mountains on the Pocono Foliage Express or drive Route 57 near Lake Wallenpaupack.
12. Elk Neck State Park, Md.
Located on Maryland's Northern Shore, Elk Neck State Park offers over 2,300 acres of wooded area, marshland, white cliffs and shoreline. Camping, hiking and boating are popular during the region's peak season, and the warm autumn foliage makes it even more inviting.
Venture out to Turkey Point Lighthouse for views of the Chesapeake Bay and brilliant fall colors from the Elk Neck Peninsula. The area is perfect for water lovers, with opportunities to rent a kayak or paddleboat. Head back inland to dine at a cozy restaurant or enjoy wine tasting at nearby vineyards, all with the glorious backdrop of Maryland's autumn colors.
13. Blue Ridge Mountains, Ga.
The Blue Ridge Mountains boast some of the best fall colors and scenic drives in the South. Don't miss hiking in the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest for the fall scenery, where peak colors typically appear throughout October and early November, depending on elevation.
Take advantage of activities like zip lining and kayaking in the national forest. Stop at Amicalola Falls State Park to gaze up at Georgia's tallest waterfall and the oak and maple trees flanking it before exploring the shops, galleries and restaurants in McCaysville.
14. Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, Wash.
Mountain lovers will enjoy an autumn hike in Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest in Washington. This part of the Cascade Range encompasses millions of acres of hiking trails and offers plenty of rugged adventures.
The Lake Ann/Maple Pass Loop Trail is one of the most popular trails in the national forest, with a challenging hike that offers spectacular scenery of the peaks. In autumn, Lake Ann serves as a centerpiece to patterns of yellow, red and orange leaves on the surrounding mountainsides. The views make Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest one of the most unforgettable places to see fall foliage in the Pacific Northwest.
16. Asheville, N.C.
For another metropolitan experience of fall colors, head to Asheville, N.C. This section of the Blue Ridge Mountains is a great place to view autumn colors and get a taste of city appeal.
Drive along Blue Ridge Parkway to glimpse the foliage, then check out the Biltmore Estate, a luxurious historic mansion with sprawling gardens. Sample craft beers and shop from local artisans in Asheville's stylish downtown. Asheville's fall color report predicts peak colors in late September for higher mountain elevations, while Asheville itself will see brighter foliage around late October.
16. Staten Island, N.Y.
Staten Island offers several opportunities for glimpsing fall colors while remaining close to the action of New York City. The borough features botanical gardens, museums, wetlands and meadows ready for fall exploring. Peak colors usually arrive by mid-October.
You can catch the best fall foliage in Staten Island Greenbelt, a web of parks and hiking trails perfect for strolling on a sunny autumn day. From blazing maples to brilliant yellow hickory trees, the conservancy has a wealth of trees that make the fall months vibrant.
17. Ozark National Forest, Ark.
Fall foliage in Ozark National Forest is a thick patchwork of gold, red and green covering 1.2 million acres of woodlands. The gorgeous hues create a backdrop to the Ozark mountains, and visiting in the fall provides cooler temperatures for outdoor activities.
The Ozarks are a great place to bike, camp, hike, fish and more. Photographers will enjoy driving the Talimena National Scenic Byway through the forest and stopping to get the perfect shot of the breathtaking vistas. Go camping or rent a lodge as your home base for the trip.
19. Catskill Mountains, N.Y.
The Catskill Mountains are home to a unique landscape and are the perfect opportunity for a relaxing fall getaway in upstate New York. Many people love this mountain range's brilliant fall foliage.
A meandering two-mile hike up Mount Utsayantha provides spectacular views with little effort. Other scenic lookouts include the Five State Lookout observation deck, which displays a panoramic scene of fall colors across five states, and the Scenic Skyride up Hunter Mountain. Drive along the Catskill Mountains Scenic Byway through picturesque towns and try craft beer and cider as you admire the foliage.
19. Taos, N.M.
Topping off the list of best places to see fall foliage in the U.S., Taos, N.M., might come as a surprise — but the area's seasonal changes offer a one-of-a-kind fall beauty for travelers. The peak colors last only about a week in several places, so timing is of the essence.
Taos sits along one of the U.S.' most scenic drives — The Enchanted Circle. This drive connects several towns, lakes, canyons and rivers. Take a hike or bike trip to admire the golden aspens and Ponderosa pines, set against the stunning backdrop of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.
Let GrandView Aviation Connect You With Your Destination
With some planning and a little flexibility, you can see the best fall colors in the U.S. this autumn. Whatever your plans, GrandView Aviation can ensure your journey is luxurious and unparalleled. We offer our clients superior private jet charter flights with spacious cabins, gourmet catering options and other features that provide best-in-class performance and get you to your destination safely.
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