The Best Places to See Fall Foliage in the United States
There might be a lot of people out there who are not ready for summer to end, but it’s not all bad news. It’s time for sweater weather, hot apple cider, and best of all, seeing the leaves change from the lush greens of summer to the bright golds, oranges, and reds of autumn.
Over the next few months, each state will experience its own, unique view of fall. While many people associate watching the leaves change with weekend getaways to the Northeast, there are plenty of places to see the stunning seasonal views throughout the country. Classic leafy views in Maine, New Hampshire, and New York are always a great go-to, but you can also find amazing leaf changing action in states like Georgia and New Mexico.
Oak, ash, maple and hickory trees are transforming before your very eyes all over the United States. And every landscape practically looks like a perfect postcard.
Nature lovers can truly enjoy some wonderful scenery and even better activities throughout the fall in national and state parks. As the weather gets colder, leaf peepers can enjoy places like Ozark National Forest, Massapequa Reserve, and Hunter Mountain even more.
The crisp, fall winds are already starting to blow, so it’s no wonder people are itching to get in their cars for some scenic driving. Luckily, peak leaf peeping season is coming sooner than you might think.
Use this interactive map to find out when and where the leaves are changing all across the country, from September through November.
Perhaps it’s time to start packing the binoculars, strapping on the hiking boots and firing up the Instagram feeds for some autumn adventures.
Bar Harbor, Maine
In mid-October, Bar Harbor is a hotbed of activity for tourists who are itching to get their fill of salty, sea air while they see the gorgeous colors of autumn. There are not only beautiful historic hotels to stay at in the area, many visitors can also kayak, and go bird and whale watching in Acadia National Park.
Ozark National Forest, Arkansas
Ozark National Forest has more than 1.2 million acres of spectacular scenery. During October, fall foliage is at its peak, and you can find yourself strolling through the beautiful fall hues of gold, orange and red. Plus there are plenty of mountains, springs, rivers, and breathtaking parks to photograph.
Catskill Mountains, New York
The Catskill Mountains are practically the perfect fall landscape. Once you’ve taken in the scenery, and gotten the best Instagram, the Hunter Mountain Oktoberfest offers visitors four weekends of live entertainment, great food and German cultural activities.
Huntington, New York
Caumsett State Historic Park Preserve has over 1,600 acres and 27 trails. Maples, tulips, hickory, sassafras and dogwoods are some of the trees that make up this beautiful area, making for an exciting view that changes throughout the walk.
It’s no wonder Stowe is called “Fall’s Color Capital.” With so many plants turning varying shades of yellow, red, orange and brown from September through mid-October, it’s a spectacular place to hike and ride. Even if the weather gets chilly, you can even take a scenic drive down the Mount Mansfield Auto Toll Road.
Columbia River Gorge, Oregon
Columbia River Gorge, between Washington and Oregon, is home to over 50 waterfalls, but the fall months are the most special times to visit. During October and November, Mount Hood becomes a symphony of fall colors that are perfect for hiking, biking, and taking the best pictures you’ve ever taken. The dry summer has unfortunately created an atmosphere susceptible to wildfires, so be sure to check on potential damage or closed areas with the Northwest Coordination Center or the Forest Service.
Eastern Shore, Maryland
Surrounding Chesapeake Bay and the Delmarva Peninsula is Maryland’s Eastern Shore. While you chow down on some Maryland crabs, be sure to take plenty of walks around Elk Neck State Park to see the gorgeous colors.
North Conway, New Hampshire
Tucked within the White Mountain National Forest is the Kancamagus Highway, more than 26 miles of roadway for leaf peepers to enjoy the beautiful vistas in early October. When you’re not hiking, biking, skiing and rock climbing, retreat to one of the area’s cozy inns.
Hike or bike yourself to Pleasant Valley Sanctuary around mid-October to see the beautifully vivid colors of this Massachusetts town. Not only are you guaranteed a stunning view, the famous Cranwell Spa is nearby to pamper yourself after an afternoon of leaf peeping.
The Poconos, Pennsylvania
The Pocono Mountains are stretched around gently winding roads that are perfect for fall foliage chasers. Route 507 around Lake Wallenpaupack makes a wonderful road trip for anyone looking for a relaxing, autumnal view. Leaves begin to turn in mid-September and peak in October.
Taos, New Mexico
While most people associate leaf peeping with the Northeast, people in the Southwest deserts can also enjoy some changing seasonal colors. The southwestern landscape of New Mexico is a must-see in the fall, especially driving around one of America’s most scenic drives: The Enchanted Circle. This 83-mile drive connects the towns of Taos, Eagle Nest, Red River, and Questa — and contains some spectacular views.
Amicalola Falls State Park, Georgia
Amicalola Falls State Park is home to Georgia's tallest waterfall. At 729 feet, it can be seen from many different trails along the park, and the bottom of the falls gives visitors a beautiful view of Georgia’s plant life, including maple and oak trees.
In early November, bright fall colors come in full force to Tennessee. The area’s poplars, maples, oak, and hickory trees make the town come alive in color. A brisk walk among the historic downtown or down the Natchez Trace parkway are perfect for leaf chasers.
Staten Island Greenbelt
City dwellers don’t need to go far to get to one of New York’s most beautiful forests, right within the five boroughs between Richmond and Brielle Avenues in Staten Island. Maple, tulip and beech to oak and hickory trees make up a varied and beautiful hike for leaf peepers who can’t get away every weekend.
Cape May, New Jersey
This old, seaside resort town turns into a autumn haven in mid October and through November. The historic lighthouses of the area give visitors the perfect view of the changing fall colors, as well as the Atlantic Ocean, Delaware Bay, and Cape May State Park.
Brooklyn, New York
Urbanites can simply jaunt over to The Brooklyn Botanical Garden, to get their fall foliage fix. With 52-acres of space, paved pathways, themed gardens, specialty plant pavilions and native species of plants from all over the world, the colors of fall are in full “bloom” right in the city, especially in mid to late October.
Cape Cod, Massachusetts
Cape Cod, Massachusetts may be a popular summer destination but leaf peeping tourists are also well aware of it autumnal charms. Visitors can go on Cranberry Bog Tours, Fall for the Arts Festival, and pumpkin picking as well as seeing the beautiful changing colors of the Northeast.
Aspen, Colorado, is named for its gorgeous aspen trees that turn the perfect yellow-gold in the fall time. Before the ski season sets in, visitors can enjoy all kinds of outdoor activities to enjoy the gorgeous views, especially stopping over at Maroon Bells to take in the scenery.
Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin
Along the Wisconsin River is a strikingly beautiful, glacier-formed gorge known as the Wisconsin Dells. During the fall, the Dells are particularly peaceful, which is ideal for leaf peepers who want to steal the perfect shot of the changing foliage. Boat tours, river walks, and sightseeing in Devil’s Lake State Park are some of the most popular attractions there.
Massapequa Preserve in Long Island is one of the best places to experience fall foliage. Bethpage Multi-Use Path has 2.5 miles of paved pathway that’s complemented by dirt trails for peepers who want to rough it a little. Late October into early November is the best time to enjoy the vibrant views.
Maple Pass Loop/Lake Ann, Washington
Naturally, leaf peepers are going to be drawn to anything with “maple” in the name. This popular hiking spot peaks in mid-October and develops a gorgeous pattern of yellow, red and orange. Lake Ann offers a fantastic backdrop for the fall view.