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Plum Orchard Lake in the fall
Credit: Courtesy of West Virginia Tourism

When it comes to fall foliage, few places can rival West Virginia.

Thanks to the state's plentiful outdoor spaces, mountainous regions, and perfect fall weather conditions, West Virginia is a place where the fall colors just feel a bit more vibrant than anywhere else. Want to see the kaleidoscope of hues blend together in their burnt orange, crisp red, and bright yellow majesty? Here are five destinations throughout West Virginia that all leaf peepers need to add to their fall travel bucket lists.

Coopers Rock

A bridge in Coopers Rock State Forest
Credit: Courtesy of West Virginia Department of Commerce

Coopers Rock State Forest is already well-known for having some of the best views around thanks to its high-elevation canyon overlooks. Come to explore the entire park and its 50 miles of hiking and biking trails, as well as spaces for rock climbing, picnicking, and everything in between. For the best fall views, sit by its lake to see the colors reflected in the water, or head up to one of those canyon overlooks to look out at a sea of color for miles around.

Blackwater Falls

Blackwater Falls in the fall
Credit: Courtesy of West Virginia Tourism

Blackwater Falls State Park, nestled in the Allegheny Mountains, has more than enough natural beauty to go around. Yes, it's home to a 57-foot waterfall flowing with amber-colored water, but it's also the absolute place to be in the fall for a foliage show. The area has plentiful viewing platforms where visitors can stand in awe of the changing leaves day after day until they're gone for winter. Visitors can even take their viewing on the move thanks to 20 miles of hiking trails surrounding the falls.

Plum Orchard Lake

Plum Orchard Lake in the fall
Credit: Courtesy of West Virginia Tourism

The Plum Orchard Lake Wildlife Management Area is home to some hundreds of acres of fall foliage-ready landscapes just begging for you to come to see. As a prime fishing destination, it's a spot ideal for lakeside viewing. Or better yet, snag a boat and take to the water to feel like you're surrounded in fall colors. For photographers, find one of the lake's many docks for some perfect composition.

Highland Scenic Highway

Autum View of the Highland Scenic Highway Pocahontas County West Virginia
Credit: Stephen J. Shaluta/Courtesy of West Virginia Tourism

The Highland Scenic Highway is so gorgeous it landed a spot as a National Scenic Byway. For 43 miles travelers can drive through one stunning scene after the next, seemingly watching the leaves change color in real-time. Slow down for a bit and take in more of the view at one of the highway's four scenic overlooks that provide a glimpse of the mountains and valleys around. And, with spots hitting 4,500 feet in elevation, it's a highway with vistas heads above the rest.

Pipestem Resort State Park

Aerial view of Pipestem Resort State Park
Credit: Courtesy of West Virginia Department of Commerce

For families, there's no better fall destination than Pipestem Resort State Park. Located on the east rim of the Bluestone River Gorge, the park is home to more than 4,000 acres of land, all of which come to life in a fall blaze of glory during peak foliage times. At the park, families can head out on a zip line trip, go trout fishing, hit the mountain biking and hiking trails, and so much more. For the ultimate fall view, hit the aerial tramway to see the stunning landscape from above.

When to Visit

According to the West Virginia Division of Forestry, the prime time for fall foliage viewing in West Virginia is between late September through late October in 2021, with times varying based on where you plan to visit. Temperatures, rainfall, and elevation can all play a factor in fall foliage, so it may be a good idea to book an extended stay to ensure you're there when the leaves hit their peak. Check out the Division of Forestry's website to learn more about which trees will change color this year and exactly what you can expect.