The Best Fall Foliage Spots in All 50 States and D.C.
Clean air, panoramic views of bursting bright colors and miles of forests – all reasons why fall is the best time to explore places with phenomenal mixtures of yellow, red, orange and green. The incredible hues peak between September and October all across the U.S. All of New England is known for its autumn colors. But this is not the only area boasting awe-inspiring fall foliage.
Alabama – DeSoto Falls
The 104-foot waterfall located on the West Fork of the Little River near Mentone in the state park that bears its name. You can go swimming at the bottom if the weather conditions permit it, of course.
Alaska – Denali National Park
You need to see Denali in the short-but-sweet season of fall. The national park has an earlier autumn season than most other parks. Fall colors usually start at the end of August. Be mindful of the moose and caribou preparing for winter and be sure to set aside at least a week if you hope to see a good deal of the six million acre park.
Arizona – White Mountains
Hiking throughout The White Mountains is a wonderful year-round experience, but fall offers a little extra due to its stunning hues. Explore the many trails for all levels and ages. The White Mountains Trail System is a series of about 30 connecting trail loops ranging from Vernon on the eastern edge to Clay Springs in the west.
Arkansas – Ozark National Forest
The true peak occurs usually between the last week of October and the first week of November. “Entire hillsides are in bright intense colors everywhere you look. [There are] very few green trees, very few bare trees – just millions of trees in bright display, according to Ozark Recreation Directories.
California – San Francisco
The Golden State is huge and you can travel to many of its parks to see absolutely gorgeous fall foliage. Or you can stay where you live – if this happens to be San Francisco – and enjoy the colorful display just as much. There are a few spots that offer brilliant hues with a great backdrop. Go to the Golden Gate Park for late-season fall color—particularly in the botanical garden and the Japanese tea garden.
Colorado – Kebler Pass
This high mountain pass is the the best spot in the state to see foliage. The views go as far as 50 miles. Fifty miles of golden aspens is a truly magnificent sight.
Connecticut – New Haven
It’s hard to pick just one spot in Connecticut as “the best.” Anywhere you go you see awe-inspiring views. New Haven is certainly at the very top. Colorful trees all over downtown are rampant in this beautiful town, including in the stylish Chapel Hill Historic District.
Delaware – Water Gap Recreational Area
Paddlers slip down the river between low forested mountains; anglers wade the trout streams; hikers scan the valley from the ridge or peer into the 1000-foot-deep Water Gap. The valley has known human hand and voice for 10,000 years, according to NPS.
Florida – Wekiwa Springs
Florida may not be known for fall foliage, but there are still some places you can enjoy what the season can offer. Sample the wilderness along the Wekiwa Springs Hiking Trail. The extensive trail system will captivate you with its massive landscapes where deer and Florida black bear thrive. Hikers of all levels will enjoy it. The pleasant hike has varied terrain and is perfect for families and dogs.
Georgia – Piedmont Park in Atlanta
The urban park is located about one mile northeast of downtown. The dominant colors are orange, yellow, and gold. For the best chance to see them in their glory, go during the first two weeks of November. This is peak time for fall foliage in the state.
Hawaii – Oahu
Because Hawaii’s climate is tropical, seasonal changes are minimal compared to the mainland United States. You won’t find the traditional fall colors here, but that doesn’t mean Hawaii is less colorful. This time of the year, instead look for colors produced by the plants and trees in bloom such as the African tulip, chorisia speciosa, timor, royal poinciana, and rainbow.
Idaho – Sherman Peak, Bear River Range
At 9,682 feet, Sherman Peak is the highest mountain in this region and therefore provides the best and most incredible views of fall colors in the area. It is surrounded by forests, which means that the blazing fall colors are out in full force. The peak can be accessed via the Bear River Range Highline Trail from the parking area near the trailhead off Eightmile Creek Road. In total, it’s a 3.5-mile hike to the summit. This is a relatively easy hike.
Illinois – Lisle
The village in DuPage County is truly stunning in the fall. The Morton Arboretum is the absolute place to be. They also offer special landscape sculptural exhibits every year.
Indiana – Brown County State Park
With a nickname such as “Little Smokies” you can be sure you’ll be seeing nothing short of gorgeous views anywhere you turn. Brown County encompasses nearly 16,000 acres of rugged hills, ridges and fog-shrouded ravines.
Iowa – Kepler State Park
The park is a prime location for hiking. There are about six miles of trails. You will see a variety of wildlife, including white-tailed deer and wild turkeys. Many species of trees, shrubs and flowers – all of which are beautiful – will also stun you.
Kansas – Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve
The preserve includes, in addition to the prairie lands, an 1881 historic ranch house, limestone barn and outbuildings, and one-room schoolhouse. The preserve offers many opportunities to experience the rich natural and cultural heritage that exists in the Flint Hills.
Kentucky – Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest
This is a 15,625 acre arboretum, forest, and nature preserve located in Clermont. There are over 40 miles of trails available for hiking and biking opportunities. Take in the sights as you loop through valleys and along ridges and hollows.
Louisiana – University Lake, Baton Rouge
A simple walk along the shore will refresh you. The views on the lake and the surroundings are awe-inspiring. You’re also going to see some beautiful villas along the shore, which will make you want to move there right away.
Maine – Baxter State Park
Baxter State Park is home to the state’s highest mountain, Mt. Katahdin, at 5,270 feet. Most of the visitors are hikers and campers who traverse the more than 200 miles of hiking trails to witness stunning views of New England and sleep under the stars at the park’s ten campgrounds. This park of colossal splendor is one of the absolute best places to go hiking in the fall.
Maryland – Frederick
Scenic landscapes make thrill-seekers feel at home because of the many opportunities for adventure. The good food, which is by the way often served in Civil War-era buildings, is very good, too. The unique shops, galleries, museums, and theaters make a trip to Frederick totally worth it.
Massachusetts – Pioneer Valley
Go on a Hot Air Balloon ride above the gorgeous Pioneer Valley, the portion of the Connecticut River Valley that is in Massachusetts. As you float quietly above you can see the Berkshire Hills of Massachusetts, as well as the mountains of Vermont and New Hampshire.
Michigan – Upper Peninsula
The Upper Peninsula is an underrated adventure destination. This natural beauty in northern Michigan has 1,700 miles of shoreline on three Great Lakes, and that’s just the beginning of its outdoor offerings. About 90 percent of its area is covered in forest. Join a Fall Color Tour for more breathtaking vistas, country roads and walks on the lakeshore.
Minnesota – North Shore, Lake Superior
One of the best ways to explore the magnificent area is by following the route of the North Shore Scenic Drive, an All-American Road, from Canal Park in Duluth. You’ll be along the shore, passing through the burgs and forests, going all the way to the border with Canada at Grand Portage.
Mississippi – Natchez Trace
The Natchez Trace was a 440-mile footpath used for centuries by Native Americans and traders. Commemorated as the Natchez Trace Parkway, it is now a scenic two-lane road from Natchez, Mississippi to Nashville, Tennessee. Some portions are on the original sunken footpath.
Missouri – West Tyson Park in St. Louis
The 673 acres are amazing in the fall. Take the Chubb Trail. It is open to hikers, equestrians and mountain bikes. You can access it through either West Tyson or Lone Elk County Parks.
Montana – Riverfront Park in Billings
Everywhere you turn you will be in awe of the beauty of the city – it’s one of the most romantic in the country. The park is just one reason to visit. It is located on the banks of the Yellowstone River. It comes with many walking paths, shaded seating and nice picnic areas.
Nebraska – Missouri River, Omaha
North America’s longest river flows on the eastern edge of Omaha creating a natural border between Nebraska and Iowa, according to Visit Omaha. It is really a natural haven for boaters, hikers, bikers, birdwatchers, and anyone who love to spend time outdoors.
Nevada – Lamoille Canyon
The scenic byway is a two-lane, 12-mile drive up the canyon. The road will whisk you away to 8,800 feet, following a U-shaped canyon flush with summer wildflowers and spectacular colors in the fall, according to Travel Nevada. As a bonus, you’ll get a prime example of rugged glaciated peaks that tower overhead at 11,000 feet.
New Hampshire – Falls Pond at White Mountains
Point to any location in New Hampshire and there will be at least one person arguing it’s the most gorgeous spot in the fall. That’s how hard it is to point at just one. The Rocky Gorge and Falls Pond trail, a 1-mile moderately trafficked loop near Conway, is a wonderful option to see the beauty of New Hampshire in the fall.
New Jersey – Princeton
The college town is a perfect day trip destination to see fall colors. In fact, go in time for the Fall Fest on October 21. Enjoy live music and many delicious treats and drinks all around the Square.
New Mexico – Santa Fe Ski Basin
Santa Fe is a secret ski spot. Located a few miles from the city center, the mountain is one of the highest ski areas in the continental U.S. With a vertical drop of 1,725 feet and gorgeous sunny days, Santa Fe is the perfect getaway. Ski Santa Fe is located only 16 miles from the heart of the city.
New York – Central Park
When it comes to leaf peeping, the northern part of the state gets all the attention. Sure, the Catskills and Adirondacks feature breathtaking fall foliage, but city-dwellers can find fantastic displays without leaving the metro area—or even the island of Manhattan.
North Carolina – Linn Cove Viaduct Road
This seven-mile section of the Blue Ridge Parkway – once the Parkway’s missing link – was completed in 1987. The Linn Cove Viaduct hugs the face of Grandfather Mountain. Stop for a little bit to enjoy walking trails and to travel under and beside the viaduct.
North Dakota – Theodore Roosevelt National Park
Visit this underrated national park for a chance to see a combination of flamboyant badlands terrain, riparian habitat along the Little Missouri River, and wildlife both native and not (wild horses and longhorn cattle).
Ohio – Hocking Hills
This spectacular state park is treasured for its variety of recreational opportunities in superb natural scenery. The 2,356-acre park has towering cliffs, waterfalls and deep hemlock-shaded valleys to appeal to hikers and naturalists.
Oklahoma – Beavers Bend State Park
Located in the mountainous region of southeast Oklahoma along the shores of Broken Bow Lake and the Mountain Fork River, the popular park is a real gem in the fall. You’ll pass through forests of pine and hardwood trees and see gorgeous scenery all around.
Oregon – Japanese Garden, Portland
There’s no time to visit like the fall. The renowned Japanese Garden and the Lone Fir Cemetery are both home to colorful leaf shows and if you’re looking for more leaves, local trails are another excellent option.
Pennsylvania – Lake Nockamixon
The reservoir in southeastern Pennsylvania is the largest lake in Bucks County. A prime location for boat rides and hiking in the area is the 5,286-acre Nockamixon State Park. Anglers and wind-surfers frequent the lake as well. You can also bike or horseback ride the more than 50 miles of trails.
Rhode Island – Roger Williams Park
Ask any locals and they will tell you that Roger Williams Park is one of their most favorite playgrounds for recreational activity. The entire park is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The 435 acres include more than 100 acres of ponds.
South Carolina – Campbells Covered Bridge
The iconic bridge is the only remaining covered bridge in the state; it was constructed in 1909. The 38-foot long, 12-foot wide pine structure spans Beaverdam Creek. The surrounding acreage has been transformed into a passive park. Visitors are welcome wet their feet the creek, picnic, and explore the foundations of the old grist mill and home sit.
South Dakota – Black Hills
See the canyons, go hiking to streams and even swim in one of the azure lakes. RV camping is a popular adventure here. Sites in the campground are widely spaced and open up to views of lakes. Wildlife in the area abounds.
Tennessee – Tellico Plains
Tellico Plains is an old-fashioned mountain town at the gateway to the Cherohala Skyway and the Cherokee National Forest. In the foothills of the Smoky Mountains, the surrounding rolling farmlands and weathered barns paint a picturesque landscape, with layers of mountain ridges and peaks as a backdrop.
Texas – Garner State Park
Garner State Park offers many miles of hiking trails and camping options. It is a great place to visit for a swim or to enjoy a relaxing weekend. With almost 3 miles of Frio River, winding through 1,774 acres of scenic Hill Country terrain, the park has lots to see and do.
Utah – Heber Valley
Located so close to the famous Deer Valley and Sundance ski resorts, Heber Valley boasts three state parks, a 2002 Olympic venue, and a historic tourism railroad, which is the Valley’s biggest and most celebrated attraction.
Vermont – Long Trail
This gnarly trail is quintessentially New England. It covers 270 miles and is known as Vermont’s “footpath in the wilderness.” Built between 1910 and 1930, the Long Trail is the oldest long-distance hiking trail in the country, according to Green Mountain Club.
Virginia – Skyline Drive
This is one of the best places to see stunning fall foliage outside New England. This is also one of the best road trips you can go on in the U.S. There are many picnic areas along the route. Many prefer the Elkwallow and South River because of the opportunities to “meet” raptors and many animals.
Washington – Tipsoo Lake
Located just below Naches Peak at the top of Chinook Pass, this is where you’ll see the absolute best views of Mount Rainier. Take the short loop trail that leads around the lake. In the fall the grasses turn into spectacular shades of reds and yellows. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, nature trips, and birding, according to AllTrails.
West Virginia – Blackwater Canyon Trail
While the total length of this path is 10.2 miles, four parking lots along the trail let you choose the distance you’ll hike and the scenery you’ll see. Depending on the section you choose, you might pass under the Big Run Archway—a landmark built by Italian stonemasons in the 1880s—or the 35-foot Douglas Falls.
Wisconsin – Tenney Park Bridge in Madison
The park is one of Madison’s treasures and its bridges are the crown jewel. Tenney Bridge and the surrounding area are absolutely stunning in the fall when the colors turn in all kinds of different shades. It’s a place to socialize, to relax, and to just be.
Wyoming – Oxbow Bend
The iconic Oxbow Bend of the Snake River with its waterfowl is a place for day hiking and paddling. This is a scenic area – an absolute must-do while sightseeing in the Grand Tetons area.
District of Columbia – Washington Monument
Spring is not the only wonderful time to visit the nation’s capital. The Washington Monument is the most prominent structure in D.C. and one of the city’s early attractions. The Monument is shaped like an Egyptian obelisk, stands 555′ 5 1/8″ tall, and offers views in excess of 30 miles.
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