Visit these spots for the most beautiful fall foliage in America.
While summer may be coming to an end, autumn will soon arrive. Soon, some of the country’s most scenic spots will turn into a spectacle of yellow, gold, orange, and red leaves and the best fall foliage in the USA will appear.
Wait, you thought leaf-peeping was only for New Englanders? You might be wrong. There are places all over the U.S. that flourish with fall colors. In the South, you’ll find dogwood, sassafras, and maple trees in hues of gold and red through November. In the Upper Midwest, you’ll spot birch, sycamore, and tamarack trees that transform in late September and October. The trees are spectacular in the Pacific Northwest from mid September to mid October.
Our list of where to see the best fall foliage in the USA covers a lot of ground, from New Mexico to Oregon and Missouri, with plenty of surprising destinations in between. Are you looking for an autumn getaway or a day of leaf-peeping? You won’t want to miss this beautiful escape.
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As you peep those leaves, some of our other favorite outdoor autumn activities will be waiting along the way. From the finest corn mazes to the best places to go apple picking, there’s plenty of Americana to help you celebrate sweater weather. And for those who don’t mind a little fall chill, don’t forget to book a site beneath all that beautiful fall foliage at one of the best campgrounds in the U.S.
The best fall foliage in America
1. Cape Cod MA
What time to go? Mid to late October
You’ll be amazed at the following: Whether you’re near the shore or further inland, Cape Cod is a classic destination for leaf-peepers hoping to catch the changing seasons. Feast your eyes on black oak, white oak, and red cedar trees as they burst with fall’s gorgeous colors.
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2. Blue Ridge Mountains (NC)
What time to go? Late September through November
You’ll be amazed at the following: Stretching 469 miles between Shenandoah National Park and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Blue Ridge Parkway offers a scenic drive between North Carolina and Virginia. Once fall hits, the already stunning landscape goes the extra mile: dogwood, sassafras, and maple trees that line every curve turn into vibrant displays of yellows, oranges, and reds.
Discover the best things to do in North Carolina
3. Aspen, CO
What time to go? Mid to late September
You’ll be amazed at the following: If Aspen is already on your bucket list, you won’t regret visiting in the fall. The mountain town’s most vibrant season is extremely short (it only lasts from mid-September to the end of the month), but is nonetheless extraordinary as thousands of aspen trees burst with rich yellow hues.
Discover the best things to do in Colorado
4. Upper Peninsula, MI
What time to go? Late September to mid-October
You’ll be amazed at the following: The Upper Peninsula of Michigan borders the Great Lakes, and it contains more than 4,000,000 acres of forestland. You can choose from more than 20 state parks in the area, where you will find ash, aspen and maple trees, birchwood, maple, oaks, sycamore and tamarack trees in full bloom with autumn colors.
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5. White Mountains, NH
What time to go? Early September to early October
You’ll be amazed at the following: Spanning more than 800,000 acres, White Mountain National Forest encompasses some of the most natural and beautiful wildernesses in the Northeast. Come autumn, take a scenic drive along the Kancamagus Highway (Route 112) to get your fill of colorful fall leaves.
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6. Shawangunk Mountains, NY
What time to go? Late September to late October
You’ll be amazed at the following: The Shawangunk Mountains Scenic Byway, located 90 miles north from Manhattan is an 88-mile loop that runs through New York. It connects Kerhonkson with New Paltz. Go for a drive and you’ll be in prime leaf-spotting terrain as you ascend into the Shawangunk Mountains, which rise more than 2,000 feet above sea level.
Find out more about places you can visit fall foliage in New York
7. Ozark Mountains, MO
What time to go? The second-half of October
You’ll be amazed at the following: It’s not just the rolling mountains that make Missouri’s Ozark National Forest an ultimate road trip — there are rivers, springs, canyons, and bluffs that lie just beyond every turn. Not surprisingly, the Ozarks are even more marvelous during the fall with less crowds, cooler temperatures, and a forested landscape that blazes with shades of gold and maroon.
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8. Taos, NM
What time to go? Late September to early October
You’ll be amazed at the following: Taos is located at the Sangre de Cristo Mountains in northern New Mexico. It’s a great place to start seeing autumn foliage in desert environments. You can see all the colors by taking the Enchanted Circle Scenic Byway. This loop is 83 miles long and lined with bright yellow-orange aspen trees.
Find the best things to do in New Mexico
9. Columbia River Gorge in Oregon
What time to go? Mid-September to mid-October
You’ll be amazed at the following: Columbia River Gorge is a natural wonder between Washington State and Oregon. Beautiful sight. But throw in fir, cottonwood, maple, ash, and pine trees that glisten and glow with golden-hued leaves? This riverbank is so captivating, that you might never want to leave it.
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10. Green Mountains (VT)
What time to go? In the early September or early October
You’ll be amazed at the following: The maple, birch, and beech trees that cover Vermont’s mountainsides put on one of the most dazzling displays of fall foliage in the country. You can either take a short hike through the Green Mountain National Forest to take in all the colours, or you could camp under the trees for an extended stay.
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11. Zion National Park in Utah
What time to go? Mid-October to early November
You’ll be amazed at the following: Better known for its desert canyons and sandstone buttes, southern Utah’s Zion National Park shines bright—with cooler conditions—in October as fall foliage peppers the landscape with reds and yellows. You can witness its stunning, but brief leaf-peeping period by taking a Mt. Carmel Highway. Or, hike in the Fremont cottonwoods.