One of the most breathtaking natural events, the autumn foliage can take on a variety of forms across the United States.
Take a drive through the golden foliage of western aspens against the backdrop of rocky peaks, or take in the fiery maples that dominate the northern Midwest.
Color windows across the country are affected by factors such as weather, altitude, and chance, making it difficult to forecast peak leaf peeping season. We’ve compiled a list of the best times to visit our recommended autumnal destinations.
State of Vermont; Stowe
Stowe, Vermont is a popular fall vacation spot because of its proximity to Vermont’s Green Mountains and their breathtaking peaks, as well as its beautiful hiking trails. Rent a cabin or pitch a tent in one of New England’s parks to take in the region’s famously gorgeous forests.
While the best time to see the fall foliage in Stowe is around the middle of September, the town is still beautiful all the way through the end of the month.
Va.’s Shenandoah National Park
A popular fall destination, this park in the eastern United States features views of the central Appalachians for nearly 100 miles. Skyline Drive and the surrounding Virginia forest trails offer spectacular views of the changing leaves in the fall.
Autumn colors in Shenandoah Valley are at their most vibrant around the middle of the month of October. You can keep track of the changing colors with weekly social media updates, or you can get more specific with the fall foliage reports from the Virginia Department of Forestry.
This is Oregon’s Columbia River Gorge.
Envision a painting of a vast river that reflects the surrounding landscape perfectly, complete with misty mountains, wooded banks, and bright splashes of gold and orange. One of the best places to see the fall foliage on the West Coast is the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area in Oregon.
Walk through the mountain’s evergreen groves and observe the alder and maple trees. Late October in Oregon is when the autumn colors really pop.
Zion Park, National Reserve
Maples turn brilliant red and cottonwoods bright yellow as autumn approaches in Zion National Park. Autumn in Zion is a sensory experience, with trails like the Emerald Pools Trail winding through resolute forests that cling to creeks and rivers.
The peak of Zion’s fall foliage can be found in the middle of October at higher elevations, while lower elevations can still enjoy the show until the middle of November.
There is a special allure to the Tennessee/North Carolina state line in the fall, when the mountain forests transform from green to warmer hues. Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Roan Mountain, and the Pisgah and Cherokee National Forests are all excellent options for exploring southern Appalachia by foot.
The Southern Appalachians’ fall foliage is similarly altitude-dependent to that of the American West. Upper elevations reach their peak in early to mid-October, while lower elevations reach theirs in late October and early November.
West Virginia is a hidden gem for ecotourists and tourists; come see why. West Virginia provides a unique and exciting alternative to the more well-known states for autumn foliage viewing. Stride into the multicolored hollows of the Hatfield McCoy Mountains, or gaze at the crimson and tangerine tree tops along the oldest river in the continental United States (the New River) as you watch the colors clash with the waterfalls and craggy peaks of the Potomac Highlands.
For those interested in visiting West Virginia during peak foliage season (late September to mid-October), the state’s tourism office provides a live leaf map.