12 Best Places To See Fall Foliage In USA (Best Fall Colors In USA)

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In this article, read about the best places to see fall foliage in USA with the best fall foliage drives in USA, things to do, activities, overnight stay options, and many valuable tips.

ALSO READ: Perfect East Coast Fall Trip – 12 Best East Coast Fall Foliage

Best Places To See Fall Foliage In USA – Best Fall Colors In USA

The United States is a vast and diverse country that offers many stunning destinations during the fall season. From vibrant foliage to charming festivals, here are some of the best places to experience the beauty of autumn in the USA:

New England

This region is renowned for its breathtaking fall foliage. States like Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine offer stunning landscapes with vibrant red, orange, and yellow leaves. Drive along scenic routes like the Kancamagus Highway or explore quaint towns like Stowe and Woodstock.

Best Places To See Fall Foliage In USA - best fall colors in USA

  • Things to Do: Enjoy scenic drives along the Kancamagus Highway, visit apple orchards and pumpkin patches, go on foliage hikes, explore charming small towns, and take a scenic train ride.
  • Activities: Attend fall festivals, apple cider tastings, and hayrides. Take a cruise along coastal areas for a different perspective on the fall colors.
  • Tips: Plan and make lodging reservations early, as New England is a popular fall destination. Be prepared for cooler temperatures and pack layers.
  • Overnight Stay: Consider staying in cozy bed and breakfasts, inns, or cabins. Places like the Woodstock Inn & Resort in Vermont offer a charming atmosphere.

Aspen, Colorado: 

Known for its iconic golden aspen trees, Aspen becomes a paradise in the fall. The Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness area offers stunning vistas and hiking trails amidst the changing leaves.

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  • Things to Do: Take a gondola ride for stunning aerial views, hike Maroon Lake for iconic photos, bike along trails, and explore the charming downtown area.
  • Activities: Attend the Aspen Film Festival, enjoy hot air balloon rides, and immerse yourself in local art galleries.
  • Tips: Visit in September for the best fall foliage. Book accommodations well in advance, as Aspen is a popular destination.
  • Overnight Stay: Choose from upscale resorts like The Little Nell or more rustic lodges like St. Regis Aspen Resort.

Great Smoky Mountains, Tennessee/North Carolina:

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This national park is one of the most biodiverse in the world, and during the fall, its hardwood forests burst into a tapestry of rich colors. Drive along the Newfound Gap Road or hike to Clingmans Dome for panoramic views.

  • Things to Do: Drive along Newfound Gap Road, hike to waterfalls like Laurel Falls and Abrams Falls, explore Cades Cove, and visit the Mountain Farm Museum.
  • Activities: Attend the Smoky Mountain Harvest Festival and take guided nature walks.
  • Tips: Weekdays are less crowded than weekends. Bring bug spray for hiking.
  • Overnight Stay: Camp inside the national park or nearby towns like Gatlinburg or Pigeon Forge. Consider the rustic LeConte Lodge for a unique experience.

Columbia River Gorge, Oregon/Washington: 

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This gorge features a mix of deciduous and evergreen trees that create a stunning contrast of colors in the fall. Multnomah Falls and the surrounding trails offer fantastic views.

  • Things to Do: Hike to viewpoints like Dog Mountain, visit waterfalls such as Multnomah Falls and Wahclella Falls, and explore the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center.
  • Activities: Go wine tasting along the Columbia Gorge Wine Trail and take a scenic drive along the Historic Columbia River Highway.
  • Tips: Check for road closures due to wildfires. Start hikes early to avoid crowds.
  • Overnight Stay: Opt for lodges like Skamania Lodge or quaint bed and breakfasts in Hood River.

Acadia National Park, Maine: 

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Acadia National Park is incredibly captivating during the fall with its coastal beauty and forested landscapes. Drive along the Park Loop Road or hike up Cadillac Mountain for panoramic views.

  • Things to Do: Drive the Park Loop Road, hike to the top of Cadillac Mountain, bike the Carriage Roads, and explore Jordan Pond.
  • Activities: Attend the Acadia Night Sky Festival and enjoy ranger-led programs.
  • Tips: Visit during weekdays for fewer crowds. Check the sunrise and sunset times for optimal photography.
  • Overnight Stay: Camp in the park or charming inns and cottages in nearby towns like Bar Harbor.

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Shenandoah National Park, Virginia: 

The Skyline Drive offers incredible vistas of the Blue Ridge Mountains adorned with fall foliage. There are also numerous trails and waterfalls to explore.

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  • Things to Do: Drive Skyline Drive, hike Old Rag Mountain, visit Dark Hollow Falls, and explore the Luray Caverns.
  • Activities: Attend the Apple Butter Celebration at Skyland Resort and join ranger talks.
  • Tips: Visit on weekdays to avoid traffic. Be cautious of bears and follow proper safety guidelines.
  • Overnight Stay: Camp inside the park or choose lodges like Skyland Resort and Big Meadows Lodge.

Napa Valley, California: 

While most famous for its vineyards, Napa Valley is equally charming in the fall. The grapevines turn golden, creating a stunning backdrop for wine tasting and leisurely drives.

Napa Valley Captions For Instagram

  • Things to Do: Explore vineyards during the harvest season, go wine tasting, take hot air balloon rides for aerial views, and enjoy scenic bike rides.
  • Activities: Attend the Napa Valley Film Festival, take cooking classes, and indulge in farm-to-table dining experiences.
  • Tips: Make wine-tasting reservations in advance. Consider visiting during the “crush” season to see grape harvesting.
  • Overnight Stay: Choose from luxury resorts like Meadowood Napa Valley or boutique hotels like The Carneros Inn.

Hudson Valley, New York: 

Just a short drive from New York City, the Hudson Valley boasts charming towns, historic sites, and stunning fall foliage along the Hudson River.

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  • Things to Do: Visit historic sites like Kykuit, hike in Bear Mountain State Park, explore the Walkway Over the Hudson, and enjoy apple picking.
  • Activities: Attend Oktoberfest celebrations, explore art galleries, and take scenic boat cruises along the Hudson River.
  • Tips: Check out local farmers’ markets for seasonal produce. Plan your visit during peak foliage weeks.
  • Overnight Stay: Opt for charming bed and breakfasts, like The Inn at the Ridge, or luxurious resorts like Mohonk Mountain House.

Door County, Wisconsin: 

This peninsula jutting into Lake Michigan is known for its picturesque landscapes, charming villages, and scenic coastline. The fall foliage adds to its charm.

best places to see fall foliages in USA - best fall colors in usa

  • Things to Do: Explore Peninsula State Park, visit orchards for apple picking, bike along scenic trails, and enjoy waterfront views.
  • Activities: Attend the Fall Lighthouse Festival, go on wine and cheese tours, and enjoy live performances at Peninsula Players Theatre.
  • Tips: Embrace the cozy vibe in a waterfront cottage or cabin. Consider visiting in mid-October for peak fall colors.
  • Overnight Stay: Choose from cozy inns like The Ashbrooke or resorts like The Landmark Resort.

Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming/Montana/Idaho: 

While known for its geothermal features, Yellowstone’s vast wilderness also transforms in the fall. The combination of changing leaves and steaming geysers is a unique sight.

best places to see fall foliages in USA - best fall colors in usa

  • Things to Do: Witness wildlife migrations, explore the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, visit Old Faithful, and hike to scenic spots.
  • Activities: Attend ranger-led programs, photography tours, and stargaze in the clear night skies.
  • Tips: Dress in layers, as temperatures can vary greatly. Check for road and facility closures before your visit.
  • Overnight Stay: Camp within the park or in lodges like Old Faithful Inn or Lake Yellowstone Hotel.

Sedona, Arizona: 

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While not typically associated with fall foliage, Sedona offers stunning red rock landscapes that take on a unique beauty during the autumn months.

  • Things to Do: Hike Cathedral Rock Trail, explore Red Rock State Park, take a hot air balloon ride, and indulge in spa treatments.
  • Activities: Attend the Sedona Plein Air Festival, explore art galleries, and take jeep tours through the red rock formations.
  • Tips: Pack plenty of water and sun protection for hikes. Sunrise and sunset are ideal times for photography.
  • Overnight Stay: Choose from luxury resorts like Enchantment Resort or unique accommodations like Adobe Grand Villas.

Santa Fe, New Mexico: 

The vibrant Southwestern culture of Santa Fe combines with the fall colors of the surrounding Sangre de Cristo Mountains to create a unique fall experience.

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  • Things to Do: Explore the historic Plaza, visit Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, hike the Atalaya Mountain Trail, and take a hot air balloon ride.
  • Activities: Attend the Santa Fe Indian Market, explore Canyon Road’s art galleries, and enjoy authentic New Mexican cuisine.
  • Tips: Altitude can affect some visitors, so stay hydrated. The fall harvest is perfect for trying local chiles in dishes.
  • Overnight Stay: Opt for charming adobe-style inns like the Inn of the Governors or luxury resorts like La Posada de Santa Fe.

FAQs – Best Fall Colors In USA

  • When is the best time to see fall foliage in the USA? 

The timing of fall foliage varies by location and can change from year to year. Generally, the peak fall foliage season occurs from late September to mid-November, with variations based on latitude and elevation. Research the destination you’re interested in to find the optimal time to visit for vibrant autumn colors.

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best places to see fall foliage in USA - best fall colors in USA

  •  What causes the leaves to change color during the fall? 

The changing colors of leaves in the fall are primarily due to the decreasing sunlight and cooler temperatures. As daylight hours shorten, chlorophyll production in leaves decreases, revealing the red, orange, and yellow pigments masked by the dominant green chlorophyll.

  •  Which regions in the USA are known for their vibrant fall foliage? 

New England, including Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine, is renowned for its stunning fall foliage. Other notable regions include the Great Smoky Mountains, the Rockies in Colorado, the Pacific Northwest, and the Midwest.

  • What are the best ways to experience fall foliage? 

Exploring by foot, taking scenic drives, biking along trails, and even embarking on hot air balloon rides are excellent ways to experience fall foliage. Hiking to viewpoints, visiting national parks, and attending local festivals offer unique perspectives on the autumn colors.

  • How do I find the best fall foliage in USA viewing spots? 

Research online resources, including foliage prediction maps and websites that provide real-time updates on color changes. Local tourism offices often offer information on recommended viewing spots, driving routes, and guided tours.

best fall colors in usa - best fall foliage drives in usa

  •  What should I pack for a fall foliage trip?  

Pack clothing in layers, as fall temperatures can be unpredictable. Include warm clothing, waterproof jackets, comfortable hiking shoes, hats, gloves, and sunscreen. Remember your camera or smartphone to capture the stunning scenery.

  • Are there any specific fall foliage festivals or events to attend? 

Many regions with notable fall foliage host festivals and events celebrating the season. These may include apple-picking festivals, Oktoberfests, harvest celebrations, and cultural events showcasing local art and traditions.

  • How far in advance should I plan my fall foliage in USA trip?

It’s advisable to plan your trip several months in advance, especially if you’re looking to secure accommodations in popular destinations. Some lodgings and guided tours may fill up quickly, so early planning ensures you have the best options.

  •  What are some less-known fall foliage destinations in USA that are worth visiting? 

Consider exploring lesser-known destinations like the Ozarks in Arkansas and Missouri, the Enchanted Circle Scenic Byway in New Mexico, or the Allegheny National Forest in Pennsylvania for unique fall foliage experiences.

  • Are there any safety tips to remember during the best fall foliage drives in USA? 

Be cautious while hiking or driving on unfamiliar trails and roads. Dress appropriately for changing weather conditions, stay hydrated, and follow Leave No Trace principles. Additionally, some areas might have wildlife activity, so be aware of your surroundings.

Remember that conditions can change, so it’s a good idea to check local resources, weather forecasts, and foliage trackers before you travel. 

Now you know some of the Best Places To See Fall Foliage In USA orthe best fall colors in USA. 

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