1. Door County, Wisconsin
There isn’t a view that is more gorgeous than golden foliage against the vibrant blue backdrop of water. And that’s exactly the view to expect in Door County, Wisconsin, located between Green Bay and Lake Michigan. There are hiking trails and scenic drives scattered all around the county, but for more specific recommendations, we suggest taking a ferry to Washington Island or visiting Cana Island that has a beautiful lighthouse that dates back to 1869.
2. Aspen, Colorado
Aspen is named after the local aspen trees that turn a beautiful yellow-gold hue in the fall. You may know Aspen as a ski resort, but the city is also a superb location for leaf-peeping. The most popular destination to visit in the fall is the Maroon Bells - two peaks in the Elk Mountains that measure 14,000 feet in height and look especially stunning against the yellow aspen forest in the valley.
3. Stowe, Vermont
The mountain town of Stowe is the unofficial capital of leaf-watching. Apart from the abundance of walking trails and scenic drives that give you the opportunity to admire the full range of the fall color scheme, the city itself is full of historic sites. The best time to visit Stowe is between late September and the end of October. It is at this time that the forests are tinted into all imaginable shades of yellow, red, orange, and brown. Mount Mansfield, Wiessner Woods, and Moss Glen Falls are just a few of the many hiking trails to consider in the area.
4. Columbia River Gorge, Oregon
Travel 30 miles east from Portland between October and November, and you’ll find yourself in the autumnal wonderland that is the Columbia River Gorge. Located on the border between Oregon and Washington, this national scenic area features a mountainous forest on Mount Hood and over 50 waterfalls. Walking along the fall forest path to the spectacular Multnomah Falls is a truly special experience!
5. North Conway, New Hampshire
New Hampshire is the place to drive to admire the fall foliage, in general. An excellent jumping-off point for leaf-viewing tours or hiking excursions is the village of North Conway. The village is nestled in the midst of the While Mountain National Park, not far from Mt. Washington. Vintage train excursions, gondola tours, and hiking trails are available from North Conway. Some of the scenic drives we must point out are West Side Road, Kancamagus Scenic Byway, Bear Notch Road, Cathedral Ledge Road, and Jackson Loop.
6. Taos, New Mexico
Most of us associate leaf-watching with the Northeast, and that’s fair enough. However, there are plenty of places in the Southwest deserts where you can also observe the beautiful changing of seasons. The town of Taos in northern New Mexico is one place you can admire the golden autumn. The town is located at the foot of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains (Southern Rockies), and it’s also known for the Taos Pueblo, a famous Native American building complex that’s also worth a visit. The Enchanted Circle Scenic Byway and the Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad are the two greatest routes for admiring foliage.
7. Catskill Mountains, New York
An oldie but a goodie, the Catskill Mountains in southeastern New York are an easy way to surround yourself with golden and red hues of fall without traveling too far away from New York City. The Catskills waterfalls are the obvious choice for everyone. Other points of interest for leaf watchers include Frick Pond Loop, Buttermilk Falls at Peekamoose, Catskills Scenic Trail, and Hunter Mountain Fire Tower.
8. The Poconos, Pennsylvania
Another area with jaw-dropping autumnal nature is the Pocono mountains. Scenic drives and hikes, train excursions, and even air tours are available for fall foliage chasers. The best time to visit the Poconos is between mid-September and October. Route 507 along Lake Wallenpaupack is a great road trip option for leaf-peeping, and a hike to Bushkill Falls will take you through up to eight waterfalls.
9. Garner State Park, Texas
A mere 2-hour drive from San Antonio will take you to Garner State Park in Concan, possibly the best place to admire autumnal hues in Texas. An abundance of color-changing tree species, including cypress and persimmon, are scattered along the riverbanks of the Frio River. Garner State Park is the perfect place for a fall riverside hike!
10. The Buffalo River, Arkansas
If you’re looking for autumnal hues and a fall vacation, you can’t go wrong with the Ozark Mountains. After all, the Ozark National Forest contains 1.2 million acres of jaw-dropping natural scenery. One humble recommendation we can give is the Buffalo River, which is located in Arkansas. The best time to visit is October when the red and orange foliage reaches its peak. Possibly the most popular overlook in the area is Whitaker Point, also known as Hawksbill Crag (pictured above), but there’s plenty of other gorgeous trails and parks to photograph as well.
11. Mohawk Trail, Massachusetts
The entire state of Massachusetts is engulfed by beautiful yellow and red foliage in the fall, but if you’re looking for a truly excellent foliage viewing experience, Mohawk Trail will not disappoint. The Mohawk Trail is a 63-mile-long highway that runs from the border of New York westward, all the way to the Connecticut River. There are over 100 attractions along the trail, but the Bridge of Flowers is our personal favorite in the fall. It’s a former trolley bridge in Shelburne Falls overflowing with flowers and red, orange, and yellow foliage.
12. Acadia National Park, Maine
Not including Acadia National Park on a list of leaf-watching destinations would be a crime. The destination is a major hotspot for fall foliage in mid-to-late October. But don’t worry, there’s plenty of space for every traveler in the massive park. If you enjoy admiring the autumnal forest from above, there’s no better place than Cadillac Mountain, the tallest mountain on the entire East Coast. For a close-up look at the forest and coastal regions of the park, don’t miss the spectacular Park Loop Road. And if the weather is clear, don’t miss out on the kayaking or whale-watching adventure either!
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