30 Best Places to See Fall Foliage in the USA

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Looking to experience some of the top autumn leaf color destinations around the USA? In this guide, you will find some of the best places to see fall foliage in the USA! From the Appalachian Mountains to the Rockies, find out the perfect place to enjoy the fall season.

Fall foliage in the USA
Boone NC mountains are a must visit in a weekend
Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina fall foliage USA

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New York City Fall Foliage

Fall in New York City is arguably one of the best seasons to visit! The weather allows you to wear your comfy sweaters, the summer crowds are gone, and you will be greeted with some of the best fall foliage in the USA.

The best time to see fall foliage in the city is between mid-October to early-November. Each year, the peak colors are different depending on the weather.

One of the best places to see fall colors in NYC is, of course, the famous Central Park, which is also one of the best free activities when visiting! Be sure to take a stroll by Bow Bridge, The Mall, Gapstow Bridge, and the Ramble for some incredible foliage. 

Some additional parks to add to your itinerary for beautiful fall colors include Bryant Park, Madison Square Park, and Washington Square Park.

Additionally, you can take a day trip to Upstate New York or Long Island, NY for apple orchards and hiking! For more autumn ideas, use this NYC Fall Bucket-list!

This city has some of the most luxurious and expensive hotels, but since fall is a shoulder month, you can get much better rates!

Where to Stay in NYC: Full guide on hotels.

NYC Passes to save money: Go City PASS | NY City Pass | City Sightseeing Pass

NYC Tours: Get Your Guide NYC Tours

Central park in Fall in NYC at Bow Bridge USA.
Central Park at Bow Bridge NYC

Ozark Mountains in Arkansas

Suggested by Ashlee Fechino at The Happiness Function

Fall is an incredible season to explore the Ozark Mountains of northwest Arkansas. Reaching elevations of over 2,500 ft, the Oak-Hickory Forest puts on an impressive fall display of foliage starting in October.

The peak season is typically late October (weather dependent, of course).

Along with the leaves changing, the weather is cooler, which is perfect for hiking, camping, mountain biking, and exploring some of the quaint mountain towns such as Eureka Springs and Bentonville.

Northwest Arkansas is a beautiful place for anyone looking to capture some jaw-dropping fall scenery. In the Ozark National Forest, the hike to Whitaker Point (also known as Hawksbill Crag) is one of the most photo-worthy fall spots and features stunning views of the Crag that will take your breath away.

If you’re planning to explore this scenic area of Arkansas, be sure to visit Buffalo National River, a U.S. National Park Service Site.

The Buffalo National River is one of the few undammed rivers in the U.S. The area has fantastic hiking, camping, fishing, and opportunities to float the river.

In fact, plan to camp at Buffalo National River and then hike to Whitaker Point.

Where to Stay Near the Ozark Mountains: TownePlace Suites by Marriott | 21c Museum Hotel | Hyatt Place Rogers/Bentonville

Buffalo National River in Ozark Arkansas during fall
Buffalo National River in Ozark Mountains

Rocky Mountain National Park

Suggested by Meg from Fox in the Forest

Visiting Rocky Mountain National Park is one of the best ways to experience fall in Colorado. Known for its colorful aspens and quintessential autumn colors, the Rocky Mountain National Park offers some of the best fall colors in the states.

Typically, the best time to visit for leaf peeping is from mid-September to early October, making this one of the top National Parks to visit in October. The best way to fully soak up the beauty of autumn in Colorado’s Rockys is to take a road trip through the alluring Trail Ridge Road.

This road winds right through Rocky Mountain National Park from Estes Park to Grand Lake. It is even considered one of the most gorgeous drives in the USA – especially for fall foliage! 

Another fabulous way to experience the beauty of this national park is by hitting a few hiking trails.

Not only will the hikes be lined by colorful aspens, but the chances of you running into a few elk are high, especially if you are visiting during early October, which is during mating season. Some of the best hikes include Emerald Lake trail, Sprague Lake, and Glacier Gorge.

Moreover, nearby Estes Park celebrates elk every season by hosting the yearly Elk Festival. During this fall festival, you can learn all about these fascinating animals through educational activities, Native American storytelling, live music, and more!

Check out some Rocky Mountain National Park tours.

Where to Stay in Rocky Mountain National Park (Book well in Advance – National Park hotels go very quickly): Murphy’s Resort | Boulder Brook on Fall River | Hotel Estes

Rocky Mountains National Park Colorado fall foliage USA
Rocky Mountains National Park Colorado

Leavenworth, Washington State

Suggested by Britt from Britt’s Bella Vita

Leavenworth is a Bavarian-themed village in Central Washington that offers a fun an unique fall trip. The fall colors change at different times each year, but it’s safe to say that Late September – early October is the ideal time to see the fall foliage.

You can even help welcome and celebrate fall with the locals at their annual Autumn Leaf Festival!

If you’re staying downtown, you can walk to the Wenatchee River and hike the local trails for the best views of the fall foliage in Leavenworth.

Other popular things to do in Leavenworth in the autumn are enjoying the harvest season in the surrounding wine country. 

Additionally, each year during the month of October, visitors flock to this European-inspired town for the ultimate Oktoberfest festival.

If attending a traditional German Oktoberfest is on your bucket list, Leavenworth, Washington, is one of the closest you’ll get to that experience in the United States!

This year Oktoberfest is back for its 26th year! Learn more and find tickets for it here!

Where to Stay in Leavenworth: Hampton Inn & Suites Leavenworth | Der Ritterhof Inn | Obertal Inn | Vrbo

Leavenworth WA Fall Foliage USA mountains
Leavenworth WA Fall Colors

Chattanooga, Tennessee

Suggested by Jordan from The Homebody Tourist

Chattanooga, Tennessee, is an outdoor-lovers paradise. It is located just 2 hours from Nashville as well as Atlanta. The fall colors peak between late October and early November.

Aside from the beautiful colors, fall is a great time to visit Chattanooga because of the mild temperatures (great for hiking and exploring!) You can start your trip out by visiting the Jack Daniels Distillery and touring its beautiful grounds.

After your tour, head into the city for a picnic at Coolidge Park and walk across the Walnut Street Bridge. End your night with a sunset boat ride down the Tennessee River.

To really get the best look at the fall foliage, head to the neighboring state parks (Fall Creek Falls and South Cumberland Falls) for some amazing waterfall hikes!

After a day full of hiking, be sure to stop at Lookout Winery for great views from the patio and all the pizza and wine tasting!

Additionally, you can check out Ruby Falls, which has the largest underground waterfall in the USA!

If you have extra time, make a day trip to Rock City Gardens for a stroll through unique gardens, caves, and other magical exhibits, or take a weekend trip to the cutest Alpine Village in Helen, GA.

Fall Creek Falls in Chattanooga Tennessee
Fall Creek Falls in Chattanooga Tennessee

Blue Ridge Parkway Fall Colors in North Carolina

Do you love scenic drives? Then, there is no better place to see fall foliage in the United States by car than the Blue Ridge Parkway. Known as the most popular parkway in the U.S. with 20 million counted visits in 2020, you are in for quite the treat. 

The Parkway brings you through the scenic Blue Ridge Mountains, which are a part of the greater Appalachian Mountains.

This scenic Parkway stretches from Virginia through North Carolina and connects Shenandoah National and The Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

While it is a popular destination year-round, the Blue Ridge Parkway is by far the most popular during the fall. During this road trip, you will experience epic fall foliage and elevations over 6,600 ft!

See countless waterfalls, enjoy fabulous mountain views, hike dozens of trails, and, of course, see brilliant fall colors!

Some of the best stops to include are Grandfather Mountain, Linville Falls, Mt. Mitchell (highest peak West of the Mississippi), Asheville, NC, Pisgah National Forest, and Cherokee (entrance of the Great Smoky Mountains).

Peak fall foliage on the parkway ranges from mid-October to the end of October. Because the Parkway ranges in elevations, you will find that the leaves start to change color at the highest points and make their way down the mountain. Apple orchards are also popular during this time.

You should spend at least 3 days driving the parkway. I’d recommend starting in Boone, NC, and ending in Cherokee. 

Find out more about why to drive the parkway here!

Linville Falls on the Blue Ridge Parkway Road Trip
Linville Falls, Blue Ridge Parkway NC

Shenandoah National Park in Virginia

Suggested by Erin Gifford from Go Hike Virginia

You’ll feel worlds away from the hustle and bustle of daily life as you motor along the 105-mile Skyline Drive at Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park during leaf-peeping season in October and November.

The eye-pleasing colors across the majestic Shenandoah Valley reward visitors eager for dramatic pops of fiery orange, persimmon, and golden yellow.

Enjoy the wildly beautiful Shenandoah National Park overlooks, like Franklin Cliff Overlook and Hawksbill Summit.

In all, more than 75 overlooks implore visitors to stop and admire the views of the vibrant splashes of color that drape the forested landscape.

Lace-up your hiking boots for one of the best hikes in Shenandoah National Park, like the scramble to the top of Bearfence Mountain for foliage-filled 360-degree panoramas. Waterfall-watchers, revel in colorful leaves as you hike to Doyles River Falls or Dark Hollow Falls.

Stay the weekend in the park in a rustic-chic cabin or modern guest room at Skyland or Big Meadows Lodge. Before you return home, indulge in a slice of the park’s signature mile-high blackberry ice cream pie. Heavenly!

Where to Stay Near Shenandoah National Park: Hotel Madison & Shenandoah Conference Ctr. | The Village Inn | Vrbo

Shenandoah National Park Overlook in Virginia

Stowe, Vermont in Fall

Suggested by Sunetra Biswas from Globetrotting Su

Dreaming of vibrant autumn hues with picturesque fairytale towns set in the rolling mountains? Then drive Route 100 all the way to Stowe in Vermont for that extraordinary fall experience.

Stowe, VT is the quintessential fall village that you must visit during a New England fall foliage road trip in the USA.

The gorgeous fall foliage of Stowe, along with its idyllic backdrops, make this a popular destination from the end of September to mid-October.

While leaf-peeping is the most popular activity in Stowe during autumn, you must also experience the beauty of Stowe by biking, paddling, or hiking around.

Interesting things to do in Stowe are strolling the cute Stowe village, tasting the cider donut from the infamous Cold Hollow Cider Mill, eating ice cream from the official Ben & Jerry’s Factory Store, and tasting the Vermont maple syrup.

Other important places to visit while in Stowe are Smuggler’s Notch State Park and picturesque Woodstock farms.

For the adventurous souls, enjoy an exhilarating zip line experience at Stowe Mountain Resort.

Others can enjoy the Gondola Skyride to the summit of Mt. Mansfield with breathtaking fall foliage views of Stowe. While Stowe is a year-round destination, it gets incredibly magical during fall, which you must experience once in your life.

Where to Stay in Stowe, Vermont (book in advance- rooms go quick): The Lodge at Spruce Peak | Sun & Ski Inn and Suites | Trapp Family Lodge

Stowe Vermont USA fall foliage on road with yellow trees
Stowe, Vermont

The White Mountains in New Hampshire

Suggested by Nichole from Nichole the Nomad

If you are looking for one of the best places to see fall colors, the White Mountains in New England are for you!

The White Mountains make up a quarter of New Hampshire and are home to some of the most beautiful foliage in the world, with vibrant reds, oranges, yellows, and purples painting the mountains and valleys.

Fun Fact: The White Mountains are a part of the Appalachian Mountains and reach elevations of over 6,200 ft! They are also known as one of the most rugged mountains in New England.

The best time to visit the White Mountains for foliage is from late September to early October.

Visiting the White Mountains offers so many ways to experience the fall foliage. You can hike to many iconic spots, including Mount Washington, Mount Willard, and the Flume Gorge, to get epic views of the foliage.

You can also drive the Kancamagus Highway, which is considered one of the most beautiful foliage drives in the world!

The Kancamagus Highway has waterfalls, trails, and overlooks that offer stunning views of the foliage.

If those aren’t for you, you can take a scenic train ride through the mountains or to the summit of Mount Washington!

No matter how you want to experience fall foliage, the White Mountains will steal your heart and become one of your favorite places to view the autumn colors in the USA!

Where to Stay Near The White Mountains: Omni Mount Washington Resort | The Inn at Thorn Hill | White Mountain Hotel and Resort | Vrbo

White Mountains New Hampshire in Fall
White Mountains New Hampshire

Poconos Mountains in Pennsylvania 

 Located about 2 hours Northwest of NYC, find the perfect fall escape in the mountains of Poconos, Pennsylvania. The mountains hit an elevation of over 2,600 ft, offering a range of beautiful fall foliage for this USA destination. 

One of the best ways to see fall foliage in the Poconos is by taking a scenic drive down route 209. This will bring you through the Deleware Water Gap and on to Bushkills.

Next, explore Bushkill Falls, which covers 300 acres and has dozens of hiking trails, a 100 ft waterfall, and 8 additional waterfalls. They even consider the main waterfall the Niagara of Pennsylvania.

Tickets are needed to visit Bushkill Falls and range from $14-$18 dollars. Find tickets to Bushkill here.

Other popular parks for fall colors include Lehigh Gorge State Park and Hickory Run State Park. You will also see waterfalls, hike tons of trails, camp, fish, and more!

If you love wolves, you might also want to consider taking a road trip to the Lokta Wolf Preserve Refugee, just about 30 minutes away from the Poconos in New Jersey.

The best time to see the leaves change colors in the Poconos is during the month of October.

Where to Stay in the Poconos: Hampton Inn Lehighton – Jim ThorpeHampton Inn & Suites Stroudsburg Bartonsville Poconos | Mount Airy Casino Resort | Vrbo

Bushkill Falls in the Poconos during fall USA
Bushkill Falls

Fall Foliage at Mammoth Lakes in California 

Suggested by Michelle from the Wandering Queen

One of the best places in California to witness fall colors is Mammoth Lakes. This beautiful mountain town is located in the Eastern Sierra area and reaches elevations of over 7,800 ft! Full of bright yellow Alpine trees, it is easily one of the best places for marvelous fall colors.

With tons of stunning mountain views and scenic lakes, Mammoth Lakes is an outdoors lover’s paradise. Enjoy hiking, scenic drives, camping, fishing, biking, and more!

One of the best places to spot the fall colors is by driving the June Lake Loop. Make sure to check out  Silver Lake, Gull Lake, Grant Lake, and Rush Creek for lovely fall foliage.

Another fun area to explore is Convict Lake. You can hike the Convict Lake loop trail to the base of the mountain, where you will find alpine trees galore! Additionally, you can explore the Lundy Canyon trail for more leaf-peeping in Mammoth Lakes. 

After all the fall color chasing, make sure to relax by one of the many hot springs, one of the best things to do in Mammoth Lakes. This is such a great place to visit for the fall, especially if you want to get away from the crowds in the Eastern United States.

Where to Stay in Mammoth LakesThe Westin Monache Resort | The Village Lodge | Juniper Springs Resort | Vrbo

Mammoth Lakes California USA with fall foliage
Mammoth Lakes California

Denali National Park, Alaska

Suggested by Jami From Celiac Travel Pack

Denali National Park in Alaska is a beautiful wilderness in any season but the beauty of fall colors with snow-capped mountains is unmatched. Since Denali is so far north fall colors come at the end of August and the beginning of September.

To reach Denali, you’ll want to fly into Anchorage or Fairbanks. The park is 4 hours from Anchorage and 2 hours from Fairbanks. Make it a full Alaska road trip with a stopover in Denali. You could take the trains in Alaska, but they are slow and expensive. Rent a car instead. There are no major hotels near Denali, but you’ll still want to stay in the area for at least one night if you can. Stay in a small hotel, BnB, or rental.

During peak season, a bus takes you through the park. You can choose a tour with a guide or a hop-on-hop-off style bus to explore on your own. Whichever option you choose take it all the way out and stop on the way back. You could try to visit after the busses stop running, but it requires more research, planning, and luck since the weather can turn from fall to winter quickly.

Hiking at Savage River in the park provides beautiful scenery with a hike that isn’t strenuous. However, most day hikes are near the visitor’s center. Horseshoe Lake is beautiful and Mount Healy Overlook is worth the workout for the view. You can also meet the sled dogs and sled dog puppies at the kennel!

Denali National Park Alaska with fall colors

Lutsen in Minnesota 

Suggested by Shelly from Almost There Adventures

A trip to Lutsen, Minnesota is an off-the-radar gem perfect for a fall trip. Lutsen is located along the North Shore of Lake Superior in Northern Minnesota. It’s about a two-hour drive from Minneapolis.

Start your adventure in Duluth, a small industrial harbor town where large ships pass in and out, and you can view the Aerial Lift Bridge. Enjoy lunch and skip rocks in Canal Park before you make your way northeast on Hwy 61 towards Lutsen.

The drive to Lutsen has lovely scenic stops, including Gooseberry Falls, Split Rock lighthouse, and Temperance River State Park. You can also check out the lesser-known Iona Beach, which has a shoreline covered in smooth pink rocks.

A stay in Lutsen or Grand Marais will put you centrally located for hiking, waterfalls, and epic leaf-peeping.

Once in Lutsen, check out Cascade River State Park, along with taking an aerial gondola ride up Moose Mountain to view the spectacular fall colors. Hiking in Lutsen is another one of the best ways to see the fall leaf color along the North Shore.

The window for peak fall color on the North Shore varies but can be seen the last two weekends in September through mid-October. 

Where to Stay Near Lutsen (they book up fast): Cliff Dweller on Lake Superior | Mountain Inn at Lutsen | Vrbo

Lutsen Minnesota during Autumn
Lutsen Minnesota during Autumn

Telluride, Colorado

Suggested by Erin from Super Simple Salty Life

The cute mountain town of Telluride is in southwest Colorado, about 6.5 hours from the Denver International Airport. Alternatively, the Telluride Regional Airport just outside of town has daily flights from Denver and Phoenix and is known as North America’s highest airport at 9,078 feet in elevation. Part of the draw of Telluride is the fact that it is so remote, so you must have your own vehicle to explore the town.

In September, Telluride and the Aspen groves in the surrounding San Juan Mountain Range become alight with brilliant golds, yellows, and oranges. Colors begin to shift in mid-September and reach their peak towards the end of the month, typically falling off by the middle of October.

Don’t miss a ride on the Telluride Gondola, a free and exhilarating way to get from Telluride to the neighboring Mountain Village. The views of the changing leaves and the brilliant mountain peaks from the gondola are breathtaking.

Fall weather in this region is cool and crisp, with highs during the day reaching the upper 60s, which creates the perfect environment for long hikes. One popular local hike is the trail to Bridal Veil Falls, starting just outside of downtown Telluride and climbing 1,650 feet in elevation to the base of the falls. Hikers can then continue to the top of the falls with panoramic views of the valley below.

The best way to get a feel for the historic town of Telluride is to stay in the heart of downtown. A popular boutique European-style chalet is The Hotel Telluride, which sits in the perfect location, within walking distance of the main street downtown and local shops, art galleries, and restaurants.

Telluride Colorado fall colors usa

Mad River Valley, Vermont

Suggested by Heather Kasvinsky From This Noshtalgic Life

The Mad River Valley of Vermont is perhaps best known for Sugarbush and Mad River Glen, two of its classic ski areas, but it is so much more than that, especially on an autumn day. The area is a definite hidden gem in the fall compared to other more popular destinations and is much less crowded.

It’s like driving through a living postcard in early October. The area comes alive when you can enjoy an autumn day unlike any other – thanks to the brilliant colors all around. It’s truly a sight to behold. When people imagine fall color in Vermont, THIS is what they picture!

The best way to take it all in is by driving down Rt. 100. This popular scenic route winds its way through the heart of the valley, giving you plenty of opportunities to stop and enjoy the views. The valley is spacious and open, with lots of fields, country roads, and covered bridges to explore as well. Stop in for a coffee or treat at the Sweet Spot, riverside, and stroll from shop to shop on Bridge Street in Waitsfield.

Fall is also the perfect time to go for a hike up on Lincoln Gap. Specifically, the views from the top of Mount Abraham, at 4,017’, are amazing! Sunset Ledge is also an easier, shorter hike that leads to a spectacular view of fall foliage.

From late September through mid-October the leaves are changing color in the Mad River Valley, and the air is crisp and cool. Whether you’re looking for a leisurely drive or an invigorating hike, it is the perfect place to be in the fall. Remember, a car is a must when accessing the Mad River Valley. It is an hour’s drive from Burlington, VT, the closest airport.

The Pitcher Inn in Warren, VT is the perfect place to stay in the Mad River Valley for a romantic autumn getaway. This historic inn dates back to the 1800s, and it has been beautifully restored to its original elegance. It’s in the heart of the village and is nearby many shops and places to eat.

Mad River Valley Vermont with fall colors across green grass

Finger Lakes Region, Upstate NY

Suggested by Carley from Home to Havana

Located just a few hours north of the major cities of the East Coast, the Finger Lakes region of Upstate New York is home to an explosion of fall colors in mid- to late-October and all the fall festivities you could ever want to enjoy an unforgettable fall vacation.

Home to some of the best backpacking on the East Coast, the Finger Lakes are known for their incredible gorges and plunging waterfalls, such as the towering Taughannock Falls near Cayuga Lake and Watkins Glen, just a short drive away. These natural wonders create incredible perspectives for viewing the fall colors, as well as provide excellent hiking trails.

The easiest way to explore this enchanting region is by car, as you’ll have a chance to better access the countless hiking trails, waterfalls, parks, wineries, and more with lovely views of the leaves. Destinations are spread out, making bus travel or ridesharing too expensive or impractical.

Ithaca is also home to fall festivities and must-visit spots like the bustling Ithaca Farmer’s Market, countless farms for u-pick pumpkins and apples, as well as the Apple Harvest Festival on the Ithaca Commons in the charming downtown, usually held during the first few days of October.

For an easy base to explore the area, consider staying in Ithaca. You’ll find frequent buses to and from New York and other cities on the east coast, as well as a small but well-connected airport.

You’ll find an array of hotel and VRBO options, plus charming bed and breakfasts like Quinta Rosa. Tucked away in a lovely, lush area with a babbling brook and comfortable rooms, the owners have created several charming rooms filled with luxurious details for an unforgettable stay just a few miles from Ithaca.

Finger Lakes NY lake with fall colors

Washington DC

Washington DC is often overlooked as a place to see fall foliage, however, like most of the USA’s east coast, you can see some awesome colors!

Peak fall colors in Washington DC begin around mid to late October. The best part about fall in DC, is that most of the main attractions will include seeing fall colors!

One of the best places to see fall colors is while strolling around the National Mall. This is also one of the best free things to do while here! Make your way up to the Lincoln Memorial and take in all the autumn vibes!

The best way to get around is by foot or metro. Finding parking is pretty difficult in DC, and the cost of parking is generally high.

And to help you plan your perfect trip, use this Weekend guide! If you didn’t already know, DC is a rainy place to visit, so you may also want to check out this list of indoor activities.

Where to Stay in Washington DC: Dupont Circle Hotel |  Omni Shoreham | Grand Hyatt Washington | JW Marriott Washington, DC

Washington DC Capitol Fall

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park Autumn Colors

Known as the most visited National Park in the USA, The Great Smoky Mountains easily make the list of top places to see fall colors! Because it is one of the busiest parks, however, expect this park to be busier than most to take in all the fall colors!

The Great Smoky Mountains are located mainly in Tennesse with a tiny bit in North Carolina. Peak season ranges by elevation, however, you can expect to see beautiful fall colors around mid-October at high elevations to the end of October in lower elevations.

This National Park has elevations over 6,000 ft and is home to the 3rd highest peak east of the Mississippi. You also have the opportunity to see black bears and elk!

There are dozens of hikes throughout the National Park to go leaf peeping! Additionally, there are fun places nearby, like the Dollywood amusement park and the towns of Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg!

The best places to stay around the Great Smoky Mountains will be in the towns of either Pigeon Forge or Gatlinburg. These town areas are a ton of fun, but make sure to book far in advance for fall festivities!

Where to Stay in the Great Smoky Mountains: Pigeon Forge | Gatlinburg

Elk in Cherokee great smoky mountains blue ridge parkway in fall
Great Smoky Mountain Oconaluftee Center

North Cascades National Park, Washington

Suggested by Jessica from Uprooted Traveler

While the Pacific Northwest may not be the first spot to come to mind for fantastic fall colors, there are certain areas, like North Cascades National Park, that are nothing short of dazzling come autumn.

The North Cascades are approximately three hours northeast of Seattle, Washington, and are most easily accessed in a car.

In the last weeks of September through the beginning of October, the North Cascades explode with fall color. And while there’s maple and other deciduous trees that turn vibrant colors, the spectacular thing about the Cascades is that the wildflowers and shrubs blanketing their slopes also burst into brilliant hues of orange, red, and yellow.

Additionally, there’s a coniferous tree found along the alpine slopes, called the larch, which turns a flaming golden color, before its needles fall off for winter. It’s such a beloved spectacle in Washington that it’s known as “larch madness”!

For the best views of these colors, hike the Maple Loop Pass trail, which will lead you up unto a mountain ridge, past countless of larches and autumnal wildflowers, to a view of the countless mountain peaks surrounding you. Alternatively, the Blue Lake trail ends at a stunning alpine lake, surrounded on all sides by larches, sitting in the shadow of a glaciated mountain.

Visiting the North Cascades in fall is a popular weekend trip for Seattlites and others that live in the Pacific Northwest, so it’s best to show up to the trails early to enjoy the spectacular foliage in peace.

Winthrop is a good home base to consider. The Sun Mountain Lodge is an excellent place to stay, with a cozy outdoor hot tub to take in the surrounding mountain views.

North Cascades with Fall foliage in USA

Acadia National Park Maine

Suggested by Jenifer from The Evolista

Acadia National Park is one of the best places to see fall foliage in the United States. The park is located on Mount Desert Island in Maine and is home to Cadillac Mountain. The best time to see fall foliage in Acadia is in the first half of October when the leaves are at their peak.

There are many ways to enjoy the autumn colors in Acadia, including driving the 27-mile park loop road, biking on the 45 miles of carriage roads, exploring the coast by kayak, or hiking one of the many trails, including the Cadillac Mountain Hike! Don’t forget to pack your hiking essentials.

One of the highlights of a visit to Acadia is having popovers and afternoon tea at Jordan Pond House. This iconic restaurant is located on a scenic pond and offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains. There’s a free shuttle throughout the park called the Island Express that has a stop at Jordan Pond.

To get to Acadia National Park, fly into Bangor, Maine, or Portland, Maine, and rent a car. The drive to Bar Harbor takes 1 hour from Bangor and 3 hours from Portland.

If you’re looking for a beautiful place to enjoy the fall colors that has plenty of great activities, be sure to add Acadia National Park to your list.

The Inn on Mount Desert is a nice place to stay that’s 5 minutes walking distance from Downtown Bar Harbor restaurants and shops.

wei zeng Unsplash Acadia National Park Maine
Photo Courtesy Wei Zeng Unsplash

Aspen, Colorado

Suggested by Marissa from Sunset Chasing Blonde travel blog

Nestled in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, the beautiful town of Aspen, Colorado is a must-see destination for anyone interested in seeing some of the best fall colors in the USA. The beautiful crisp yellow leaves against the mountains make for an unforgettable experience.

For peak foliage, you’ll want to plan your trip to Aspen around mid-September to early October. This is when the leaves are at their most vibrant, and the weather is still pleasant, with temperatures averaging in the 60s during the day.

If you’re dreaming of a picturesque village town with a mountain backdrop, you’ll adore Aspen. You’ll find a wide range of delicious foods, drinks, and plenty of shops to linger through. You can explore the town on foot, or even take the scenic Silver Queen Gondola ride up Aspen Mountain for incredible views.

Aspen also offers several great hiking trails for leaf peepers. A few favorites include the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness (a popular spot!), Hunter Creek Valley Trail, and the Four Pass Loop.

The downtown area of Aspen is extremely walkable, but you may want to consider renting a car if you’re planning on doing any day trips or hikes in the area. There is also a free shuttle in town that can easily get you around.

If you love fall foliage and beautiful mountain scenery, Aspen is the perfect spot for you. You can book a flight directly into the Aspen airport or book a more budget-friendly flight to Denver. And if you have extra time, don’t forget to explore the beautiful city of Denver if you’re flying out from the Denver Airport!

Plan for at least a weekend in Aspen, which will give you plenty of time to explore the town. And if you’re looking for a cozy place to stay in Aspen, check out The Little Nell or Hotel Jerome.

Aspen Colorado with yellow fall colors

Chugach State Park Alaska

Suggested by Lina From Bucket List Places

Alaska is a magical place full of a variety of landscapes, climates, and wildlife. While Alaska might not come to mind for fall colors, it is quite incredible.

While different parts of Alaska start to change colors at different times, one of the best places for fall foliage in Alaska is the Chugach State Park. This generally happens around mid-September.

Located on the outskirts of Anchorage and spanning 495,204 acres, the forest here is filled with a variety of deciduous trees that turn incredible yellows and oranges, including aspens and birch trees. What makes Chugach State Park especially appealing is its easy access from Anchorage airport. Some parts of the park are located only 15 minutes away by car.

With its location up north, the fall time also brings the chances of seeing Northern Lights in Alaska. Hiking is very popular in the national park and will give you the best chances of seeing the fall colors at their finest. Other options include Kayaking at Eklutna Lake or mountain biking the various trails throughout the park system.

While there are a number of options for places to stay near Anchorage, the most beautiful option to really maximize the fall foliage and having the chance to see the Northern lights is Loft in the Clouds. This property sits on the foothills of Chugach State Park on top of a mountain with incredible views of the state park, the Knik inlet and has a roof deck with 360-degree views of the surrounding forest.

Chugach State park during fall in Alaska

Salt Lake City, Utah

Suggested by Lisa From Planning Away

The Salt Lake City Valley is a beautiful place to see fall colors in the USA. Salt Lake City is surrounded by mountains. This makes Fall one of the best times to visit Salt Lake City. Besides incredible fall foliage, there are so many things to do in Utah in the Fall.

Once you arrive at Salt Lake City International airport you will need to rent a car. The best way to see the fall colors is by taking a scenic drive into the mountains. You can enjoy scenic views from the car along with dozens of hiking trails.

The third week of September is generally the peak season for viewing the leaves in the mountains and canyons. The two most popular scenic drives for fall colors in Utah are the Alpine Loop and Guardsman Pass. Both are incredible! On weekends, it is not uncommon to be bumper to bumper during the peak fall season.

A great hiking trail to check out is Bloods Trail near the Guardsman Pass and Stewart Falls. If you want an amazing and intense hike, hiking to the top of Timpanogos will give you fantastic views of the beautiful leaves.

If you are looking for a great place to stay, Sundance Ski Resort Cottages are nestled in a beautiful area near the Alpine Loop. You can also stay in Park City at Montage Deer Valley or the Stein Eriksen Lodge Deer Valley. These luxury hotels have lower prices in the fall as it is the low season.

Fall in Utah fall colors

Columbia River Gorge

Suggested by Christine of Live Love Run Travel

When considering the best places to see fall foliage in the US, the Northeast gets a lot of attention, but the Pacific Northwest also deserves a visit. The Columbia River Gorge runs along the border of Oregon and Washington and features its namesake river, lots of waterfalls, and most importantly, beautiful fall colors.

Just take a drive east out of Portland on Interstate 84, and you’ll find you did not plan enough time with all of the stops you’ll want to make. Make sure to stop at the most famous of the area’s waterfalls, Multnomah Falls. While you can view this one from the viewpoint just across from the parking lot, you can also follow the sidewalk up to the bridge for a closer look. Bridal Veil Falls and Latourell Falls are nearby and also worth a stop and are some of the best waterfall hikes near Portland.

When planning your fall getaway to the Columbia River Gorge, aim to be there during the peak fall colors which typically happen between late September and mid-October. Expect temperatures with highs in the 60s and low 70s and lows in the 40s and 50s. Rain is more likely than in the summer months but still not as likely as in winter. Bring a rain jacket to be ready, though.

The best airport to access the Columbia River Gorge is Portland International Airport. In just 30 minutes, you can be in the gorge, which makes Portland or Vancouver just across the river in Washington great areas to stay.

The Holiday Inn Express Portland East is an affordable option out towards the parts of the gorge you’ll want to see.

Columbia River Gorge Waterfall with fall colors

Jackson, Wyoming

Suggested by Chelsey From Chelsey Explores

Jackson, Wyoming, often referred to as Jackson Hole, is an underrated fall destination to see fall leaves in peak season.

The peak season to see fall foliage is around the third week of September and lasts until early October. Oxbow Bend, Fall Creek Road, or over Togwotee Pass are some notable viewpoints for colorful panoramics.

The great thing about Jackson, in particular, is its location. It is basically in the middle of nowhere, so those who make their way there didn’t just happen upon it. There’s a lot to love with fewer crowds and crisp mountain air.

Temps hover around 70 degrees in September and start to drastically cool down, ranging in the 50s in October and the 40s in November.

The best way to get to Jackson is by plane or a stop on a road trip. Impressive enough for a city with a population of just 10,000 people, there is actually an airport right in the middle of the town, and you can fly in from most major airports (usually with 1 stop), but you will pay more than a larger airport.

The closest major airports are Bozeman, Salt Lake City, and Boise, but after landing, you will still need to drive between 4-6 hours. To properly explore the city and surrounding areas, you would need a car to get around to the best sights.

Some must-do things to add to your Jackson Hole itinerary are to rent an e-bike and ride it from Jackson to Teton Village on the Grand Loop Trail, hike one of many nearby National Park trails, shop in the rustic town, or visit Jackson Hole Winery for a tasting (reservation recommended).

A cozy affordable accommodation in town is the Antler Inn, and if you want something more luxurious, Rustic Inn Creekside has plenty of amenities. Make sure to book these many months in advance, especially if visiting during peak season, because rates will skyrocket!

North of Jackson Hole is Yellowstone National Park, which will also have excellent fall foilage, the elk rut, and lovely activities.

Woman riding bike in Jackson Hole during the fall

Fall Colors in Flagstaff, Arizona

Suggested by Alanna from Periodic Adventures

While the aspen in Colorado are often on travelers’ fall foliage radar, those in Flagstaff, Arizona are often overlooked. Still, Flagstaff in the fall is an incredible time to visit, where the mountains turn bright yellow as the aspen changes colors.

You can start seeing fall foliage in September and through November. The city even shares the most updated color change timing with its LEAFometer.

One of the best places to see fall foliage in Flagstaff is Arizona Snowbowl, the ski resort come winter. In the fall, you can take the chairlift for a scenic ride or go hiking on the nearby trails.

Another great spot that requires a 4×4 capable vehicle is Lockett Meadow. Although it suffered from wildfires a few years ago, the aspen trees still come alive during fall and turn this mountain-surrounded meadow yellow.

Aside from leaf peeping, Flagstaff is known for its epic stargazing, local lava tube spelunking, and charming downtown.

The average fall temperatures are in the mid-60s during the day and down to the 20s and 30s at night.

To get to Flagstaff, you can fly into their regional airport (Flagstaff Pulliam) or into Phoenix Sky Harbor, which is 148 miles from Flagstaff, or 2 hours and 15 minutes by driving.

If you have the time, consider making your trip a longer Arizona to Utah road trip to see fall foliage all over the Southwest.

In Flagstaff, stay at the historic Weatherford Hotel in the center of downtown. It’s near all the best restaurants like Diablo Burger, MartAnnes Burrito Palace, and The McMillan Bar and Kitchen.

Flagstaff Arizona fall colors

Door County Wisconsin

Suggested by Hannah & Adam from Getting Stamped

Door County is a great autumn getaway destination in the USA to enjoy the beautiful fall foliage over the peninsula and Washington Island. Door County, Wisconsin, has some of the most scenic autumn hues you’ll encounter in the entire state, as brilliant reds, golds, and oranges paint the landscape in every direction.

Peak fall foliage occurs in late September to Early October. The weather in Door County is typically between 63°F to 73°F in fall. 

Fall is perfect for admiring the vibrant foliage and enjoying a range of outdoor activities such as hiking, apple picking, and scenic boat tours. Peninsula State Park or Newport State Park offers a variety of hiking trails to explore the beauty of fall in Door County.

Enjoy the area from the water by taking a Fish Creek Scenic Boat tour, and learn more about the historic Eagle Bluff Lighthouse and Cave. End your visit by apple picking at Seaquist Orchard, which has apple picking and fun farm activities such as pedal carts. 

The nearest airport to Door County is Austin Strarubel Airport in Green Bay. Eagle Harbor Inn is a great accommodation option as it is located close to the water and has lots of outdoor activities.

Door Country Fall Colors USA

Yosemite National Park Fall Colors

 Suggested by Jess Schmit of Uprooted Traveler

Located in Northern California, Yosemite National Park is a fantastic place to enjoy fall thanks to the cool weather, lower crowds, and beautiful fall colors. 

While many of Yosemite’s trees are coniferous, there are still many big-leaf maple and black oak trees throughout the park, which turn spectacular shades of gold and burnt orange, starting in early October and lasting through early November. Keep an eye out for aspens, which famously turn bright yellow in autumn. 

Fall is one of the best times to explore the park on foot. Beyond the trails being quieter than the busy summertime, the heavy rain and snowfall at high elevations make the waterfalls roar back to life.

For example, the Upper Yosemite Falls hike will give you jaw-dropping views of the Yosemite Valley (and its beautiful fall foliage), Half Dome, and, of course, the tallest waterfall in North America.

Additionally, it wouldn’t be a visit to Yosemite without standing at the foot of a Giant Sequoia, the most massive tree on the planet. Gaze up at them along the Mariposa Grove Trail, where you can stand in the shadow of over 500 of these ancient giants.

The park enjoys high temperatures in the lower 70s or upper 60s throughout early November, although the average lows can drop to right above freezing. So remember to bring along warm layers, especially if you plan to stay in the park in the early morning or evening. 

To reach Yosemite, fly either the Sacramento International Airport or the Oakland International Airport, both of which are a little under a three-hour drive away (around 150 miles).

Once you’re here, consider making the Rush Creek Lodge your home base, which conveniently borders the park and has a hot tub to relax in after a long day of hiking.

Yosemite during the fall

Zion National Park, Utah

Suggested by David & Intan from The World Travel Guy

The Zion National Park is known for having amazing scenery all year long, but the park is especially nice in the fall, when the temperatures are cooler, and you can see bright yellow leaves on the Aspen trees.

Fall colors in Zion are generally best from mid-September to mid-October, and they can be seen in many places along the Virgin River and into Zion Canyon. The daytime temperatures at Zion in these months are around 70° F, and nighttime temperatures are above 43° F. It’s the perfect weather for hiking and sightseeing.

To enjoy the highlights of the park, drive the scenic Zion-Mount Carmel Highway and then do a few of the hiking trails. Some of the best hikes in Zion National Park include famous gems like Angels Landing, Observation Point, and the Narrows. All of these are just as thrilling as they are beautiful.

The nearest airport for Zion is in the town of St George, which is 45 miles or a 1-hour drive from the national park. You can also fly to Las Vegas or Salt Lake City, which are farther from Zion, but they have more flight options.

A great place to stay is the Holiday Inn Express, which is right outside of the park, in the little tourist town of Springdale!

Zion National Park during fall in Utah

Bar Harbor, ME Fall Colors

Bar Harbor, Maine, showcases the unique charm of New England with its beautiful landscapes, including stunning fall colors. It is an ideal fall destination to enjoy the beaches off-peak season but also to see the foliage begin to change in mid-September. Temperatures will be between 57/41 F, so it is perfect hiking weather!

Spanning over 47,000 acres, Acadia National Park in Bar Harbor is a breathtaking combination of woodlands, rugged shorelines, and majestic granite peaks. The park has an abundance of hiking and biking trails. Nature lovers will be thrilled to encounter diverse wildlife, including moose, bears, seabirds, and magnificent whales.

Begin your fall adventure with the 27-mile Park Loop Road. This picturesque route leads you to iconic attractions like Cadillac Mountain, offering awe-inspiring vistas of the island’s rugged magnificence. Don’t miss out on Sand Beach and Echo Lake Beach, two popular spots nestled within Acadia National Park.

Bar Harbor is rather remote, but worth it! It is a 3 hour drive from Portland ME airport and 5 hour’s drive from Boston Logan Airport.

Experience a charming getaway at Sand Bar Cottage Inn, just a short 5-minute stroll from Town Beach. This lodging provides a complimentary American breakfast and offers amenities like a lush garden, convenient free private parking, a delightful terrace, and a cozy bar.

Bar Harbor Acadia National Park

USA Fall Foliage Travel Tips

Now that you know some of the best places to see for fall, here are some additional tips before planning your vacation.

Get the America the Beautiful Pass

If you are planning to visit any of the National Parks, consider getting the America the Beautiful National Park Pass. You can get this pass online or at your local REI.  

The pass is $80 for entry to all National Parks for the year. If you don’t plan to visit any other National Parks this fall, look at the specific national parks website to get your ticket ahead of time. Generally speaking, if you visit 3 National Parks in a year, the pass pays for itself.

Fall Packing Layers

When chasing fall colors, you will want to pack layers. Most of these fall destinations are in the mountains at high elevations. It is even possible it can snow during your visit. Some of my favorite fall items include:

Book in Advance

Believe it or not, fall is a very popular time to travel for those seeking fall foliage. You will find the most popular destinations run out of rooms quickly. I’ve linked some of the best places to stay at each fall getaway above – so check out those links!

Additionally, if you need to find flights, check Skyscanner for the best flights coming out of your airport and Discover Cars for any car rentals you need!

Start Early & End Late

Start your days early. Because fall leaf-peeping is so popular – especially now with people taking more road trips, it is best to try and beat the crowds.

If you don’t like crowds, try taking your USA fall vacation during the week. It can make a huge difference.

Hiking Tip

If you plan on doing hikes, which I bet you will, I would recommend using the Alltrails app – which is free. It allows you to download the hiking trail in case you don’t have cell service or the trail is not marked well.

Be Respectful

Be respectful of these fall destinations. Don’t leave trash, keep safe distances from wildlife, and follow the rules! Practice Leave No Trace – take out whatever you take in.

Have Fun at these Fall Foliage Destinations in the USA!

Last but not least, don’t forget to have fun and enjoy some of the best fall foliage the USA has to offer!

Beacon Heights Lookout Point
Beacon Heights Lookout Point

Fall Foliage in the USA: Wrap-up

This covers some of the best places to see fall colors in the USA! I hope you have the best time discovering the best autumn colors the United States has to offer! If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments below!

Love this Guide? I’d appreciate it if you could share it below!

Photo of author

Samantha Oppenheimer

Samantha Oppenheimer (Sam Opp) quit her corporate marketing job in 2018 to travel the world and become a travel writer, blogger and content creator. She loves experiencing authentic travel experiences, photography, and nature. Sam shares helpful travel itineraries, travel tips, budget tips, and travel advice from her personal experiences. You can also find Sam's words featured in large publications including Mirror, Thrillist, and Well + Good.

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