Autumn is definitely one of the best times of the year. The fall season means cold nights, crisp air, pumpkin-flavored everything, and road trips to see the leaves change colors. A beautiful phenomenon that happens during two to three months of the entire year, visiting regions of the United States with spectacular displays of reds, oranges, and yellows is a fall favorite for so many – with most people sticking to the North East. Everyone knows New England boasts the most amazing shades, but no one can forget about the golden meadows of the West. So where are the best places to see fall colors in USA? We’ve compiled a list of 10 absolute must-see places for this upcoming autumn.
The Green Mountains, Vermont
Running from the Massachusetts border to the Canadian, the Green Mountain range offers 250 miles of dense forest that erupts into bright reds and burnt oranges between mid-September and early October. The best way to make the most of your time in this region is by car. Vermont offers a dozen different scenic byways that take you on a dreamy journey through the quaint villages nestled at the foot of the Green Mountains – for an authentic New England experience.
The Catskills, New York
A breathtaking mountain range in the southeastern portion of New York, the Catskills offer an exceptional display of autumn hues. The second week of October is the prime time to catch the brilliance of this region and with hundreds of miles of hiking trails and winding back roads, there are plenty of ways to experience the magic. Renting a cabin on Balsam Lake is a surefire way to fully emerge yourself in the serenity of the New York wilderness on a beautiful, crisp fall day.
Great Smoky Mountains, Tennessee
This mountain range lies between the Tennessee-North Carolina border, but the best colors can be found on the Tennessee side. Plan your visit between mid-October and early November in order to catch the most brilliant shades. Be sure to grab a guide of the over 100 different species of trees that call this region home, so you can spot them when your hiking, driving, or horseback riding through the maintained trails of this awe-inspiring U.S National Park.
Trail Ridge Road, Colorado
A 48-mile long scenic byway traversing through Rocky Mountain National Park, this drive offers some of the best fall foliage in the West. Numerous vista points along the side of the road boast spectacular views of towering peaks and deep valleys, the trees full of color before the impending winter. The earlier the better with this must-see area, as Trail Ridge Road shuts down for the winter months usually at the end of October. Visiting during late-September and early-October will put you at the perfect time to see why they call it “Colorful Colorado”.
The Berkshires, Massachusetts
Found in the western part of the state, this breathtaking region is complete with rolling hills, open meadows, and quaint New England villages. Leaves are usually ablaze with colors beginning the first day of October, and scenic byways are especially convenient for viewing the theatrics of this area in the fall. Make a pit stop through the cobblestone streets of Williamstown to see the fall decorations lining the charming shops and restaurants, before heading to Greylock’s Peak for magnificent views with rustic dining and lodging.
Acadia National Park, Maine
The forested woodlands in the center of Mount Desert Island put on an incredible autumn show in this coastal Atlantic region. Starting in September, the air gets cooler and the tourists disappear to warmer areas just as the leaves transform into crisp scarlet reds and terracotta oranges. Tap into your adventurous side by spending a little over two hours hiking the 10-mile loop to the summit of Cadillac Mountain – the highest point on the North Atlantic seaboard.
Denali National Park, Alaska
There is only a short period of the year when the vast wilderness of this region glows in fluorescent reds and oranges. Mid-September through Mid-October, before the majority of easy access roads throughout the park closes, is the ideal time to witness the snow-capped mountains and the emerald green pastures change into fiery hues. Although you’ll need to rent a car, as public buses cease to operate during this season, it’s more than worth it when you drive 30-miles into the park to the Teklanika River – the most picturesque point of the park and one of the best places to see fall colors in USA.
Horses & Hounds Scenic Byway, Maryland
Beloved by fox hunters during the Colonial Era, this scenic byway begins in Cockeysville and takes you on a long, winding drive through the natural beauty of Maryland. Between late October and early November, the landscape surrounding this peaceful byway displays vibrant shades of yellows and reds. With plenty of fascinating stops along the way, like the Prettyboy Reservoir and the Ladew Topiary Gardens, Horses & Hounds makes for the perfect romantic fall getaway. Be sure to check out Boordy Vineyards for live music and divine wine.
Whitefish Point, Michigan
Situated on the Upper Peninsula, this dramatic cape offers stunning panoramic views of Whitefish Bay just past a densely wooded area that bursts into deep reds and oranges from late-September to mid-October. Stay in the quaint, coastal community of Paradise and spend your day lazily meandering through the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum, or one of the many lighthouses dotting the rocky beaches. The cozy atmosphere found here proves that “paradise” doesn’t always have to refer to the tropics.
Fort Benton, Montana
As the oldest settlement in the state, this town is chock-full of historic buildings and sites. Nestled next to the Missouri River, the quiet landscape erupts into glowing shades of yellow and gold between late-September and early-October. Fish along the riverbed or take a horseback riding tour through the golden fields to make the most of this majestic region. Be sure to keep an eye out for bison wading in the shallow banks of Missouri – a quintessential part of any Montana vacation.
So whether you’re planning your annual fall getaway or you’ve decided this year is going to be the year you finally take your autumn vacation, there is a multitude of jaw-dropping destinations for any traveler. From the high-packed adventure of the Alaskan wilderness to the laid-back New England villages, the United States is home to some of the most beautiful fall transformations. Make sure to plan your trip out in advance, get your ESTA on time, and keep up to date with fall foliage reports so you don’t miss out on the spectacular colors that appear only once a year. Hmm…I feel the air getting cooler already!