Fall’s a wonderful time of pumpkins spice, hot chocolate, and other warm comforts. It also heralds the start of another holiday season on the horizon.
By now, we’re all itching for a safe and satisfying way to scratch our travel itch, why not take a drive to admire nature’s display of picturesque abundance on a road trip this fall.
You’ve got over 4 million miles of roads to choose from in the country, so get started planning with this guide to the top destinations to see the best fall foliage across the country.
1. Nostalgic New England
The New England States bristle with scenes of pastoral bliss and leafy abundance. Here you’ll find tranquil wide open spaces to enjoy all the comforts of the fall season.
These are the best places to visit in the fall for a spectacular showcase of rich colors in New England:
- Devil’s Hopyard State Park in East Haddam, Connecticut
- Woodford and Woodstock in Vermont
- Echo Lake near Franconia, New Hampshire
- Colt State Park at Bristol, Rhode Island
- The Eastern Promenade Trail near Portland, Maine
Along with leaf-peeping in abundance, you’ll find no shortage of peaceful lakes, charming towns, and quaint covered bridges in this part of the world.
2. Scenic Beauty in New York
When one thinks of New York, we’re inclined to picture the bustling city scenes and non-stop action of the Big Apple. Venture a little further afield and you’ll soon discover there’s a lot more to this picturesque state than round the clock city diversions.
Of course, the city offers year-round leafy scenes at Central Park and Ellis Island, but you can also venture beyond to find some more spectacular displays of fall foliage. Be sure to check out these top spots for fall foliage in New York too.
3. Whimsical Wisconsin
The pastoral bliss continues in Door County, Wisconsin, where you’ll find brilliant displays of vermilion, russet, gold, and scarlet leaves from October every year. Don’t miss the chance to admire historic small towns and get your fill of the apple harvest while you’re there.
Other places to visit for fall colors in Wisconsin include:
- Black River State Forest
- Hayward Lakes Area
- Kettle Moraine Scenic Drive
- Around Lake Geneva
- Wisconsin Lake Superior Scenic Byway
In Wisconsin, the show starts in the third week of September and continues until the first week of November.
4. Verdant Virginia
Blue Ridgeway Park’s well-known as one of the best scenic drives in the country but it really comes to the fore during the fall. Take a trip during October and watch these tree-lined roads turn into a stunning display of every shade of red, orange, and rich sienna.
You can also celebrate the pumpkin season in this part of the world each year at the Virginia Fall Foliage Festival in Waynesboro.
Some more of the best places to visit during the fall in Virginia include:
- Grayson Highlands State Park
- Hungry Mother State Park
- Shenandoah National Park
- Mount Rogers National Recreation Area
- Sky Meadows State Park
- Potomac Heritage Trail
Virginia’s a wonderful place to immerse yourself in nature any time of the year, but if you want to see the state at it’s best, fall’s the time to head out.
5. Tranquil Tennesse
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park’s one of the most-visited national parks in the USA for nature lovers and it won’t disappoint in the fall months either. If you’d like to avoid the crowds, the state has plenty more colorful destinations to add to your checklist of must-see fall destinations.
Plan to include these Tennessee temptations in your next road trip:
- Natchez Trace Parkway
- Tellico Plains
When you’ve had your fill of fall brilliance, make the most of Tennessee’s other amazing attractions like NASCAR rallies and live country music shows wherever you go.
6. Mellow Scenes in Michigan
In Michigan, the fall’s a season of apple-picking and low-key relaxation as the year winds to a close. Enjoy the views while crunching along a mountain path, lapping up lakeside views, or gear up for some roadside splendor.
Here’s where to go to enjoy the best scenes this fall in Michigan:
- North Bar Lake
- Leelanau State Park
- Old Mission Peninsula
- The Blue Star Highway
- Keweenaw Peninsula
When you’re done driving for the day, don’t miss the chance to relax with some excellent Michigan craft beer pr award-winning Pinot Noir while the sun sinks below the horizon.
7. Stunning Spots in South Dakota
South Dakota’s Black Hills region is one of the best places for fall foliage countrywide. Yet the Coyote State’s got plenty more up its sleeve when it comes to spectacular displays of color.
Here’s where to go to see South Dakota at it’s best:
- Spearfish Canyon State and National Forest
- Nemo Road Scenic Drive
- Palisades State Park
- U.S. Highway 385 Scenic Drive
- Newton Hills State Park
You’ll see South Dakota’s waterfalls, lakes, and rugged rock faces in an even more beautiful light during this colorful season.
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8. Enchanting New Mexico
During the fall, the ‘Land of Enchantment’ really lives up to its name. Here you’ll get to admire towering forests transform into infernos of bold red and gold along several scenic routes throughout the state.
Try these ones first:
- Santa Fe National Forest
- Sandia Crest Scenic Byway
- Sunspot Scenic Byway
- The High Road to Taos
- U.S. Highway 64 from Taos to Chama
If you visit the artistic community of Taos, you’ll also get the chance to admire and buy beautiful artworks portraying these scenes in all their glory.
9. The Best Fall Foliage in Colorado
Colorado really comes to the fore in winter, when the slopes of Aspen draw ski-enthusiasts from around the world to revel in snowy bliss. Yet, this magnificent state comes to the party in autumn too with stunning scenes of crisp fall colors.
Don’t miss these colorful Colorado spots on a road trip around the Centennial State:
- Kebler Pass, near Gunnison
- San Juan Mountains
- White River National Forest
Try to include Colorado’s Western slope in your trip too if you want to enjoy Colorado wine country in full living color.
10. Washington Wonderland
Leavenworth offers a multitude of opportunities for leaf-peeping on numerous trails around the Cascade Mountains. Here cottonwoods, huckleberry bushes, and aspens paint a beautiful panorama from October onwards.
While you’re touring the state, be sure to pencil these top spots on your itinerary too:
- Mount Rainier National Park
- The North Cascades Highway
- Chuckanut Mountain
- The Hoh Rainforest
- Discovery Park in Seattle
While you’re exploring Washinton, try to catch some more of the beautiful natural attractions in the state like Snoqualmie Falls, Lake Chelan, Columbia River Gorge, and the San Juan Islands.
11. Awesome Oregon
The best place to see fall colors in Oregon is Columbia Gorge, where you’ll experience 80-miles of scenic extravagance cutting a swathe through the Cascade Mountains near Washington. You can also kayak along the Columbia River here to see the spectacle from a different angle.
Other scenic attractions during the fall in Oregon include:
- Mount Hood
- Trail of Ten Falls at Silver Falls State Park
- Steen’s Mountain
- Along the McKenzie River
- Deschutes River Trail
In Oregon, the show starts in late September and continues at its best until mid-October.
12. Colorful California
California’s always associated with sunny skies and days on the beach, but the attraction doesn’t end there The Golden State truly lives up to its name in the fall with stunning vistas to enjoy across the board.
Try some of these places for a whirl of Cali color:
- Shasta Cascade,
- Bishop Creek Canyon, Inyo County
- June Lake Loop, Mono County
- Plumas County
- Lake County
You’ll also find some stunning city scenes in California when you visit the Arboretum in Los Angeles County and don’t forget the vineyards of Napa County glow with a fiery intensity in the fall too.
13. Amazing Arkansas
Arkansas delights with a short burst of color at the end of September. So, act fast if you want to see the best fall displays in this part of the world.
Here’s where to go when the leaves start to turn in Arkansas:
- Arkansas Scenic Byway 7
- Ouachita State Park
- Boston Mountains Scenic Loop
- The Great River Road
- Talimena National Scenic Byway. …
- Along the Arkansas and Missouri Railroad
Arkansas enthusiasts are adamant that the Nature State rivals New England with its lovely displays around the Ozarks and in the north.
14. Picturesque Pennysylvania
Pennysylvania’s palette of vibrant hues is at its best from mid- to late October. At this time, the vast forests of Pennysylvania are ablaze with the full range of all your favorite fall shades.
You can view the best displays here:
- Big Pocono State Park
- Great Allegheny Passage
- Pine Creek Gorge
- Kinzua Bridge State Park
- Rothrock State Forest
Remember to put Allegheny National Forest and the Great Lakes Region on your list too.
More of the Best Things to See and Do
You don’t need to wait until the fall foliage arrives to enjoy the best scenic beauty that the USA has to offer. The country’s filled with scenic destinations no matter the season, so check out our blog for some more travel ideas to fill every day of the year with the wonders of nature.