It’s no secret that one of the greatest things about autumn is seeing leaves change color. Sadly, however, many people go their entire lives without getting to witness the most brilliant fall leaves the country has to offer. Fortunately, you don’t have to travel that far to see fantastic fall foliage. This beautiful natural wonder occurs in spots across the country, and here is a countdown of the top 10 destinations to see Fall color that are worth your while.
Top 10 Destinations To See Fall Color
10. Columbia River Gorge, Oregon
New England is the first region people think of when it comes to fall colors, but there’s plenty to see on the opposite side of the country as well. The scenery in the Columbia River Gorge is naturally breathtaking year-round (waterfalls and majestic views of the river see to that), but it is particularly amazing when the deciduous trees change to bright yellow in the fall. The best time to go is actually in late October, when trees at all elevations will be in full color.
9. Napa Valley, California
8. Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park, Michigan
The Great Lake State’s Upper Peninsula explodes in color during the fall season, and the best place to see it is Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park (in the counties of Ontonagon and Gogebic). Though the mountains here are small, they are absolutely covered in over 100 different tree species and are very alive in color during autumn. If you travel along Lake Superior, the colors pop even more against the backdrop of rich blue waters. For the best views, go between late September and mid-October.
7. Portland, Maine
Although it is one of Maine’s largest cities, Portland is also one of those picturesque New England spots that still rings of the wild beauty and nostalgia of colonial days. The autumn colors here are so vivid and diverse that the city regularly offers fall foliage reports and maps (just visit the city website). Drive along the coast or stroll down the city’s tree-lined streets in early October for peak color views.
6. Green Mountain Byway, Vermont
Vermont has some of the prettiest fall foliage in the Northeast, and there’s no better way to see it than the Green Mountain Byway. This 11-mile road snakes through the Green Mountains, between the towns of Waterbury and Stowe. Thanks to the region’s temperate summers and year-round precipitation, the local sumac, maples, oaks, birches and sweet gum trees turn into vivid golds and reds during autumn. These colors reach their peak between the last week of September and the first week of October, although you’ll still be able to see bright colors for the duration of each month.
5. Aspen, Colorado
People don’t necessarily think of Colorado right away when it comes to autumn leaf changes, but the aspen trees that dot the center of the state are truly breathtaking during this season. Colors range from brilliant yellow to orange and bright red, and there’s nowhere better to see them than in the city that derives its name from these trees. And with the Rocky Mountains rising up in the background, you’ll get some of the best photo ops in the country. The season here is short though — the best window of time to see these beautiful trees starts in mid-September and wraps up by the first week in October.
4. Shenandoah National Park, Virginia
This national park is as scenic as it comes, and through the month of October its locust, maple, oak, sumac, and sassafras trees burst into a mix of reds and yellows. While just strolling around on one of the park’s trails will let you see its glory, the best views come with driving through the 105-mile long “Skyline Drive”. With plenty of overlooks and the Appalachian mountains in the background, there’s more than enough to take in.
3. Enchanted Circle Scenic Byway, New Mexico
The American Southwest is probably the last region anyone would think has gorgeous fall colors, but the Land of Enchantment is full of surprises. Winding through valleys, mesa, and mountains, the 83-mile Enchanted Circle Scenic Byway offers full display of its forests in color for fall. Its cottonwood trees change to golds and reds, while aspen trees morph into bright, buttery yellows. Come in either September or October for the best views.
2. The Lakes Region, New Hampshire
The trees dotting the shores and surrounding areas of Lake Ossipee, Mirror Lake, Lake Winnisquam, Newfound Lake and Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire are renowned for their beauty in autumn. While the red maples are the true standouts here, there are many other kinds of deciduous trees to behold in yellow and orange shades. To get the best views, you can either take a boat out on the lakes or hop a ride on the Winnipesaukee Scenic Railroad. For truly vivid colors, head there between late September through the end of October.