Across the country, from New England to the Pacific Northwest, our nation’s deciduous trees put on a vibrant display of fall colors from late September through early November. Create an annual tradition out of viewing fall foliage — it’s a great way to get outdoors and experience Mother Nature’s breathtaking beauty. Learn about some of the best destinations for viewing fall colors, and then plan a road trip to the spot of your choice.
- Aspen, Colorado. Golden fall colors usually begin to emerge in mid to late September near Aspen. If you want to snap photos and view the colors by foot, head to Cathedral Lake, American Lake, Hunter Creek or Crater Lake. If you’d prefer to take in the brilliant views from your RV or motorhome, a few of the best scenic driving roads include Maroon Creek Road, Castle Creek Road and Independence Pass. Before you go, it’s a good idea to check a fall foliage map to see when peak viewing times are predicted.
- Lake Placid, New York. As the summer season shifts into fall, you can take in the colorful range of reds, purples and yellows in the Adirondack Region of New York, which includes Lake Placid. This area has one of the longest fall foliage seasons in the country, which provides a great opportunity for foliage fans to fully celebrate the season. You may want to check into the Flaming Leaves Festival that takes place during the month of October at the Olympic Jumping Complex.
- Moosehead Lake, Maine. Imagine taking in the stunning fall views from the shores of Maine’s largest lake. Blazing scarlet’s and purples, along with an array of orange and bright yellow leaves draw visitors to Moosehead Lake from mid-September thru mid October. The active crowd can take advantage of the many opportunities to hike, bike, canoe, or kayak during this time of year. In addition, there is a private leaf peeping tour that offers one of the best ways to view the fall foliage in Maine from a variety of elevations.
- Upper Peninsula, Michigan. If you want to catch fall colors in the Midwest, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan is hard to beat during late September and early October. An outburst of vibrant red, orange and gold colors adds an extra touch of beauty to any hiking, biking, kayaking or canoeing trips you can take. There are ten fall color routes located throughout the Upper Peninsula that you can choose from.
- Glacier National Park, Montana. While Montana may not seem like an obvious fall color destination, the valleys and mountain peaks of Glacier National Park are adorned in brilliant shades of yellow and gold during the autumn months. From Glacier National Park to the Bitterroot Valley, Montana’s Glacier Country has a variety of leaf-viewing options located amongst charming small towns. In addition to Glacier Park, Seeley-Swan Valley and Missoula are two spots worth checking out during the fall.
- Great Smoky Mountains, North Carolina & Tennessee. The fall display in the Smoky Mountains is one of the most magnificent because of the amazing diversity of trees. Close to 100 species of native trees are rooted in these mountains, with the vast majority being deciduous. Autumn color displays start as early as mid-September, but can vary from year to year. You’ll notice yellow birch, beech, mountain maple, hobblebush, and pin cherry, all clearly visible from top vantage points such as Clingmans Dome Road.
- Vernonia, Oregon. As summer tapers off, the forests near Vernonia (about an hour northwest of Portland) begin to celebrate the changing of the seasons. The 21-mile Banks-Vernonia State Trail provides an ideal way to bike or walk past forests of yellow ash and red maple. Mid- to late-October tends to be prime time for viewing the fall foliage in this area, but check Oregon’s Fall Foliage Blog for current updates.
- Waitsfield, Vermont. While this charming central-Vermont town is known for artisan shops, covered bridges and excellent restaurants; you’ll also find one of the best New England fall foliage displays during the month of October. Plan to drive to the Appalachian, Middlebury, Lincoln and Roxbury Gaps, which offer some of the most amazing views of autumn scenery that you’ll find in the country.
If you intend to visit multiple destinations on this fall foliage list, you may want to consider traveling by RV to save money on hotel expenses. RV consignment companies that specialize in pre-owned RV sales are a good resource for buying — or selling if you are considering an upgrade.