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America's Best Places to See Fall Foliage

September 14, 2021

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As coronavirus restrictions ease, travelers will soon return to amazing fall destinations. What are some of the best places to see fall foliage? Let’s have a look.


Bar Harbor, Maine

Take a trip to a quaint island set on idyllic Frenchman Bay. The town of Bar Harbor is popular for strolling historic streets, dining on fresh-caught lobster at waterfront eateries, and setting off on Atlantic whale-watching expeditions. But in the fall one of Bar Harbor's best features is that it serves as the gateway to the magnificent Acadia National Park. The serene nature escape is an Instagrammer's dream in autumn, when blueberry bushes and sumac trees turn scarlet, amid a glorious mix of yellows, oranges, and purples.

Fall foliage at Acadia National Park in MainePhoto Credit: 12019 / Pixabay

 

Ozark National Forest

With over a million acres to explore, you have lots of choices if you decide to visit Ozark National Forest in the fall. From September to mid-October, you can witness change colors with wide stretches of oaks, hickories, and maples that spread out as far as the eye can see. One popular autumn driving route begins in the historic town of Van Buren, set on the Arkansas River, and takes you to Winslow, Arkansas. All along the round trip of about three hours you'll see some of the most amazing fall colors that the majestic Ozark National Forest offers.

Fall foliage at Ozark National Forest in ArkansasPhoto Credit: amanderson2 / Flickr

 

Blue Ridge Mountains

A stretch along the Blue Ridge Parkway between Virginia's Shenandoah National Park and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina offers stunning fall foliage. All along the route, you'll see oranges, reds, and yellows with maple, sassafras, and dogwood trees stretching out in both directions. If you visit Shenandoah National Park, you don't want to miss the Skyline Drive Scenic Byway, home to over 70 overlooks that offer views of bright red oaks, yellow hickory trees, and miles of glorious maples. In Great Smoky Mountains National Park, a hike to Looking Glass Falls is sure to satisfy your craving for fall colors.

 

Aspen, Colorado

When a place is named after a tree that's famous for its golden-yellow hues each autumn, you can bet it's a good spot to see fall foliage. Aspen has a short window during which its best fall colors are on full display, starting in mid-September and lasting just a few weeks—when aspen trees turn a brilliant yellow by the thousands. One of the most popular spots for visiting in fall is the Maroon Bells Scenic Area, a 30-minute drive from Aspen and home to Maroon Lake and the Maroon Bells peaks; both offer stunning accompaniments to fall colors.

Fall foliage at Maroon Lake in Aspen, ColoradoPhoto Credit: John Fowler / Flickr

 

Michigan's Upper Peninsula

Bordering three Great Lakes, Michigan's Upper Peninsula has vast runs of waterfront wilderness that all go golden in fall. There are over twenty state parks teeming with sycamore, oak, maple, birch, and beech trees, just to name a few. Tahquamenon Falls State Park is a top choice to see its Upper Falls, one of the largest waterfalls in the Upper Midwest, and the park has over 40,000 acres carpeted by trees that turn red, orange, and yellow in autumn.

Fall foliage at Upper Tahquamenon Falls in MichiganPhoto Credit: Dawn Endico / Flickr

 

White Mountain National Forest

You'll find spectacular colors all across New Hampshire in September and October. But perhaps no place is as eye-popping as the White Mountain National Forest. For a scenic drive, it's hard to beat Kancamagus Highway, locally known as "the Kanc'' and famed for the local custom of fall "leaf-peeping." Exploration in the park will take you to photo-friendly spots such as Echo Lake, Flume Gorge with multiple waterfalls, and to scenic hikes along the Appalachian Trail.

 

Stowe, Vermont

They don't call the place "Fall's Color Capital'' for nothing. In September and October Stowe comes alive with autumn colors. Cruise from Stowe to the town of Waterbury along the Green Mountain Byway for spectacular views of fall foliage against mountain backdrops, across farmland, meadows, and lush forests. If you feel like a fall hike, Sterling Valley has trails that won't disappoint.

 

Brasstown Bald, Georgia

Several cities in different states offer access to Brasstown Bald: it's located a two-and-a-half-hour drive from Atlanta, a three-hour drive from Knoxville, Tennessee, and a four-hour drive from Charlotte, North Carolina. However you get there, your trip will be rewarded with views from the highest point in Georgia. Enjoy panoramic vistas across a sea of fall colors; you can see forestland in Georgia, Tennessee, and North Carolina from the lofty perch.

Fall foliage in Brasstown Bald, Georgia

Some of the world’s best fall vacations can be had right here in America. Will any of the best places to see autumn leaves be welcoming you this fall?

Written by William McCleary for Knockaround.

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