Despite its fleeting, ethereal nature that seems to slip through our fingers so quickly, no season is as enchanting or bewitching as fall. Perhaps it's the way the foliage wraps its beauty around our hearts and settles into our soul.
It's no great mystery why so many nature loves set out each year to see the best fall foliage — and these are some of the best places to soak in the colors of fall.
Columbia River Gorge
As you set off on your great fall foliage adventure, pack your camera and some cold-weather gear for the sights of fall in the Columbia River Gorge. Oregon may not be the state that pops to mind when you think of fall foliage, but the Pacific Northwest isn't to be overlooked. Thanks to the Douglas firs and assorted maples, you're in for a treat of a fall color palette.
Leave the skis and snowboard behind; you're not heading to Colorado for the powder this time. It's a chance to enjoy the look of the fiery trees that's the number one slot on your agenda. And when you're surrounded by mountains, it's hard not to feel the awe of autumn fall over you.
Whether you take a jaunt on your own or take part in a tour, make sure to check ahead for the peak fall leaf viewing time.
Fall foliage destinations can get busy pretty quickly! Try to visit on off-peak days or head out to your destination early in the morning to beat the crowd and find parking with ease.
Michigan's Upper Peninsula
From the peaks of Colorado to the shores of the Great Lakes, fall foliage in the north is unbeatable. Road trip to and through the foliage, or park the car to wander amongst the trees. Allow yourself to enjoy the show of leaves as they slowly fall from the trees to kiss the autumn earth.
The fall foliage along the Upper Peninsula is so popular that you can even plan out and choose from ten pre-planned routes.
Great Smoky Mountains
Tennessee may not be the first place you think of when fall foliage comes to mind, but a trip to the Great Smoky Mountains in the fall will quickly change your mind — and your heart. The upside to these views? No difficult hikes between you and the stunning fall foliage that the Great Smoky Mountains have to offer. The National Park Service offers trail advisories as well as routes to travel and hike.
Don't be surprised if your camera can't capture the absolute beauty of the fall foliage in front of you. Soak it all up with your own eyes before you start snapping pictures. Then go ahead and take dozens.
Shenandoah National Park
As you head further east on your fall foliage adventure, you'll find Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. Tucked away among the autumn colors, you can find waterfalls and wooded valleys filled with secrets and beauty. The good news about the Shenandoah fall foliage vistas is you can also access them from your home thanks to the National Park Service.
Tucked away in Upstate New York is the sprawling land of the Adirondack Park. Bigger than Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon National Park, Glacier National Park, and the Everglades combined, this public park has no entrance and no fee to see its 6 million sprawling acres.
And those millions of acres are blazing in the fall with vibrant colors that seemingly go on forever. To make foliage viewing even easier, check out the park maps for when to visit and where.
Always check the specific fall foliage meter or current fall foliage status before heading out. The shade of the colors as well as how long they last can vary drastically from year to year. The leaf changes can be impacted by how hot a summer was, or how much rain fell.
Acadia National Park
A bit to the east and far further north, Acadia National Park is prime fall foliage year after year. Leaves begin to change sometime around the middle of September and then peak within the first few weeks of October.
However, a particularly windy or drizzly fall can cut the window short. Since New Englanders take their fall very seriously, the state of Maine maintains a fall foliage website to make sure everyone can enjoy those sights to the max.
It's one area code but nine thousand square miles of rolling hills, seacoast, and the White Mountains. You'd be hard pressed to find a flat stretch of land in New Hampshire; instead, you'll find yourself surrounded by rolling hills and mountains that cover the state from top to bottom. But no where is better for fall foliage than the White Mountains.
Hit the Kanc early for the easiest parking and check the fall foliage tracker before gassing up the car.
Service in the White Mountains can be quite tricky, so your best bet is to square away where you're going before you head into the mountains. Lincoln, New Hampshire is a great place to stop, download maps, and grab some food before heading further north.
Sitting on the opposite side of the state from Boston, the Berkshire Mountains transport you in time and dimension — especially in the fall. While you can take the quick and easy way by driving down Route 90 to only glance at the colors, a visit to the Berkshires in the fall isn't complete without a visit to a bed and breakfast that may or may not be haunted with colonial spirits.
While you can't be guaranteed the state of any haunting, you can consult the Farmer's Almanac for the status of the fall foliage.
Skip just north to grab a few scoops of Ben and Jerry's, visit the flavor graveyard, and fall in love with the colors of fall in Vermont. From the tiny Vermont towns you find along Route 9 or cruising through the Green Mountain National Forest, there's no shortage of the New England farms, barns, and rolling hills that will feel as though you walked onto a crisp October New England movie set.
Be a fall foliage pro and make reservations in advance so there's less stress as you marvel at New England's fall fireworks.
The Elegance of Fall Foliage
All it takes is one trip of leaf viewing to fall in love with the colors of autumn foliage. From coast to coast, there's no shortage of fall beauty. It's up to you on how far you want to drive, hike, and gaze over the miles of fiery, beautiful trees. Grab a map, close your eyes, and start your fall foliage adventure.