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Top Destinations For Viewing Fall Leaves

Here is a list of our picks for the most idyllic spots in the U.S. for viewing fall leaves. Some are off the beaten path, some are on more popular, scenic routes for you to enjoy, whether on foot or by car. We’ve also included the dates for peak foliage viewing for each location.

Tell us in the comments below about your favorite fall foliage destinations!

Best Places for Fall Leaves in the Northeast (Zone 1)

Includes New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Washington D.C.

Fall leaves at Rangeley Lakes

Rangeley Lakes, Maine (Photo by Judy Ellis)

Rangeley Lakes Region, Maine

For fall foliage, New England can’t be beat. And anyone who has visited Maine knows that Acadia National Park, and the coastal towns along the ocean, provide everything a leaf peeper could ask for. But move inland a bit and you’ll find that Rangeley, in the Western part of the state, offers the perfect mix of brilliant colors; the reds and greens embedded in the mountains provide a perfect backdrop to the contrasting deep blue of the lakes, creating a truly breathtaking fall foliage experience. Peak Viewing: October 1-17

Letchworth Park autumn leaves

Letchworth State Park, New York

Letchworth State Park, Western New York

Letchworth State Park, located about 35 miles southwest of Rochester, is renowned as the “Grand Canyon of the East,” and is considered one of the most scenically magnificent areas in the eastern U.S. Visitors come to this 14,340-acre park to view the dramatic 600-foot cliffs, and during fall foliage season, the colors add even more spectacular drama. Peak Viewing: Autumn leaves in the region peak during the third and fourth week of October. For up-to-the-minute color information, check out the New York State Fall Foliage Report.

Kancamagus Scenic Highway, Lincoln, New Hampshire

The Kancamagus Scenic Highway in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, known by the locals as “The Kanc,” provides some of the most spectacular fall foliage viewing in New England. The Kanc’s 35-mile scenic pass that connects Lincoln to Conway (Route 112) has some tricky hairpin turns and no gas stations, so be prepared. It does have plenty of places to pull over and enjoy the grandeur of the vistas. Peak Viewing: Sept. 28-Oct. 9

Best Places for Fall Leaves in the Midwest/Great Lakes (Zone 2)

Includes Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky, Illinois, Wisconsin

foliageFork

Big South Fork National Recreation Area, Kentucky (Photo by Shelby Daniel/tupelopix.com)

Big South Fork National Recreation Area, Kentucky

Encompassing 125,000 acres, the BSFNRA is located in some of the most rugged territories on the Cumberland Plateau, in the Eastern portion of the state. Big South Fork of the Cumberland River passes through 90 miles of scenic gorges and sandstone bluffs. The wildflowers and fall foliage of this terrain make for colorful viewing. Be sure to hop aboard The Big South Fork Open Air Scenic Railway, which makes runs during October foliage season. Peak Viewing: (Eastern) Oct. 5-21; (Western) Oct. 12-28.

Beautiful Fall Colors in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin

Beautiful Fall Colors on Lake Geneva, Wisconsin

Lake Geneva Area, Wisconsin

Wisconsin’s farmlands, lakes, streams, and rivers, combined with an abundance of oak, maple and hickory trees, make it a popular destination for viewing fall leaves. For over a century, leaf peepers have been flocking to the Lake Geneva area in Autumn. A trio of Wisconsin quiet rustic roads (Routes 11, 12 and 36) make for nearly 20 miles of scenic fall driving. Also consider booking one of the foliage cruises on the Lake for a truly colorful experience. Peak Viewing: October 5 – 14

Best Places for Fall Leaves in the Southeast (Zone 3)

Includes Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Florida, West Virginia, Virginia

Skyline_Drive_edit

Skyline Drive, Virginia. (Photo courtesy of the National Park Service, www.NPS.gov)

Skyline Drive, Shenandoah National Park, Virginia

Virginia’s Skyline Drive is a National Scenic Byway that runs 105 miles along the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The speed limit is 35 mph with 75 overlooks to pull over and enjoy the sights of the Shenandoah Valley below. Often called one of America’s favorite mountain drives, Skyline Drive is “good for the soul.” Peak Viewing: October 12-28; Foliage Updates found at virginia.org

Autumn leaves in the Smoky Mountains

The Great Smoky Mountains, Tennessee

Great Smoky Mountain National Park, Tennessee

You’d be hard-pressed to find any terrain more perfectly orchestrated for fall color viewing than the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. Lots of sumac adds to the brilliant reds but the Park boasts an amazing diversity of trees and terrain that add to the color spectrum — some 100 species of native trees live in the Smokies. To enjoy them, drive the Clingmans Dome Road, the Blue Ridge Parkway, or the Foothills Parkway. Peak Viewing: Mid to late October, depending on elevation. Keep tabs on the foliage via their high-elevation web cam.

Cheaha

Cheaha State Park, Alabama (Photo by Jay Williams photoblog.dview.us)

Mount Cheaha, Alabama

The highest point in Alabama, the top of Mount Cheaha sits 2,407 feet above sea level. Called “Chaha” (or high place) by the Creek Indians, the mountaintop is now home to Cheaha State Park, a resort park complete with amenities at the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. Head up to the observation tower for a panoramic view of the autumn leaves’ vibrant colors. Peak Viewing: October 19 – November 4. Can’t make it in person? Check out their Foliage SkyCam!

Best Places for Autumn Leaves in the North Central U.S. (Zone 4)

Missouri, Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana

RedChokecherrytree

Brilliant Reds of Chokecherry Trees, North Dakota (Photo courtesy of North Dakota Parks and Recreation)

Fort Ransom State Park, North Dakota

Fort Ransom State Park, which takes its name from an 1860s military fort named for Civil War General T.E.G. Ransom, is located 34 miles south of Valley City, in the midst of the scenic and heavily wooded Sheyenne River Valley. In autumn the trees within the 887-acre park are ablaze in colors ranging from golden yellow to a brilliant red, with the Sheyenne River snaking through all of it. The best spot to take it all in is the Peterson Hills Trail. Peak viewing: October 5 – 21

Rocky Mountain Fall Leaves

Estes Park, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

Estes Park at Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

Visiting Rocky Mountain National Park during the fall is a must. Starting in late August, aspens begin their annual “quaking,” a term to describe their unique leaves that change to a golden-yellow hue and shimmer in the wind. The Rocky Mountains provide a gorgeous backdrop to it all. Take Colorado 7 past the 14,255-foot Longs Peak to Estes Park (which is not really a park in the traditional sense, but described as a “glacial cut, level valley between mountain ranges”). Peak Viewing: The month of September through early October.

Best Place for Fall Leaves in the South Central U.S. (Zone 5)

Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico

Fall leaves, Arkansas Ozarks

Hawksbill Crag at Whitaker Point, Ozark Region, Arkansas

Hawksbill Crag, Whitaker Point, The Ozark National Forest, Arkansas

Hawksbill Crag of the Upper Buffalo Wilderness Area of the Ozark National Forest is easily one of the most photographed and recognizable features in Arkansas. It’s an easy 3.0-mile round trip hike and offers scenic vistas, huge boulders, beautiful waterfalls, and colorful wildflowers. A little difficult to find from the road, but so worth it. Some of the best vistas anywhere. Peak Viewing: October 12 – 28

Best Places for Fall Leaves in the Northwest (Zone 6)

Washington, Oregon, Idaho

Olympic-national-park

Olympic National Park, Washington (Photo courtesy of National Park Service, www.NPS.gov)

Olympic National Park, Washington

Washington State has such diversity of flora that fall color viewing can only be described as “spectacular.” Fall is considered the best time to visit Olympic National Park, which showcases the deep reds of vine maples and brilliant yellows of the aspens, so you’ll get what you are looking for, whether hiking or driving, in your foliage quest. The terrain is rugged, but the views are outstanding, with wildlife aplenty (listen for the bugling of Roosevelt Elk). Consider hiking in the Hoh Rainforest or along Hurricane Ridge, the most easily accessible. Peak Viewing: October 12 – 28

Best Places for Fall Leaves in the Southwest U.S. (Zone 7)

California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona

autumn tapestry (v)

Logan Canyon, Utah

Logan Canyon Scenic Byway, Utah

The Logan Canyon Byway has been called “the byway of all seasons,” although this stretch of Us Highway 89 that leads to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Park, is particularly stunning in the fall. Visit First Damn along the Logan River and enjoy a true autumnal assault on all the senses. Peak Viewing: The first trees that start to turn in Logan Canyon are the mountain and canyon maples, which generally start their fiery transformation at the beginning of October.

Highway through California Coast

Big Sur Coast Highway, California

Big Sur Coast Highway, California

This may come as a surprise to many fall foliage enthusiasts but The Big Sur Coast Highway, also known as US Highway 1, approximately 100 miles south of San Francisco, rivals anything on the East Coast for fall foliage grandeur. The narrow, windy highway is tricky for some but offers panoramic views of the ocean, crashing waves, rocky cliffs and bold fall colors making this destination an unforgettable experience. Add in brilliant red shrubbery and the rolling autumn mists, and it’s a leaf peeper’s dream come true! Peak Viewing: October 15 – 31

Check out more of our foliage destinations!

47 comments

1 What Causes Leaves To Change Color? - Farmers’ Almanac { 09.20.19 at 9:26 am }

[…] Our top picks for fall foliage […]

2 6 Great Places To View Fall Leaves - Farmers’ Almanac { 09.14.19 at 9:36 pm }

[…] is why we compiled a second list of fall foliage destinations that we think are worthy of a visit (see our original list here). Of course, everyone knows that each year, New England provides some of the best and most reliable […]

3 Leafpeeper { 08.27.17 at 9:11 pm }

2017 — First, our thoughts are with Southern Texans enduring rising flood waters and send thanks to the heroes who flew, drove, or floated in to help those in need. I encourage everyone to donate to Red-Cross efforts there!

Second … here we are almost September, 2017… and the first signs of Fall have been spotted and captured east of San Francisco. http://www.californiafallcolor.com/2017/08/22/darrell-sano-scores-several-firsts/

4 Susan Higgins { 08.23.17 at 11:31 am }

Hi lbt1965: here are our peak foliage dates by state. The date ranges run from year to year: http://farmersalmanac.wpengine.com/peak-fall-foliage-dates/

5 lbt1965 { 08.21.17 at 11:54 am }

Going to Boston in October. What are the predictions for foliage around Boston…October 17-23? Will that be late this year? When was peak last year?
Thanks so much for any responses!
Linda

6 Six Fun Fall Activities | AllthingsrelaxAllthingsrelax { 04.02.17 at 12:24 am }
7 Ruth { 10.04.16 at 8:04 pm }

Justt to name a few places I have seen over the years: the beautiful Green Mountains(Vermont) as well as the Adirondacks in September; the yBlue Ridge (Virginia) in October; Chiricahua Mountains in Southeastern Arizona in October; and many beautiful mountains throughout the Fall season in many locations of my beloved home state of Pennsylvania (Penn’s Woods). America the Beautiful!

8 Hank Riehl { 09.21.16 at 1:10 pm }

From Lone Tree, CO ….5.600 ft. ASL….cool(er) nights and warm days. Humming birds and butterflies are gone, tomatoes are still booming…gold colors are showing up and reds are just beginning to appear. Higher altitudes like Vail are about 1-2 weeks ahead. As usual, its the most pleasant, beautiful and stunning part of our spectacular calendar.

9 Lanya { 09.20.16 at 3:24 pm }

Hello, Thanks for all this information. We are planning a trip to NH or VT this weekend (9/24/16, 9/25/16). Are there any colors yet? Will it be worth the trip, If so, which place from these two states would you recommend? I know the summer is unusually long this year, and it still feels like August.

Thanks for your help in Advance 🙂

10 Leafpeeper { 09.11.16 at 1:43 am }

Thank you for the peek into your neck of the Virginia woods, MDMM! That definitley sounds telling if northerner geese are enjoying southern fare already. My friend in Wisconsin says birds still present, but squirrels are busy busting green pods into smaller parts for stashing. She and hubs find shell fragments on the front porch daily now. A friend in Minnetonka reports similar findings, “squirrels rarely making empty trips,” and evening temps cooling. But she says the most visible hint of fall on the way is the light is less direct and softer, though temps are still in the dance between hot and cool.

11 MDMM { 09.07.16 at 2:47 pm }

Leef Peeper
Northern Neck area of Virginia. Few flocks of Canada Geese seen in local lakes and nibbling on sown corn and wheat fields starting about a week and a half ago.

12 Leafpeeper { 08.30.16 at 2:31 am }

2016…Has anyone seen signs of fall or winter in thier areas, yet? Woolies, bird migration, etc?

13 Mike Ellis { 08.28.16 at 11:56 am }

Where ever one goes, God has blessed us all with beauty for our eyes. Lest not forget to praise him for this treasure.

14 What does SW Okla have to offer?? { 10.04.15 at 10:27 pm }

what does SW OKLAHOMA have for folaige tours?

15 Kaye Wolf { 10.04.15 at 3:54 pm }

Note: My husband has hiked the AT from Florida to Maine and also hiked the Blue Ridge mountains. [Crazy 70’s Eagle Scout] He agrees with your list 100%.

16 Kaye Wolf { 10.04.15 at 3:51 pm }

Interesting you picked upstate New York over New Hampshire. Perhaps because I spent many falls in NY and had to make a special trip to NH I would have ranked them the opposite. Also, you picked the Virginia side over West Virginia? Interesting.

17 RJ Patterson { 10.04.15 at 8:51 am }

I can’t believe Spearfish Canyon in South Dakota wasn’t mentioned. It is a beautiful drive this time of year.

18 Anne Meczywor { 10.04.15 at 1:26 am }

Seriously, the Berkshires. ‘Nuff said.

19 Shelley { 10.03.15 at 8:24 pm }

Really? Not a single mention of anywhere in Michigan? I wonder why we’ve got such an increase in tourists each fall here in the northwoods.

20 Bob { 09.23.15 at 7:16 am }

Do not forget the beautiful Hocking Hills and Old Man’s Cave State Park area in Southeastern Ohio.

21 The 14 Best Places To See Fall Foliage In The U.S. | Weight Loss { 12.12.14 at 1:19 am }

[…] The Farmers’ Almanac has released its list of top foliage destinations in the U.S. […]

22 Melissa { 10.08.14 at 12:06 am }

The mountains in Western Pennsylvania are gorgeous in the autumn. My mom’s tiny hometown of Renovo, PA even has a “Flaming Foliage Festival” yearly to celebrate the beauty.

23 The 14 Best Places To See Fall Foliage In The U.S | Sharing Interesting Stuff, Updates News & Free Tips { 10.02.14 at 1:35 pm }

[…] The Farmers’ Almanac has released its list of top foliage destinations in the U.S. […]

24 Nancy { 10.01.14 at 6:42 pm }

Mi. is turning into a splendid place to view. Upper and lower.

25 Robert { 09.30.14 at 1:37 pm }

Rode thru Big South Fork Sat. and Mon. Looks like at least another week before major burst of color.

26 Belinda Mansfield { 09.29.14 at 7:04 am }

If you go to Maine and the Rangeley Lakes Area…make sure to also view Quill Hill…top of the hill…see in all areas for miles!!!!! Rangeley Rocks…

27 Ronald Pal { 09.29.14 at 3:29 am }

September 29th Newark,Vermont. Take the road from West Burke north on 5A then a right turn up Newark Street. You will find breath taking foliage especially from the fish hatchery to Jobs Pond and on to Island Pond.But you need to go right now as points north of there are starting to go beyond peak.

28 Farmers Almanac Lists Upstate NY Park As Best Spot To View Fall Colors { 09.27.14 at 9:04 pm }

[…] best spot to see fall colors, according to the Farmers’ Almanac, is Letchworth State Park in Upstate […]

29 Elaine Miller { 09.25.14 at 11:29 am }

The Oakland MD area is one of the most beautiful anywhere.

30 Tara { 09.25.14 at 8:38 am }

For information on the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area in KY and TN go http://www.mccrearytourism.com

31 Martha Brown { 09.24.14 at 11:34 pm }

The beautiful colors are only more splendid with the backdrop of one of the many covered bridges here in Brown Co. Indiana and adjoining counties.With all the small town festivals
it is sure a fun place to be when the change is in full glory.

32 Mike { 09.24.14 at 8:48 pm }

Not sure how you arrived at these destinations but there are far more scenic and colorful locations in the state of Washington than the one you chose. All in all I enjoyed looking at all of these pictures of the fall colors.
Thanks

33 Karen { 09.24.14 at 6:53 pm }

Don’t forget West Virginia for leaf peeping. Always great colors and the mountains are unforgettable. The New River Gorge Bridge provides a one of a kind view of the valley and river below – just subperb. So often the state is a forgotten piece of beauty and features a laid-back style of living that is appreciated by the inhabitants of large cities.

34 Par Loomis { 09.24.14 at 5:30 pm }

I agree with Brian—just got back from Lutsen, Minnesota (very close to Grand Marais) and the explosion of brilliant fall colors there is beyond comparision. Especially with
Lake Superior as a backdrop. Absolutely stunning display of nature at its best!

35 Carol { 09.24.14 at 3:04 pm }

Wish Virginia had been included in Southeast instead of Northeast. Love our Blue Ridge Parkway, but it runs from Virginia thru North Carolina to the Smokies.

36 Brian Agar { 09.24.14 at 2:14 pm }

Big Sur? How is it different in the Fall? Nothing in Minnesota, & not including Minnesota in the Great Lakes Region? Duluth area, Superior National Forest, The Boundary Waters Canoe Area, Grand Marais, The Mississippi River Valley, The Minnesota River Valley, The National Eagle Sanctuary, The River Bluffs area. Many excellent Fall foliage spots for beauty. Also, how about Yosemite, Glacier National Park, Yellowstone?

37 Tom { 09.24.14 at 2:11 pm }

Try Route 6 across the top of Pennsylvania through the Allegheny Mountains . You have access to Allegheny National Forest and the Pa Wilds Region . There isn’t a bad view anywhere !

38 Robin { 09.24.14 at 12:01 pm }

Tioga county area near Pa. grand-canyon is Beautiful during the fall ! we always camp near pine forge. Its also beautiful in the winter when the snow is gently falling !

39 Joyce { 09.24.14 at 11:49 am }

I visit CT every Oct. from So. Cal. I usually take a few days to drive around New England it’s my absolute favoite time of year. After living away from NE for almost 30 years, I am now considering a move back because I miss the foliage so much.

40 Sandra Labelle { 09.24.14 at 11:36 am }

Please include Canada… Muskoka… Gravenhurst, Ontario… People come from all over including USA to see the fall colours in the Muskoka Area.

41 Dale { 09.24.14 at 9:47 am }

Please don’t forget about the Ozarks in Missouri and Arkansas is beautiful also. Take a look!

42 Joyce { 09.24.14 at 9:39 am }

Don’t forget beautiful Door County in Wisconsin. The sparkling blue water, gorgeous trees and craggy rocks are a photographer’s heaven.

43 Pam { 09.24.14 at 9:12 am }

The Great Smoky Mountains in Tennesse/North Carolina are beautiful in the fall. It is the most visited National Park in the US – come visit and see for yourself!!

44 Jimmy Johnson { 09.24.14 at 8:56 am }

The Blue Ridge Parkway always has wonderful color in October.We go every year to enjoy the color.

45 johnpartin { 09.24.14 at 8:39 am }

Peaks of Otter on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia always has a beautiful palette of fall colors!

46 Joy { 09.23.14 at 8:31 pm }

This week, the color in Green Mountains/Southern VT has been amazing!! Best I have seen in years!!

47 carroll { 09.23.14 at 11:55 am }

We went to Northern Mi. last Oct. The colors were beautiful. We stayed at our niece’s cottage on Star Lake. North Mi. is beautiful in the fall! Also Grand Rapids which is having their Art Prize now. It is a beautiful city. We love all the bridges over the Grand river there.

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