When it comes to picking the best spots to view the colors of autumn, you might have a tough time coming up with a single list. We know we sure did. Which 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 fall color around, but the U.S. is full of wonderful places where the reds, oranges, and golds of the season entice leaf peepers from coast to coast.
So pack up the family, dust off your camera lenses, and hit the road to these 6 locations:
6 Great Fall Foliage Destinations
Big Pocono State Park
Near Tannersville, Pennsylvania, Big Pocono is a major destination for leaf hounds. Why? Because this 1,300-acre park is situated at the top of Camelback Mountain, which is part of the Pocono Mountain range. Visitors enjoy a scenic drive through the park, and the summit provides a gorgeous overlook of fall leaves for dozens of miles around. A trip to Big Pocono doesn’t necessarily have to end with the park, either. The entire Pocono region, extending southwest and north of Big Pocono State Park, is crazy with fall color and you can view it by horse, plane, train, zip line, or chairlift. Can’t get to Pennsylvania in person? Visit one of the many live cameras! Plan your adventure here. Peak Viewing Times: 1st to 3rd Week of October.
Mohican State Park
Start your fall leaf adventure on the southern side of the Mohican State Park and visit the fire tower first. You’ll be able to climb several stories above the ground and look out over a sweeping tree-covered vista. Then hop back in the car and drive through the park itself. You’ll wind your way up tree-lined roads approaching the Mohican Gorge and the gorge overlook. The gorge overlook is one of the highest points in the park. Stop the car here, step out onto the overlook and the entire Mohican Gorge will be laid out below you, the Clear Fork River winding its way among the colorful trees. When you’re finished here, drive down to the bottom of the gorge, across a restored historic covered bridge, and you’ll have the chance to picnic or hike miles of forested trail along the riverbanks and through the forest.
If you visit Mohican State Park, don’t forget about nearby Malabar Farm State Park, once owned by author Louis Bromfield. Or, drive half an hour to an hour east along Ohio Scenic Byways to see nearby Amish Country decked out in fall color! Plan your adventure here. Peak Viewing Times: 1st to 3rd Week of October.
River Road National Forest Scenic Byway
When we ran our first list of top fall foliage destinations, readers wondered, “why isn’t Michigan on your list?” And after doing a little more research, we admit that “Pure Michigan” gives New England a run for its money when it comes to stunning autumn colors. Topping our list is the River Road National Scenic Byway, a 23.4-mile stretch that runs from the shores of Oscoda, along Lake Huron, to the Huron-Manistee National Forest, a swath that meanders across the first few fingers of the “mitten” and winds along with the Au Sable River. A must-see along the route is Foote Pond Overlook (sometimes called Eagles Nest Overlook, because eagle sightings are common), which provides views of the river and Foote Pond, created by the Foote Dam. It’s a true feast for color seekers, combining blue sky and water with the vibrant red of sugar maple and gold of Aspen. Plan your visit here. Peak Viewing Times: 1st to 3rd Week of October.
New River Gorge National River
In West Virginia, one of the most picturesque places to view fall foliage is at the New River Gorge National River, especially at the New River Gorge Bridge. If you’re feeling brave, you can stand atop the 3,000-foot bridge and look down nearly 900 feet to the bottom of the gorge itself. The bridge opens for pedestrian traffic on the third Saturday of October and visitors can call ahead to make arrangements for a guided tour of the bridge itself. Additionally, other areas of the New River Gorge park offer trails and scenic overlooks. Adventure seekers are also able to go rafting down the New River itself. Plan your trip here. Peak Viewing Times: 4th Week of October.
Dogwood Canyon Nature Park
For a truly unique fall foliage experience, Dogwood Canyon Nature Park, which is situated within the Ozarks, is a must-visit. There is an admittance fee to enter the park ($10 per adult) but the scenery is absolutely worth it. You’ll be able to hike down trails lined with gorgeous sheer rock walls, topped and surrounded by colorful trees. There are waterfalls galore and other breathtaking natural features. In addition to hiking tours, visitors can also ride horses through the park, go biking, or even take tours by tram and Segway. And after you work up an appetite from all that leaf peeping, enjoy lunch or dinner at the park’s on-site restaurant, which lets you take in the fall colors and stunning waterfalls right from the dining room.
Dogwood Canyon is part of a much larger natural reserve that includes nearby Pilot Knob Conservation Area and Roaring River State Park. Plan your adventure here. Peak Viewing Times: Last Week of October and 1st Week of November.
Mount Hood Scenic Loop
If you’re in the mood to go road tripping, then the Mount Hood Scenic Loop should be an essential fall foliage destination. The trip starts in Portland, taking you down Interstate 84 along the Columbia River, which skirts the route to the north with Mount Hood itself viewable to the south. Head right on State Route 35 and you’ll circle around to the south of Mount Hood, eventually coming to State Route 26, which will lead you back to Portland. The 146-mile trip, all of it tree-lined and packed with scenic vistas, provides plenty of places to pull off and camp, picnic, eat at a restaurant, or go for a hike. Plan your trip here. Peak Viewing Times: 3rd and 4th Weeks of October.
Do you have a favorite fall foliage destination? Share it in the comments section below, and share your photos with us on Facebook!