Fall is one of the best seasons all across the world, filled with beautiful moments and chilly nights.
All the seasons are apparent throughout the southern part of the United States. We’ve found the best fall foliage spots in the United States to explore with your family, friends or alone for a beautiful vacation. Grab your camera and get in the car to mark these top picks for the best fall foliage spots off your list.
Top Places to See the Best Fall Foliage
If you love crispy leaves on the floor, cozy nights by a warm fire and the area filled with greens, browns and yellows, you’ll love the selection of areas in the United States to explore with the best fall foliage. Let’s take a look at our varied selection which are all ideal for adults, children and all lifestyles and tastes.
1. The Catskills – New York
The Catskills offers is one of the best fall foliage spots in the United States. With cozy colours which light up the hillsides, the coziness will keep you warm in cool, crisp temperatures. Also, the smell of fresh cider will fill your nose as you watch the leaves fall from the trees.
The fresh air will warm the atmosphere and positively overwhelm you. It’s easy to get in the spirit of the fall season in Catskills with brilliant colours filling many of their attractions and landscapes. Gather your friends and family and head to a fall festival. Alternatively, experience something new with their wide selection of things to do. Fill your days and nights with natural beauty which will leave you with a smile and a fuzzy feeling in your stomach.
There’s no better way to explore Catskills than being in the great outdoors. Venture outside to see its full potential. Hike in the mountains, enjoy a round of golf, or spend fall days and autumn nights camping in the beautiful outdoors. On the other hand, if you want to add more adrenaline, head above the treetops for a Skyride or Zipline adventure on the mountains. Once you’ve filled your day with adventure, travel across the winding roads to witness stunning waterfalls and glimmering reservoirs which reflect the changing leaves. The Catskills is one of the best spots for the best fall foliage moments. As you drive through the small towns and villages, you’ll encounter a community experience with families gathering to welcome the season in.
Another special feature of Catskills is their array of fall events. Celebrate cultures or enjoy food and drink which are filled with art and culture. Also, there are plenty of tricks and treats at local Halloween celebrations to keep you entertained. With the multitude of activities set against the backdrop of the best fall foliage, you'll love experiencing the Catskills.
2. Berkshire Mountains – Massachusetts
The Berkshire Mountains are one of the most notorious locations for the best fall foliage in the United States. Spring and summer is a beautiful experience in the Berkshires, but fall is one of the most amazing seasons to see its beauty to the entirety. If you visit between September and October, there are plenty of places to visit and things to do to keep you and your family/friends entertained.
For around six weeks of the season, there are plenty of events for unforgettable memories. There nearby town – Lenox – is one of the best places to experience fall in the Berkshires. Beaming with historic properties, apples fill the town. As a result, the Annual Apple Festival rolls into the town and features plenty of things to do for everyone.
Head downtown for rides, shopping, live music and everything filled with apple – including pies, cakes, cider and even pizza. After a long day of eating, drinking and enjoying the beautiful scenery, put your feel up in a nearby Inn for a true fall experience. The Williamstown Film Festival makes the Berkshires even richer and enjoyable. This festival attracts thousands of visitors around the world every year. Running for four days from November 5, the town fill their schedule with fall-themed themes for the entire community to enjoy.
Alternatively, the harvest takes center stage in Stockbridge during the beginning of October. With streets filled with vendors, jewelry, pottery, ceramics, gifts, and clothes stalls, it’s the ideal environment for all ages. After a long day, visit the Red Lion Inn or Brook Farm Inn for a cozy drink and time to relax. All of the activities and events at the Berkshires are reasonably-priced (and include some of the best fall foliage), which makes it an attractive choice for people on a budget too.
3. Great Smoky Mountains – Tennessee and North Carolina
The Great Smoky Mountains offer a beautiful and busy time for everyone during the fall season. With annual shoes attracting huge numbers of sightseers and tourists during October, there are areas in the park which experience the longest traffic delays in the United States. However, we’re not surprised because there are so many things to do and see during the fall season, especially given its claim to some of the best fall foliage.
Enjoy the fall leaf colours in the area of the park with autumn drives and hikes. These areas are less crowded and well-suited for families and couples. Within the national park, there aren’t any motels or cabins to rent. However, with a wide choice of accommodations including hotels, cabins, bed and breakfasts, and campgrounds, there are plenty of places to relax and unwind. Although, we recommend booking your reservations as soon as possible to avoid disappointment.
The Great Smoky Mountains expose marvelous fall colours which light up the surrounding areas for around seven weeks. Move down the mountainsides from the highest elevations to the foothills for the best views which will amaze you. These stunning fall colours start as early as mid-September when leaves begin to turn to a yellow birch. Visible from such vantage points as Clingmans Dome Rode, there are plenty of beautiful things and areas to witness. However, the best fall foliage colours usually peak between mid-October and early November.
4. Shenandoah Valley – Virginia
Shenandoah Valley in Virginia is one of the best fall foliage spots in the United States for an array of reasons. Beautiful fall colours surround the area and peak around the middle of October. There’s no better season to see Shenandoah Valley’s full potential than fall. It’s one of the most satisfying times of the year for a beautiful drive, visit to a park, or embark on a Skyline Drive. We love that there are plenty of places to stay afterwards, and you may even be stuck for choice – which isn’t necessarily a negative thing.
If you love scenic drives, then this is definitely the most suitable location for you to get a full experience of fall. If you head to Capon Springs, it’s a mountain-hideaway less than two hours west of Washington with an array of cottages. Capon Springs offers child care if you visit with the family and are looking for some time alone. However, we love that all guests in the cottages eat together and enjoy family-orientated activities together. Also, there’s 4,700 acres of wilderness to explore. On the other hand, enjoy golf, swimming, children’s playgrounds or peaceful porches for ultimate relaxation.
Another area to venture to is Luray and Page County. Named the “Most Charming Virginia Small Town”, it’s popular amongst Americans who love to travel across country during the colder months. Mimslyn Inn overlooks Main Street and is perched high atop a hill. Offering an old-world charm, formal dining and casual club, they off an unforgettable experience for anyone looking for a relaxing experience. If you head down the street, the Hotel Laurance is a restored boutique hotel which features luxury suites and apartments.
5. Glacier National Park – Montana
Glacier National Park is one of the best fall foliage places to visit in the United States. With autumn hues transforming the landscapes, you can see as far as the eye can with a beautiful and vibrant view. Discover beauty and adventure in one of the best seasons of the year. It’s a stunning and relaxing place to visit with vibrant shades of gold, orange, yellow and red popping against the blue skills. Thanks to a tapestry of colours and cool temperatures, you can hike and bike during the colder season. With small towns which bustle all-year long, which makes fall a great time to discover. Venture through mid-September through early October to find a peak golden season you’ll never forget.
For an up-close look at fall foliage, bike and cruise to Glacier National Park’s Going-to-the-Sun Road. Enjoy an adventure off-the-beaten-path by driving through the Looking Glass Highway. At this point, you can enjoy a beautiful view into the Two Medicine Valley, with a stop at the Polebridge Mercantile.
If you choose to lodge inside Glacier National Park mid to late September, it’s surrounded with plenty of lodging options and communities visiting for the beautiful fall season. For an even more relaxing vibe, head to Missoula – Montana’s second-largest community and fall hot spot. This valley offers easy access to the Blue Mountain Recreation Area for hiking and biking experiences. This is known for its impressive fall appearance. But for a stunning view of the best fall foliage colours in the city, ensure you trek up to the ‘M’ on the face of Mount Sentinel.
6. Moosehead Lake - Maine
Most people visit Moosehead Lake for two reasons – hiking and fall foliage. However, fall isn’t the only season to visit, but it’s definitely one of the best and enhances its beautiful features. Many great things to do outdoors, there are plenty of activities to try with family, friends or on your own. The Moosehead Pinnacle Pursuit is a hiking challenge which peaks six mountains in the area. These are challenging, but the beautiful views at the top make it well worth it. If you hike during the peaks in winter, it’s extra challenging which some people enjoy more than others. It actually makes an excellent way to keep fit whilst on vacation.
Make sure you keep your eyes peeled for moose, as there are around 70,000 in the state of Maine. Therefore, there’s a high change of you seeing one. If driving at night, ensure you’re careful and observant because moose are tall so you can’t easily see them with a headlight reflection. During fall and winter, it’s easier to see the moose on drives because the trees are bare. There aren’t any Christmas trees in the area because the moose eat the earth. But, it’s a great time of the year to spot them and capture a close-up.
Without a doubt, Moosehead Lake will please your fall foliage dreams. There’s a small window of time when the fall leaves are the most colourful and blazing with a mixture of red, orange, yellow and purple shades. If you arrive to the area early, you’ll witness a lot of green mixed in with these colours. During the later season, the leaves begin turning a drab brown and hang on by a thread before they flutter to the ground.
7. Columbia River Gorge – Oregon
Columbia River Gorge in Oregon is another of the best fall foliage spots for numerous reasons. Admittedly, it’s also a beautiful place to visit during the summer season too, but fall is definitely when its beauty radiates. The high gorge walls were carved during the ice age, and you can see these for a spectacular sighting. The Missoula Floods pushed through the canyon and stripped and steepened the walls to leave layers of volcanic rock. This left behind creeks which fed the river and emptied over high and jagged cliffs to create a spectacular waterfall.
For thousands of years, this has attracted tourists from around the world to witness its dramatic ways and some of the best fall foliage. You can explore those beautiful waterfalls via hiking trails or by car. However, we recommend embarking on both options because there are so many different angles to explore during fall.
With evergreen forests, you can easily hunt for fall colours whilst you’re looking for leaves to drop. The forests and areas hold many surprises, especially if you follow the rivers where many of these trees thrive. Take a fall drive to Columbia River Gorge (which is just outside of Portland), with beautiful fall colours from all different types of nature. These fall colours frame the numerous waterfalls in the area for incredible views and vibes. If you’re looking enough, you’ll even get to experience snow-capped mountains. Overall, it’s an awe-inspiring place to visit which will leave you with beautiful memories for the rest of your life.
8. Adirondacks – New York
For the best fall foliage, we highly recommend the Adirondacks in New York. This region offers an array of red, oranges and yellows, and you can watch the seasons change right before your eyes. This region is one of the most beautiful places to visit during the fall season. It provides an exceptional experience for couples, hikers and naturists. Filled with diverse dining options, natural attractions and rich history, there are plenty of things to do and see in the Adirondacks. Everyone who spends time here during fall embarks in leaf peeping. The Adirondack Mountains offer breath-taking vistas during fall. If you’re hoping for a scenic hike to the top of a mountain, or relaxing ride across a lake, you’re constantly surrounded by awe-inspiring moments and views.
With vibrant colours boasting the region from September to November, it’s a peaceful and relaxing environment to be a part of. As you float high above the treetops in a hot air balloon ride, you can experience the beautiful colours in the region like never before. This enables you to get the whole experience and full perspective. This unique experience makes a romantic fall date, and is popular amongst many Americans annually.
Alternatively, come back down to earth by picking apples. Whether you’re searching for the perfect fruit off a tree or from a farmer’s market, the Adirondacks has all you need. Enjoying picking your own apples at Apple Jack’s Orchard and Rulf’s Orchard. Both are conveniently located in the Adirondack region – and within walking distance. Also, don’t overcomplicate your vacation with a fall drive. Pile into a car and roll the windows down to cruise on the roadways. Enjoy the atmosphere burning with colour and glassy lakes reflecting the leaves.
9. Shenandoah National Park - Virginia
This National Park radiates during the fall compared to other seasons. As such, it offers some of the best fall foliage you can find in the United States. October is the best time to visit these beautiful views in Virginia. The magic begins on Skyline Drive as it’s high and offers spectacular views of the fall foliage. Witness the changing colours and fresh, fall weather. Start at Skyline drive to see plenty of greens and golds along the roadway. Occasionally, you’ll see bursts of orange and red as you travel along the empty roads. Head out early in the morning for the best experience with fresh air and emptiness.
Maple trees overlook the area with stunning oranges and reds. You’ll see plenty of green in the views, with yellows and red in the mixture. This particular route is 105 miles, so you’ll need to take several stops when you’re experiencing this trip. When traffic is heavy during the leaf season, stop off and save time by picking and choosing beautiful, fall leaves.
Another way for the best fall foliage moment, head to the Shenandoah National Park for a short hike which leads to gorgeous foliage views. Thankfully, these hikes are family-friendly and not too high that it’s inappropriate for youngsters. But with steep drops and uneven gravel, it’s important that you wear proper footwear and attire. The Little Stony Man Overlook hike is less than one million. This follows a steep, rocky route but leads to a gorgeous viewpoint to make it all worthwhile. You’ll get to appreciate segments of Skyline Drive along the ridge.
Colorado is another of the best fall foliage spots in the world. There are many regions to make the most of fall in Colorado, and your options are pretty much endless. This part of the United States offers impressive views and leaves across the area. Plan a weekend getaway to numerous festivals in grand style.
Consider a fall-drive along scenic byways and embark on Colorado events calendar for unforgettable experiences and memories. Specifically, the Chile and Frijoles Festival last two days from September 21 each year. This is a great opportunity to experience the pride of Pueblo. Served smoking on a stick, it’s sprinkled in salsa and the main cuisine on offer. With live music, arts and crafts, a farmers’ market and cooking competitions, it’s one of the best places to make the most of the fall season.
Alternatively, Elk Festival is a wonderful October experience. Gather at the edge of the Rocky Mountain National Park to witness the beautifully haunting bugle of a bull elk. This unmistakable experience enables you to learn about these beasts’ behavior. Closely observe their natural habitat and participate in bugling contest. Watch performances for a real sense of community too. From October 6-7, you can enjoy the Punkin Chunkin Festival. There’s nowhere else in the world you can watch how far pumpkins can fly using catapults, cannons and other exciting ways. Pick a pumpkin and watch an exciting carving competition. Enjoy live music, face-painting, pony rides, crafts and family activities plus a range of food and beverage vendors.
What Are the Best Fall Foliage Spots You’ve Visited?
With so much beauty during the fall months, we highly recommend venturing outdoors and breathing in the fresh air and watching the leaves change colours. The above spots in the United States are filled with so much beauty and are awe-inspiring.
What are the best fall foliage spots you’ve ever visited? Let us know your favourite places or regions you’d love to visit in the comments.
Related Article: Best Fall Boots for Women to Look Stylish and Stay Comfortable