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Blueridge North Carolina, fall foliage
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Where to see the best fall foliage in the USA

Head to these top spots to see leaves turn yellow, orange and red in the best fall foliage in the USA

Written by
Sarah Medina
Shoshi Parks

Summer is coming to a close but the best of autumn is hot on its heels. Soon, some of the country's most scenic spots will turn into a spectacle of yellow, gold, orange, and red leaves and the best fall foliage in the USA will appear.

Wait, you thought leaf-peeping was only for New Englanders? Think again. There are places all over the U.S. that flourish with fall colors. In the South, you’ll find dogwood, sassafras, and maple trees in hues of gold and red through November. In the Upper Midwest, you’ll spot birch, sycamore, and tamarack trees that transform in late September and October. Even in the Pacific Northwest, the trees put on a show from mid-September through mid-October.

Our list of where to see the best fall foliage in the USA covers a lot of ground, from New Mexico to Oregon and Missouri, with plenty of surprising destinations in between. Ready for a fall getaway, or even just a leaf-peeping day trip? Grab your camera and hit the road, because this is one picturesque escape you won't forget.

RECOMMENDED: The best national forests in the United States

As you peep those leaves, some of our other favorite outdoor autumn activities will be waiting along the way. From the finest corn mazes to the best places to go apple picking, there's plenty of Americana to help you celebrate sweater weather. And for those who don't mind a little fall chill, don't forget to book a site beneath all that beautiful fall foliage at one of the best campgrounds in the U.S.

Best fall foliage in the USA

Cape Cod, MA
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1. Cape Cod, MA

When to go: Mid to late October

What you'll see: Whether you're near the shore or further inland, Cape Cod is a classic destination for leaf-peepers hoping to catch the changing seasons. Feast your eyes on black oak, white oak, and red cedar trees as they burst with fall’s gorgeous colors.

Discover the best things to do in Massachusetts

Blue Ridge Mountains, NC
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2. Blue Ridge Mountains, NC

When to go: Late September through November 

What you'll see: Stretching 469 miles between Shenandoah National Park and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Blue Ridge Parkway offers a scenic drive between North Carolina and Virginia. Once fall hits, the already stunning landscape goes the extra mile: dogwood, sassafras, and maple trees that line every curve turn into vibrant displays of yellows, oranges, and reds.

Discover the best things to do in North Carolina

Aspen, CO
Photograph: Shutterstock

3. Aspen, CO

When to go: Mid to late September 

What you'll see: If Aspen is already on your bucket list, you won’t regret visiting in the fall. The mountain town’s most vibrant season is extremely short (it only lasts from mid-September to the end of the month), but is nonetheless extraordinary as thousands of aspen trees burst with rich yellow hues.

Discover the best things to do in Colorado

Upper Peninsula, MI
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4. Upper Peninsula, MI

When to go: Late September to mid-October

What you'll see: Michigan's Upper Peninsula borders three of the Great Lakes and includes more than 4 million acres of protected forestland (do the math: that's a whole lot of foliage). Take your pick from over 20 state parks within the region where ash, aspen, beech, birch, maple, oak, sycamore, and tamarack trees pop with fall colors.

Discover the best things to do in Michigan

White Mountains, NH
Photograph: Shutterstock

5. White Mountains, NH

When to go: Early September to early October 

What you'll see: Spanning more than 800,000 acres, White Mountain National Forest encompasses some of the most natural and beautiful wildernesses in the Northeast. Come autumn, take a scenic drive along the Kancamagus Highway (Route 112) to get your fill of colorful fall leaves. 

Discover the best things to do in New Hampshire 

Shawangunk Mountains, NY
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6. Shawangunk Mountains, NY

When to go: Late September to late October 

What you'll see: 90 miles north of Manhattan, the Shawangunk Mountains Scenic Byway is an 88-mile loop in New York between Kerhonkson and New Paltz. Go for a drive and you’ll be in prime leaf-spotting terrain as you ascend into the Shawangunk Mountains, which rise more than 2,000 feet above sea level.

Discover more places to see fall foliage in New York

Ozark Mountains, MO
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7. Ozark Mountains, MO

When to go: The second half of October 

What you'll see: It’s not just the rolling mountains that make Missouri's Ozark National Forest an ultimate road trip — there are rivers, springs, canyons, and bluffs that lie just beyond every turn. Not surprisingly, the Ozarks are even more marvelous during the fall with less crowds, cooler temperatures, and a forested landscape that blazes with shades of gold and maroon.

Discover the best things to do in Missouri

Taos, NM
Photograph: Shutterstock

8. Taos, NM

When to go: Late September to early October 

What you'll see: Located at the base of the Sangre de Cristo mountains in northern New Mexico, Taos makes an ideal starting point for seeing fall foliage in a desert landscape. The easiest way to see the colors is via the Enchanted Circle Scenic Byway, a 83-mile loop lined with bright yellow and orange aspen trees. 

Discover the bes things to do in New Mexico

Columbia River Gorge, OR
Photograph: Shutterstock

9. Columbia River Gorge, OR

When to go: Mid-September to mid-October

What you'll see: The Columbia River Gorge, between Washington and Oregon, is always a gorgeous sight. But throw in fir, cottonwood, maple, ash, and pine trees that glisten and glow with golden-hued leaves? Well, you may never want to leave this mystifying riverbank.

Discover the best things to do in Oregon 

Green Mountains, VT
Photograph: Shutterstock

10. Green Mountains, VT

When to go: Early September to early October 

What you'll see: The maple, birch, and beech trees that cover Vermont’s mountainsides put on one of the most dazzling displays of fall foliage in the country. Head to the Green Mountain National Forest where you can take in the colors on a crisp hike, or take cover under the trees themselves with an extended camping trip.

Discover the best things to do in Vermont

Zion National Park, UT
Photograph: Shutterstock

11. Zion National Park, UT

When to go: Early to mid-October

What you'll see: Better known for its desert canyons and sandstone buttes, southern Utah's Zion National Park shines bright—with cooler conditions—in October as fall foliage peppers the landscape with reds and yellows. Bear witness to its short but stunning leaf-peeping season on a drive along the Mt. Carmel Highway, or on a hike among the Fremont cottonwoods.

Discover the best things to do in Utah


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