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Afternoon in Acadia national park in October, with trees aglow, and beautiful reflections in pond
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Where to see the best fall foliage in the USA

New England isn't the only leaf-peeping region. This is the best fall foliage in the USA.

Written by
Sarah Medina
&
Shoshi Parks
Contributor
Scott Snowden
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As summer inevitably begins its slow withdrawal, the best of autumn is hot on its heels and soon, some of the country's most scenic spots will turn into a spectacle of yellow, gold, orange and red.

Wait, you thought leaf-peeping was only for New Englanders? Think again. There are places all over the country 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 foliage road trip, or even just a leaf-peeping fall foliage bike ride? Grab your camera and hit the road, because this is one picturesque escape you won't forget.

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 US.

RECOMMENDED: This map predicts when fall foliage will peak in your state

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.

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.

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Aspen, CO
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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.

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.

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White Mountains, NH
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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. 

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.

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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.

Taos, NM
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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. 

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Columbia River Gorge, OR
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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.

Green Mountains, VT
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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.

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Zion National Park, UT
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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.

Bar Harbor, ME
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12. Bar Harbor, ME

When to go: Mid to late October

What you'll see: If there was ever a magnet for tourists looking for their fix of fall foliage, Bar Harbor is it. Indulge your senses and gorge heartily upon the salty sea air and the breathtaking colors of autumn. In addition, there's an abundance of interesting shops to visit downtown, plus activities like kayaking or birdwatching or even whale watching in Acadia National Park.

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Ozark National Forest, AR
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13. Ozark National Forest, AR

When to go: Mid to late October

What you'll see: Not to be confused with another entry in this list, the Ozark Mountains which lie roughly 130 miles due north, across the state line in Missouri. The Ozark National Forest offers more than 1.2 million acres of awe-inspiring scenery, which usually peaks around mid-October. Here there is no shortage of phenomenal fall hues of gold, orange, and red, set against a breathtaking backdrop of mountains, springs and rivers.

Hunter Mountain, NY
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14. Hunter Mountain, NY

When to go: The second half of October

What you'll see: The Catskills represents the first choice of getaway for just about every single New Yorker in both the city and the state and one of the very best locations to stay is the sleepy town found at the base of Hunter Mountain. Stay at the Hunter Mountain Sanctuary and gaze at the lush vegetation turning from green to gold in a gradual, gorgeous display of nature's preperation for winter.

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Eastern Shore, MD
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15. Eastern Shore, MD

When to go:Mid to late October

What you'll see: Enjoy fresh Maryland crabs then walk off that hearty lunch around Elk Neck State Park. Explore Chesapeake Bay and the Delmarva Peninsula for the very best fall foliage.

Amicalola Falls State Park, GA
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16. Amicalola Falls State Park, GA

When to go: Late September through November

What you'll see: Amicalola Falls State Park in Georgia is home to the state's tallest waterfall, at 729ft. It's visible from lots of different trails that fill the park that are also full of beautiful oak and maple trees that slowly change color, effecting the entire look and feel of the area as nature gently transforms for the coming winter months. 

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The Poconos, PA
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17. The Poconos, PA

When to go: Mid to late October

What you'll see: A popular way to take in the fall colors if you're in the Keystone State is to cruise along Route 507; up around Lake Wallenpaupack makes for a perfect location for anyone looking to relax and throw off a few work worries. A number of Top Gear-worthy roads gently twist around the Pocono Mountains so you should deliberately aim to get at least a little bit lost and really take in the natural beauty of this small part of the world. 

Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, WA
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18. Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, WA

When to go: Late September through November

What you'll see: The state of Washington arguably offers among the most lush landscapes in the whole of the US, this is Twin Peaks country after all. So, just imagine what this gorgeous, green countryside looks like as the month of October begins and fall gently takes the hand of Mother Nature. The Lake Ann / Maple Pass Loop Trail peaks around mid-October and becomes full of glorious golds and reds.

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Wisconsin Dells, WI
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19. Wisconsin Dells, WI

When to go: Late September through November

What you'll see: The fall colors of the Midwest can also be seasonally spectacular and along the Wisconsin River is a gorgeous, glacier-formed gorge called the Wisconsin Dells. Boat tours, river walks, hiking trails and sightseeing in Devil's Lake State Park are among the most popular activities, all the while being surrounded by the changing colors of the fall foliage.

Lenox, MA
Photograph: Shutterstock

20. Lenox, MA

When to go: Mid to late October

What you'll see: Let's face facts, most of the locations in this list are towards the eastern end of the country...and for very good reason. The climate and subsequent vegetation make it ideal to watch the fall colors fill the trees. And as such, there are, and inevitably will be, multiple locations in the same general area. So, just as we've mentioned fall hot spots like Cape Cod in Massachusetts, here's another one in the Old bay State: Lenox. And as you'd expect in this culture-rich part of the country, there are lots of lovely outdoor-type activities to participate in as you take in the annual visual spectacle that is fall.

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