The peak season to see the leaves in all their glory varies depending on the region and the weather, so it's essential to check with local sources before you plan your trip. Some destinations, like the Smoky Mountains, have a fall foliage prediction map on their website to help you gauge your stay. As a general rule, leaves begin changing colors in late September. This phenomenon can last through early November, depending on where you are in the country. Peak times to view the leaves are the second and third week of October, before Halloween.
Whether you have already created a list of favorites to tour on your fall foliage pilgrimage or looking for new spots to enjoy the hues, we've compiled a list of some top spots with the most intense colors.
New England is known for its color in the fall, and Stowe doesn't disappoint.
Stowe offers legendary displays from early September to late October at Vermont's highest peak base. The town has received many accolades for being the number one destination for fall foliage.
White Mountain National Forest
Located in Maine, the White Mountain National Forest is a hot spot for those looking for an annual display of color. People travel all over the world to White Mountain to view the leaves. The peak time is September through October.
Leaf peeping is from mid-September to late October in Cape Cod. The best way to view the colors is to take a scenic drive along Route 6A or Old King's Highway. The Cape at Cape Cod Winery is also an excellent place to see the changing fall foliage and sample several flavors of wine.
The Lake Placid region of the Adirondack Mountains has one of the longest fall foliage exhibits in the country. It makes the area an excellent place to schedule an autumn getaway. The best time to plan a trip is from the last week in September through the last week of October. There are lots to do in the area, including fright nights, apple picking, wine tasting, and corn mazes. The Adirondacks have something for everyone.
The Catskill Mountains are in the southeastern portion of New York State. The Catskills provide the perfect backdrop for fall colors, from the tallest mountains to rolling hills. Take a hike or a scenic drive or stop at one of the farms stands for homemade cider.
It's one of the favorite and most beautiful regions in New York; Niagara Falls is surrounded by hardwoods that display golden yellow, rusty red, and burnt orange leaves. Top spots to view the colors include Niagara Falls State Park, Devil's Hole State Park, and Goat Island.
Outer Banks, North Carolina
Most known for its beautiful beaches, the Outer Banks is also home to Kitty Hawk Woods, Sandy Run Park, and Nags Head Woods. All three parks have dense hardwoods that bring a world of color to the area. To get the most out of the display, take a hike along the trails and have a picnic lunch.
Gatlinburg, where the Great Smoky Mountain National Park is located, is also a popular destination for those looking for fall colors who live in the region. Colors can be seen as early as mid-September and last through mid-October and as late as early November. The most brilliant colors come from beech, maple, hobblebush, cherry, and birch trees that dot the landscape.
Yellowstone National Park
Fall is colorful at Yellowstone National Park. Summer crowds are thinning out, and wildlife is easy to spot. America's oldest park comes alive with color from the last week in September to the first week of October. Remember that Yellowstone weather can be unpredictable, so be sure to bring snow chains or tires if you plan to peek at the fall leaves.
The Kaibab National Forest is located along the northern rim of the Grand Canyon. Aspens can be found at higher elevations, while oaks and honey locusts don't disappoint at lower altitudes. The peak fall color is the first week in October.
Breckenridge is known for its towering peaks and winter snow, but fall is the perfect time to enjoy the views and changing colors of the aspen trees. The best time to visit is early to mid-September. The city offers hiking trails and events like the Craft Spirits Festival.
Hood River, Oregon
The big leaf maple is native to Oregon. These large leaves turn gold and yellow and are easy to spot on any drive. Hood River is also home to dogwood and oak trees that display colorful palettes. Part of the Oregon Trail, Hood River also offers activities like apple picking, hiking routes, wineries, and farm stands perfect for a fall getaway.
Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, Washington
The Pacific Northwest is best known for its evergreen trees, mainly fir, cedar, and hemlock. There are a few areas, like Lake Ann and the Maple Pass Loop Trail, where colors come alive in the fall. The season peaks in mid-October when the maple trees display yellow, red, and orange colors. Lake Ann provides a beautiful backdrop for photographs.