Best Places For Fall Foliage
New England has gained a reputation as the destination for a profusion of autumn color -- residents take day trips to see the colorful leaves, and foliage cruises, bus tours, and weekend specials at local B&Bs abound. Colorado vies for destination honors in the minds of those who have witnessed the vibrant sunshine yellow of Aspen trees in the high Rockies, mainly if there's an early snowfall to cap distant peaks.
But the spectacular fall color is broader than just a handful of locations across this continent. Even in southwestern deserts or in Alaska, colorful fall scenery can be enough to take your breath away. In Hawaii, leaves on the trees might not turn to vibrant autumn shades, but the sky can have a distinctive character, and the water seems to be a different blue. And who could resist the lure of bright orange pumpkin fields under a clear blue West Texas sky? That, after all, is the essence of fall.
No matter where you live -- or where you plan to travel this fall, the seasonal panorama can be short-lived. If a sudden cold front comes through, pack up and head out for a picnic on a back road. Wherever you may be or wherever you go, resolve to enjoy the fleeting natural beauty on display all around you because the timing of the spectacle can vary considerably.
Longer nights influence when leaves begin to turn, but higher altitudes and cooler temperatures accelerate the change. Autumn color comes earlier in northern latitudes and mountainous regions. Fall foliage in the northeast tends to appear as a blanket of color across the landscape, while in other areas, it can appear more like a burst of fireworks or a sprinkling of paprika or curry on an otherwise green or brown patch of land. You might be fortunate to live in an area with distinct seasons. If not, however, just be watchful, and you're sure to be captivated by some of the changes apparent each fall.
Just try to get out to appreciate the show. Here are some suggestions:
Tourists flock to the charming Down East town of Camden throughout the year, but it has a particular appeal in the fall when there is not only colorful but also some relative quiet between summer and winter crowds. The foliage and sweeping views of the Atlantic from nearby Mount Battie are worth the trip. Camden's close to Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park if they're on your itinerary.
Michigan's Upper Peninsula
Brockway Mountain Drive on the Keweenaw Peninsula, with a gorgeous view of Lake Superior, is a particularly enchanting trip through brilliant gold and burgundy-tinged leaves, or drive the National Black River Scenic Byway. Check the Fall Color Report, which is updated weekly, and bring a camera.
Seeley Lake area of Western Montana
The yellow pine needles of the Western Larch, also known as tamarack, are unique. This ancient species, which can live to be 600 years old, masquerades as an evergreen, but its needles turn golden and fall to the ground. Winter can come here, in the Crown of the Continent region near Glacier National Park, but if you're here at the right time, it's a detour to be noticed.
Ozark Mountains between Missouri and Arkansas
There's excellent fall color in the Ozarks. Eureka Springs and Branson are nestled into these sometimes craggy mountains-filled lakes, trout-filled streams, caves and natural springs, scenic overlooks, and curving roadways. There's a lot more than foliage, and you won't be disappointed, no matter what kind you're after. No matter the season, you can enjoy mountain music, shop for antiques, meet exciting people, and enjoy the laid-back vibe of small-town life.
Georgia's Blue Ridge Mountains
If a road trip is your style, plan a visit to Georgia for fall, when the air is still warm, the skies are clear, and the foliage is spectacular. The Blue Ridge Parkway is scenic along its entire route, but the colors are particularly intense from the vantage point of Brasstown Bald, the highest natural point in the state. It's a climb to the top from the parking lot, but it's well worth it!
Yes, pumpkins qualify as a fall color! Floydada is the self-proclaimed pumpkin capital of Texas. It's nothing if not unique, and the city sponsors a "punkin festival" on the second weekend of October. It's also known for its cotton fields, so depending on the season, the plains surrounding the town can be shrouded in green, white, or orange!
If it's too late to enjoy the colorful displays this season, it's not too late to plan a fall getaway for next year. There are almost limitless opportunities to enjoy nature's seasonal shows across this vast land.