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The Best Fall Foliage Spots in the United States

Updated on October 18, 2012

Enjoy the Autumn Fall Foliage Surroundings All Over the USA

Fall foliage, contrary to what everyone may tell you, is not just a New England thing. For most of the country there are great places to see leaf color change not too far away. While New England has been most famous for its foliage, other parts of the country have equally stunning leaf color with mountain backdrops, rock canyon vistas, lakeside scenes, or sprawling vineyards.

Intro image of fall foliage available at AllPosters.com.

Often overlooked are the southwestern states for foliage, but it's a great time to visit or view the foliage. Northern Arizona, New Mexico and and southern Utah, including the National Parks, will peak in mid-October. This means cooler temps in the desert region, making for easier hiking and the bonus of fall colors added to the already wide spectrum of red and brown canyons.

Try Arches, Zion or Canyonlands National Park in Utah, or the red rocks of Sedona. Northern Utah, western Colorado and western Wyoming will peak in early October/late September. Here you'll find the beautfiul parks of The Grand Tetons, Yellowstone, the Rocky Mountains (and Rocky Mountain National Park), and more, along with Salt Lake City and the grand views of Hells Canyon in Idaho.

What's your Favorite Place to See Fall Foliage?

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Washington, Oregon, and the inland areas of northern California, including Napa, Lake Tahoe and Yosemite National Park will peak much later, in mid-late October. Here you'll find a wide variety of colors including the intense purples and reds from Napa and Sonoma harvest, the beautiful contrast of Yosemite National Park's granite rocks and multicolored leaves, and the always fun, intriguing Lake Tahoe. Also, you'll see some color in inland Oregon and Washington.

Recommended Fall Foliage Books - Find the best fall foliage hotspots and photos!

Fall foliage is something that lurks everywhere on the east coast, in pockets and hidden spots. You can find it on a creek, near the ocean, high in the mountains, or in the center of a busy city. These books will give you an idea on where you can find these leaf peeper hot spots all across the United States.

Skip over to the midwest and you'll find more foliage in mid-October in the states of Iowa, southern Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

The Appalachian Trail is beautiful and worth the ride, you'll see gorges, orchards, scenic trails, and mountains...this part runs along West Virginia and features several large parks and scenic areas.

National Parks--Which Ones? - National Parks in the USA that are perfect for fall foliage

Which national parks would you visit for fall foliage?

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The Northern Midwest, the Great Lakes Region, peaks in early October. This includes Wisconsin, northern Minnesota, the northern Michigan peninsula, and northern Michigan. The Great Lakes area has some awe-inspiring water views, lighthouses, rocky cliffs, sand dunes and pine forests.

A visit to Sleeping Bear Dunes in Michigan or Pictured Rocks National Seashore will greet you with beatuful contrast of the sienna grass against the rocks and light blue autumn skies.

Higher Elevations

often peak before lower ones. If you're headed near any mountains, you'll notice the base is much more green in the early fall than the top.

If you're looking for a long, relaxing, yet utterly breathtaking drive to see fall colors, there is no drive better known than the Blue Ridge Parkway. This road traverses the mountainous border between Tennessee and North Carolina, and covers a majestic 469 miles. That's more miles than driving from Boston to Washington D.C.!

The Blue Ridge Parkway also has the benefit of being a late bloomer in fall color, peaking in mid to late October. That's a few weeks beyond the peak times of the northeast, so you can space out your journey from your recent summer vacations.

The main purpose of the Parkway is to connect Shenandoah National Park and Great Smoky Mountain National Park, and offers gorgeous in late October. Along the route and nearby, you'll find small towns like Blowing Rock Brevard, and Asheville.

Above: Linville Gorge, North Carolina, near the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Northern Georgia, Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi and South Carolina won't peak until early November, just before Thanksgiving! There's still plenty of foliage down south.

Most of Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, and North Carolina will peak in late October. However, the Appalachian area will peak a few weaks earlier in early-mid October. The Blue Ridge Parkway and the Smoky Mountains are a favorite area for fall foliage, with the breathtaking mountain views, rolling autumn fog, and countryside appeal. Visit Smoky Mountain National Park for the ultimate experience.

Peak Foliage Times

Peak foliage times vary yearly, and often vary greatly within short distances. A town 20 miles from where you are may be experiencing its peak, while the town you are in may be fully green. Check the foliage finder here.

Foliage Links for the Southern States

It's just not true that foliage can only be seen in the northeastern states of the USA. Great fall color can be seen throughout the country, from Northern California to the Western Carolinas, even into Georgia! Below are some great spots for leaf peeping in the South, including one of the best in the country, the Great Smoky Mountains.

Where Foliage Isn't...

You won't find much foliage in Florida, parts of Texas, most of Southern California, Lousiana, Southern Arizona, Southern New Mexico, and along the coast of the the Carolinas, along with the Badlands stretch of the Dakotas.

Mount Monadnock, NH in October

Mount Monadnock, NH in October
Mount Monadnock, NH in October

Finally, the Northeast will peak in early October for the most part. New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island, southern New York (including New York City and Central Park), and southern Massachusetts will peak in late October. Northern New England peaks in late September through early October.

The city will offer great views, like Manhattan's Central Park, or visit Long Island for a fall experience including pumpkin patches, coastal retreats and sandy beaches.

Connecticut will offer beautiful rolling hills along the Connecticut River Valley, and Rhode Island's rocky coast will provide stark difference to the inland foliage.

The Blue Hills of Massachusetts offer grand views of the city of Boston and hillside walks. This area will peak in late October, along with most of the rest of coastal Massachusetts.

The Hudson River Valley of New York and the Berkshire Mountains of Western Massachusetts will peak in mid-October. These areas offer unmatched riverside viewpoints, brilliant foliage, rough rock-filled mountains and quaint village towns. Camping, hiking, fishing, and shopping will be abundant. Be sure to bring your camera!

Upstate New York, southern Vermont, southern New Hampshire and most of Maine will exhibit peak foliage color in early October. The Green Mountains of Vermont and the White Mountain region of New Hampshire are argued as the best in the country in terms of fall leaf color display.

Small towns along the ride in Vermont and New Hampshire will give you the ultimate autumn experience. Try taking a ski-lift up the mountains in middle Vermont, and you'll see babbling brooks, white birch with fire-intensity oranges and yellows against the tall pines. Maine as well, will offer unparalleled vistas of the coastline paired with the foliage, however it might be more intense inland. Northern Vermont and New Hampshire will peak earlier, in the last week or so of September.

Foliage on Mt. Killington, Vermont

Foliage on Mt. Killington, Vermont
Foliage on Mt. Killington, Vermont

One of the Best Times of Year for Photography

One of the Best Times of Year for Photography
One of the Best Times of Year for Photography

Where have you been lately that the foliage was outstanding? Share it with the world here!

Don't risk not having a room reserved for you. Buy a timeshare at a discount and you can save a load of money every year and be guaranteed a place to stay!

Have you seen some great foliage lately?

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    • profile image

      MarcellaCarlton 4 years ago

      My favorite place to enjoy the fall colors is my garden. It turns so beautiful just before everything collapses and goes to sleep for the winter. Beautiful! Nice lens.

    • Rishi7 profile image

      Rishi7 4 years ago

      seldom have i seen any lens more beautiful than this...

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      I think you've done a very good job at giving a countr roundabout. I've been to many of these places and indeed they are beautiful!

    • DiscoverWithAndy profile image

      DiscoverWithAndy 4 years ago

      This is a really fun lens! I'm here in Southern Wisconsin and our leaves have been changing for a few weeks now. But it has been fantastic driving around and exploring which places have the best colors. Can't wait to take this outside of the state and see other states with their fall colors! :)

    • CreativeExpress profile image

      CreativeExpress 4 years ago

      Awesome! Awesome! Awesome lens! There's nothing better than taking a fall scenic drive and you've created a thorough resource. Nice job!

    • profile image

      TravelAroundSpain 4 years ago

      this is a paradise for picture lovers, thanks!

    • spids1 profile image

      spids1 4 years ago

      great lens love this!

    • JuneNash profile image

      June Nash 4 years ago

      Colors here in southern Michigan are just starting to change. Looking forward to the autumn. It is my favorite season!

    • GregoryMoore profile image

      Gregory Moore 4 years ago from Louisville, KY

      Brown County Indiana is a great place to go see fall foliage for those of us around the Mason-Dixon line! They are known to draw people in from all around this time of year. Great lens, beautiful pictures. I am definitely looking forward to Fall!

    • justDawn1 profile image

      justDawn1 4 years ago

      Great lens! :)

    • WebMarketingPro profile image

      WebMarketingPro 4 years ago

      Wow, this is a gorgeous lens! I too am going to come back to enjoy it again.

      Thanks!

    • profile image

      thor17 4 years ago

      Nice lens, great photos!

    • Jillynn profile image

      Jillynn 4 years ago

      Great lens. I am from the southwest. Driving through Pennsylvania a few years ago in the fall was one of the most spectacular experiences I have ever had.

    • Elsie Hagley profile image

      Elsie Hagley 4 years ago from New Zealand

      Nice lens. Beautiful photos. Enjoyed my stroll around America in the fall. Thanks for sharing. Blessed.

    • KarenHC profile image

      Karen 4 years ago from U.S.

      We live in Michigan, which is usually a great place for fall foliage, but because of the excessive heat and lack of rain we had during the summer, our maple trees are stressed, and showing more dried brown coloration than colorful reds and oranges. I hope next year will be better.

    • bossypants profile image

      bossypants 4 years ago from America's Dairyland

      We're having an earlier than usual fall foliage peak due to the drought. :( But, we still have some of the best around, here in Wisconsin!

      Enjoyed the photos and resources in your lens. Autumn is the best!

    • amandascloset0 profile image

      amandascloset0 4 years ago

      I grew up in the mountains of Kentucky, in the most South Eastern portion of the state where the highest peaks are. From any window or front porch the picture looked like fall painting rather than a simple window. I live further north now and not so much in the mountains but fall to me will always be the beautiful display of colors on the mountainside. I still love to make the drive home during the fall. It's the only time of year I don't mind the drive.

    • bwet profile image

      bwet 4 years ago

      Very beautiful looking lens! I would definitely start with the SouthWest first....

    • designsbyharriet profile image

      Harriet 4 years ago from Indiana

      Beautiful. Blessed.

    • faulco blogger85 profile image

      faulco blogger85 4 years ago

      great lens! i love autumn/fall :-)

    • JackNimble profile image

      JackNimble 4 years ago

      Awesome Lens! Thanks for sharing such beautiful pictures. I will never forget traveling to Grandfather Mountain in North Carolina in the fall. It was amazing. Now I know quite a few other cool places to visit thanks to you!

    • profile image

      LuxuryAdventureTravel 4 years ago

      I Love the Blue Ridge Parkway - I try to make that drive each year. Thanks for sharing.

    • profile image

      inspirationz 4 years ago

      #8 on here is *amazing*! And how awesome it's for such a pretty lens that spreads knowledge about the beauty in the world :)

    • profile image

      slotowngal 4 years ago

      Wonderful lens! Can't wait until the color starts again this fall...

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Wow, nice to come back and see this lens at #8 over-all, it is beautiful! - I refreshed my blessing, posted to FaceBook and Google+ for my friends. - Hope you will have a lovely fall season. :)

    • Kiwisoutback profile image
      Author

      Kiwisoutback 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      @anonymous: Thanks Tipi! #8 is my all time high here on Squidoo. I'm hoping it goes even higher, but I'm happy with #8 if not. Thanks for stopping by!

    • Deadicated LM profile image

      Deadicated LM 4 years ago

      Cool Lens about my favorite time of year.

    • profile image

      Zienna1 4 years ago

      Yes, just right here in our backyard. We're surrounded with Japanese Maple,Trident Maple that are really great fall foliage. A lot of people come down to our area to photograph them all. Great lens! Thanks for sharing it.

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      user47 4 years ago

      These are some amazing places! I would love to see them all.

    • profile image

      Gail47 4 years ago

      I currently live in the midwest and we had great folage last fall. Looking forward to this fall season!

    • profile image

      RocklawnArts 4 years ago

      Not in a while. Last year most of the leaves were blown off before they could change color.

    • Asinka profile image

      Asinka Fields 4 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      I live in New England and it has some awesome Fall colors! Great lens :)

    • profile image

      DebMartin 4 years ago

      Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is my favorite fall foliage hike.

    • BelleBanks profile image

      BelleBanks 4 years ago

      I'm in the Midwest and we have some really pretty fall foliage, but I would love to get to the New England area one day.

    • BLemley profile image

      Beverly Lemley 4 years ago from Raleigh, NC

      Blue Ridge Parkway! B " )

    • Toddw35 profile image

      Toddw35 4 years ago

      For me, nothing tops Vermont foliage. With the crisp mountain hair, dense trees, and just the majesty of the state, you can't beat the bright foliage when the time comes. Go to the Manchester, Vermont area in October. You'll love it!!!

    • profile image

      vaigavenugopal 4 years ago

      midwest and the south looks awesome..i wish i can visit the place..:)

    • SheGetsCreative profile image

      Angela F 4 years ago from Seattle, WA

      I've only see fall foliage in AZ, CA, OR and WA. Someday I hope to make it to New England. *lovely photos here!

    • profile image

      NewUsedCarsSacramento 4 years ago

      Wonderful places. I remember my last visit to Pacific Northwest & California, the experience was just awesome!

    • lesliesinclair profile image

      lesliesinclair 4 years ago

      I'd like to visit all of these sites.

    • Gypzeerose profile image

      Rose Jones 4 years ago

      Just gorgeous. I really want to go back to New England. Blessed.

    • Margaret Schindel profile image

      Margaret Schindel 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      I adore fall foliage and I'm lucky enough to live in New England, where we get some fabulous color displays! I've blessed this excellent lens.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      I have a Japanese Red Maple in my front yard along with lots more trees, so I just look out my window.

    • Jefff Molnar profile image

      Jeff Molnar 4 years ago from New Jersey

      Parts of Northern New Jersey have great fall foliage. Blessed!

    • flinnie lm profile image

      Gloria Freeman 4 years ago from Alabama USA

      Love the fall color.

    • JackieBlock profile image

      Jackie Block 4 years ago from SE Michigan

      I'm from Michigan, and I can't wait until the colors arrive. It is the most beautiful time of year!

    • Paula Atwell profile image

      Paula Atwell 4 years ago from Cleveland, OH

      I was just thinking that this would be a good time of year for a weekend away with my husband. Your article is inspiring. :)

    • JoyfulReviewer profile image

      JoyfulReviewer 4 years ago

      Great pics displaying such beauty in nature. Thanks for compiling this really nice resource. ~~Blessed~~

    • profile image

      aquarian_insight 4 years ago

      Fall (or Autumn as we call it over here in the UK) is my favourite time of the year. Even living in London, there is some beautiful foliage to be seen. A beautiful lens - thank you!

    • jlshernandez profile image

      jlshernandez 4 years ago

      New England fall colors are magnificent.

    • KayeSI profile image

      KayeSI 4 years ago

      Very interesting! And such gorgeous fall pix! Thank you.

    • RawBill1 profile image

      Bill 4 years ago from Gold Coast, Australia

      Thanks for the advice on where to go and when. I have been to a few of these places before but only in winter and spring, never autumn.

    • Gayle Dowell profile image

      Gayle Dowell 4 years ago from Kansas

      I'm really excited to start seeing some of the colorful foliage here in the midwest. I just hope the drought doesn't affect the color negatively. Blessed~

    • Country-Sunshine profile image

      Country Sunshine 4 years ago from Texas

      Beautiful pictures!

    • profile image

      fullofshoes 4 years ago

      I'm biased toward New England ...of course...I was born and raised here and love every change of season... the leaves are just starting to turn at the tips. ~blessed~

    • favored profile image

      Fay Favored 4 years ago from USA

      Not yet this season, but it's not far behind us.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      Beautiful pictures! Blessed by a Squid Angel!

    • profile image

      happynutritionist 4 years ago

      Back to bless this one, it's still linked to my colorful fall foliage in new jersey page. I hope you have a beautiful fall.

    • suzy-t profile image

      suzy-t 4 years ago

      Wonderful lens. I love going for a drive on a fall weekend and marvelling at the beautiful colors here in the northeast. Blessed and pinned to my SquidAngel board.

    • montanatravel52 profile image

      montanatravel52 4 years ago

      Really enjoyed readin this, great idea! I really like not only your pictures, but also also the useful links and unique info!

    • caketech profile image

      caketech 4 years ago

      Angel Blessings to you! I love the Smoky Mountains in the fall, but I live near the Tennessee River Valley which is surrounded by mountains, and it is gorgeous here too! The Tennessee Aquarium offers a wonderful cruise on the River Gorge Explorer to view the wonderful fall colors.

    • profile image

      AlleyCatLane 4 years ago

      Wow! I wish I could visit all these spots. Great lens with lots of helpful information for fall foiliage seekers. Blessed.

    • Rankography profile image

      Rankography 4 years ago

      Outstanding lens with a great guide for Fall Foliage fans. Blessings

    • Rangoon House profile image

      AJ 4 years ago from Australia

      I do think the Northeast fall is supreme, but you do tempt me to broaden my horizons. The Midwest is also very beautiful. Blessings.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Great lens on fall foliage. *blessed*

    • profile image

      WinWriter 4 years ago

      Your pictures are so pretty. *Blessed *

    • mbgphoto profile image

      Mary Beth Granger 4 years ago from O'Fallon, Missouri, USA

      Stopped by to give a blessing to this beautiful lens.

    • Cari Kay 11 profile image

      Kay 4 years ago

      You have some beautiful images. I loved driving over the Cascades in the fall. The foliage was just beautiful! Blessed!

    • profile image

      bskcom 5 years ago

      Love the photos and the overall creativeness of your Lens!

    • CanadaRed LM profile image

      CanadaRed LM 5 years ago

      Beautiful images! I've always wanted to see the smokey mountains.

    • Northwestphotos profile image

      Northwestphotos 5 years ago

      Here's a little secret. A good place to visit fall foliage is at a local cultural garden, such as a Japanese Garden. The Japanese Red Maple trees are unprecedented in their flaming, red colors!

    • TransplantedSoul profile image

      TransplantedSoul 5 years ago

      Not just for New England - but my favourite place (next to Canada eh) is Vermont.

    • BoyScoutPopcorn profile image

      BoyScoutPopcorn 5 years ago

      Great pics! Suggestions... Perhaps you should rename the segment titled "Pacific Northwest & California" to something like "Northern California". Other than naming Washington and Oregon, you spent the entire segment detailing the NorCal region. Maybe a segment on the Mid-Atlantic states would be a good addition. The whole VA/MD/PA/WV region is AWESOME in the fall. And I'm not sure I'd put the Appalachian Trail in the Midwest. That's definitely an Eastern trail.

    • CamperVanRental1 profile image

      CamperVanRental1 5 years ago

      great autumn lens you have there, definitely planning an autumn roadtrip in the usa sometime soon!

    • BestToysReviews profile image

      BestToysReviews 5 years ago

      Simply beautiful color mixes! I don't think I have seen such beauties

    • firstcookbooklady profile image

      Char Milbrett 5 years ago from Minnesota

      I live in Minnesota... and the North Shore Drive is wonderful in the fall months.. along Lake Superior, from Duluth to Canada.

    • profile image

      Lindrus 5 years ago

      Thank you for this beautiful lens!

    • profile image

      Tabooni 5 years ago

      Awesome lens

    • jackieb99 profile image

      jackieb99 5 years ago

      I would love to check out some of these spots!

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      mockingbird999 5 years ago

      You've got some beautiful pictures here.

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      air-ticket-travel-deals 5 years ago

      the most detailed lens I've read so far ;)

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      nice and easy reading and viewing, pretty and beautiful and therefore you got a 'thumbs up' from this reader.

    • juliannegentile profile image

      Julianne Gentile 5 years ago from Cleveland, Ohio, US

      It's beautiful here in Ohio, but I would love to go on a fall foliage tour in another part of the country. This is a wonderful resource. Thanks for putting this together.

    • profile image

      Lindrus 5 years ago

      What a beautiful lens - love the photos! It reminds me of the scenery around Ottawa Ontario right around this time in October...

    • CreativeExpress profile image

      CreativeExpress 5 years ago

      Wonderful lens full of great fall places to explore!

    • Phillyfreeze profile image

      Ronald Tucker 5 years ago from Louisville, Kentucky

      My community has a system of public parks designed by Fredrick Law Olmsted and during the fall the foliage burst with colors of orange, yellow, crimson, brown, tan. Thanks for adding the Foliage Map!

    • kerbev profile image

      kab 5 years ago from Upstate, NY

      The most beautiful place I've been for foliage is Arlington VT, near where Norman Rockwell lived. In the valley of the mountains at a curve you are surrounded by colorful wooded mountains on all four sides. It is absolutely gorgeous.

    • monarch13 profile image

      monarch13 5 years ago

      I miss the fall here in Arizona! Blessed!

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      I have always wanted to visit New England in the fall...still haven't made it. It's on my bucket list. You have some beautiful photos here.

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      CreativeArtDesigns 5 years ago

      Great Lens! You need to also add Yosemite National Park to the survey. Very nice in the fall.

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      I live in northern illinois and are fall can get so pretty right now the trees are almost past there peak bt we have trees that are a vibrant and popping ornage and prple i love rideing my bike in the wind with the leaves blowing every where and its cold! i LOVE IT

    • squid-pinkchic18 profile image

      squid-pinkchic18 5 years ago

      This was such a beautiful lens! Fall is one of my top favorite seasons, it's so pretty with all the trees and leaves. Blessed by a squid angel!

    • privresearch profile image

      privresearch 5 years ago

      I wish i can start packing!

    • CherylsArt profile image

      Cheryl Paton 5 years ago from West Virginia

      Lovely lens. Some maps include West Virginia as part of the Northeast.

    • Diana Wenzel profile image

      Renaissance Woman 5 years ago from Colorado

      I love to take fall color treks. I've seen some spectacular foliage in New England, the Smoky Mountains, the Midwest, and in the Rocky Mountains. Beauty is everywhere if we have eyes to see it. Thanks for these resources. Appreciated!

    • bikerministry profile image

      bikerministry 5 years ago

      Southern Indiana with it's state forests and rolling hills is beautiful - give it about 10 more days. This is a great lens, thank you for all the charts and photos. Very informative. Blessings.

    • TheWritingnag profile image

      Writing Nag 5 years ago from Colorado Springs, Colorado

      Independence Pass from Aspen, Colorado east. Just gorgeous!

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      RinchenChodron 5 years ago

      I live in Colorful Colorado and we have a wonderful fall season in the high country.

    • bhthanks profile image

      bhthanks 5 years ago

      The Fall Flowers are beautiful

    • JK Sterling profile image

      Jim Sterling 5 years ago from Franklin, Tennessee

      Beautiful lens, thank you.