These are the best US fall foliage getaways for your next trip
Every autumn, nature transforms the American landscape into a canvas of reds, oranges, yellows, and greens. This annual fall foliage spectacle draws travelers from across the United States and beyond to immerse themselves in the kaleidoscope of colors.
Here, we explore each region’s top spots to visit that make autumn in the United States an unforgettable experience. Whether you seek scenic drives, adventurous hikes, cultural immersions, or culinary delights, there’s a fall destination for you. So, pack your bags, grab your camera, and get ready to witness the beauty of fall foliage in the United States.
The Green Mountain State is a fall paradise with its iconic sugar maples. Drive down the scenic Route 100, known as “Vermont’s Main Street,” for not only picturesque foliage but also charming towns with historic bridges and steeples such as Stowe, Waterbury, and Waitsfield for the quintessential New England autumn experience. For something a little more unique, consider a hot air balloon ride over the hills to get a bird’s-eye view of the fall colors. Vermont’s maple syrup industry also comes alive this time of the year so you can visit sugarhouses and sample fresh maple syrup.
The White Mountains in New Hampshire offer stunning vistas, especially along the Kancamagus Highway, often referred to as “The Kanc.” As you wind through the mountainous terrain, you’ll be treated to panoramic views of the colorful valleys below. Don’t miss Franconia Notch State Park, home to the dramatic Flume Gorge and the iconic Old Man of the Mountain profile. The park’s hiking trails provide an opportunity to immerse yourself in the autumn scenery up close. New Hampshire is also known for its fall festivals, including the annual Sandwich Fair, where you can enjoy local crafts, food, and entertainment.
Acadia National Park in Maine transforms into a sea of colors, both along the coastline and inland. Hike the Jordan Pond Path for breathtaking views of the pond surrounded by mountains covered in vibrant foliage. For a different perspective, consider a boat tour around Frenchman Bay to see the coastal foliage blending with the pristine waters. Maine’s coastal communities, such as Bar Harbor and Camden, are known for their fresh seafood so don’t forget to savor a classic lobster roll, too.
Glen Falls, New York
Nestled in the Adirondack Mountains, Glen Falls is a serene fall getaway with a touch of wilderness. As the foliage paints the landscape with vibrant hues, the scenic byway takes you on a journey through the heart of the Adirondacks. You’ll encounter waterfalls, lakes, and forests gleaming in autumn colors. A short drive away is Lake George where you can go on boat cruises and hikes or just chill at the charming lakeside spots.
Sedona’s red rock formations provide a striking backdrop for fall foliage. Look no further than Oak Creek Canyon for such colorful displays then drive along Schnebly Hill Road to reach Mogollon Rim. Sedona’s vibrant arts scene means you can also combine your leaf peeping with visits to galleries and art shops. To fully immerse yourself in the natural beauty, embark on one of Sedona’s hiking trails, such as West Fork Oak Creek Trail where you can appreciate the foliage up close while crossing pretty streams.
Santa Fe, New Mexico
The high desert of Santa Fe is adorned with golden aspens during the fall. Hit the road and visit Santa Fe National Forest, the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, and the Santa Fe Botanical Garden, where you can find native plants and fall foliage in a tranquil setting. Santa Fe’s rich cultural heritage also means you can explore historic sites and enjoy authentic Southwestern cuisine during your visit.
Golden aspens literally blanket the town of Aspen. Make your way to Independence Pass for epic mountain views framed by golden leaves. The shimmering Maroon Bells, two iconic 14,000-foot peaks, is a must-visit spot for fall photography. Additionally, Aspen hosts the annual Aspen Film Festival during the season, combining your leaf peeping with a cinematic experience. After a day of exploration, head to the historic downtown area to find boutiques, art galleries, and gourmet restaurants.
Yosemite National Park, California
Yosemite’s waterfalls, granite cliffs, and lush valleys provide a stunning backdrop to the autumn leaves. An unmissable highlight is the Yosemite Valley floor to see iconic granite formations like El Capitan and Half Dome. Bridalveil Fall, Yosemite Falls, and Vernal Fall are especially captivating during this season. The park offers a variety of hiking trails that allow you to explore different areas of the park and discover hidden pockets of fall foliage. Yosemite Valley is home to the iconic The Ahwahnee hotel, too where you can enjoy a meal with a view of Half Dome while surrounded by fall colors.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina/Tennessee
Straddling North Carolina and Tennessee, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park pops with its foliage of fiery reds and oranges. Take a scenic drive on Newfound Gap Road, which cuts through the park and offers overlooks for leaf peeping, or climb the Clingmans Dome Observation Tower for 360-degree views of the landscape. Keep an eye out for black bears and white-tailed deers during your visit, too.
Blue Ridge Parkway, Virginia/North Carolina
Known as “America’s Favorite Drive,” the Blue Ridge Parkway offers unparalleled vistas of the Appalachian Mountains. Drive along this scenic highway and stop at various stops to take in the breathtaking views. The parkway is famous for its tunnels of flaming foliage, which make it a paradise for photographers. Along the way, explore visitor centers and hiking trails, or participate in ranger-led programs to enhance your fall experience.
Door County, Wisconsin
Door County in Wisconsin is an attractive fall destination for its charming villages and waterfront views. The peninsula is surrounded by Lake Michigan, creating a rustic retreat. Take a fall trolley tour to explore the landscape and learn about the history of the area. The quaint town of Ephraim is particularly known for its beautiful sunsets over Eagle Harbor.
Upper Peninsula, Michigan
The Upper Peninsula of Michigan boasts dense forests that create a lively autumn tapestry. Visit Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore where the colorful leaves contrast beautifully with the deep blue waters of Lake Superior. Hiking trails like Chapel Loop and Miners Falls Trail offer unique perspectives of the fall scenery.