Fall is one of the best times of the year to travel. The leaves are all different colors, the smell of pine is heavy in the autumn air and you can take SO many worthy Instagram pictures in your new boots. When you think of the best places to see fall foliage you might think Massachusetts and Vermont but there are many more places across the US that deliver the best views.
Peak fall foliage 2023 is at the top of my Google searches. I’m ready to say goodbye to the warmth of summer and welcome crisp, fall air. Whether it’s a weekend getaway in a city close by or part of an extended trip with your best gals, a classic leaf-peeping is the perfect antidote after the chaos of the back-to-school season. Plus, if you’re going on a family trip, can you imagine how adorable your little one will look kicking up a leaf storm in mini boots?
Here are the best destinations to take in peak fall foliage
1. Taos, New Mexico
Vibrant yellows, oranges and red await in Taos. You’ll have the desert landscape as a backdrop and beautiful aspens all around. The Enchanted Circle Scenic Byway, a 83-mile loop lined with bright yellow and orange aspen trees, is the most popular place to take it all in.
When to go: Late September to early October
2. Columbia River Gorge, Oregon
Take in the beautiful fall foliage with a hike, bike or even a boat ride. Nestled between Washington and Oregon, you’ll get the best view of the riverbank along with the surrounding gorgeous maple, ash and pine trees.
When to go: Mid-September to mid-October
3. Bar Harbor, Maine
What’s not to love about salty sea air and one of the best places to see fall foliage? Bar Harbor sports a picturesque downtown filled with lovely shops. You can catch the leaves kayaking or walking the trails at Acadia National Park.
When to go: Mid-to-late October
4. Shenandoah National Park, Virginia
Skyline Drive is the picturesque 105-mile road that runs the length of Shenandoah National Park and the best place to be get some major leaf-peeping action. There are about 500 miles of trails, so you can turn off the main road and let the serenity of the park bring you calm.
When to go: Early October for higher elevations and late October for lower elevations
5. French Lick West Baden, Indiana
This southern Indiana resort community lies in the middle of Hoosier National Forest. Take a train ride through the forest on the French Lick Scenic Railway or take in the foliage with some horseback riding or hiking.
When to go: Mid to late October
6. Stowe, Vermont
There’s a reason why Stowe is better known as, “Fall’s Color Capital.” Take a scenic drive along the Mount Mansfield Auto Toll Road or get a closer look at the fall foliage with a hike.
When to go: September to mid-October
7. Bretton Woods, New Hampshire
Set in the White Mountains, Bretton Woods boasts all of the traditional fall colors, red, orange and yellow. If you’re lucky you might even see some purples! The mountains look absolutely beautiful whether you take a gondola ride high up, a carriage ride or even hitch a ride on the Mount Washington Cog Railway.
When to go: Mid-September to late October
8. Tunnel of Trees, Upper Peninsula of Michigan
This 20-mile scenic route features golds, oranges and crimsons. Make a stop at the waterfront resort town of Harbor Springs and grab a ride on the Heather Express chairlift to the top of the mountain for amazing views.
When to go: Late September to mid-October
9. Denali National Park & Preserve, Alaska
Travel through the six-million-acre Denali National Park for epic views. Weather conditions can change rapidly here but the wildlife sightings and riotous colors make the trip worth it. You might even catch the Northern Lights.
When to go: Late August to early September
10. Aspen, Colorado
Aspen might be known for skiing but it’s also one of the best places to see fall foliage. The trees turn a beautiful yellow-gold that can’t be missed. Don’t forget to stop at the Maroon Bells for scenic trails you won’t forget.
When to go: September to early August