It’s Not Too Late! Best Places to See Fall Foliage Across America

Following the recent autumnal equinox, which signifies the first day of fall, temperatures in most of the country have started to drop. The air seems fresher, pumpkins are on display at the market, scarves are being dug out of closets, and the leaves on the trees are making their annual transformation from glowing green to a rainbow of reds, oranges, and yellows. The wave of changing color is crossing the continent.

Whether you are looking to experience the fall foliage in your own backyard or you want to travel farther afield to appreciate the seasonal beauty, Yahoo Travel has put together a list of the best places across the nation to experience this annual wonder.

Aspen, Colo.


Photo: iStock

Best time to go: Now!

While the upmarket mountain town of Aspen is well-known for its world-class skiing, the region truly comes alive before the snow even arrives. The town was named after the aspen tree, which, starting early in the season, transforms into a gleaming golden color. Hiking and mountain biking the area’s peaks will provide some incredible vantage points.

Related: Ski Towns Where the Fall Foliage Is Almost Better Than the Snow

Big Bear, Calif.


Photo: The Decipher/Flickr

Best time to go: Late October through November

Just a short drive (one and a half hours) from Los Angeles, nestled high in the San Bernardino Mountains, is Big Bear Lake, a stunning expanse of deep blue water surrounded by picturesque mountain peaks. The area is a popular year-round destination, with up to 100,000 visitors in any one weekend during peak season. Known for its skiing in winter and its hiking or mountain biking in summer, it is also home to one of the state’s most beautiful displays of fall foliage. Beginning in late October and continuing through November, acres of aspens, maples, oaks, and cottonwoods break up the sea of evergreens with vibrant rust and bright golden colors.

Acadia National Park, Maine


Photo: R’lyeh Imaging/Flickr

Best time to go: Mid-October

One of the most popular fall foliage viewing places on the planet, Acadia National Park in Maine sees visitors from all over the world. Thousands of acres of forested land hit peak colors at the same time, blanketing the state in dynamic and fiery hues. Visitors can hike, kayak, or even take an ATV tour through the 47,000 acre park with the chance of seeing moose, bears, whales, and birds of prey as well as the spectacular color show.

Adirondacks, N.Y.


Photo: heipei/Flickr

Best time to go: Mid-October

The heavily forested Adirondacks are crisscrossed by 12 scenic byways, making the viewing of these picturesque rolling hills incredibly easy. Starting in mid-October —and slightly later around the lakes — oaks, maples, birch, and beech trees explode in dark reds and oranges, dotted among rich evergreens. If you get there in the early part of the season, many of the higher hiking trails will still be accessible and provide some excellent vistas. Alternatively, take a ride on the scenic steam railroad for a more leisurely viewing opportunity.

The Ozarks, Ark. and Mo.


Photo: OakleyOriginals/Flickr

Best time to go: Early November

The stunning Ozark Mountains, which spread out across the southern part of Missouri and the northern section of Arkansas, are a sight to behold at any time of the year. But in fall they become truly magical — as far as the eye can see forests turn into a sea of gold. There are more than 35 oak species in the region alone, along with maple, hickory, beech, ash, hackberry, and gum trees, all changing color at different times. And it isn’t just the trees that offer color. Native vines, berry bushes, and shrubs give the undergrowth an intense hue, making the dense forests all the more vibrant. Try taking a drive along one of the multiple scenic byways to truly experience the array.

Related: When (and Where) to Catch This Fall’s Foliage in All 50 States

Blue Ridge Parkway, Va. and N.C.


Photo: Sarah Zucca/Flickr

Best time to go: Late October through early November

The parkway stretches over 450 miles, across two states, and up various elevations, providing a highly varied range of color from end to end. Yellows and oranges sprout from poplars, hickory, and sassafras, while a deep red pops up on the occasional maple. The best idea is to take a road trip along the parkway.

Columbia River Gorge, Wash.


Photo: Alejandro Rdguez/Flickr

Best time to go: Mid-October

Vine maples, larch, and aspen trees line hiking trails around the Columbia River Gorge and throughout Beacon Rock State Park, giving visitors a huge spectrum of color, from bright yellow to deep orange, even peppered with evergreen trees. The Washington side of the gorge can be accessed by Highway 14, where visitors can enjoy hiking, biking, or a picnic overlooking the foliage.

Phillips, Winter, and Price Counties, Wis.


Photo: Spring Images / Alamy Stock Photo

Best time to go: Now!

In Phillips County, maple and sumac trees give the heavily forested area a deep burnt red glow. Hunting season just began, and the drive from Phillips to Winter County along Highway W might give you a chance to see flocking geese and cranes, possibly even some deer or a bear or two. Just farther north, in Price County, you can hike to the top of Timms Hill — the highest geographical point in the state, where the colorful view will be spectacular.

Copper Peak, Mich.


From the top of the Copper Peak ski jump, you can see the beautiful leaves all around. (Photo: Kevin Schneller/Facebook)

Best time to go: Now!

Gaze at 2,500 square miles of bold, beautiful leaves from the observation deck of a ski-jumping platform that looms 26 stories atop a hill in Michigan. Given the flat Midwestern landscape, expansive 360-degree views from the deck span three states and sometimes to Canada. Take the ski lift up 800 feet to the peak, then ride an elevator to the viewing platform, which at nearly 1,800 feet above sea level, is almost the highest point in all Michigan.

Related: The Best Extreme Fall Foliage Vacations

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