As the crisp air moves in and the last signs of summer fade away, we begin to look towards the comforts of the fall season.
One distinct visual is the brilliant red, yellow, and orange colors that begin to surround us.
In every corner of the country, leaf-peepers set out to find the best fall foliage mother nature has to offer.
A kaleidoscope of fall colors can be found from late August through November. It just depends on where you’re looking.
This list of the best places for fall foliage in the US will help direct you where to travel for the best fall colors.
Best Places for Fall Foliage in USA
1. Catskill Mountains New York
The Catskill Mountains is the place in New York to experience fall foliage.
Enjoy some of the best fall colors in the USA from the comfort of your car on a scenic drive. Or better yet, taking hikes through the mountains are a real treat.
Beyond the leaves, the Catskills has everything that makes autumn such a magical season in New York.
Here you can taste the freshest apples of the season, pick your own pumpkin, or enjoy a cold one at a local brewery while also enjoying the best fall foliage in New York.
2. Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Imagine viewing the fall foliage from high above? At Clingman’s Dome in the Great Smoky Mountains you can do just that.
You can’t get much higher than 6,600 feet above it all on the dome’s observation tower. If it’s a clear day, you’ll be able to see up to 100 miles of glorious fall colors.
With a season that lasts from mid-September to early November the Great Smokies has fabulous foliage no matter where you go in the park. We’ve included GSMNP on our list of best places to visit in November in the USA.
Check out our list of all the best things to do in the Great Smoky Mountains.
3. The Berkshires Massachusetts
The Berkshires are known for having some of the best fall foliage on the east coast.
Specifically, a drive along Route 7 will take you through this gorgeous area.
You’ll love to make stops at Lenox, Pittsfield, and Stockbridge. And you’ll love the drive so much that you can easily continue to North Adams.
These lovely towns offer a lot to do like visiting small museums, antique shops, and staying at charming B&Bs.
The Berkshires typically see peak foliage in mid-October.
4. Acadia National Park Maine
Fall is a magical time in Acadia National Park.
This is when the crisp fall air begins to take over and change the entire scene from glorious green to vibrant reds, oranges, and yellows.
Acadia is known for scenic drives any time of year but especially in autumn. Remember that if you want to drive Cadillac Summit Road you’ll need a reservation (May 25th to October 22nd).
Another way to enjoy the New England fall foliage is through the hiking trails at Acadia and afterwards pay a visit to Jordan Pond House for their famous popovers.
Read more about visiting Maine in fall and start planning your autumn escape.
5. Blue Ridge Parkway (North Carolina & Virginia)
The best way to see the colors change on the Blue Ridge Parkway is to take a long drive.
That’s right. A long drive ensures that you get the full scope of the area and the changing colors.
Leaves begin to change in higher elevations, at lower levels and in the valleys they change later.
So, as the road travels over the mountains it’ll be more likely you’ll catch glorious yellows, oranges, and reds.
Asheville North Carolina is a great starting point for your Blue Ridge Parkway adventure, and it’s on our list of epic East Coast weekend getaways.
6. The Poconos Pennsylvania
The Pocono Mountains are the best place in Pennsylvania to see the fall foliage.
And the best part? The Poconos is such a large area (2,400 square miles) that it has not one but three different foliage peaks.
That’s right, so if you miss one, don’t worry, you can try to make it to the mountains for the second or third.
Leaves start to change in early September here and continue through October.
7. Vermont – Everywhere!
Pick only one place in Vermont for fall foliage? Can’t do it! There’s too many amazing places for fall colors in Vermont.
Knowing that Vermont got its name for its luscious green mountains, it’s no wonder this is one of the best places to visit for fall foliage in New England.
It seems that everywhere you go in the state has breathtaking autumn scenery.
To experience Vermont, get off the interstate highways and take the scenic roads through historic towns.
Places like Stowe, Woodstock, Manchester, and Middlebury are not only the perfect places to see the leaves, they’re also Vermont at its finest.
Burlington is on our list of best weekend getaways on the East Coast.
Scenic Route 100 is one of the best fall foliage drives in New England. This scenic Vermont roadway is 216 miles so you can do a portion of the route or make it a multi-day road trip.
8. White Mountains New Hampshire
The Kancamagus Scenic Byway is the perfect way to experience fall foliage in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. It’s on our list of best scenic routes in the USA!
Nicknamed “The Kank”, the road will take you through this beautiful mountain region.
Along the way you can stop to enjoy Sabbaday Falls, pumpkin picking, or shopping for antiques.
The best time to experience fall foliage in the White Mountains is September and October.
However, these magnificent mountains have been known to start changing as early as late August.
9. Shenandoah National Park
At Shenandoah National Park you’ll find the longest season for fall colors in the USA.
The right mix of environmental factors means that colors have been known to begin changing in mid-September and last until mid-November.
Two months of change is a treat for leaf-peepers who can travel to Virginia at nearly any time during the autumn season to experience the wonders of mother nature.
Sounds like a perfect fall long weekend getaway spot!
10. Columbia River Gorge Oregon/Washington
Fall foliage is really great throughout the Pacific Northwest.
But a trip to the Columbia River Gorge in late October will give you some of the best color change in the nation.
With the bright yellows and oranges standing out against the evergreens, it’s a memorable sight.
With 90 waterfalls along the Columbia River Gorge, it’s a wonderful place most any time of year. During the fall it’s a great escape into nature.
Spend a few days in Portland Oregon as your home base to explore the area – check out our 3-day Portland itinerary.
11. Rocky Mountain National Park Colorado
As the leaves of aspen trees change, beautiful yellows and golds paint the landscape in the Rocky Mountains National Park.
Between late August through mid-September the entire park transforms into a magical landscape you must see to believe.
You can hike through the mountains or drive scenic roads like Bear Lake Road. Either way you do it you’ll experience one of the best national parks for fall foliage in the US.
12. North Shore Lake Superior Minnesota
The North Shore shines with color from early September through the beginning of November. This makes it one of the best places in the Midwest to visit in the fall.
In this special place fall foliage happens twice.
That’s right, twice.
The first when the maple trees turn on the peaks of the Sawtooth Mountains.
The second round is when the aspen and birch trees on the lake’s edge change.
Enjoy a Superior fall colors experience in Minnesota!
13. Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Throughout the entire month of October Cuyahoga Valley is alive with the best fall colors.
With a variety of trees in the park, there are many opportunities to experience the glory of fall foliage.
Trails are the perfect way to explore the beautiful landscape.
Picture perfect views can also be found at the Everett Covered Bridge and the Hale Farm & Village. Ledges Overlook gives a view of the entire Cuyahoga Valley.
14. Ozark National Forest Arkansas
The Ozark National Forest is a delight in the South.
There’s so much to explore but a best bet is to take a drive through the Ozark Mountains on Arkansas Scenic 7 Byway.
Between Harrison and El Dorado are some of the best views and delightful places to stop like Arkansas Grand Canyon.
You’ll even pass over the Buffalo National River – a photo op you don’t want to miss.
For a cool hiking experience try out Pedestal Rock Loops Trail and Kings Bluff for amazing fall scenery.
The best time to see the Ozark leaves change is typically between late October and early November.
15. Yosemite National Park
Filled with evergreens, some people overlook Yosemite National Park as a prime fall foliage location.
But they would be mistaken.
There are great displays of fall colors from trees like the big-leaf maples, black oaks, and Pacific dogwoods. These typically have the most color change in mid-October.
Scenic roads like the Glacier Point Road are a perfect way to explore fall foliage in the park.
Final Thoughts on Best Fall Foliage in USA
So that’s it – fall foliage from the north to the south. From the east to the west. And everything in between. No matter where you are in the country, you’ll find the best places for fall colors in the US.