Blake Walsh

22 Epic Places in the US to See Autumn Colors

  • Published 2023/11/26

The United States is a canvas of colors when autumn arrives.

From the fiery reds and oranges of New England to the golden hues of the West, each region presents a unique palette that transforms the landscape into a vibrant tapestry.

This guide takes you on a journey across the country to discover the 22 best places to witness the magic of autumn colors.

Acadia National Park, Maine

Autumn scene at Acadia National Park, Maine

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In Maine, Acadia National Park is a spectacle of autumnal beauty.

The park’s diverse landscape, from coastal areas to forested hills, is draped in brilliant shades of orange, red, and yellow.

The best time to visit is mid-October, with Cadillac Mountain and Jordan Pond being prime spots for leaf-peeping.

White Mountains, New Hampshire

Fall colors at White Mountains, New Hampshire

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The White Mountains of New Hampshire offer a breathtaking autumn experience.

Scenic drives like the Kancamagus Highway become corridors of color, surrounded by a mosaic of foliage.

Peak foliage typically occurs in early October, perfect for hiking or simply enjoying the view.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee/North Carolina

Hiker at Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee

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Straddling Tennessee and North Carolina, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a haven for fall foliage enthusiasts.

The park’s vast biodiversity translates into a stunning array of colors. Clingmans Dome and Cades Cove are must-visit spots in late October.

Blue Ridge Parkway, Virginia/North Carolina

Road of Blue Ridge Parkway, Virginia

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The Blue Ridge Parkway, known as “America’s Favorite Drive,” offers a meandering route through some of the most beautiful autumn landscapes in the Southeast.

The journey, best undertaken in mid to late October, reveals a succession of vibrant forests and sweeping vistas.

Door County, Wisconsin

Harbor view at Door County, Wisconsin

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Door County, Wisconsin, is not just about stunning views but also charming autumn festivals.

The peninsula is awash with color in October, with opportunities for apple picking, wine tasting, and leisurely drives along the Lake Michigan shoreline.

Ozark National Forest, Arkansas

Waterfall at Ozark National Forest, Arkansas

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In the Ozarks, the autumn colors are a spectacle of nature’s artistry.

The forest’s diverse tree species, including oaks and maples, paint the hills in warm tones.

The Glory Hole trail and the White Rock Mountain area offer some of the best views in late October.

Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

Golden trees at Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

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Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park is where autumn colors meet majestic mountain landscapes.

The contrast between the golden aspens and rugged peaks is breathtaking.

Bear Lake and Trail Ridge Road offer spectacular views in late September and early October.

Yosemite National Park, California

Valley at Yosemite National Park, California

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Yosemite in autumn is a quieter, more colorful version of its summer self.

The park’s meadows and valleys glow with shades of yellow and orange, a contrast to its granite cliffs.

The best time for autumn colors is October, with Glacier Point and Yosemite Valley being prime viewing locations.

Columbia River Gorge, Oregon

Highway of Columbia River Gorge, Oregon

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The Columbia River Gorge is a tapestry of autumn colors against a backdrop of waterfalls and canyons.

Maple, cottonwood, and ash trees light up the landscape in October.

The Historic Columbia River Highway offers a picturesque drive, while numerous hiking trails invite exploration.

Mount Rainier National Park, Washington

Vibrant colors at Mount Rainier National Park, Washington

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In Washington, Mount Rainier National Park becomes a world of color in the autumn.

The park’s subalpine meadows and forests are a riot of reds, oranges, and yellows.

The Sunrise and Paradise areas are particularly stunning in late September and early October.

Enchanted Circle Scenic Byway, New Mexico

Daytime view of Enchanted Circle Scenic Byway, New Mexico

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New Mexico’s Enchanted Circle Scenic Byway is a hidden gem for autumn colors.

The 83-mile loop takes you through mountains and valleys adorned in fall colors, with late September and early October being the best time to visit.

Zion National Park, Utah

Sunset at Zion National Park, Utah

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Zion National Park in Utah offers a unique autumn experience with its towering red rock formations set against the vibrant fall foliage.

The best views can be found along the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive and the Riverside Walk in late October.

Aspen, Colorado

Downtown scene at Aspen, Colorado

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Aspen is synonymous with autumn.

The town and its surrounding areas are blanketed in a golden hue thanks to the iconic aspen trees.

Maroon Bells and Independence Pass are particularly breathtaking in late September.

New York City’s Central Park, New York

The Mall at Central Park, New York

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Central Park in New York City is an urban autumn oasis.

The park’s numerous trees, including maples and elms, put on a colorful display against the cityscape.

The best time to visit is October, with Bethesda Terrace and The Mall being popular spots.

Upper Peninsula, Michigan

Porcupine mountains at Upper Peninsula, Michigan

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Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is a secluded paradise in autumn.

The region’s forests turn into a canvas of vibrant colors.

Tahquamenon Falls State Park and the Porcupine Mountains are particularly stunning in early October.

Lost Maples State Natural Area, Texas

Bigtooth maple tree at Lost Maples State Natural Area, Texas

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Texas might not be the first place you think of for autumn colors, but Lost Maples State Natural Area is an exception.

The park’s bigtooth maples offer a rare burst of color in the Texas Hill Country, best viewed in late October and early November.

Coastal Maine

Camden in Coastal Maine

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Maine’s coast offers a unique blend of autumn foliage and maritime charm.

The scenic drives along the coast, especially around Camden and Bar Harbor, are lined with colorful trees against the backdrop of the Atlantic Ocean.

The best time to visit is mid-October.

Outer Banks, North Carolina

Lighthouse at Outer Banks, North Carolina

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The Outer Banks in North Carolina presents a different perspective on autumn.

The sea oats and marsh grasses turn golden, complementing the area’s historic lighthouses and wild horses.

Late October is the ideal time to experience this serene beauty.

Gettysburg National Military Park, Pennsylvania

The grounds of Gettysburg National Military Park, Pennsylvania

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Gettysburg is not only a place of historical significance but also a location of stunning autumn beauty.

The battlefield and surrounding countryside are awash with color in October, offering a poignant backdrop for reflection.

Shenandoah Valley, Virginia

Road at Shenandoah Valley, Virginia

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Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley combines history with natural beauty.

The valley, especially along the Skyline Drive, is resplendent with fall colors from mid-October. Historical sites like Harpers Ferry add to the region’s allure.

Final Thoughts

From the vibrant northeast to the unexpected splendors of the southwest, the US offers a multitude of destinations to enjoy the autumn spectacle.

Each location offers a unique perspective on this colorful season, inviting exploration and discovery.

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