Postcards & Passports

Fall Foliage Favorites in the US

This post was most recently updated on September 19th, 2022

Fall just might be the best time of the year. Despite plenty of sunshine, the temperatures are more comfortable. Prices for traveling go down just a bit — and so do the crowds. One more bonus: the fall foliage is just stunning! If you’re also a fan of outstanding autumn colors, this post is just for you. Here are some of my fall foliage favorites; they might become your favorites too!

1. Utah’s Aspen Loop Scenic Byway

The Aspen Loop Scenic Byway is an easy fall foliage day trip from Salt Lake City or Utah Valley. Only 20 miles long, you could spend an hour driving it, or several hours exploring places like the Sundance Ski Resort, Bridal Veil Falls, Cascade Springs, Mt. Timpanogas Cave, and the Provo and American Fork rivers. You’ll see lots of golden aspen groves and colorful red and orange trees dotting the mountainsides.

2. California’s Eastern Sierras

Near Mammoth, California, you’ll find lots of beautiful fall foliage at stunning locations like Convict Lake, June Lake, and McGee Creek. At Convict Lake, hike the trail that follows the lake shore to find a gorgeous tunnel of yellow foliage at the southwest end of the lake. The trail from McGee Creek Campground heads straight into a valley among the mountains, with foliage lining the creek. In fact, most of the lakes along this stretch of the Eastern Sierras have fall foliage you can enjoy. Not everything can be seen by car. Here you’ll need to get out and do a bit of hiking, but it’s not strenuous.

3. Middle Tennessee

Fall is gorgeous in Tennessee because there are more deciduous trees than evergreen — and everything bursts into color come October and early November. It’s hard to go anywhere and NOT see colorful fall foliage. Perhaps the best places to leaf-peep are near lakes where the colors are reflected in the water. Tim’s Ford State Park in Winchester, TN, is a great place to see foliage. It’s easy and free to park there, and the hiking trails are well-marked. Another great place is Old Stone Fort State Park in Manchester — with the addition of lots of cascading waterfalls!

The Great Stone Door Trail in South Cumberland State Park has an overlook (Laurel Gulf Overlook) with incredible views of the entire valley just filled with red and gold! Another bonus: Laurel Falls at the beginning of the Stone Door Trail — a beautiful waterfall surrounded by colorful leaves. These are all relatively short hikes with very little elevation change — great for families.

4. Colorado’s San Juan Mountains and Scenic Skyway

You could easily drive this loop in one day, but it is best explored in 2 to 3 days. It’s an epic road trip with an amazing mountain backdrop and several popular towns to explore as well. Ouray and Telluride are former mining towns turned into posh ski resorts. Biking and hiking are both great ways to see the views and colors here. Hike Bridal Veil Falls for a spectacular view of the valley below. (Yes, there’s a Bridal Veil Falls in Colorado AND in Utah!) There’s even a free gondola ride in Telluride that will give you a birds-eye view of the colorful landscape. Enjoy some of the best fall foliage favorites along this scenic byway.

5. Massachusetts/New England

Really, almost anywhere in New England is a great place to enjoy fall foliage. Some of the best fall scenes are the many front porches covered in pumpkins and autumn blooms, with fall colors in the background. Something else you’ll only find in this area are covered bridges. So a landscape like this just invokes wonderful autumn vibes:

This covered bridge is found in Old Sturbridge Village in Sturbridge, Massachusetts. You do have to pay an admission to get to this scene, but you can drive nearly any highway in Massachusetts and find foliage along the road and surounding lakes.

6. ND’s Sheyenne River Valley National Scenic Byway

What once was a native American footpath is now a 63-mile scenic highway through Valley City, North Dakota, along the Sheyenne River. Plan to take your time to travel the Byway, as there is so much to see and discover. Check out the interpretive panels and information kiosks along the route and don’t miss the many beautiful bridges as well. You can’t miss the gorgeous fall foliage as it is everywhere!

7. New York’s Finger Lakes Region

Another stunning area for fall leaf peeping is the Finger Lakes Region of New York. In fact, there are five official road trip routes you can take, and they all focus on the lakes in the area. That means you’ll be able to snap beautiful photos with fall colors reflected in the water — and maybe even go kayaking for a better view. This region has many waterfalls and rivers, too. There’s no end to the breathtaking views you’ll have access to!

8. Oregon’s Columbia River Gorge

The Columbia River Gorge is a magnificent river canyon, 80 miles long. Highway 30 (and Interstate 84) is the route that parallels the Columbia River and passes many waterfalls, historic bridges, and other attractions, like the Vista House at Crown Point. While there are a lot of evergreen trees in this area, the forests are peppered with the brilliant fall foliage of many deciduous trees, too. Be sure to hike Multnomah Falls and less crowded Dry Creek Falls, if you have the time.

Viewing fall foliage favorites

Autumn colors generally begin showing late September through early November. Of course, it depends on where you go and the elevation, as higher elevations show foliage earlier. Occasionally, a late Indian Summer will delay the onset of fall colors. Plan your fall foliage favorites road trip now, so you’ll have something to look forward to. As the time gets closer, be sure to check with peak fall foliage maps, such as this one, to get the timing right. Get out your jackets and boots, pack some great road trip snacks, and have a wonderful autumn!

fall foliage favorites

fall foliage favorites






11 thoughts on “Fall Foliage Favorites in the US

  1. Jackie

    Growing up in New England, I thought we were the only ones who had beautiful foliage. (Typical, right?) Now I know there are so many amazing places in the world that offer incredible scenes in fall. I’ve put a few of these, including the New York Finger Lakes region and Oregon’s Columbia River Gorge, on my bucket list. Both were already places I want to visit, but now I know to time it right to enjoy the foliage, too!

  2. Joanna

    These all sound like great locations to see the fall foliage. I would love to go to the States in autumn someday and see it for myself. From all these locations, I think I would choose Massachusetts or Finger Lakes – they appeal the most to me.

  3. noelmorata

    This is cool that you can actually experience fall colors from the west coast all the way to the east coast with unique parks and vistas to enjoy. I really want to come and visit the New England area landscapes and parks some day.

  4. Renee

    Living in Ontario, our landscape and fall experience is most similar to NY Fingerlakes and Massachusetts, so I would definitely want to do the very scenic Colorado San Juan Mountains and Scenic Skyway. I can’t think of a more beautiful view than mountains and foliage. It would be a great weekend getaway.

  5. Natascha

    After reading your post, I think I would try to time a trip to the US with the fall foliage season. Especially the Colorado’s San Juan Mountains and the Scenic Skyway look fantastic. Thanks for so many suggestions to see the autumn colors in the US.

  6. Umiko Silalahi

    I always arrived late for fall foliage in Colorado. And I always wanted to see fall foliage in Massachusetts and other New England states, but because my son is still in school, I have to wait for a few years to enjoy them. Tennessee looks pretty, too, and it’s even closer to us in Texas.

  7. Maria Veloso

    These vivid locations are amazing, and I guess it’s time for me to start organizing my autumnal vacations. The Aspen Loop Scenic Byway is a beautiful place to go for a scenic drive. The fall foliage in New England is undeniably magnificent! My favorite setting is in the Finger Lakes Region of New York; it is breathtaking, and I wish to go kayaking there to get a deeper understanding of the area.

    1. Puloma Bhattacharya

      These fall foliage locations are amazing and I must include couple of these like the Colorado San Juan, North Dakota, California and New England fall colors for sure.
      Within few more days there will be an explosion of fall colors in most of the country and is the best time of the year to capture autumn in full bloom.

  8. alnuwaiser123

    Those are some amazing and breathtaking locations. I can agree, the autumn season is the time of year with less price and less tourist. However on my opinion, New York’s Finger Lake region is the prettiest.

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