10 States to See Stunning Fall Colors

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Relish in a lovely picnic under the vivid autumn maples of New England or a crisp morning stroll surrounded by golden aspens of the Mountain West. You can discover the beauty and exceptional fall colors on public lands in just about every state.

As you venture out for this seasonal colorful display, please beware of conditions that may impact your visit. Fire danger remains high in many locations, smoke conditions may limit visibility, and fire restrictions may be in place. Know before you go and Recreate Responsibly.  

Want to learn more about the science of these gorgeous fall colors? Visit the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for nature's fabulous fall foliage recipe.

The colors of autumn are on full display in these scenic locations across the country

White Mountain National Forest

New Hampshire

Group of people standing along a fenced overlook with a covered pavilion overlooking rows of green,

White Mountain National Forest (Daniel Sylvester, Share the Experience)

Rushing rivers, covered bridges, breathtaking vistas? Check. A scenic drive through New Hampshire is sure to meet your fall foliage expectations. Try the Kancamagus Scenic Byway (the "Kanc") to observe the kaleidoscope of fall colors. From mid-September to mid-October, plan on peak foliage displays as you wind through the White Mountain National Forest, where you just might catch a glimpse of an elusive moose. Why not take in a little history on your trip across the "Kanc"? The Russell-Colbath House, in Albany, is a 19th century farmhouse with period furnishings that operate as a historic house museum with an on-site historic interpreter. The house is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is seasonally open to the public.

National Forests in North Carolina

North Carolina

A solo hiker sits along a boulder-lined river shoreline under the shade of yellow and orange-leafed

Blue Ridge Parkway (Nicole Robinson, Share the Experience)

From mountains to sea, the National Forests in North Carolina offer a variety of backdrops for your leaf-viewing excursion. Take a classic fall road trip down the Blue Ridge Parkway for endless views of the breathtaking Pisgah National Forest. Jackrabbit Mountain Recreation Area features scenic lakeside camping, hiking, and biking among trees in every shade from green to red in the beautiful Nantahala National Forest. Head east to the coastal Croatan National Forest, where splashes of late fall color mingle with marshes, cypress trees, and an abundance of wildlife. Check out this Fall Color Guide in North Carolina for tips for prime leaf-viewing across the state.

Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest

Washington

Yellow larch trees line snow-covered mountainsides that tower above a deep blue lake in the valley.

Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest (Dave Govan, Share the Experience)

One of the hallmarks of the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest are the stunning larches that turn a dramatic shade of gold in the fall. A walk through a changing subalpine larch stand is unlike any other this time of year. It’s as if the whole world lights up - even the air itself seems to turn a golden color. Take in the views from Rainy Lake Trail #310, a fully accessible, paved forest trail to the north end of Rainy Lake. Stop off the North Cascades Highway to stretch your legs and enjoy a picnic lunch and admire the high cliffs, waterfalls, and picturesque gold and red-hued trees that dominate the landscape. For a longer and more immersive hike, the interpretive Swauk Discovery Trail details the vibrant tree and plant species that put on a spectacular autumn show along the trail.

Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre, and Gunnison National Forests

Colorado

Bright yellow aspens cover a mountainside at dawn.

Grand Mesa National Forest (Nathan Hale, Share the Experience)

Can’t wait for autumn to arrive? Fortunately, Colorado delivers cool temperatures, stunning foliage, and all the right fall feelings in early September. On the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre, and Gunnison National Forests, oak brush plant communities begin turning brilliant orange and red in early to mid-September, followed by patches of golden aspens at higher elevations. Fall colors are vibrant from mid-September and occasionally into the early part of October. This is one of the most popular times for travel along the scenic byways and travel corridors. Check out the Grand Mesa Visitor Center for scheduled Color Sunday events during the last weekend of September.

Guadalupe Mountains National Park

Texas

Bright red, orange, and green-leafed trees frame towering mountain peaks.

Guadalupe Mountains National Park (Tim Speer, Share the Experience)

Guadalupe Mountains National Park has the four highest peaks in Texas, an ancient fossil reef, desert, dunes, canyons, wildlife, and a touch of fall color. In McKittrick Canyon, the maples put on an amazing autumn display. With lots of trails for hiking and horseback riding, you’ll find the perfect place for your fall pictures.

Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Ohio

Two narrow waterfalls stream down an eroded rock ledge into a dry, leaf-covered rock bed.

Cuyahoga Valley National Park (John Pavlovic, Share the Experience)

If you’re looking for fall colors and spectacular views in the Midwest, Blue Hen Falls in Cuyahoga Valley National Park has to be on your list. An easy drive from Cleveland and Akron, the falls are one of the most popular spots in the park. Decked in orange and yellow leaves, the forest around the picturesque falls is peaceful and welcoming.

Monongahela National Forest

West Virginia

Robust waterfalls tumble down rust-colored rocks amid bright yellow-leafed trees.

Monongahela National Forest (Ed Lowe, Share the Experience)

West Virginia is almost heaven all year long, but mid-October, when the autumn foliage reaches its peak, might just be the best time to visit. Take a drive along the Highland Scenic Highway, a 43-mile (69.2 km) designated National Scenic Byway that extends through the Monongahela National Forest from Richwood to US Route 219, north of Marlinton. Tucked away in a narrow gorge off the Highway is a hidden treasure known as the Falls of Hills Creek Scenic Area. Get your cameras ready: three waterfalls of 25 feet (7.6 m), 45 feet (13.7 m), and 63 feet (19.2 m) tumble down rocky cliffs against a backdrop of yellow and orange leaves. Be sure to check local weather conditions before you go, as the Highway may be impassable as early as November.

South Fork of the Snake River

Idaho

Landscape featuring layers of mountain peaks, gold and orange-leafed trees, low-lying clouds, and th

South Fork of the Snake River (Jessica Gottlieb, Bureau of Land Management)

The majestic South Fork of the Snake River flows 66 miles (106.2 km) across southeastern Idaho, through high mountain valleys, rugged canyons and broad floodplains to its confluence with the Henry's Fork near Menan Buttes. In autumn, the landscape turns shades of gold. The South Fork is home to 126 bird species, moose, deer and an impressive array of other wildlife.

Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge

New Mexico

Sandhill Cranes take off from the pond where they roosted overnight.

Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge (Sunita Mandal, Share the Experience)

Fall foliage lights up the lakeshore at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico. Along with changing leaves, late season sunflowers provide a colorful contrast to red-wing blackbirds that swoop and dart through grasses. The refuge protects a wide stretch of the Rio Grande River where sandhill cranes, geese and other waterfowl spend the winter each year.

Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area

Pennsylvania, New Jersey

Fog rises off a lake and obscures the bright orange trees that line its shore.

Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area (Rakesh Goswami, Share the Experience)

Just a few hours from New York City and Philadelphia, Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area on the New Jersey-Pennsylvania border is a wonderland of forested mountains, tumbling waterfalls, Indigenous cultural sites, bountiful wildlife and dynamic rivers and streams. Recreation opportunities include boating, biking, fishing, hunting, hiking, and enjoying the views along scenic roadways. Grab a jacket and trade the city for the sights and sounds of a fall afternoon in the mountains.

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