Don’t mourn the end of summer! Swap out that swimsuit for a sweater, the frozen dessert for apples, and make a date with mother nature to relish in the beautiful colors of America’s fall foliage. Leaf peeping is a time-honored tradition from coast to coast in the United States and it’s a fairly inexpensive and easy way to enjoy the Autumn outdoors and see the magnificence of the country.
Given the overwhelming variety of parks, mountains and forests to choose from, finding the right time and place to check these spirited displays could seem overwhelming. To get you started, VacayDaze has rounded up six of the best places to relish fall’s spectacular hues. And although there’s a recommended time for peak viewing, it’s all about the weather, so you’ll want to refer to the Farmer’s Almanac as well as the the Weather Channel for the latest update before you head out.
New York is one of the foremost well-liked states to get a full glimpse of the seasonal colors. This mountain chain, in the state’s southeast corner, is close enough to the Big Apple to drive or take a hop on a train or bus as it’s only few short hours away.
The best leaf peeping time in the Catskill Mountains is at the end of September through October and although you can’t miss the breathless changes wherever you end up going, we recommend a drive to the Kaaterskill Clove Experience, a hike to Mount Utsayantha, or a trip aboard the Catskill Mountain Railroad. Weekend events, like the Hunter Mountain Oktoberfest and also the taste of the Catskills, are an excellent way to extend your foliage excursion and mix it up with both the locals and tourists.
Combine your fall viewing with some Yankee history this season and head to Gettysburg around the third week of October through mid-November to relish peak foliage. The Gettysburg National Military Park and the top of the famous battlefield, Little Round Top, affords flamboyant views all the way to the Blue Ridge Mountains.
You can additionally opt to see the changing leaves on horseback from the National Riding Stables Horse Rescue or Hickory Hollow Farm. Take a drive through Pennsylvania’s Apple Country or visit the Hauser Estate Winery for a taste of wine and hard apple cider, as well as taking in a view from one of the region’s highest points. The National Apple Harvest Festival runs through the first two weekends of October and will provide you with a pretty good reason to stay and revel in the food, crafts, entertainment and, you know, all those apples.
Enchanted Circle Scenic Byway, NM
The mountains of northern New Mexico are a highlight for leaf gazing aficionados during the first few weeks of October, and this dream-fully named route provides an 83 mile loop of all that the southwest fall season has to offer. The drive is about 3 hours, although you’ll want to consider some time for stops along the way. The byway begins and ends in the artists’ colony Taos and makes its way through Questa, Red River, Eagle’s Nest and Angel Fire.
The sundry scenery includes Taos Pueblo that houses the country’s 1st memorial to Vietnam vets in addition to Wheeler Peak, New Mexico’s tallest point, and Taos Ski Valley, where you’ll be able to enjoy the vivid views on a hike, bike or ski lift.
Lake of the Ozarks, MS
Mid to late October is the best time to check out the Ozarks hardwood forests and rolling hills burnt with scarlet, ginger and gold on this immense shoreline, although it may easily stretch into November with an abundance of cool sunny days. Spreading across four counties, this summer getaway comes alive in the fall and there are lots of ways in which to enjoy the brilliant scenery in the surrounding Ozark Hills.
Take a drive through the Sylamore District of the Ozark National Forest, stop at the Ameren Scenic Overlook, survey the surroundings with a round of golf at the Margaritaville Lake Resort, or jump on a ship with Celebration Cruises to take in the beautiful sites from the water.
Columbia River Gorge, OR
With over eighty miles of brightly tinted forests to gawk at, this scenic area, situated along Interstate 84, is at its peak for fall foliage from mid-September to mid-October. The drive is parallel to the river, however make sure to take a stop at the Crown Point Vista House for more expansive views of the Cascade Mountains or maybe even contemplate a hike on the popular Dog Mountain Loop.
Take a little break for a drink and enjoy the panoramic vistas at one of the Gorge wineries or breweries or maybe even book a white water rafting trip down the Columbia River to invigorate things up a bit.
Kancamagus Highway, NH
This 34 mile drive, nicknamed the Kanc by locals, provides an explosion of brilliantly colored leaves come mid-September and lasts through early October. Because this highway cuts through the White Mountain National Forest, there are lots of stopping points to pull off to enjoy the breathless views along the way.
The Sabbaday Falls includes a 45 ft drop and excellent picnicking options and you’ll be able to stop at the Lost River Gorge and Boulder Caves to wander away on a hike. Maybe jump on the 80 passenger cable car at the Cannon Mountain Aerial Tramway to check-out the spectacular foliage from the air, all the way to Maine, Vermont and Canada.