Best Places to See Fall Foliage

Photo: Semih Aydin, Unsplash

Photo: Semih Aydin, Unsplash

By Alexis Daly

Fall is officially here, which means it’s time for fall foliage road trips and leaf peeping.

In order to experience the scenery that fall has to offer, you don’t have to go far. From the Northeast to the Pacific Northwest, there are many places across the US to experience the beauty of fall. Places like state parks or local small towns are the ideal places to see some leaves.

Scenery viewing is one of the least expensive ways to take in the natural beauty of the United States throughout the fall season. Plus, you could also get in a great work out while doing it. Hiking, biking, or jogging are the perfect ways to catch a glimpse of this scenery.

If hiking, biking, or jogging isn’t for you, there are hundreds of other ways to enjoy the sights of fall. From wineries, restaurants, and festivals, to private yachts and guided drives, there is a way for everyone to enjoy this sightseeing.

The best places to see fall foliage could be just a short walk, or a mini road trip, away–all the more reason to check out these locations below. Just make sure to plan your trip soon; trees typically reach their peak by the end of October.

Fall Foliage Berkshires

Fall Foliage Berkshires

The Berkshires, Massachusetts

The Berkshires in Massachusetts are the perfect escape for those from New York, Boston, and Philadelphia who wish to escape the city life and enjoy all that fall has to offer. With winding back roads connecting the mountains, you are sure to have the best view.

“What is truly great about a trip to the Berkshires is that we are 30 towns and two cities and each is only 10-15 mins from the other,” Lindsey Schmid, director of marketing for the Berkshires, said. “So you can have a varied experience and have the opportunity to shop and dine and explore so many quintessential New England downtowns in very close proximity. “

The fall is when the Berkshire Mountains really come to life. “With the leaves changing the drive in between may keep you wishing you would not reach your next destination so quickly as no matter where you look the Berkshire mountains offer a riot of color and certainly many photo ops,” Schmid said.

The Berkshires even have a fall foliage parade every year, honoring their wondrous fall scenery. Visit for more information, including guided maps to your ideal fall foliage driving tour.

Photo by Caleb Jones. Unsplash

Photo by Caleb Jones. Unsplash

Columbia River Gorge, Oregon

Although the Columbia River Gorge and its waterfalls are beautiful on their own, visiting in the fall is breathtaking. All of the trees surrounding the falls, the maples and the birches, show their colors for a stunning view of the gorge.

Despite it being a road trip for most, it is well worth the drive through the rolling hills to see the gorge in its prime. As part of the Columbia River Highway, a road trip is the essential way to take in the beauty of autumn at the Columbia River Gorge, while also exploring the surrounding scenery and attractions.

The area is also known for its culture rich in art and restaurants, so make sure to visit the Columbia River Gorge website for all of the details surrounding the Columbia River Gorge and all that it has to offer.

Great Smoky Mountains, North Carolina and Tennessee

Photo: Unsplash. Jordan Whitt

Photo: Unsplash. Jordan Whitt

As one of the most visited national parks in the US, there are over 100 different species of trees all with an amazing array of colors, which makes the Great Smoky Mountains a great place to see autumn leaves.
The best way to catch a glimpse of the fall colors is through a scenic drive. The Great Smoky Mountains offer a variety of nature trails where you can both drive and walk within one tour. This kind of trip optimizes your chances of catching all of the autumn colors that The Great Smoky Mountains have to offer.

The Great Smoky Mountains offer about 100 campsites, 850 miles of trails, and over 700 streams. You could spend days at the park, so make sure to plan ahead. Visit the Great Smoky Mountains website to start your adventure.

Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri

Although this is typically considered a popular summer getaway, you can see the real beauty of the lake during the fall. The hills that surround the lake are the perfect glimpse of shimmering fall colors.

About four miles south of the lake visitors to Ha Ha Tonka State Park get a wonderful treat of colors at several overlooks located off paved trails that circle around the park’s iconic “castle ruins.” Ha Ha Tonka is a popular attraction at the Lake during the fall. This park offers 14 walking trails covering more than 15 miles throughout the park, making it easy for visitors to experience the different geological formations.

Not only can you explore the foliage through hiking, bike riding, and horseback riding, but you can also view the leaves from a yacht on the lake, a winery, or a long, scenic drive. Lake of the Ozarks is part of Missouri’s largest park, so there are a lot of ways to experience fall. Go to to start planning your trip.

Fall Foliage Peaks

Fall foliage is beautiful, but there is also a science behind it. We all know that leaves change colors in the fall, but there are specific times in each region when leaves peak in color.

The change in color of leaves moves south, just like birds in the winter. In certain northern regions, trees are past their peak. However, most of the United States is either at peak or near peak.

In the Berkshires in Massachusetts and The Columbia River Gorge in Oregon, the leaves are just near peak and will reach their top peak by October 14th. At The Lake of the Ozarks and The Great Smoky Mountains, the leaves reach their peak from October 14th to October 21st. For a detailed fall foliage map click here.

These peaks are approaching quickly and you do not want to miss the chance to see these fall colors, so make sure to plan your trip soon.

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