As summer ends and the weather starts to cool down (albeit not by much), we’re moving into the most colorful time of the year, with the leaves on the trees turning various shades of red, orange and yellow. While there are plenty of places to see great fall foliage, there are a few that truly stand out; I recently came across an article that features 10 of the best places in the US to see the leaves, listed below:
1. New York: Whether you’re in the city or going upstate, there are plenty of opportunities to see the leaves in New York. If you’re a baseball fan, check out Cooperstown, where you can go to the Baseball Hall of Fame and then hike or rent kayaks in the nearby wilderness. 90 minutes away from the City is Barton Orchards, which features hayrides, train rides, a corn maze, a haunted house and the chance to pick any seasonal fruits and vegetables you can imagine. If you’d rather stay in New York, simply stroll around Central park during the last few weeks of October into November.
2. Colorado: Estes Park is great at this time of year for both the fall foliage and the wildlife roaming the area. Nature lovers can go fishing, hiking or mountain biking in the nearby valley. If you’re more into the Halloween spirit, try for some of the ghost tours at the Historic Stanley Hotel, known for its on-site paranormal investigators and psychics. You can take a bike ride on the Peak to Peak Scenic Byway, considered to be one of the most beautiful drives in the US. The Georgetown Loop Railroad is another place to ride while looking at the foliage and learning about the area’s mining history.
3. West Virginia: On October 18th is the Autumn Splendor Dinner Train, which travels through Petersburg, West Virginia, just in time for the red and gold leaves. While peeping at the colors, you’ll enjoy a hearty dinner of beef brisket, shrimp, potatoes, green beans and either chocolate fudge turtle cake or pumpkin cheesecake.
4. Tennessee: About two hours east of Nashville and not too far from Georgia lies Chattanooga, the state’s prime spot for checking out the changing colors. Not only is Chattanooga known for a great network of hiking, biking and nature trails, but you can also view the trees by boat, thanks to the Southern Belle Riverboat.
5. Missouri: Branson and the Ozarks may be the ultimate scenic fall drive, aimed to please any leaf-peeper with three exceptional driving tours that take you around the area. If these tours don’t satisfy your leaf fix, then you can take a Main Street Lake Cruise on Lake Taneycomo.
6. Wisconsin: Door County is a bucolic peninsula between Lake Michigan and Green Bay that’s just as famous for its fall foliage as its lakes, art and cherries. For the latest leaf-peeping updates, check the Fall Color Report. There are a number of outdoor activities for checking out the changing colors: cruises on the lake, horse-drawn wagon rides around town, golfing, sailing, fishing, horseback riding, souvenir shopping and even a scenic airplane ride! Yet the best part about Door County is that all of the roadside stands and farmers’ markets are selling fresh farm produce and wines from local vineyards.
7. Texas: A little less than two hours away from San Antonio, near the town of Vanderpool is Lost Maples State Natural Area, one of the best fall spots in Texas. Admire the red and yellow colors with a fall hike, camping trip, bird watching adventure or fall picnic. The leaves in this part of the country tend to change color closer to November, so there’s plenty of time to get in some travel.
8. Oregon: Fall foliage in the greater Portland and Columbia River area is complemented by waterfalls, gardens, river gorges and plenty of local wineries. Located in Portland’s west hills is the Portland Japanese Garden, serving as the ultimate contrast between deep greens and reds. Drive down the Columbia River Highway for views of 900-foot tall cliffs and waterfalls that overlook the valley. Outside of Portland, check out fall colors while sampling wine in the vineyards of Willamette Valley.
9. California: Although it isn’t as well-known for its fall scenery, Yosemite Valley is a great place to celebrate the season, minus the crowds and high hotel prices that characterize the area in other times of the year. Mono County in the Eastern Sierra Region is also known for its colorful mix of evergreens, big-leaf maples, Pacific dogwoods, black oaks and other trees that reach their peak colors from mid- to late-October.
10. South Dakota: From the yellow Aspens, elm, ash and oak trees, to the bright reds of the sumac and maple trees, every year South Dakota is draped in color. Luckily, working these scenic drives as a way to travel between sites and cities is fairly easy as you travel between such sites as the Iron Mountain Road and the Custer State Park. Maybe drive the Peter Norbeck National Scenic Byway, which features six rock tunnels and views of the area’s Aspens. Through the Black Hills runs a 109-mile long Mickelson Trail for hiking and biking enthusiasts.