What are the best places to visit in the USA in the fall? Few seasons have as much travel potential as fall. Fall is a fantastic time to travel. Not just because of the lovely autumn colors. During this season, airfares are much lower.
It’s the best time of year to get outside and explore. Road trips have never been more popular, and people are looking further afield. If you’re planning an autumn vacation, don’t overlook the locations listed below. Are you ready for your next adventure?
- 1 Best places to visit in fall USA
- 2 Zion National Park
- 3 Oregon’s Fall Colors
- 4 Fall in South Carolina
- 5 Fall in Vermont
Best places to visit in fall USA
What are the best places to see fall foliage? America’s first national park is dressed for fall.
Yellowstone National Park is one of the best national parks to visit in October. Yellowstone may not be famous for its fall foliage, but you won’t regret it if you visit the park during this magical time. The crowds are much thinner than in the summer, the wildlife is more active, and golden hues dominate the park’s landscape. Yellow grass, golden cottonwoods, and aspens create stunning images from northwest Wyoming to southern Montana and eastern Idaho.
When is the best time for fall colors in Yellowstone?
Peak leaf peeping time in Yellowstone National Park is late September through early October. The colors first appear on the upper elevations, where some pleasant yellow accents can be spotted beginning in mid-September, then move to the valleys. Mid-September is a good time to visit the park while most of its facilities and lodges are open. Beginning in October, roads and visitor centers gradually shut down for the winter season.
Where to photograph the fall colors in Yellowstone
Lamar Valley is one of the most beautiful fall destinations in Yellowstone National Park. This remote area northeast of the park is rich in cottonwoods and is perfect for wildlife spotting. Bald eagles, coyotes, herds of bison, pronghorn, grizzly bears, and deer are frequently seen here in the fall.
Northern Yellowstone borders the Custer Gallatin National Forest, a fall foliage paradise easily accessible from Gardiner, Montana. Explore the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness just east of Gardiner or the Gallatin Wilderness to the north and west.
Mammoth Hot Springs is another scenic fall foliage spot located south of the park’s northern entrance. This is the best place to hear the glow of elk during the rut. The Mammoth Hot Springs terraces are beautiful when dotted with colorful shrubs. From there, you can take a 20-minute drive from Tower Junction on Blacktail Plateau Drive, a scenic dirt road that winds through the woods of the Deer Blacktail Plateau.
South of Swan Lake Flat, you can enjoy the fall foliage along Indian Creek and around Sheepeater Cliffs. Elk can be frequently spotted during the rutting season. Bunsen Peak also offers photographic worthy views.
Central part of Yellowstone
In the central part, Pleasant Valley has golden grass, picturesque rocks, and bright yellow cottonwoods and stepping stones that color the banks of the Yellowstone River. Hayden Valley is another beautiful fall destination with a mud volcano and rich wildlife like bison and elk.
The scenic Lewis River, with its geysers, and the picturesque Lewis River Canyon are located in southern Yellowstone. The lower part of the river, near Lewis River Falls, is especially beautiful because of the old growth fir and cedar forest with patches of deciduous trees.
In addition to hiking, Yellowstone is a great place for a fall bike trip. As the park roads close for the winter, biking enthusiasts can have them just to themselves. If you want to see more leaves, Grand Teton National Park, south of Yellowstone, is famous for its postcard-worthy views.
Zion National Park
Fall is an incredible time to visit Zion National Park. As the temperatures cool, it’s the perfect time for a hiking adventure. Plus, the crowds are much smaller compared to summer, and the park is beautiful as beautiful red, yellow, and orange leaves add so much color to its rugged desert landscape.
Although the climate in Zion National Park is incredibly arid, many trees struggle in the park. Evergreen white pines, ponderosa pines, and Douglas fir are mixed with golden aspens, carmine maples, copper oaks, and yellow cottonwoods. During the fall months, red and gold accents light up the desert landscape, creating many opportunities for nature photographers.
When is the best time to see fall colors in Zion National Park?
Because of the variety of elevations, Zion National Park has a very long fall foliage season. At higher elevations in Zion, you can see many trees lighting up already in mid-September. The park’s peak season usually lasts from late September to early October. However, at lower elevations, you can see picturesque fall colors as late as mid-November.
The Best Places to See Fall Colors in Zion National Park
To get a bird’s-eye view of Zion Falls, take the easy one-mile Canyon Overlook trail east of the Zion-Mt. Carmel Tunnel. The views of Zion Canyon from far above will take your breath away. A one-hour trail is perfect for families and those not ready for long, intense hikes.
Hikers can start on the 2.2-mile Riverside Drive, which is paved and comfortable. From there, you can take the scenic Emerald Pools Trail that is particularly rich in deciduous trees. A more challenging option is to walk along the riverbed from the Sinawava Temple shuttle station in a different direction for several miles.
This way, you can reach Zion Narrows, the beautiful slot canyon that looks even better with colorful trees. If you’re ready to challenge yourself even more, take the 5.4-mile (8.7 km) Angels Landing hike that will allow you to look down on the canyon from the 1,500-foot (457 m) elevation.
A picturesque walk
To fully appreciate the beauty of Southern Utah, take a ride on the five-mile Kolob Finger Scenic Byway to the Kolob Finger Canyons. In the fall, the road is surrounded by red and orange trees. Don’t forget to stop at Timber Creek Overlook trail for a photo.
Another benefit of visiting Zion in the fall is the more vibrant wildlife. You can see bighorn sheep, rock squirrels, mule deer, ringtail cats, and wild turkeys. Overall, the park is home to 68 species of mammals, most of which are especially active in the fall.
Oregon’s Fall Colors
Every fall, there’s plenty to see in Oregon, from the Pacific Coast to the Cascade Range.
Oregon is the third greenest state in the country, which means that the forests never end. Even though the majority of the trees in the state are evergreen, such as Douglas fir, the state looks spectacular in the fall. Scarlet notes are provided by red alder, Pacific dogwood, and vine maple, while a rich yellow is provided by bigleaf maple and cascara, and bronze is provided by Oregon white oak.
October is the best month to see the fall foliage in Oregon. Trees typically begin to turn color in late September and peak in mid to late October. Fall colors can be seen in Northeast Oregon from early to mid-November.
Fall in South Carolina
The most vibrant fall colors are seen in the Upstate of South Carolina each year between late October and early November. The roads that border or cross the Blue Ridge Mountains provide a multicolored landscape while also providing access to some of the area’s major attractions, such as waterfalls, lakes, rivers, and scenic overlooks, the majority of which are located within major state parks and nature preserves.
The Cherokee Foothills Scenic Byway, also known as Highway 11, and Highway 276 are recommended routes for the trip. The trip takes about five hours, so it can be a full-day adventure to take pictures, record videos, and spend relaxing time with family or friends contemplating beautiful scenery.
Bald Rock Heritage Park
It is a natural viewpoint from which to admire the breathtaking landscapes of the mountains in Pickens and Greenville counties, particularly Table Rock Park.
- Highway 276 in the direction of Caesars Head
- Cleveland, South Carolina 29635
State Park of Caesars Head
Caesars Head State Park is a South Carolina Upstate tourism icon for nature lovers. It is a rock formation at an elevation of 3,028 feet (927 meters) above sea level, with the main attraction being the viewpoint from which visitors can enjoy a spectacular panoramic view of the mountains of the Carolinas and Georgia.
- 8155 Geer Highway, Cleveland, SC 29635
- Symmes Chapel (Pretty Place)
From this chapel, you can see the imposing Blue Ridge Mountains of South Carolina. However, you must check the Facebook page to see if it is open to the public, as it is also rented for weddings and other corporate events in addition to religious ceremonies.
- Address: 100 YMCA Camp Road, Cleveland, SC, 29635.
- For schedules, visit campgreenville
- More info: scgreenvilledigital
Table Rock State Park
Table Rock is a state park bordering the Blue Ridge Mountain Range and Highway 11 in Pickens County, and in addition to being one of the most symbolic parks in the Upstate of South Carolina, it is a favorite place for hikers and those who prefer to be in touch with nature, away from the noise of the city.
- Address: 158 East Ellison Lane, Pickens, SC, 29671.
Sassafras Mountain Tower
The observation tower at Sassafras Mountain, the highest peak in the state, offers unparalleled panoramas of the mountains of South Carolina, North Carolina, and Georgia, within an approximate 30-50 mile radius.
- Sunset (SC) 29685, 1399 F. Van Clayton Memorial Highway
New England is known for its spectacular fall colors, and Vermont, three-quarters covered in forest, is probably the best place to see the bright red, orange, and yellow foliage.
As temperatures cool, take a drive down the country roads and be sure to photograph the dazzling kaleidoscope of the forest. Colorful foliage viewing is a well-known activity in Vermont; the many sugar maples make this New England state a must-see this time of year. This is partly because sugar maples have more hues and shades than other trees. As a delicious bonus, their sap is used to produce real maple syrup.
Unfortunately, it can be difficult to predict exactly when the fall leaves will be at their most beautiful. It varies from year to year and depends on many factors, including weather conditions, but also the altitude of the trees. Most people agree, however, that the safest time to book a trip is from the end of September to the beginning of October.
On the Road
Northern Vermont is where the trees first turn to fall color. Make this region the starting point for your trip, then head south to discover the state’s famous covered bridges and historic, quaint towns. Be sure to pack a coat, comfortable boots, gloves, and a scarf, as the weather can change very quickly.
Fly into Burlington International Airport, Vermont’s most populous city, near spectacular Lake Champlain. This sparkling lake and its shoreline are lined with colorful trees that are sure to dazzle you from the start. To end the day, spend the evening at Church Street Marketplace, a lively pedestrian destination filled with stores and restaurants.
Meet in Stowe, 58 kilometers from Burlington (approximately 45 minutes by car).
Continue your journey to Stowe, in the mountains. You can take I-89 and then Route 100, or if you have time to detour, take the Smuggler’s Notch Pass route for great views. Before you reach Stowe, this mountain pass passes through forests with a thousand colors and rocky outcroppings that will impress you.
Known as the “Ski Capital of the East“, Stowe is the birthplace of Nordic skiing in the United States. But the town is even more beautiful before the first snowfall. Take the Gondola SkyRide to the top of Mount Mansfield, Vermont’s highest peak. From there, you can enjoy the colorful forests. Hike from the summit to get a better shot of the beautiful foliage, or hike back down Mount Mansfield and visit the Ben & Jerry’s factory just outside of town. Here you can taste the famous Ben & Jerry’s ice cream.
Enjoy aerial views in Montpelier, which is 36 kilometers (about 30 minutes) from Stowe.
Drive from Stowe to Montpelier. The State House and its ornate dome sit at the foot of a small wooded hill. Each year in the fall, the foliage on the hillside turns a beautiful color and makes the State House a particularly photogenic site. For an elevated view, visit Hubbard Park and climb to the top of the observation tower. From the top of the 16-meter tower, you’ll be able to enjoy splendid views of the autumn leaves.
Discover the old world charm of Woodstock, 87 kilometers from Montpelier (approximately one-hour drive)
Take Route 12 south of Northfield Falls, where three covered bridges meet within a half mile of each other: Upper Cox, Lower Cox, and Northfield Falls. Continue on to Woodstock, a traditional New England village on the banks of the Ottauquechee River, home to Vermont’s only national park and picturesque farms surrounded by colorful woods.
This charming historic village also boasts three covered bridges, including one of Vermont’s oldest: the Taftsville Covered Bridge, built in 1836.
End your stay in Brattleboro, 106 kilometers from Woodstock (approximately one-hour drive).
Located on the Vermont-New Hampshire border, this trendy town is known for its art galleries, fine dining, and outdoor recreation. Take time to stroll through the charming historic downtown before taking in the lush foliage of the Hogle Wildlife Sanctuary. Or rent a kayak or canoe and glide along the Connecticut River, taking in the beautiful fall colors.
Don’t miss Vermont’s historic covered bridges
Most of Vermont’s famous covered bridges were built in the 19th century, and their unique style still delights tourists. More than 100 bridges are still intact; some of the most beautiful and well-preserved are on this driving tour. Here are some of the most famous bridges:
- In Stowe, the Gold Brook Covered Bridge is a darkly painted wooden bridge known to be haunted.
- The Slaughter House Covered Bridge is one of five bridges in the city preserved since the 19th century.
- In Woodstock, the Northfield Fall Covered Bridge and the Lower Cox Brook Covered Bridge are the only two Vermont bridges visible next to each other.
- In Brattleboro, the Creamery Covered Bridge is a great place to take photos of an authentic Vermont bridge. In fact, this beautiful red bridge is only accessible to pedestrians.
If you’re looking for the best places to visit in the USA in the fall, look no further than this list above. With the crisp air, colorful leaves, and low airfares of fall, it’s the perfect time to travel.
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