Great Fall Foliage Destinations
Leaf-peeping season is upon us – and in this age of social distancing it is an activity that can still easily be enjoyed. Check out our guide for some of the best places across America to see the foliage change colors.
Breckenridge, Colorado – With bright gold aspens juxtaposed against a bluebird blue cloudless sky, and set to a backdrop of snowcapped craggy mountains, the historic 19th-century silver mining turned ski town of Breckenridge is one of Colorado’s first places to welcome the changing fall colors. The town, less than a two-hour drive west of Denver, sits at an elevation of 9,600 feet, and the color changes start in September. This community hosts a number of fall festivals, which happen every fall. The most popular of these is Oktoberfest. Scheduled for the second weekend of September, the long running celebration is the largest street party in the Rocky Mountains. For more on what’s going on, check out www.gobreck.com.
Great Smokie Mountains – Tennessee – What makes leaf peeping so special in the Great Smoky Mountains is the amazing diversity of types of trees, from maples to birches to beeches, oaks, and cherry trees, which means more variation when it comes to the palette of colors on display. There are also about 100 tree species that are native to this region, meaning you won’t see these exact color combos anywhere else. Some of the best spots in the Smokies to enjoy the changing colors on a drive include the Blue Ridge Parkway, Clingmans Dome Road, and the Foothills Parkway. If you’d rather experience the crunch of fallen leaves underfoot, try a hike in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The Gregory Bald Trail is one excellent option, and is a hike of about 11 miles total. It’s worth it, however, as the high elevation trail above Cades Cove offers fantastic views and large stands of mature trees. Peak viewing in the Smokies is mid to late October.
Olympic National Park – Washington – With dramatic peaks and old-growth rainforests, Olympic National Park and the surrounding Olympic Peninsula are stunning destinations year-round. But in fall, beauty elevates to a whole new level when you’ll be wowed by crimson vine maple leaves twice the size of your hand and dazzling yellow aspens. Some of the top leaf-peeping areas to check out inside the park include the Hoh Rainforest (hike one of the Hall of Mosses trails), the Quinault Rainforest along the Quinault River, and along Highway 101 between Forks and Lake Crescent. The leaves tend to peak in the first two weeks of October.
Letchworth State Park – New York – About 35 miles Southwest of Rochester, Letchworth State Park is known as the “Grand Canyon of the East” for its 600-foot cliffs and deep gorge. The park follows the Genesee River as it flows north through the gorge and over three powerful waterfalls, each with its own overlook. During the fall foliage season, when the trees blaze crimson, orange, and golden yellow, these overlooks are particularly spectacular.
Kancamagus Scenic Highway – New Hampshire – In New Hampshire’s White Mountains, the Kancamagus Scenic Highway (Route 112) is one of the top spots in New England to leaf peep. The 35-mile scenic pass connects Lincoln to Conway and has plenty of spots to pull over and take in the views. Make sure your tank is not on empty when beginning, as there are no gas stations along this stretch of pavement. There are also a few hairpin turns, so mind your speed. The peak viewing season for fall foliage is the end of September through the first week of October.
Big South Fork National River – Kentucky – At Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area in a rugged portion of the Cumberland Plateau in southeastern Kentucky, visitors get a two-for-one special in fall. The leaves in this portion of Appalachia put on a splendid show come October and so do wildflowers that bloom here in fall. The protected natural space is filled with miles of sandstone bluffs and gorges cut by the Cumberland River. The Big South Fork Open Air Scenic Railway is a great way to check out the fall foliage. The heritage railway operates out of the town Stearns and does a Fall Colors Express Run along its 16-mile loop through the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area with a stop in a historic coal mining town.
TravelKatz would love to share in the building of one of these Fall destinations with you…call us at 352-277-7300 and let’s begin the planning…