Brilliant washes of copper, amber, orange, and scarlet can only mean one thing — Fall is here! While peak Fall foliage can range anywhere from late September to late October, it’s not too late to plan a last-minute autumnal getaway
….not to mention leaf-peeping is a great socially distanced activity to partake in.
Foliage spots are brimming across the country. From the valleys of California to coastal escapes in New England, fall foliage is one of the brilliant things to accompany colder weather. Take off on a road trip, book an off-the-grid Airbnb (get inspiration in our post here) or take advantage of cheap flight deals to cozy up and enjoy the fall weather.
Newport, Rhode Island
While Newport is one of the hottest summer destinations, explore this coastal town in the fall instead. Bask in the New England weather while enjoying the seaside Newport without the tourists. Is there anything better than chilly beach walks after summer ends? Embark on the winding drive of Ocean drive — it offers fantastic views of Fort Adams State Park and the Atlantic Ocean along with many points of interest. You won’t want to miss the Cliff Walk; this paved walkway along the edge of Newport passes sprawling famed mansions of Newport and offers views of Narragansett Bay and Jamestown Island.
Maryland’s Eastern Shore
Three words — blue crab season. While this delicious season kicks off in April, it peaks in fall so October is the perfect time to visit. Crowds have thinned from summer fun, cooler weather will be easier to enjoy, and fall is when crabs are meatiest — and cheapest! Spend a morning enjoying foliage from the road while traveling some of Maryland’s best-kept secrets — their scenic byways. The Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway is named after the heroic leader so it combines unbeatable leaf-peeping with history. You’ll explore the secret network of trails, safe houses, and waterways used by enslaved people fleeing north.
Great Smoky Mountains
Another must-have to catch the leaves changing — The Great Smoky Mountains. Mid-October you’ll find the leaves boasting bright copper and crimson. To take in the breathtaking views of the Smoky Mountains by hiking trails, check out Clingman’s Dome, Baskins Creek Trail, or the Appalachia Trail from Newfound Gap. The crisp autumnal air will offer you perfect weather to accompany the stunning colors you’ll encounter. To see the vista from a different viewpoint, hop aboard the Nantahala Gorge Excursion. If you prefer to take in the fall colors with a scenic drive instead, enjoy the changing colors of leaves on the Cades Cove Loop Road, Newfound Gap Road, Cataloochee Valley, or the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail.
Jackson Hole, Wyoming
While Jackson Hole is an outdoor-enthusiast area for the summer months, autumn holds even more promise for fall foliage getaways. Enjoy the local hiking, biking, fishing, and excursions with fewer crowds and more temperate weather. Embark on a national park adventure (keep track of them on our new National Parks map!) both Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park are only a short drive away. To take in one of the most scenic views of the Grand Tetons, head to Oxbow Bend. Catch the best light as Mount Moran is reflected in the glass-like waters of Snake River. Hike, kayak, or just enjoy the spectacular fall colors near the river. Go early — and don’t forget your camera!
Most cities in Colorado act as a playground during winter months, but there are plenty of opportunities to explore during fall too. Instead of grabbing your ski shoes, grab a pair of hiking boots to explore. But the fastest way to enjoy everything Telluride has to offer in the fall? The gondola. To enjoy a scenic trip (with minimal effort) board one of their famed gondolas from Telluride to Mountain Village. It covers 8 miles in the San Juans. The best part? This excursion is completely free! Locals say get off at San Sophia Station to catch both stunning views of Mt. Wilson and the town of Telluride. Go around sunset and you may even catch an epic Alpenglow!
Door County, Wisconsin
The best leaf-peeping doesn’t just happen on the coasts! In fact, the midwest boasts some of the best fall foliage getaways. For a midwest getaway, head to Door County. Get peeks of picturesque New England as you drive down High 57 on the lakeside of the peninsula. The drive is chock full of lighthouses, white frame buildings, and of course bursts of scarlet, gold, and copper leaves from the canopy of trees. To enjoy the area’s oak, maple, and hardwood trees through October, take advantage of one of the colorful scenic drives. Head north on Highway 42 as part of the Door County Coastal Byway — the stretch between Northport and Sister Bay will offer some of the most spectacular views in Wisconsin before you cut inland to the famous Jens Jensen Winding Road. Not only is this road famously curvy, but it will also offer great photo opportunities! Make sure to add a pit stop at Seaquist Orchards Farm Market for apple cider doughnuts. This multi-generational family business is one of the most beloved in the county.
Upper Peninsula, Michigan
For another midwest respite, head to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The state’s northernmost point offers vibrant gold and orange hues across the peak season in early October. The winding roads are surrounded by colorful tunnels of trees. For some of the state’s best views, go to Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park along with nearly 100 waterfalls including the most polar Bond Falls. Or visit a historic ghost town surrounded by fall foliage for a beautiful yet interesting history lesson at Fayette Historic State Park. The short hike to the overlook will offer amazing views of Snailshell Harbor and the surrounding limestone bluffs.
Columbia River Gorge
The Columbia River Gorge provides a natural border between Washington and Oregon and is a stunning place to visit for any time of year, however, in the fall the firs, cottonwoods, maples, and Oregon ash trees all start to show off. They display their bold colors so that every drive, hike, or canoe trip is breathtaking. Enjoy hundreds of miles of trails, tons of waterfalls, or grab a kayak or canoe to explore the water. There is no better way to take in the blanketed paths of fallen leaves than one of Oregon or Washington’s famed hikes. A can’t miss trail of the area — Cape Horn Trail. Not only will you spend the six-mile loop trail surrounded by gorgeous foliage, but it also overlooks the Pioneer Point which offers sweeping views of the changing leaves.
For any wine-lovers, fall is an ideal time to visit the wine country. You can tour the vineyards and wineries while enjoying the red, orange, and yellow foliage. Take a ride on the open-air Sonoma Valley Wine Trolley to take in the foliage from the tracks. If you’re ready to take a break from the vino, the Bodega Head Trail offers an easy hike with beautiful ocean and bay views. Choose between the 3-mile option around the headlands or an even easier 1-mile path to and from the overlook. Both will reward you with sweeping views of Bodega Harbor, the Pacific Ocean, and the town itself. After you work up an appetite, treat yourself to a local seafood lunch after.
Hopefully, we’ve offered plenty of autumnal inspiration to set out on some fall foliage getaways!
So grab your road trip essentials, your travel journals, and set out to make so more memories in this crazy year.