Like many, fall is by far my favorite time of year. The combination of cool temps, the intoxicating aroma of falling leaves and the beautiful display of color gets me excited every year. Unfortunately as a traveler, it’s not always a sure bet that we’ll be in prime fall foliage parts of the country for the fall. I decided I would do my best to find the best resources for leaf lookers in all parts of the country. Some may have to drive further than others and may not have the best displays of color, but in my opinion a little bit of fall beauty is better than nothing. So from coast to coast, here are some of the best places to find fall foliage and some great resources to guide you there.
The Northeast definitely has bragging rights when it comes to beautiful fall colors. We’ve all seen the iconic covered bridges, mountains and historic buildings with beautiful fall backdrops in this region of the country. This year may be a different story as states in this region have had unseasonably warm temps and flooding rains, which can delay color change and produce less brilliant colors. Yankeefoliage.com is a great website I came across that focuses on the Northeast. The website has an interactive map with current fall foliage reports, showing which areas are near peak, at peak and past peak. It’s geared toward the Northeast but there are reports all across the U.S. They even put together a list of top 25 towns to visit with the most spectacular views, complete with a slide show that showcased some amazing pictures.
Accuweather.com reports that states in this region like Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey are in for an early treat this year with cool dry weather in late summer setting up for a great display of color. The Mid-Atlantic is forecast to have near normal temps and precipitation for the fall months, which should produce bright, colorful leaves. Forecasters are predicting that this region may even outshine the Northeast in fall colors this year. As mentioned above, Yankefoliage.com has a great interactive map of this region for current fall foliage reports. TrainTraveling.com has a nice guide on catching the beauty of fall from the unique perspective of a train, with different routes for all of the Mid-Atlantic states. If you are like me and enjoy driving down back roads and getting lost, About.com has a nice fall guide for some scenic destinations.
While you won’t find many brilliant colors too far south, northern sections of this region can be surprisingly stunning. Unfortunately the South was hit pretty hard with heavy flooding, which is not good for fall colors. If you stick to the mountains and northern states in this region, you may still have some luck as the heavier flooding was further south. Southernliving has a slideshow of some beautiful places to visit in these regions that should probably still put on a good show. If nothing else, the views will still be beautiful even if the fall color isn’t.
This part of the country may be more famous for its endless rows of corn than its fall colors, but there is something to be said about watching the sun set on a flat horizon on a cool October night. Besides that, all that corn makes for some great corn mazes notorious throughout the region. Midwestliving has a nice slideshow of fall destinations for the many states that encompass the Midwest. Midwestweekends.com also has a nice guide on where to visit and when to expect peak colors. Although parts of this region have also been hit with heavier than normal rain late summer, forecasters are still predicting a nice turnout for fall colors.
The Southwest is probably the last place anyone would look for fall colors but if you’re up for a long road trip, you can still get in on the action. Since most of this region is dry desert, you’ll have to travel to upper elevations to have any luck. About.com highlights a few destinations that are within driving distance. You may want to plan on staying overnight to get the most out of your trip, but when you see the destinations you probably won’t mind.
Similar to the Southwest, this region is not exactly a hot spot for leaf lookers and again you’ll have to climb to higher elevations to have any luck at finding much color. The higher you’re willing to climb will usually produce the best results. Californiafallcolor.com showcases up-to-date images and reports of fall foliage with some amazing views that include Yosemite National Park. Sunset.com has a top 18 destinations for the west that range from Alaska to Arizona. The colors may not be as spectacular as the east coast, but the landscape and spectacular views sure are.
Oregon and Washington are more known for their rocky beaches, heavy rains and cascading waterfalls. But they also have an impressive display of fall colors that rivals that of the east coast. Sheknows.com has an impressive guide of some great places to visit in Oregon and Washington. About.com has a nice guide for the entire region, including Idaho and Montana.
If you enjoy fall as much as I do, set aside a day or two for a scenic drive for one of nature’s most beautiful shows. No matter where you are in the U.S., there is almost always a spot or two within driving distance. There’s nothing quite like sipping on a hot coffee and listening to your favorite music, driving around the countryside with your windows cracked and taking in that sweet aroma of fall.