It is most certainly hard to wrap your head around the fact that the kids are back in school and fall is finally upon us once again. Though summer has drawn its weary head, there are most certainly a number of wonderful things that fall has to offer your family. One of the best is most definitely taking a fall color trip to enjoy all of the beauty that nature has to offer as their leaves change from green to strikingly vibrant shades of gold, red and orange. With keeping that in mind, you don’t even have to stray far from your home to take in the gorgeous fall colors; here are the best places to enjoy fall colors in the US!
While Aspen is undoubtedly popular during the winter months, it is quite quiet during the fall season. And when a town is named after the aspen tree, whose leaves turn a vibrant yellow hue in the fall and shimmer in the breeze when the sun hits them, you know you have stumbled upon some fall color bliss. The golden tones of the aspens create a picture-perfect contrast to the areas evergreens and harsh mountain peaks. Take note that the aspen season is pretty short; kicking off in mid-September and peaking by the end of the month. While the first week of October boasts some fairly spectacular views, past that you will only find remnants of the beauty laying on the ground.
Columbia River Gorge, Oregon
While the eighty-mile Columbia River Gorge is a breath-taking sight all on its own, when autumn draws near and the firs, cottonwoods, big-leaf maples, Oregon ash, and twisted pines show-off their incredible colors, you have stumbled upon a sight that feels as if you are in a fairy tale. You can even take advantage of a number of various ways to take in all of the golden and bronze hues; by selecting to drive along the Columbia River, hike a number of trails, or even raft or kayak down the river. Mid-September to mid-October are the best times to take in the spectacular fall foliage in the area.
Green Mountain Byway, Vermont
The northern Vermont leaf observation season starts during the second week of September and peaks during the first week in October. Here, you will find an abundance of dazzling displays of maple, birch, and beech trees lining an eleven-mile route that cuts through Vermont to find one of the most incredible fall color displays in New England. Be sure to take advantage of the drive from Waterbury (home of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream!) to Stowe, one of the most famous ski resorts in the east, as the drive will pass through two state forests and three state parks. In Stowe, you will even find that the ski area gondola provides a spectacular bird’s-eye view of the forested slopes and you can even get in some great access to hiking.
Enchanted Circle Scenic Byway, New Mexico
This incredible eighty-three-mile loop that begins and ends in Taos has actually become quite popular to take in some stunning fall foliage, particularly for fans of aspens! You will find on this excursion that the aspens not only turn yellow but also a gorgeous dark orange. While aspens are namely the star of the show, you are also sure to find some beautiful purple cinquefoil and cottonwoods in fiery shades of which range from bright red to vibrant yellow. The route also circles around the 13,161-foot Wheeler Peak, which is New Mexico’s highest point, and the mesas and vistas are guaranteed to provide your family with a stunningly unique southwestern perspective on all of the wonderful colors of autumn. Be sure to head out in late September to early October as these times boast the most vibrant colors along the Enchanted Circle Scenic Byway.
Great Smoky Mountains, North Carolina and Tennessee
It is of no shocking surprise that the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one of the most frequented national parks in the U.S. With over a 100 different species of native trees, of which include scarlet oaks, hickories, maples, and sweetgums, you are sure to find all that you are seeking for a jaw-dropping fall display of golds, oranges, crimsons, and even purples. With over 800 miles of roads and hiking trails, you could literally spend several days exploring the stunning forests of the Great Smoky Mountains. Try and head out in early October to early November for the most colorful show.
Upper Peninsula, Michigan
The largest forest system in the eastern U.S. is Michigan’s, encompassing nearly 4 million acres. You can literally take your pick from any one of the Upper Peninsula’s twenty-plus forested state parks to take in all you can from the aspens, ash, beech, birch, maple, oak, sycamore, and tamarack of this densely forested peninsula that is located right between three of the Great Lakes. Toss in the tranquil waters that range in color from azure to navy, and you will be able to take in a mirror reflection of the already remarkable view of the trees. The best time to visit for the peak of fall colors is mid-September to mid-October, with the peak typically occuring in October.