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The Scenic Route

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A kaleidoscope of colors is just a drive away with this fall foliage travel guide.

It’s that time of year again. Pumpkin spiced flavored—well, everything—lining the grocery store shelves, the morning air feels crisper, fall foliage is starting to appear and the overall excitement for the upcoming holiday season begins to build. But perhaps the biggest indication of fall is when the lush foliage on the  treeline turns from green to bold shades of yellow, orange, copper and red. To add to the magic, fall foliage displays vary across the country, each giving a new variety of colors and backdrops. From coast to coast, here’s our travel guide with some of the best spots across the United States to see fall foliage this year.

ASPEN, COLORADO

Given that this mining town is named for the abundance of aspen trees located there, it’s no surprise that leaf-peeping is almost considered a sport in Aspen, Colorado. Just 160 miles southwest of Denver, Aspen is the perfect spot to enjoy fall foliage colors while getting fresh air through various outdoor activities. Whether you want to explore one of the local hiking trails, take an ATV down one of the scenic roads, kayak the Roaring Fork or Colorado River or get an aerial view by paragliding, you will be immersed in fall foliage colors painted across a snow-capped mountain backdrop. 

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GREAT SMOKY MOUNTAINS NATIONAL PARK – NORTH CAROLINA AND TENNESSEE 

In addition to being one of the most visited National Parks, Great Smoky Mountains National Park is home to 100 species of native trees, making the kaleidoscope of fall foliage colors even more magnificent. Immerse yourself in this sea of reds, oranges and yellows with a hike to Looking Glass Falls on the North Carolina side of the park or a drive through Cades Cove on the Tennessee side. No matter which route you choose, be sure you don’t miss the changing fall leaves by checking the Smoky Mountains’ Fall Foliage Prediction Map before you plan your trip!

Fall Foliage Great Smoky Mountains

THE OZARKS – ARKANSAS

While you may have heard of the Ozarks from a TV series of the same name, the 1.2 million acres of breathtaking views have even more to offer. Beginning in the second week of October and going through early November, the Ozark Mountains’ beauty reaches its peak and the palette of beautiful fall foliage colors are in full swing. 

Due to the Ozarks being home to many different species of tree, the color changes can happen at various times, giving you a large window to experience the fall foliage and surrounding wilderness.

While you’re taking in the scenery and the fresh air, keep an eye out for elk and bull! Or maybe stay the night and take advantage of the amazing stargazing opportunities that the Ozarks offer.

JULIAN, CALIFORNIA

While Southern California isn’t exactly known for its seasons, this former mining town is! Escape the sandy beaches and palm trees, if only just for a day and visit Julian, California, an old mining town just an hour outside of San Diego. Volcan Mountain in Julian is home to some of the oldest and largest black oaks in San Diego County and the view is spectacular in the fall with beautiful foliage color palettes.

Julian not only offers prime fall leaves viewing, but also another favorite fall activity: apple picking. Also famous for its apple pie, be sure to stop by Julian Pie Company for an authentic Julian experience!

Fall Foliage Julian California

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THE BERKSHIRES – MASSACHUSETTS 

If you’re looking for a place to experience fall foliage with a side of charm, the Berkshires, located about 130 miles west of Boston, will check that box. Peak foliage season in the fall is in about mid-October, however you can start to see the hues of yellow and orange from as early as late September. Immerse yourself in the beauty and get the best view of the vivid hues with a hike on a trail on Mount Greylock, the highest peak in the Berkshires at almost 3,500 feet.

When you’re ready to take a break from the outdoors, the Berkshires also features world-class arts and entertainment with a deep-rooted food culture. 

Fall Foliage the berkshires

TUNNEL OF TREES, MICHIGAN

One of Northern Michigan’s not-so-best-kept-secrets, the Tunnel of Trees, is a jaw-dropping 20-mile scenic drive following the historic M-119 highway. Like its name suggests, in the fall months, you’ll find yourself beneath a leafy ceiling of golds and oranges and crimsons as you drive through its 135 curves along the coastal bluff of Lake Michigan.

At about 45 mph, it will take you approximately 40 minutes to go from one end of the Tunnel of Trees to the other. However, if you choose to stop and visit some of the many attractions along the way, it’s easy to spend half a day exploring the area!

Fall Foliage Tunnel of Trees

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