Fall is the perfect time to hit the road and explore America’s natural beauty. To help get you started, here are 10 of the most beautiful places in the U.S. in autumn. But you better leaf soon…
1. Stowe, VT
The mountains, fields, and trails around Stowe come to life in fall. Enjoy the Cold Hollow Cider Mill, or the Percy Farm Corn Maze for some fun-time with the grandkids, or rent bikes and explore the 5.3 mile recreation path that winds its way over the West Branch River across 11 arched bridges. There’s even a morning paddle down the river to the Maple Outlet in Jeffersonville where you can learn about making maple syrup.
2. Cranberry Lake, NY
Grab your hiking boots and camera and head out on the Cranberry Lake 50 recreational trail to view stunning orange and red sugar maple trees along the 50 miles of trails in the Five Ponds Wilderness area. Camp out in the area’s campgrounds or rent a house overlooking the lake to get the most out of the stunning views.
3. Aspen, CO
Whether you want to see the leaves while hiking, boating, or driving, Aspen has the view for you. Get your fly fishing rod out, grab your hiking boots, or head out on your bicycle for spectacular views of the mountains before the snow starts to fall. And top those anything-but-ordinary views off with anything-but-boring food at the area’s wide selection of gourmet restaurants.
4. Taos, NM
Taos in the fall is one of the most beautiful sights to see in New Mexico. Known as ‘The Land of Enchantment’, New Mexico’s painted desert offers stunning vistas year-round, but fall’s colors add to the spectacle. Take in the Enchanted Circle Scenic Byway by car to view some of the changing colors, or try the drive down the High Road to Taos, a tour that takes you through Espanola, Trampas, Truchas, Cordova, and Chimayo. If trains are more your thing, hop on the Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad for a ride on a coal-fired steam engine through steep mountain canyons, high deserts, and lush meadows along the Colorado and New Mexico border.
5. Gatlinburg, TN
This mountain getaway is best-known as a summer vacation spot, but places like Ober Gatlinburg amusement park and its Skyways offer some amazing views of the changing leaves. Crisp cool air coupled with cozy cabins add up to a beautiful setting that makes for an intense vacation. Grab some of the area’s home-cooking, or head to one of the gourmet restaurants along the strip. And don’t forget to stop at some of the more fun attractions like Ripley’s Believe It or Not.
Interested in reading more about this destination? Check out 9 Things Everyone Should Do In Gatlinburg.
6. Deadwood, SD
Located in the Black Hills, the backcountry of South Dakota offers up spectacular views and a monument or two. Take in the fall air and revel in the surrounding forests while you explore Mount Rushmore and other landmarks. And don’t forget to pack your hiking boots — the area’s trails and recreation spots offer plenty of opportunity to get into the woods and leave your worries behind.
7. Porcupine Mountains State Park, MI
Stop on the shores of Lake Superior for stunning views along some of the clearest water in the country. The North Country Trail includes more than 20 miles of hiking, skiing, and mountain biking trails. And there’s canoe and kayak rentals for those wanting to venture out to see the leaves changing from the water. The Porcupine Mountains include a 640-foot vertical drop lined by trees, as well as waterfalls, old growth forests, and some of the most scenic vistas around.
8. Hood River, OR
Home to some of the most amazing fall scenery in the Pacific Northwest, Hood River along the Columbia River Gorge gives you access to fall foliage on foot, on boat, or by train. From orchards that beg to be explored to area parks along Indian Creek or Waterfront Park, there are plenty of places to hike through the leaves. Take the Mt. Hood Railroad Excursion Train through the Upper Valley of the Hood River, or cruise along the Historic Columbia River Scenic Waterway on a sternwheeler, or even enjoy a bit of whitewater rafting along the gorge while taking in the foliage.
9. Helen, GA
Summer may mean leisurely tubing in Helen, GA, but fall means walks through the Appalachian mountains. Located a short drive away from Tallulah Gorge State Park and Amicalola Falls State Park, Helen is a beautiful, out-of-the-way spot in the North Georgia mountains. From beautiful views to riverside stops, Helen has everything you need for a fall weekend getaway. Rent a cabin from Blue Ridge Cabins, then take in the sites while celebrating Oktoberfest. If hiking, kayaking, mountain biking and fishing aren’t your cup of tea, then head over to Yonah Mountain Vineyards for some wine tasting instead.
10. Midway, KY
Located just off the Bourbon Trail in central Kentucky, driving to Midway takes one down country roads covered by tree tunnels. In October, the area is a’bustle with the fall season for Keeneland, but there’s no shortage of things to do if horse racing isn’t your thing. Holly Hill Inn provides spectacular views, as well as some mouth-watering food. Stroll down Midway’s main street for some one-of-a-kind shopping adventures, and then drive the back roads of Kentucky to either Prodigy or Equus Wineries for a sampling of their wares. Woodford Reserve and Castle & Key Distilleries are nearby if your tastes run toward bourbon. And nearby, in Versailles, you’ll find the Kentucky Castle, where you can sleep like a princess in one of the castle’s hotel rooms.