Autumn in the United States is one of the best times to travel: the temperatures fall, the air becomes crisp and fresh and best of all, the trees explode with red, orange and yellow leaves. You can find changing colors anywhere that deciduous trees grow but some places are renowned for their jewel colored foliage.
Peak leaf peeping season varies by region. Generally, the further north you head, the earlier to leaves begin to change. Actual dates for peak viewing are dependent on several factors including the season's weather. Here are five great places in the United States to make the most of fall foliage.
Mountains are typically the best places to really luxuriate in the changing of the seasons because the leaves change color based on their elevation. This can lead to gorgeous layers and ribbons of color.
The Shenandoah National Park is part of the massive Blue Ridge Mountains that wind along the Mid-Atlantic. During the late fall the mountains erupt in color with pretty red dogwoods and yellow hickory trees. Explore the region by taking a trip down the renowned Skyline Drive and be prepared to stop for photos.
The distinctively dome-shaped mountains in Adirondack National Park are part of the largest wilderness reserve in the Eastern United States. This means six million acres of virgin forest.
The best time to visit is during the Flaming Leaf Festival at Lake Placid. This two-day event celebrates all things fall, and the area's foliage in particular, which turns a fiery red this time of year.
Vermont is known as the Green Mountain State thanks to this iconic mountain range. Around October though, the mountains turn from vivid green to a patchwork of vibrant scarlets, golds and yellows. The crown jewel is Vermont's highest and most colorful peak: Mount Mansfield. The Appalachian Trail winds through these mountains but you can easily experience the riot of color yourself by driving the Green Mountain Byways, a series of one lane roads that wind through the area. Make a stop at the Cold Hollow Cider Mill for some fresh apple cider to truly complete the fall experience.
Although the East Coast's foliage gets more attention, the Rocky Mountains also boast brilliant leaves in gold, red and orange. You'll want to time your visit here just right: the colors generally only last from mid-September to mid-October. Later than that and you'll be staring at a bunch of naked trees. The highlight in this area is the bright orange leaves of the spindly aspen trees that give the city its name. Drive out of town to the West Elk Loop Scenic Byway, which passes through the largest aspen grove in the US.
Driving US 395 through the Sierras is a great road trip any time of year, but the glowing fall colors make it extra special. The road winds past rocky canyons and dizzying mountains, through stretches of wilderness and cute small towns. Sights like Mammoth Lakes and long-abandoned ghost towns are further beautified by the changing aspen trees, the yellow willows and the bright red cottonwoods.
Where are your favorite places to see the fall leaves?
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Stephanie Yoder is a girl who can't sit still! Since graduating college in 2007 she has either been traveling or planning to travel. She's lived on four continents and visited everywhere from the Great Wall of China to the Great Barrier Reef. She now writes and travels full time, blogging about her adventures on Why Wait To See The World? (formerly Twenty-Something Travel). Follow Stephanie on Twitter or visit her on Facebook.
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