America is home to some of the most beautiful forests in the world. But, people who live in the southwest United States have to travel pretty far to visit the best places to see the leaves change. So, if you plan on making a trip centered on fall foliage, you’d better schedule it for the right place and the right time. And, the window of opportunity for ogling oaks, beholding birches, and checking out cherry trees seems to shrink every year. So, for the benefit of our loyal readers, we did the research and put together a reliable list of places to see the leaves change that nearly spans the entire country.
The Berkshires, Massachusetts
Less than a three-hour drive from Boston lies one of the best places to see the leaves change: The Berkshires! From late September through late October, the maples, oaks, birches, and sassafras display a dazzling array of colors! And, due to an abundance of art galleries and boutique shopping experiences in the area, the Berkshires enjoy significant tourism from New York and Philadelphia, as well. So, if you find yourself on a Boston vacation or even a New York tour in late September, consider a daytrip to the Berkshires!
The Catskills, New York
Despite the obvious implication, the Catskills have nothing to do with feline expertise. On rare occasions, you might spot a bobcat in the undergrowth. But, every year, you can bank on seeing some fantastic fall foliage. If you go to the Catskills between mid-September and late October, you’ll understand why it makes our list of best places to see the leaves change. You can discover some of the last old-growth trees in the region, which absolutely explode with color. Try to identify a beech, maple, birch, cherry, oak, basswood, and ash tree during a daytrip from New York, Boston, or Philadelphia.
Great Smoky Mountains, North Carolina & Tennessee
At some point, every American hears that New England is where you’ll find the best places to see the leaves change. But, who knows if that’s true? I hear that Japan ranks as a fall foliage hotspot, too! In any case, we’ll leave the awesome autumn arbores of the Northeast and head down south to the Great Smoky Mountains! Believe it or not, the Smokies rise above the rest as the most visited National Park in the country. Every year, over ten-million visitors come to see the hickory, magnolia, buckeye, and chestnut trees. Some might say that they come to see the densest population of black bears east of the Mississippi. But, we think it’s the trees!
The Ozarks, Arkansas & Missouri
The Ozarks stand as the one of most southerly places to see the leaves change. And, they’re home to quite a collection of oak trees, as well! You’ll find Blackjack Oak, Eastern Oak, White Oak, Northern Red Oak, and Post Oak, among others. These oaks put on a beautiful, multicolored spectacle, which draws visitors to the Ozarks, where they discover exceptional hiking, mountain biking, golfing, and vineyards. If you want to arrive at the perfect time for fall foliage, try to book your Ozarks trip for late October. Then, stay a little longer for more of that southern hospitality!
Let’s talk about “a place where the beer flows like wine, where women instinctively flock like the salmon of Capistrano…a little place called Aspen” (Dumb and Dumber, 1994). Regardless of what you think about the French, Aspen is one of the best places to see the leaves change. I mean, the town itself is named after the eponymous and colorful deciduous tree. You’ll immediately notice them among the spruces because of their brilliant yellows and oranges. But, the viewing window is short; so, you’ll want to arrive sometime within the last two weeks of September!
Hello! We left out some of the obvious best places to see the leaves change. Mention your favorite spot for leaf-lovers in the comments below!