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Best Places to See Fall Colors
If you love the brilliant colors of changing leaves in fall, here are some places where the viewing is spectacular:
Aspen, Colorado. The season is early and brief – it lasts from mid-September until the end of the month or the very early part of October. But it is gorgeous, especially the golden aspens that give this ski town its name.
The Catskills, New York. This long-time recreation area in southeastern New York boasts 6,000 square miles of woodlands and mountains. Go from mid-September through October to see the most brilliant colors, and to sample local markets and fairs.
The Berkshires, Massachusetts. Another fabled area of forests and mountains in the eastern U.S., the Berkshires are at their most beautiful from mid-September until Columbus Day.
Columbia River Gorge, Oregon. The 80-mile gorge in the Cascade Mountains between southern Washington and northern Oregon is spectacular any time. But from mid-September to mid-October the hardwoods are bursting with color. You can view them from the road – or from the river in a raft or kayak.
Green Mountain Byway, Vermont. New England is famous for fall colors, and this 11-mile drive from Waterbury to Stowe is an excellent example of why. The season usually starts the second week of September and peaks the first week of October.
Enchanted Circle Scenic Byway, New Mexico. This loop is 83 miles long, starting and ending in Taos. It features aspens that turn not only golden, but orange as well. Other trees add to the show. Best viewing is late September to early October.
Great Smoky Mountains, North Carolina and Tennessee. Because of its southern location, the season here is a little later – early October through early November. The national park is one of the most-visited in the country, and it offers 100 kinds of trees and 800 miles of roads and hiking trails.
The Upper Peninsula, Michigan. There are more than 20 state parks in the U.P., with a wide variety of colorful trees. In many places, you can see the trees reflected in one of the three Great Lakes that surround the peninsula: Lake Huron, Lake Michigan and Lake Superior. The season lasts from mid-September to mid-October.
Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri. This lake in central Missouri is known primarily as a summer playground, but the forests explode in color in the fall. The peak of the season is the last two weeks of October.
Glacier National Park, Montana. You will be largely on your own here – the in-park lodgings and concessions are closed for the season. But you will be rewarded with bursts of yellow larch and gold conifers, all against the dramatic background of the Continental Divide. Most trees turn color in September, but the larch trees usually turn in mid-October.