8 Amazing Cities To See Fall Foliage
The crisp air is just around the corner. You may already have a notification set for the pumpkin spice latte, which should be hitting stores sometime at the end of August. With the fall months rapidly approaching, we know the gorgeous fall colors and amazing fall activities are on the way. Fall is hailed as many people’s favorite season; the kaleidoscope of oranges, reds, golds, and browns will send people all over the country searching for the ideal leaf-peeping.
From the Pacific to the Atlantic – and everywhere in between – we found some of the top destinations for your fall-hued wanderlust. There’s something for everyone on our list of best cities to view fall foliage – including scenic drives below a canopy of colors, peaceful walks through a lively college campus, and mountainous views set ablaze by fiery shades.
Researching The Best Cities To View Fall Foliage
The researchers at BestPlaces.net did the leg work of determining where the fall should take you and determined the best cities in each census region to view fall foliage and the best timing for each location. The list for ranking the cities includes:
- Square miles of metro area covered in deciduous trees
- Percent of metro area covered in deciduous trees
- Freezing temperatures (plant hardiness zones)
- Latitude of metro area
- Elevation (feet above sea level)
State College, Pennsylvania
- Population: 162,385
- Best Day For Viewing: October 17
- Percent of Deciduous Tree Coverage: 58.5%
State College, home to the famous Nittany Lions of Penn State University, plays home to not only a great football team but an array of incredible fall colors. The top of Mount Nittany in State College greets hikers with stunning views of a dense forest of bronze oaks and yellow birches, ashes, and witch hazel bushes.
Down below, PSU’s grounds return to life after a lazy summer, and you can walk among more than 17,000 campus trees – including the iconic elms. Those who come during the peak viewing time (Mid October) can also enjoy State College’s annual Downtown Fall Festival.
- Population: 265,206
- Best Day For Viewing: October 15
- Percent of Deciduous Tree Coverage: 51.4%
Norwich has long been regarded for its natural beauty in every season. Many call it the “Rose of New England” for its gorgeous stacked rolling hills that look like rose petals, the aforementioned hills, and the city is covered with trees and two rivers that, when joined, become the Thames River. These features make it a prime place for taking in one’s surroundings.
Mohegan Park’s vegetation is mostly deciduous forest, turning the park into a vibrant fall oasis. Visitors can explore ponds, and hike trails, enjoy seasonal pavilion rentals, and visit a sprawling rose garden. However, the fun doesn’t end there. Yantic Falls is a historic 40-foot waterfall encompassed by trees with a walking bridge that offers a panoramic view of the fall.
- Population: 169,230
- Best Day For Viewing: October 20
- Percent of Deciduous Tree Coverage: 59.7%
Whether it’s the Hoosier National Forest or the Dunn Meadow, nature preserves, wetlands, wineries, or urban trails, Bloomington gives visitors a cornucopia of ways to experience Autumn colors. Standing 110 feet tall, the Hickory Ridge Fire Tower is a popular spot to view sunrises, sunsets, and gorgeous fall shades over the Charles C. Deam Wilderness. The last remaining lookout tower in the Hoosier National Forest, the tower was built in 1939 and detected fires until the 1970s. The public can scale the 133 steps to a breathtaking, multicolor view of Monroe County.
La Crosse, Wisconsin
- Population: 136,616
- Best Day For Viewing: September 27
- Percent of Deciduous Tree Coverage: 39.3%
In late September, the trees in La Crosse trade their summer look for striking oranges, yellows, and reds – made even more alluring as it reflects off the Mississippi River or peppers the city’s ancient bluffs. The autumn hues can be enjoyed up close at the area’s nearby fall staples, including pumpkin patches, wineries, and apple orchards. It’s a fall wonderland where you can relish various fall activities, like traversing corn mazes, drinking seasonal beverages, and apple picking.
Charleston, West Virginia
- Population: 208,089
- Best Day For Viewing: October 23
- Percent of Deciduous Tree Coverage: 81.3%
A little busier than other places on this list, Charleston is a popular place to view the splendor of fall that has become synonymous with West Virginia’s leaf map, which features live updates on where the best and brightest leaves can be found. Along with a location, users submit pictures of vibrant trees, from crimson dogwoods to pale yellow hickory and deep brown oaks. One popular place on the map is the historic Sunrise Carriage Trail, a forested trail near the downtown area that features century-old stone walls imprinted with local leaves.
- Population: 557,741
- Best Day For Viewing: October 30
- Percent of Deciduous Tree Coverage: 51.8%
Along with an abundance of parks inside the city, Fayetteville is a central hub for many state and national parks. The city sits near Ozark-St. Francis National Forest – home to the Pig Trail Scenic Byway, a 19-mile stretch of leafy canopy tunnels that engulf cars in bright oranges, reds, and yellows. In the heart of the forest is Whitaker’s Point, also known as Hawksbill Crag, which many say is the most photographed place in Arkansas. Outside the forest is Devil’s Den State Park, filled with several hiking trails and mountain biking trails. Fayetteville is a great place to bring the kids to see the changing colors – especially in late October and early November, during peak foliage season.
- Population: 683,864
- Best Day For Viewing: October 21
- Percent of Deciduous Tree Coverage: 22.1%
Ogden has several trails for hikers, bikers, and climbers to check out fall colors. And now, motorists can follow special road trips around the city that are specifically mapped out so you can experience the best scenic fall drives.
Grand Junction, Colorado
- Population: 154,210
- Best Day For Viewing: October 22
- Percent of Deciduous Tree Coverage: 17.1%
Red rock landscapes and maroon leaves make Grand Junction – also known as Colorado’s Wine Country – features a spectrum of incredible reds in the fall. It also sits less than an hour from the Grand Mesa Scenic Byway and Powderhorn Mountain Resort, which offer sweeping vistas of bright, golden aspen trees from roads, hiking trails, and even chairlifts.
Finding Your Own Best Cities To View Fall Foliage
There isn’t a right answer for the best place to enjoy the gorgeous fall colors. Each person has a haven for enjoying autumn’s bounty. This list isn’t an end-all list of places to go as this country is a gorgeous place to enjoy every season. If your city didn’t make the list let us know where your favorite place to enjoy in the Fall.