11 top places to see autumn leaves in the USA

Looking for an excuse to go and see the fall leaves in the USA? How about combining your outdoors explorations with fun autumn events and activities at one of these destinations. 

Hiking in Mammoth Lakes, California

You’ll see some of the most beautiful autumn foliage in the world in Mammoth Lakes. The leaves turn to gold, crimson and orange across mountains and forests from September onwards, lasting until November in some spots. Head out on a hike to get immersed in this colourful landscape. Try the Heart Lake Loop, where you’ll discover the Mammoth Consolidated Gold Mine as well as the heart-shaped lake beneath Sherwin Ridge and Pyramid Peak. You’ll pass beaver ponds and cascading waterfalls on Lundy Canyon, or follow the aspen-lined creek to the alpine lakes along the McGee Pass Trail. 

Retreat to the mountains at Lake Tahoe

Escape the crowds to enjoy the autumn leaves at Lake Tahoe. Cooler evenings turn the sky ultra-blue, and turn the leaves into brilliant displays of gold and crimson around the area. You’ll have the countryside to yourself for walking and hiking during September or October, with Quaking Aspen and Cottonwood trees show fall colours for a few weeks. 


Elk-spotting in Colorado

Catch the leaves in Colorado as they become a sea of orange, crimson and gold. For incredible views, drive along the Million Dollar Highway in Ouray, where the surrounding mountains and countryside are a sea of rich hues. While in the state, you can take in one of several fun autumn events. In Estes Park you can head to the annual Elk Fest (28-29 September 2019) for bugling contests, elk-themed exhibits, workshops, Native American music and craft beer. Beer is also on tap at the Great American Beer Festival in Denver (3-5 October 2019). It’s the largest festival of its kind in North America, with more than 4,000 different beers served by more than 800 of the USA’s finest breweries. For cultural immersion, you could visit Ridgway during the Old West Fest, Ridgway (11-13 October 2019). 2019 marks the 50th anniversary of classic Wild West movie True Grit, much of which was filmed in Ridgway and Ouray County. The new Old West Fest celebrates the movie as well as Ridgway’s ranching, railroad and cultural heritage. Activities will include a Western art show, horse rides, and screenings of both True Grit movies.

Fishing in Yosemite Mariposa County, California 

There’s an explosion of colour across Yosemite Mariposa County in California from mid October as the leaves turn in parks and forests, on aspen trees, dogwood and black cottonwoods. Post summer, temperatures cool, making hiking and rock-climbing easier and hotel rates plummet after peak season.
For autumn leaves try Pohono Bridge with its canopy of colours or El Capitan Meadow for stunning earth tone contrasts. It’s a great time for fishing too, with 58 streams stretching a combined length of 770 miles. September to December is peak season for trout fishing, especially for brown trout that thrive in the lazy lower Merced River and are easier to catch after the high season. 

Fall leaves festival in West Virginia

Celebrate the fall foliage at the Leaf Peepers Festival in Davis, West Virginia. The festival at the end of September celebrates autumn leaves in the Mountain State with tours of the colourful Canaan Valley on foot, and by chairlift, to see the leaves, craft - and craft beer - stalls, a soft play area, live music, a classic car show and a Run For It 5k event.


Wine tasting in Tri-Valley, California

Not only do the the leaves turn to beautiful colours in vineyards in autumn, it’s when the grapes are finally ripe and ready to harvest. Just the time to go for a wine tasting session at a California vineyard in Tri-Valley. Visit sustainably farmed family-run award winning Wente Vineyards for a tour of the vineyard. With over 3,000 acres of estate, the winery was among the first to receive Certified California Sustainable Winegrowing designation and has been named American Winery of the Year by Wine Enthusiast. 

Leaves in the city, Seattle Washington 

The city of Seattle is known as the ‘Emerald City’ for most of the year, because of its lush green landscape but during the autumn months, the city and surrounding areas is transformed with gold, warming colours. Enjoy the autumn leaves as you explore the city’s streets, parks and gardens, the nearby Olympic National Park or Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest. 


Pick your own in Sonoma County, California

Sonoma County, California, might be a grape growing area, but there’s plenty of other produce being harvested in the autumn months. From early September to mid-November, you can enjoy freshly-picked squash, pumpkins, apples, chestnuts, potatoes and more. Visit during the autumn months and discover the vineyard foliage that turns from green to gold to red. 


Musical moments in Greater Palm Springs

Autumn is one of the best times to visit the nine very different ‘cities’ that make up Greater Palm Springs, as the desert region offers blue skies and temperatures of up to 32 °C. There’s also plenty to see and do, from Joshua Tree Music Festival, 10-14 October, to Greater Palm Springs Pride in downtown Palm Springs from 1-3 November. Located two hours west of LAX, Greater Palm Springs is a superb place to wrap up your California road trip. 


Secret spots in Sedona, Arizona

Want to find the hidden treasures of Sedona, Arizona? Discover the Sedona Secret 7, an innovative campaign that reveals fantastic but lesser-known, and less crowded, trails and locations across Red Rock Country. Travellers enjoy uncrowded spots and tourism becomes more sustainable. You’ll find spectacular autumn scenery around Schnebly Hill Road, where you can hike Huckaby Trail which overlooks the steep red canyon walls of Oak Creek.


Take a colourful road trip in Georgia

Enjoy full immersion in the blaze of autumn colours with a road trip through North Georgia. Head for Wolf Pen Gap Road and scenic drive as you explore Dragon Eyes. This journey takes in 77 miles in two loops with 715 curves, six gaps and endless views that stretch over our mountains. On your trip you can take in extraordinary views from the state’s highest point, Brasstown Bald. There’s more spectacular fall foliage in the mountains along the Russell-Brasstown Scenic Byway-CNF. Stop off to see the leaves up close as you stroll along two Appalachian Trail crossing points.

Posted on: 15/09/2019

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