Fall is one of the best times of the year for a getaway, and while New England may be famous for its vibrant foliage, the west offers some fantastic experiences that will truly make you want to book a trip ASAP.
Yosemite (Hotel Prices & Photos)
The summer crowds in Yosemite Valley can be hard to bear, but autumn means no more battling hordes of visitors to take in the spectacular views, and the lack of foot traffic on those scenic trails make for a much more enjoyable experience. Although many of the trees in the park are evergreen, the park also boasts gorgeous big-leaf maples, black oaks and lots of deciduous trees that turn brilliant shades of red and yellow around mid-October and frame awe-inspiring sights like Yosemite Falls.
Bend, Oregon (Hotel Prices & Photos)
Bend has become an adventure travel mecca. Located just east of the Cascades in Central Oregon, visitors not only enjoy frequent bright blue skies and lots of fall color, but the chance to enjoy hiking, mountain biking, fishing, rafting, horseback riding, golf and much more. After a day of play, back in town there is a thriving food and drink scene, including a number of innovative, award-winning breweries.
This Bavarian-style town on the eastern slopes of Washington’s Cascades is one of the west’s top destinations for fall foliage, but it offers a whole lot more than that. After driving over the spectacular mountain pass along Highway 2, you’ll discover a place that truly feels as if you’re in Europe, with the distinct Bavarian architecture, wealth of German eateries and people dressed in lederhosen. The big sign welcoming you in even says “Willkommen to Leavenworth.” Visit over the last weekend of September, and you can attend the Autumn Leaf Festival, and throughout October, the world-famous Oktoberfest is hosted.
Joshua Tree National Park (Hotel Prices & Photos)
Autumn, particularly later in the season, is an ideal time to visit Joshua Tree National Park. The temperatures are often idyllic, with highs in late October through November hovering around 83 degrees. Enjoy hikes that will bring you to views of stunning, unique rock formations and the bizarre Joshua trees along with unusual plant life, and after dark, you’ll be mesmerized by some of the world’s darkest skies, with clear nights on nearly every night of the year due to the low desert humidity and absence of light pollution.
Lake Tahoe, California (Hotel Prices & Photos)
Visiting Lake Tahoe in the fall means you’ll be in between the busy seasons, winter and summer, and will have the chance to enjoy a more tranquil experience and days that are often clear and crisp. One of the highest alpine lakes in the country, it not only offers the chance to get out on the water by taking a lake cruise, or on warmer days, heading out on a paddleboard, kayak or canoe, but all sorts of things on land. One of the best ways to witness the striking beauty of the area is to take a hike, with miles and miles of scenic trails found throughout the region.
Crater Lake, Oregon (Hotel Prices & Photos)
Countless visitors flock to Crater Lake in the summer to witness this stunning six-mile-wide caldera that holds the deepest lake in North America, at a depth of 1,949 feet. In fact, about 80 percent of the nearly half-million visitors arrive in July and August. But from mid-September to about mid-October, the temperatures are still pleasant, both the water and the sky seem to be the bluest you’ll find all year, and you’ll practically have the run of the place, thought most areas and services are still open. Look forward to beautiful hikes, fishing, ranger talks, jaw-dropping scenic drives and more.
Sedona, Arizona (Hotel Prices & Photos)
Sedona is one most picturesque places in the country, with few other spots featuring a landscape that is as dramatically colorful, and that’s especially true in autumn. Here, towering red rocks soar into an almost always bright blue sky, and are framed with the golden hues of fall. The hot Arizona temperatures have subsided, providing the opportunity to enjoy hikes in the crisp, idyllic weather. Enjoy an evening stroll among the specialty shops and art galleries in the Tlaquepaque Arts and Crafts Village, and if you visit in October, you can attend the annual Sedona Plein Air Festival which offers the chance to watch artists in their element along Main Street and take any one of several artist workshops.
Taos, New Mexico (Nearby Hotels)
“The Land of Enchantment” is exemplified in Taos, and the autumn season brings out its very best. Many of the art galleries are filled with paintings that reflect the colorful surrounding mountains, and some of the best fall foliage in the southwest can be found by taking the Enchanted Circle Scenic Byway loop from Taos to Eagle Nest and Angel Fire. While you’re here, you can also visit Taos Pueblo, one of the oldest continuously inhabited communities on the continent, drawing artists and photographers year-round.
Napa Valley (Hotel Prices & Photos)
TThe Napa Valley is internationally renowned for its wine as well as its picturesque scenery and Michelin-starred restaurants. October is the time to go for enjoy vibrant colors and the full winemaking experience, where you’ll see trucks overflowing with grapes and spilling onto the roadways and be able to take part in harvest festivals that offer delicious foods, crafts, live music and plenty of wine. Rent a bike and head out on the paths, and enjoy wine tasting as you go.
Grand Canyon (Hotel Prices & Photos)
Autumn is the sweet spot for touring the Grand Canyon, one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Temperatures dip back down to the mid-70s and the kids are back in school, providing a more peaceful experience and cheaper hotel rates too. Look forward to especially vibrant colors and unforgettable panoramas of the canyon that measures in at an average width of ten miles, a depth of one mile and length of 277 miles. Don’t just peer over the rim, get an up-close-and-personal look by taking a mule ride down to the bottom.