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Where are your favorite places to see trees transform from summer green to bold displays of red, orange and yellow? How about Colorado, West Virginia, or Upstate New York? All gorgeous. However, the United States is exploding with multicolored beauty through the autumn season, and there are destinations you may have never put on the top of your list for leaf peeping. Maybe you’ve already discovered these gems, but these are the fall foliage stops you should not overlook.
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Portland is known for its numerous parks and historic rose gardens within the city limits, and the 12-acre Portland Japanese Garden possesses an unexpected magic when fall strikes. Trees within the unusual but exotic outdoor escape bring a different take on fall color that’s a welcomed treat for those who haven’t experienced Asia in the autumn. Bridges, flowers and other plants accent the deep crimson and golden shades in the garden.
Let’s be honest, all of Oregon radiates with autumn glory—some places could serve as the sole description of fall in the dictionary. Sweet Creek Trail’s winding bridges and paths become coated with fiery-hued leaves, and Oregon’s signature moss adds a touch of vibrant green to the rich colors from Douglas-Fir, Alder and Big Leaf Maple trees. The trickling stream and total of 11 waterfalls are located along the route.
One doesn’t always have to hike deep into the wilderness to see outstanding foliage—Seattle’s tree-lined streets mean lots of deep reds and rich oranges in view from your favorite coffee shop or restaurant. Leaf peeping in the city is a completely different experience and can be a convenient way to enjoy the season with family.
Fall color isn’t the first thing to come to mind when thinking of California, but in fact, the state has quite a beautiful color change period. June Lake Loop is accented by a jagged mountain backdrop and an explosion of dominantly bright yellow aspens. Lounge by the lake, or hit the road to change up the scenery.
Leaf lovers can ride the chairlift up Flagstaff’s slopes, which are blanketed with golden splendor instead of snow, on weekends through the middle of October. In town or strolling wooded paths, there will be quite the show wherever you go.
Banner Elk is one of the most quaint little destinations in North Carolina, with local theater and authentic restaurants fueling the social scene. Surrounding mountains meld with beautifully colored trees throughout the one-stoplight town, and industrial buildings are completely absent. Banner Elk Winery is the perfect place to soak it in and drink unbelievable seasonal selections paired with local chocolate and other snacks. Beech Mountain Resort is mere minutes away and offers views and local brews.
Boise literally means “wooded”, hence the nickname “City of Trees”. With mountains in the background and plenty of trees dotting the streets, the artsy, enriching city turns into a breathtaking urban forest come fall. Local shops like Guru Donuts roll out seasonally inspired treats to complement a foliage viewing stroll. Drive in any direction from Boise, and you are bound to see even more gorgeous scenery.
Mid October is prime time for the color show in Maine, and the diversity of autumn shades makes for an attractive spread. Bar Harbor sets right along the coast and hosts the most precious seaside town, complete with the homey Bar Harbor Inn, bakeries, restaurants and a list of outdoor activities. Acadia National Park is a short bike ride away and features some of the most awe-inspiring viewing points of not only the multi-hued treescapes but the blue ocean as well. It’s quite the combo.
Jackson Hole is iconic for world-class skiing via Snow King Mountain and Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, but every season has something to offer. Autumn tends to be overlooked, thanks to the lengthy, famous winter, but around mid-September, yellow and orange trees transform Grand Teton National Park into a living painting. Moose, elk and sheep roam about, dramatic mountains create a stark contrast in color, while lakes reflect all the beauty like giant mirrors. Consider an outing with EcoTour Adventures, who will take you to the best spots to see all Jackson Hole has to offer.
Oh Idaho, how you never disappoint during any season. Sandpoint, Idaho is a lovely town situated on the magnificent Lake Pend Oreille. Trees lining the waterfront hills take on a sunset hue, and glimpses are quite stunning from the top of Schweitzer Mountain. Idaho’s prime peeping period is September through October, so take a drive along the scenic byway from Sandpoint to the Montana border for a vast display.