The fall season is when even the most chronically plant-blind suddenly find themselves in love with leaves, staring longingly out of office windows and snapping photos of the new colors of autumn.
Those changing colors are captivating – and, sadly, it can all be over before you’ve even thought of traveling to the prime places to witness it.
For foliage lovers who want to know where to go to see fall in all its finery, we’ve raked together a pile of the top leaf-peeping spots across the USA.
New England is synonymous with fall colors in the US, and for good reason: if you visit at the right time, the vast sweeps of reds and golds are unmatched.
Much of the credit can go to the sugar maple, native to the northeast and adjacent parts of Canada, but a host of other trees including oaks, alders and basswood add daubs of yellows and oranges.
Stowe, the unofficial (but totally justified) capital of fall color, is the perfect base camp for leafy adventures, connected to hundreds of miles of hiking and bike trails.
Fall-color ogling in Vermont is such a seasonal tourism draw that there are multiple services that track peak foliage locations through autumn, and hotels book up well in advance.
The Blue Ridge Parkway – a 469-mile road from Virginia to North Carolina that connects Shenandoah National Park and Great Smoky Mountains National Park – ranges from 650ft to over 6000ft in elevation.
The higher in elevation or the further north you go, the sooner the colors start changing.
This results in a mixture of colors and varying tree communities all along the route. The maples here are different from the sugar maples up north, and you get dozens of other trees.
Oregon – in fact, most of the West – is known for vast evergreen forests, and when you’re on the hunt for fall colors you’re looking for leaves that drop. Sorry, evergreens.
But the forests of the West hold many surprises, especially if you follow the rivers where many of the deciduous trees thrive.
An autumn drive here will greet you with fall colors from three species of maple and alders, framing the many waterfalls of the gorge, including the famous Multnomah Falls with its arching bridge.
For a longer tour, take the full Mt Hood Scenic Loop, a three- to four-hour drive that follows the Columbia River then circles back around the snow-capped peak of Oregon’s tallest mountain.