10 of the best foliage spots in the United States

A few last green leaves are seen in the autumn colors on a tree in Amsterdam, Thursday Nov. 22, 2012. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

Colorful autumn leaves are often tied to New England, but there are beautiful fall vistas all over the United States.

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Here are 10 of our favorites.

1. Aspen, Colo.

When the town is named after a tree, that’s a good clue that the foliage is extraordinary. Aspen leaves turn yellow and literally shimmer in the breeze when the sun hits them.

Aspen season is short, though. It kicks in during mid-September and peaks at the end of the month. The first week of October offers some decent viewing, but beyond that, there will be more leaves on the ground than on the trees.

(Flickr / D Thomas Owsley)

2. The Catskills, N.Y.

The Catskills, like the New England mountains to the east, are at their most vibrant in the fall when yellows, oranges, and reds electrify the thickly wooded hillsides. Locals and visitors alike savor the fall harvest, when many of the region’s historic villages host festivals and craft fairs alongside the bountiful farmers’ markets and pick-your-own orchards.

The last two weeks in September through mid- to late-October are prime time for fall foliage in the Catskills.

(Flickr / hiker cao)

3. The Berkshires, Mass.

A fall playground for people from New York City, Boston and Philadelphia, the narrow winding roads in the Berkshires connect mountain hamlets set against a forested backdrop of crimson, yellow, and every hue in between.

Fall foliage season in the Berkshires begins in late September and typically peaks during Columbus Day weekend in mid-October. There’s still color to behold in late October, but don’t wait until November.

(AP Photo/Nancy Palmieri)

4. Columbia River Gorge, Ore.

This 80-mile gorge in the Cascade Mountains is a gem to behold. When the firs, cottonwoods, big-leaf maples, Oregon ash, and twisted pines start to show their colors, it’s absolutely breathtaking.

Mid-September to mid-October is the best time for fall foliage in the Columbia River Gorge.

(AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

5. Green Mountain Byway, Vt.

Vermont is full of beautiful foliage in the fall, but this 11-mile stretch of road between Waterbury and Stowe might be the top of the heap. And as a side benefit, you can get Ben and Jerry’s ice cream from their home office in Waterbury.

The northern Vermont leaf observation season begins the second week of September and peaks the first week in October.

(Flickr / Doug Kerr)

6. Enchanted Circle Scenic Byway, N.M.

Out of the northern mountains, the 83-mile loop starting and ending in Taos, N.M., is a long stretch for aspen lovers. The trees here turn not only yellow, but dark orange as well.

The route encircles 13,161-foot Wheeler Peak, New Mexico’s highest point. Late September to early October offers the most vibrant colors along the Enchanted Circle Scenic Byway.

(AP Photo/Beth J. Harpaz)

7. Great Smoky Mountains, N.C. and Tenn.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park has 800 miles of scenic roads and hiking trails, and every foot can be a beautiful display in the fall, as more than 100 species of native trees change colors. The park hits full fall color from early October through early November.


8. Upper Peninsula, Mich.

With 4 million acres of state forest, the UP is a fall playground for foliage lovers. Ash, aspen, beech, birch, maple, oak, sycamore, and tamarack are the stars of this densely forested peninsula sandwiched between three Great Lakes.

The best time to go is mid-September to mid-October, with the peak happening in October.

(Flickr / Curt Mills)

9. Lake of the Ozarks, Mo.

The lake is a popular getaway spot during the summer, but when crowds disappear in the fall, it really hits a high point.

Experience the color explosion while hiking, mountain biking, or horseback riding at Missouri’s largest state park. The last two weeks of October are the best time for leaf peeping.

(AP Photo/Kelley McCall, File)

10. Glacier National Park, Mont.

The park’s concessions have all closed for the season by the end of September, and roads can be closed without warning due to sudden snowstorms. But it is one of the best places to see larch trees – the yellow needles mixed with evergreens with a backdrop of the Continental Divide is not to be missed.

Larch trees change color in mid-October. Everything else—maple, aspen, birch, cottonwood, and huckleberry—turn between early and late September.

(AP Photo/Ray Ozman)

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