The fall season is a spectacular time in the USA as the landscape transforms into a dazzling display of vibrant reds, opulent oranges and vivid yellows. Autumn foliage is so stunning that millions of Americans will make a special trip to the parks and countryside to view the seductive scenery for themselves.
Fall is the best time of year as the days are still warm, the peak summertime tourists have gone and the winter sport tourists haven’t yet arrived, So get out there during September and October for a final hike and walk of the season. Combine with a local state fair and you’ve got a readymade vacation;
White Mountains, New Hampshire
The White Mountains have all that is expected with fall foliage in the US. Leaves turn vivid red, orange and gold pine green (as pictured above at the Swift River) and roads wind up and down meandering hills that create colorful views of tree covered valleys. Foliage season runs from mid-September to mid-October in The White Mountains, which occupy about a quarter of New Hampshire state and fall foliage tours include easy walks, strenuous hikes, driving trips and tours from the air. The state designates 14 scenic drives, some including one of the 50 covered bridges in the state. Go for a ride at a ski resort in a gondola to see the fall spendor from above or opt to hike the Appalachian Trail. Do not miss the Kancamaqus Scenic Byway that runs through the heart of the White Mountains. Visitors can also explore the area on horseback, play a round at the Donald-Ross designed golf courses, kayak and canoe in the crystal clear mountain lakes and go boating and swimming in the serene streams. Vacationers should stay awhile and make full use of the evening entertainment on offer as well with antiquing, shopping, live theatre and colorful entertainment on offer for the whole family.
Vermont is the quintessential state for autumn color during September and early October. Maple, oak, poplar and other leaves start turning in the North first with higher elevations turning faster. Route 100 is one of the most popular driving routes that starts in Rutland and goes through the Green Mountains to Ludlow. Stop and stay at some of the area’s beautiful Bed and Breakfast establishments or enjoy the Cheese festival in Plymouth, a wine festival in Shelbourne and Wool Festival in Essex Junction.
Blue Ridge Mountains, Virginia and North Carolina
October is the time to travel the Blue Ridge Parkway through Virginia and North Carolina. Late September the dogwoods start to turn red, hickorys start to turn yellow and maples turn bronze. The first and second week in October oaks bring a crimson to the palate. The Blueridge Parkway begins in Waynesboro, Va Shenandoah National Park and concludes near Cherokee, NC near the Great Smokey Mountains National Park. Road shoulders are wide and speed limits are only 45 miles per hour making it safe to pull to the side to take in the views. Visit Waynesboro’s arts and crafts festival two weekends in October to celebrate autumn foliage. Many different points of interest lay along the parkway including the Biltmore Estate, Linville Caverns, historical sites, and interesting little shops.
Michigan’s lower and upper peninsulas provide beautiful scenery during autumn. Those traveling through the state will get the added benefit of the apple harvest available at many roadside stands during foliage time. Michigan has 19 million acres of woods and over 100 parks that blaze with color. The lower peninsula starts to turn first and progresses to the upper during the month of October. Drive or take a train tour from Tecumseh to Clinton, Michigan or opt for the Southern Michigan Railroad from Coldwater. Western Michigan Tourist Association offers 26 driving tours throughout the state that go 40 to 140 miles through the state.
The White River National Forest produces great fall color during late September and early October. The photo above shows the stunning landscape of Mount Sopris in the Elk Moutains in the White River National Forest. Look over the canyons for a glorious view. The trees are possibly not as colorful as they are in New England, but do turn brilliant yellow with some red against the green of the pines. Ghost towns, hiking areas and scenic areas allow for lovely pictures. Visit Independence Pass on Highway 82 for canyon views or travel Castle Creek Road to the ghost town of Ashcroft. Time your visit carefully before the hordes of wintersports diehards arrive to immerse themselves in the Aspen atmosphere.
By Julie Bowman