New England and the American Northeast garner all the love as the place to check out fall foliage, but there are many more destinations throughout the United States to watch the leaves turn. However you’re planning to experience this year’s foliage — skydiving, gliding, or just plain road-tripping — here are four of our favorite places to “leaf-peep” (yeah, we said it) this season.
Thanks to the elevation in Sedona, the changing of the leaves each autumn is even more intense than almost any area in the Southwest. Head to Oak Creek Canyon for a stunning display of reds amid the canyon’s blanket of oak, maple, and other deciduous trees. The canyon’s West Fork Oak Creek Trail is an ideal and relatively level day hike. While you most certainly won’t be alone, the towering trees and dramatic canyons on either side of the five-mile trail provide a beautiful backdrop for the turning leaves. For an easier route, take a drive on State Route 89A through the canyon.
The Grand Canyon (Arizona)
The mental picture most travelers have of The Grand Canyon is of its vast, impossibly deep, and very barren canyons stretching as far as the eye can see. They’re not wrong — that is the view people enjoy standing on the canyon lip. However, the canyon is also full of trees, including oaks, birches, and aspens that turn brilliant shades of yellow, orange, and red every fall. The lesser-trafficked North Rim is, without a doubt, the best place to capture this dazzling display, which peaks in early to mid-October. The North Rim closes by the end of October, however, so be sure to get there fast.
Denali National Park & Preserve (Alaska)
The high latitudes of Alaska’s Denali National Park & Preserve mean that the ideal time to visit is extremely brief. Fall comes early this far north, with fall foliage peaking by mid-September at the latest. It’s an incredible time to visit, as crowds begin to thin and the wildlife is far more active (making it easier to spot). By day, you can enjoy the park’s 6 million acres of brilliant color. Once the sun goes down, it’s possible to catch the Northern Lights.
Hawaii is usually the farthest (literally) destination from most traveler’s minds when considering a foliage-worthy trip. However, the fall season is a surprisingly brilliant time of year for the many African tulips, rainbow eucalyptus, plumeria, and royal poinciana trees that dot the islands. The endless fields of gold and red could easily be mistaken for the deciduous forests of the Northeast. As a bonus, fall is arguably the best time to visit Hawaii budget-wise, as shoulder season pricing is in effect. Locals and tourists are all heading off to school or work, and hotel and tour prices drop accordingly.