10 Fall Leaf Gazing Destinations
10 Fall Leaf gazing destinations will help satisfy our desire to explore the colorful scenery of fall. Yellow, orange, red and green fill the landscape and along with cool crisp temperatures, Fall leaf gazing is top of our list of things to do.
Keep reading for a list of my favorite spots and a few I’d love to explore for the first time. And, the best way to see the vibrant colors is with a road trip. This year RV’s have been the ideal way for families, couples and friends to hit the road and fall is prime-time for packing the RV or car and hitting the road.
Let’s start planning. Portions of this list were curated by the American Coach Brand. American Coach, a luxury RV brand within REV Recreation Group®, a subsidiary of REV Group®, assembled a collection of majestic and unusual vistas across the United States that pair autumnal foliage with other natural wonders that range from waterfalls and snow-capped mountains to volcanic craters. And, I’ve added a few international destinations where I’ve visited during summer months but would love to seem them in autumn.
The fall vistas have been researched in advance but, due to COVID, be sure to call ahead to confirm hours of operation for parks, tours, and other attractions and activities.
Amicalola Falls State Park, Dawsonville, GA
The white water of Amicalola Falls cascading over a towering bluff in multiple tiers is a perfect contrast to the fall scenery of the southern Appalachian Mountains that surround it. During October and November, the stunning 729-foot Amicalola Falls (the tallest waterfall in Georgia) is framed by vibrant autumn colors. Accessing the falls can be done by climbing more than 600 steps or by vehicle. For those taking a vehicle, park at the top of the falls and take in the amazing view of the valley and mountains beyond. Walk down the stairs to a viewing platform for a closer look at the spectacular falls.
RVers can stay overnight at the Adventure Lodge of Georgia at Amicalola Falls State Park.
New River Gorge & Bridge, Glen Jean, WV
Nestled in the Appalachian Mountains near Fayetteville is the New River Gorge Bridge – a breath-taking steel arch bridge of 3,030 ft. that spans the New River Gorge. In fact, the bridge is so iconic that it’s pictured on the state’s commemorative quarter. For a picture-perfect spot to capture an image of this impressive structure and the beautiful fall foliage that flanks it, visit the Canyon Rim Visitor Center. For views from the gorge floor looking up at the bridge, take the winding Fayette Station Road that dates back 100 years. The drive delivers sweeping vistas of the river, its bridges, hardwood forests, and forgotten coal mining towns from a bygone era.
RVers can stay overnight at the Stonewall Resort near Roanoke. The resort’s amenities include beautiful lake views, a full-service spa, and golf course.
A long weekend or weeklong visit to the unmatched beauty of the Upper Peninsula in Michigan is a fall must. The trip begins by traveling across the awe-inspiring Mackinac Bridge that transports drivers over the legendary Straits of Mackinac. At approximately five miles, it’s the longest suspension bridge in the Western Hemisphere.
After crossing the straights, plan to visit Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. This signature stop is known for its: 15 miles of multicolored sandstone cliffs that tower up to 200 feet above Lake Superior; huge sand dunes; unspoiled beaches; picturesque waterfalls; deep forest; and nature trails. The park is open year-round, 24 hours a day, and is free. Some of the most spectacular views of the rugged cliffs that line Lake Superior are from the water. Through mid-October, a variety of boat cruises are offered by Pictured Rocks Cruises. For those looking for activity, there are hundreds of miles of trails in the Pictured Rocks area that range from easy to strenuous.
Next, head to Michigan’s northern-most town – tiny Copper Harbor located on the tip of the Keweenaw Peninsula. This hamlet of approximately 100 residents is in a valley at the base of Brockway Mountain. The nearly 10-mile Brockway Mountain Drive delivers panoramic views of Lake Superior from more than 700 feet above lake level, along with swell after swell of autumn majesty. Look for freighters slowly passing by and get a birds-eye view of tiny Copper Harbor below. On clear days, Isle Royale, which is approximately 50 miles away, can be seen. Due to its remote location and absence of artificial light from nearby towns, star gazing on the mountain peak is an amazing experience on a crisp fall night.
RVers can stay overnight at the Wilderness Resort near Lac La Belle. Resort amenities include fishing charters, kayaking, mine tours, and more.
Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad, Summit County, OH
For a unique fall vantage point, book a ticket on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad. A three-and-a-half hour round trip weaves through Cuyahoga Valley National Park and parallels the rushing Cuyahoga River. Soak up the brilliant sugar maple reds and towering brown oaks along the way. For a bit of exercise, try the Brandywine Gorge Trail and hike up to the 65-foot Brandywine Falls for panoramic views of fall foliage in each direction. The historic Everett Covered Bridge that crosses Furnace Creek is another site within the national park that shouldn’t be missed. It’s a nod to days gone by when more than 2,000 covered bridges were scattered throughout Ohio. Today, the Everett Covered Bridge is the last remaining one in Summit County.
RVers can stay overnight at the luxurious Hearthside Grove Lake Erie RV Resort.
Door County is often referred as to as the Cape Cod of the Midwest and is considered by many to be one of the best fall foliage destinations. This finger peninsula with its nearly 300 miles of shoreline reaches north into Lake Michigan and is reminiscent of New England with its fishing and maritime heritage, lighthouses, and quaint hamlets like Egg Harbor, Fish Creek, and Ephraim that dot the area’s bays and inlets. At 253 feet above the Bay of Green Bay, Eagle Tower in Peninsula State Park delivers a birds-eye view of the park, surrounding islands, the Upper Michigan shoreline, and local communities. In addition to spectacular fall colors, fish boils, apple pies, and cherry wine are Door County staples.
RVers can stay overnight at Door County’s Tranquil Timbers Campground.
Great River Road, Along the Mississippi River
For those who have between four to 10 days for a fall excursion, consider hitting the Great River Road that hugs the storied Mississippi River and touches 10 states. The road begins in Minnesota, meanders along Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois and Missouri, touches Kentucky and Tennessee, and continues south to Arkansas and Mississippi, concluding in Louisiana where the mighty Mississippi empties into the Gulf of Mexico. Along the way are soaring bluffs, scenic overlooks, small family farms, quaint towns, state parks, and more than 70 historic sites, national monuments, and museums. For bird watchers, the Mississippi Flyway is a migration route followed by nearly half of North America’s waterfowl and shorebirds, making it one of the world’s premier spots for birding. In addition, scattered along the drive are other fall favorites, including farmer’s markets, apple orchards, pumpkin patches, and local wineries.
Whitefish is a gateway town to Glacier National Park and has an abundance of fall beauty with its mountains, lakes, rivers, and forests. The area is rich with tamarack trees (also called larch) with evergreen-like needles that turn gold in the fall and lay a golden blanket on the forest floor when they drop. Weather permitting, hot air balloon rides are available through September and soar over the Flathead Valley with its autumnal scenery. For those who’d like to try their hand at fly-fishing, locals say fall is the ideal time and recommend securing a guide to ensure the best chances of success on the North Fork, Middle Fork, and South Fork of the Flathead River. To enjoy the crisp days of September and October and explore the West’s beautiful forests, sweeping vistas, and pristine lakes, select one of the 14 area trailheads that guide hikers and walkers over 43 miles of natural-surface trails. To continue meandering, dip into Glacier National Park and don’t miss the famous Going-to-the-Sun Road.
RVers can stay overnight at the Polson RV Resort – Montana’s top-rated motorcoach resort.
Here are several international destinations to consider for next year:
There’s a Czech term for an Indian summer (babí léto), where the warm days stretch into November perfect for a stroll in Cesky Krumlov along the Vltava River which runs through the city. The city is aglow in a romantic golden light, and the palate of colors makes it all pop!
Located in the South Bohemian Region of the Czech Republic and situated on both banks of the Vltava (Moldau) river, the town was built below a magnificent castle founded in the 13th century. A visit during autumn captures the fall color reflecting on the river meandering along the rocky slopes of the castle hill.
We know a visit to Japan during spring time bring dazzling sights of cherry blossoms in bloom. However, there’s a new season in town and it’s ready to step out in vibrant golds, red, green and browns. It’s Autumn in Kyoto and Fall is the time to visit. While there are countless places to take in fall foliage in Japan, the autumnal scenery in Kyoto is truly unparalleled, with green leaves turning crimson and gold from October through early December. With temples or gardens as your background, this picturesque city is prime-choice for tourists.
The Bavarian Alps, Germany
If you’re like most of us, a dream of Oktoberfest in Germany has always been top of your list. And with good reason it should stay there, with an added advantage of visiting when colorful scenery is all around. Fall may be the best season to visit the Bavarian Alps, when the weather is perfectly cool and the mountains transform into a technicolor awesomeness! A visit to Neuschwanstein Castle, makes the perfect backdrop for those Instagramable photos.