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15 Unexpected Places With Great Fall Foliage

We found leaves in a hopeless place.

Who said Appalachia and New England get to have all the fall fun? I’m sorry, but these locations need love, too. So, grab your pumpkin spice lattes, we’re going on a leaf-peeping road trip.

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PHOTO: Sean Pavone/Shutterstock
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Tallulah

WHERE: Georgia

When to Go: October through November

You might not think of Georgia as the first state to venture to when planning a leaf-peeping trip in the States, but it’s as good of a place to start your leaf-peeping journey as any of the more notable spots. Actually, the state even has a “leaf watch” website to let you know when the leaves are ready to be viewed. We recommend starting at the 1,000-feet-deep Tallulah Gorge, a National Park that’s just 90 minutes from Atlanta with multiple campsites, a 63-acre lake with a beach, and a suspension bridge that’s perfect for Instagraming.

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PHOTO: Rinus Baak/Dreamstime
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Black Hills National Forest

WHERE: South Dakota

When to Go: September through November

While “Home of Mount Rushmore” might be your initial reason to venture to this destination, the hills in which the patriotic monument resides are home to some of the best fall foliage in the Midwest. You’ll find more than 20 campgrounds with over 650 individual campsites in the Forest, as well as cabins available for rent.

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PHOTO: Mousumi Sarkar/Dreamstime
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Uttarakhand

WHERE: India

When to Go: Mid-October

Deemed Devabhumi, or “Land of the Gods,” the first international location on this list is 65% forest. It’s home to Jim Corbett National Park—the oldest national park in India—and Nainital Lake, which should be in every conversation concerning a fall getaway; what’s better than boat-side leaf-peeping? Rajaji National Park, another national park here, is also a great place for a fall holiday if you’re a big bird watcher, and the Valley of the Flowers is, as you’d likely guess, appropriately stunning.

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PHOTO: Izabela23/Shutterstock
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Transylvania

WHERE: Romania

When to Go: Mid-October

The Transylvanian countryside is home to much more than just Dracula’s castle—it has so many leaves just waiting to be peeped! Visiting in prime autumn (mid-October) means that temperatures are very tolerable and you can explore/hike among the striking flora most of the day(s) around Bran Castle.

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PHOTO: Judah Grubb/Shutterstock
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Melbourne

WHERE: Australia

When to Go: March through May

A visit to Melbourne in the fall will almost guarantee you crunchy leaves and striking foliage. Make sure to travel to Bright, a town in northeastern Victoria, that is widely regarded for its display of oaks, poplars, and Japanese maples, all of which jump out in red and orange hues this time of year. The Macedon Ranges (much of which is designated as a National Park), less than an hour from Melbourne, is also notable for visitors looking to snap postcard-quality photos.

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PHOTO: stocker1970/Shutterstock
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Snowdonia

WHERE: Wales

When to Go: October through November

Though Scotland typically calls to many international tourists searching for a fall trip, Snowdonia, with some of the highest peaks in the UK, is an excellent leaf-peeping destination; it’s home to nine mountain ranges and has more than a thousand miles worth of public footpaths.

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PHOTO: evenfh/Shutterstock
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Denali National Park

WHERE: Alaska

When to Go: September through November

Sure, Denali is one of Alaska’s most-visited attractions, but did you know that it’s ideal for leaf-peeping? Given that it has six million acres of wilderness and is home to the tallest mountain in North America, you might guess as much; but if you didn’t guess as much…surprise!

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PHOTO: John Earl Webb/Shutterstock
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Sedona

WHERE: Arizona

When to Go: Late September through mid-October

Sedona is incredibly full of vegetation, and there’s no better time of year to see it than the fall. A scenic drive through the incredible Oak Creek Canyon is just what you’re looking for in an October getaway. You could also hike at the West Fork Oak Creek Trail, which will take around 2-3 hours round trip, and will renew your soul.

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PHOTO: Mudwalker/Dreamstime
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The Grand Canyon

WHERE: Arizona

When to Go: September through November

“Wait, a minute, you’re telling me this giant rock formation is a good place to see fall foliage?” you ask. Yes, I am! Yes, it has trees! Travel to the Canyon’s North Rim around early October and you’ll peep oaks and aspens bursting with fall colors, ideally viewed from Bright Angel Point.

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PHOTO: Michael Gordon/Shutterstock
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Hawaii

When to Go: September through November

Hawaii may be a little tricky to get to at the moment…but there’s always next fall! The autumn season is also considered off-season, so expect to save a few dollars on your trip. Though you won’t see the intense changes in the color of the foliage here as you might in Appalachia this time of year, the vegetation that’s there—and there is quite a bit of it—remains as striking as ever courtesy of an increase in rainfall.

INSIDER TIPIf you’re going in September, be sure to check out the Aloha Festivals, which is a celebration of Hawaii’s history, music, and dance.

 

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PHOTO: anek.soowannaphoom/Shutterstock
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The Great Wall of China

When to Go: Mid-October through early-November

When you think about it, can you truly name a better place to *peep* leaves? A 4,000-long wall with trees lined throughout, some of the most popular spots to view leaves this time of year include Badaling—a very accessible, historically prominent area of the Great Wall—and the extremely scenic Mutianyu section.

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PHOTO: Just dance/Shutterstock
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Reykjavik

WHERE: Iceland

When to Go: Late August through mid-September

Though it might not have a lot of trees, what’s there is impactful enough (especially on the country’s east coast) to warrant a visit for foliage fans who want to venture outside of the typical fall spots. While leaves do change, you’re more likely to notice the effects of the seasonal change in the hues of grasses, mosses, and shrubbery.

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PHOTO: Brian Welker/Dreamstime
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Taos

WHERE: New Mexico

When to Go: Late September through mid-October

Vibrant fall colors run aplenty in this region of New Mexico. Hop on the Enchanted Circle Scenic Byway, which loops through unmissable valleys and mountains filled with changing trees this time of year. If you’re feeling especially adventurous and want a trip to truly remember, grab yourself a ticket to ride on the Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad—a 64-mile stretch that hits the Colorado border and is filled with spectacular fall scenery.

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PHOTO: Kobus Peché/Dreamstime
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Moab

WHERE: Utah

When to Go: September through November

While Moab is primarily known for the iconic Arches National Park and other red rock formations, fall is an especially spectacular time to visit as the area’s changing foliage looks particularly striking against the natural attractions. Check out any one of the trails at the Manti-La Sal National Forest or breeze down the La Sal Mountain Loop Road Scenic Byway to get the full fall effect.

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PHOTO: Kkatuev/Dreamstime
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Sacramento

WHERE: California

When to Go: Late-September through early November

Maples, Gingkos, and Scarlet Oaks are just a few species of trees you’ll spot throughout the city’s neighborhoods—particularly in East Sacramento and Downtown—that are changing to the seasons in striking fashion. If you live in California, and can’t quite commit to a fall trip that will take you across the country or around the world, a long fall weekend getaway (consider adding such annual activities as an edible gardens tour or the Farm-to-Fork Festival to the itinerary) to Sacramento will more than suffice.

INSIDER TIPA California Fall Color Map that will let you know when the fall leaves are ready to be peeped can be found here.

 

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