For many destinations across the United States, autumn is the most beautiful season thanks to the rainbow of colors the changing leaves put on display. Out of Monster’s 30+ destinations, we’ve compiled a list of our top 5 autumn destinations to go to witness the beauty in full swing. So grab your sweaters and pumpkin spice coffee and come along for an adventure!
First stop on the journey: Breckenridge, Colorado! The Rocky Mountains are a breathtaking sight all year round, but during the fall the Rockies are ablaze with the yellows, oranges, and reds of the aspen trees as they flow through the changing cycle. Due to the high elevation, the leaf peeping season starts a little earlier than most other destinations, around early to mid-September. Breckenridge also has many events and festivals going on in the fall! Keep in mind that the leaf season in Colorado is very short, and very popular, so plan accordingly!
Next stop on our journey takes us to the Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge areas in the Smoky Mountains! Similar to Breckenridge, the higher up in elevation, the earlier the leaf changing season starts. Trees above 4,000 feet will begin changing sometime in September and the colors will slowly descend the mountain as autumn marches on. Unlike Breckenridge, however, the Gatlinburg area has around 100 different species of trees, most of which will have leaves that change color in the fall. You will get to see a kaleidoscope of fiery colors, and all different shapes and sizes as well!
Branson, Missouri happens to be a great fall destination thanks to the lovely Ozark Mountains! Most people think of the endless entertainment scene when the city’s name is mentioned, but autumn is really where it’s at in Branson. Not only are there many different types of trees, like in the Smoky Mountains, but Branson has some pretty unique ways to check them out compared to other destinations. Here, you can head down the obvious path and view the leaves changing while on a hike, or at one of the many scenic overlooks. While these methods are obviously a beautiful and serene way to check out the scenery, there is a more adventurous path for those who like to incorporate a little more excitement into their fall plans. In the Ozark Mountains, you can find ziplines, mountain coasters and the Branson Scenic Railway available to tour of the beautiful scenery!
Portland, Oregon made our top 5 due to the fact that there are many different places to go that offer different experiences. Just 20 minutes from the city, you can pay a visit to Columbia River Gorge. Here you have the option to hike through the gorge to see the fall foliage in action, or you can book a guided horseback tour! Head on over to Portland Japanese Garden to see many non-native trees and plants in their fall finery along with the native trees of the city. Portland and the surrounding area does have a few parks and arboretums that are popular and obvious picks when it comes to leaf peeping, but Lone Fir Cemetery is a must-see. This is the city’s oldest cemetery, second largest arboretum, and a cherished historic site.
Lincoln, New Hampshire is absolutely beautiful in the fall, and is home to the Kancamagus Scenic Byway. This Byway, known as the Kanc to locals, is 34 miles of winding pristine fall beauty through the White Mountain National Forest. From there you can continue on to one of the other scenic byways, or stop along the way for a hike! Be sure to keep your eyes open for the opportunity to pick your own apples at one of the orchards, or for the chance to take a scenic train ride with the White Mountain Central Railroad.
Feeling the spirit of autumn tugging at your wanderlust yet? You’re not alone. Start planning your next trip to one of these destinations for an amazing fall foliage season. You’ll be happy you did!