Across America, as the weather cools, trees and their changing leaves become the star attractions. Whether you drive, bike, hike, paddle or find other ways to leaf peep, you'll catch Mother Nature showing off her brilliant colors at these fall foliage destinations.
Arguably the best aspen viewing anywhere is in the San Isabel National Forest, where exceptionally large stands turn spectacular yellows, golds and oranges in fall. The bonus in this historic mining town, the highest incorporated city in America, is an opportunity to view the colors from the cars of the historic Leadville, Colorado & Southern Railroad as it climbs the Continental Divide. The commentary even includes ghost stories.
The glorious fall foliage in Vermont is legendary, and if there's an epicenter for serious leaf peepers, it is this quaint town in the Green Mountains. The leafy display on view from the slopes of Mount Mansfield, the state's highest peak, is exceptionally dazzling, a kaleidoscope of oranges, reds, yellows and golds. Catch the views hiking, driving or riding a gondola to the summit at the Stowe Mountain Resort.
The Ozarks, Missouri
Fall in the Ozarks means an impressive display of colors, and the 1.5 million-acre Mark Twain National Forest brings the advantage of foliage viewing from easily accessible spring-fed rivers and lakes. Come here and paddle while viewing hillsides dominated by the brilliant yellows, oranges and reds of trees that include sugar maples and sweet gums, all beautifully reflected in the calm water. If you prefer to drive, take the Sugar Camp National Scenic Byway for ridge top views of the Ozark scenery.
Columbia River Gorge, Oregon
In the Pacific Northwest, this divide between Oregon and Washington is a sight to behold any time of year — a deep gorge winding through the Cascade Mountains. But the basalt cliffs and waterfalls of the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area are beautiful enough to make your jaw drop when the scene is ablaze with fall colors courtesy of big-leaf maples, Oregon ashes and cottonwoods. Explore the colors while driving, hiking, kayaking or — for added thrills — whitewater rafting.