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The 10 Top Fall Foliage Sites


A new survey confirms New England is the top spot for leaf-peepers. But no matter where you live, there's a great fall excursion nearby.

Autumn Leaves

Leaf-peepers love New England. That’s confirmed by TripAdvisor’s list of the Top 10 Fall Foliage Destinations in the US. Stowe, VT, and North Conway, NH, rank number one and number two, respectively. But eight more locales also delight survey participants who found dazzling autumn scenery in the west — Portland, OR, and Park City, UT – as well as in the southern cities of Eureka Springs, AR, Asheville, NC, Greenville, SC, and, of course, Gatlinburg, TN, gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains.

According to Brooke Ferencsik, TripAdvisor’s communications director, “…82% of US travelers are planning an autumnal escape.” Walk, hike, bike, and drive the scenic roads in these popular fall destinations, and, depending on the locale, add zip lining and whitewater rafting too. Use TripAdvisor’s survey and my suggestions to find dazzling fall fun near you.

1. Stowe, VT. A classic New England village of white church steeples and red sided barns, Stowe, situated in the Green Mountains, is also a popular ski resort. That accounts for the interesting shops and eateries. Check out Stowe’s Fall’s Color Capital website for foliage reports.

2. North Conway, NH. Drive through covered bridges and past waterfalls to scenic outlooks on the 34-mile Kancamagus Scenic Highway that connects Conway to Lincoln, NH. Board the Conway Scenic Railway for an 11-mile or 21-mile trip that gives you scenic views of rivers and woods.

3. Aspen, CO. In this trendy ski resort situated on the western slope of the Rocky Mountains, fall gifts visitors with forests of Aspen trees the color of spun gold. Surround yourself with this scenery on lake hikes as well as on drives along Maroon Creek road. Foliage can peak by late September or early October.

4. Niagara Falls, NY. Thundering waterfalls are the jewel in the crown of any Niagara visit. Admire the spectacular cascades from overlooks or put on a raincoat and boat through the spray on Maid of the Mist outings. For more scenery, hike the gorge trails that are part of the 400-acre Niagara Falls State Park.

5. Eureka Springs, AR. Eureka Springs’ Historic District blooms with more than 100 Victorian homes. Sample the foliage in this town located in the Ozark Mountains by canoeing the Arkansas River, hiking the hills or gliding on a zip line through the trees.

6. Park City, UT. Get a panoramic view of the Wasatch Range the easy way by riding the ski lifts of Park City and the Canyons ski resorts. You can also bike the 26-mile, mostly flat Pacific Rail Trail or drive the nearby Mirror Lake Scenic Byway through the Uinta Mountains.

7. Asheville, NC. In the mountains of western North Carolina, the foliage season lasts into late October or early November. Combine a stroll of the Biltmore Estate’s grounds and gardens with a tour of the mansion’s elaborate furnishings. Add an adrenaline rush by whitewater rafting or mountain biking.

8. Greenville, SC. Located where the Blue Ridge Mountains morph into foothills, Greenville’s nearby woodlands include the 11,000-acre Mountain Bridge Wilderness area. In this protected area, part of the Blue Ridge Escarpment, hike past lakes and streams set against brilliant fall colors.

9. Portland, OR. A seeming outlier in the fall foliage list, Portland offers 5,000 acres of woodlands within the city limits. October also brings film festivals, harvest celebrations and the chance to make it through a nearby corn maze.

10. Gatlinburg, TN. Explore the Great Smoky Mountains National Park from this popular gateway. Zip line through the treetops, hike the trails, go on hayrides and drive the scenic roads.

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Victor J. Dzau, MD, gives expert advice
Victor J. Dzau, MD, gives expert advice