10 Great American Fall Foliage Trips

by ShermansTravel Editorial Staff

10 Great American Fall Foliage Trips

by ShermansTravel Editorial Staff

Looking to shake up your fall foliage excursion? Try an action-packed leaf-peeping adventure. Here, 10 exhilarating ways to experience the waves of crimson, fiery-orange, and golden hues that sweep the country at this time of year.

Looking to shake up your fall foliage excursion? Try an action-packed leaf-peeping adventure. Here, 10 exhilarating ways to experience the waves of crimson, fiery-orange, and golden hues that sweep the country at this time of year.

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Yosemite, CA

After Labor Day, the deciduous trees of California's Yosemite National Park transform, as temperatures become pleasantly cool (with subtle hints of Indian summer), mosquitoes vanish, and the hordes of summer visitors disappear.

How to experience it: Rent a bike from a park kiosk and pedal the 12 miles of paved paths through breathtaking Yosemite Valley. ($12/hour, $33/day)

After Labor Day, the deciduous trees of California's Yosemite National Park transform, as temperatures become pleasantly cool (with subtle hints of Indian summer), mosquitoes vanish, and the hordes of summer visitors disappear.

How to experience it: Rent a bike from a park kiosk and pedal the 12 miles of paved paths through breathtaking Yosemite Valley. ($12/hour, $33/day)

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Lake Champlain, VT

The waters of Lake Champlain are fringed with a technicolor coat of scarlets, burgundies, oranges, and golds that blanket the surrounding Adirondack and Green Mountains.

How to experience it: Sunsets on the lake are particularly breathtaking. Book a seasonal dinner cruise aboard the Spirit of Ethan Allen—when you can enjoy the display over live music, drinks, and a multi-course meal. (From $22 pp)

The waters of Lake Champlain are fringed with a technicolor coat of scarlets, burgundies, oranges, and golds that blanket the surrounding Adirondack and Green Mountains.

How to experience it: Sunsets on the lake are particularly breathtaking. Book a seasonal dinner cruise aboard the Spirit of Ethan Allen—when you can enjoy the display over live music, drinks, and a multi-course meal. (From $22 pp)

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Grand Teton, WY

From mid-September to mid-October, Grand Teton National Park is flush with red-gold aspens and golden cottonwoods set against a brilliant blue sky.

How to experience it: Dry Ridge Outfitters offers guided horseback-riding trips—they span an hour to several days long—through Wyoming’s stunning wilderness. Look out for moose, elk, and the occasional bear. (From $50-$325 pp)

From mid-September to mid-October, Grand Teton National Park is flush with red-gold aspens and golden cottonwoods set against a brilliant blue sky.

How to experience it: Dry Ridge Outfitters offers guided horseback-riding trips—they span an hour to several days long—through Wyoming’s stunning wilderness. Look out for moose, elk, and the occasional bear. (From $50-$325 pp)

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Asheville, NC

Pisgah National Forest and the Great Smoky Mountains boast superlative foliage. The latter is home to the Blue Ridge Parkway, one of America’s most scenic drives for leaf peeping.

How to experience it: Asheville Hot Air Balloons whisks you some 500 to 2,000 feet above the undulating red-and-gold landscape for a breathtaking view. One-hour flights depart daily at sunrise. (From $300 pp)



Pisgah National Forest and the Great Smoky Mountains boast superlative foliage. The latter is home to the Blue Ridge Parkway, one of America’s most scenic drives for leaf peeping.

How to experience it: Asheville Hot Air Balloons whisks you some 500 to 2,000 feet above the undulating red-and-gold landscape for a breathtaking view. One-hour flights depart daily at sunrise. (From $300 pp)

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Saco River, NH

This pristine New Hampshire waterway courses through some of New England’s more scenic autumnal forests and farmlands (including some in Maine).

How to experience it: Take a leisurely paddle on the scenic river with a fall-foliage kayak or canoe trip. Rentals are available at Saco River Canoe & Kayak through the height of the spectacular leaf display. ($33/day)

This pristine New Hampshire waterway courses through some of New England’s more scenic autumnal forests and farmlands (including some in Maine).

How to experience it: Take a leisurely paddle on the scenic river with a fall-foliage kayak or canoe trip. Rentals are available at Saco River Canoe & Kayak through the height of the spectacular leaf display. ($33/day)

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Taos, NM

The aspen forests surrounding the adobe-speckled artists’ colony of Taos are the real deal come autumn—casting golden hues across the high country.

How to experience it: Wild Earth Llama Adventures offers guided tours accompanied by lovable, gear-carrying llamas-for-hire, along with a naturalist guide, for navigating the scenic terrain. (From $12-$1,025 pp)

The aspen forests surrounding the adobe-speckled artists’ colony of Taos are the real deal come autumn—casting golden hues across the high country.

How to experience it: Wild Earth Llama Adventures offers guided tours accompanied by lovable, gear-carrying llamas-for-hire, along with a naturalist guide, for navigating the scenic terrain. (From $12-$1,025 pp)

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White Mountain, NH

The national forest surrounding Mt. Washington, New England’s highest peak, undergoes the region's most electric transformation—from maple reds to beach bronzes to birch lemon-yellows.

How to experience it: The 3-hour trip aboard the historic Cog Railway (running since 1869) offers the best view. The view from the 6,288-foot summit encompasses four states, Quebec, and the Atlantic Ocean. ($72 pp)

The national forest surrounding Mt. Washington, New England’s highest peak, undergoes the region's most electric transformation—from maple reds to beach bronzes to birch lemon-yellows.

How to experience it: The 3-hour trip aboard the historic Cog Railway (running since 1869) offers the best view. The view from the 6,288-foot summit encompasses four states, Quebec, and the Atlantic Ocean. ($72 pp)

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Hudson River Valley, NY

Autumn in the Hudson Valley is legendary—and there are few better vantage points from which to appreciate it than from the Shawangunks, some 90 miles north of Manhattan.

How to experience it: This revered rock-climbing mecca is scalable by first-timers and expert climbers alike with the professional guidance of outfitters like New Paltz-based Alpine Endeavors. (From $120-$425 pp)

Autumn in the Hudson Valley is legendary—and there are few better vantage points from which to appreciate it than from the Shawangunks, some 90 miles north of Manhattan.

How to experience it: This revered rock-climbing mecca is scalable by first-timers and expert climbers alike with the professional guidance of outfitters like New Paltz-based Alpine Endeavors. (From $120-$425 pp)

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Shenandoah Valley, VA

As the more than 15 million acres of foliage turns to brilliant shades of red, gold, and brown, the entire state of Virginia celebrates a month-long wine festival that would make Bacchus proud.

How to experience it: Sip local wines among the resplendent Shenandoah setting at one of the two dozen wineries and 200+ events participating in Virginia Wine Month, many free.

As the more than 15 million acres of foliage turns to brilliant shades of red, gold, and brown, the entire state of Virginia celebrates a month-long wine festival that would make Bacchus proud.

How to experience it: Sip local wines among the resplendent Shenandoah setting at one of the two dozen wineries and 200+ events participating in Virginia Wine Month, many free.

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Texas Hill Country, TX

In Texas Hill Country, the burnt-orange and yellow cypress trees coincide with the onset of the Texas Wine Month Trail and the Gruene Music and Wine Festival, making it a great time to experience the region.

How to experience it: Zip on over to Cypress Valley Canopy Tours, based 30 miles outside of Austin, and sail through the colorful trees—which reach as high as 100 feet—by zip line. ($80 pp)

In Texas Hill Country, the burnt-orange and yellow cypress trees coincide with the onset of the Texas Wine Month Trail and the Gruene Music and Wine Festival, making it a great time to experience the region.

How to experience it: Zip on over to Cypress Valley Canopy Tours, based 30 miles outside of Austin, and sail through the colorful trees—which reach as high as 100 feet—by zip line. ($80 pp)

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