Updated for 2021.
At Hendricksen Tree Care, our favorite season is the fall season because of the changing colors of the leaves that create stunning landscapes. The Chicago area is no doubt a great place to be in the fall, but there are also many places across the U.S. where you can see amazing fall foliage while experiencing the excitement of exploring a new place. The introduction of the COVID-19 vaccines has made it easier to travel as every area of the U.S. has become more accessible. Throughout the U.S., forested areas and tree lined streets transform into amazing arrays of color, giving us our last chance to admire the beauty of the foliage before the winter arrives.
Make sure to check out our other blog about the autumn tree colors you will find in the Chicago area as well as the best places in the city and suburbs to take in the fall foliage. This blog focuses on destinations outside the Chicago area, but within the U.S., where you can view stunning fall landscapes. Air travel is less restricted than in the fall of last year due to the introduction of the vaccines which increases your options if you want to get away this fall and see some vibrant foliage. You can also choose to go on a road trip and take in the fall colors and scenery on the drive.
As we very well know, the winter in the Chicago area can be quite harsh, especially on your trees. It is important for homeowners to make sure their trees get the last-minute care and maintenance needed to endure the winter with minimal or no damage. Our arborists at Hendricksen Tree Care provide fall tree trimming and fertilization services to ensure that your trees are ready for the winter. You can trust our professionals to assess the condition of your trees and make sure they get the care they need to survive the winter and grow back healthy and strong in the spring.
The following are some of the top destinations in the U.S. to admire the fall foliage.
Aspen, CO is known as an upscale ski resort town, but for a brief period in the fall, the aspen trees for which the town is named show their brilliant gold and yellow tones. What makes the landscapes around Aspen more striking in the fall is the contrast of the golden yellow leaves with the evergreen trees mixed in and the snowcapped Rocky Mountains as the backdrop.
If you want to see the fall colors in Aspen, CO, you need to visit in the second half of September. The leaves change colors in Aspen around mid-September and they have usually fallen by mid-October.
Door County, Wisconsin
Door County, WI is a popular destination to view fall foliage and it is driving distance from the Chicago area. Door County is located on the peninsula on the east side of Wisconsin that sticks out into Lake Michigan. Visitors can drive through the peninsula on Rt 57 and take in the fall colors from the forested areas that line the highways. The trees in Door County show a range of fall colors including scarlet red, orange, and gold and there are also white-framed buildings and lighthouses throughout the area. The fall colors are the best in the second and third weeks of October.
Bar Harbor, Maine
Bar Harbor, ME is a top destination for fall foliage in the northeastern U.S. Bar Harbor has forested areas all along the Acadia Byway where visitors can view the diverse fall colors and the coastline. There are also plenty of biking and hiking trails where visitors can get a more intimate view of the fall foliage. The best time to see the vibrant fall colors in Bar Harbor is during the first three weeks of October.
Green Mountains in Vermont
The Green Mountains are a mountain range in Vermont that draw visitors each fall to see the foliage of these tree covered mountains. A variety of trees including maple, beech, and birch trees are found throughout the Green Mountain area and they provide a full spectrum of fall colors from violet reds to vibrant orange and yellows. Driving the Green Mountain byway is a great way to see the fall colors as well as the meadows, farms, and villages found in the area. The best time to visit the Green Mountains for the fall colors is between the second week of September and first week of October.
The Catskills, New York
The Catskills is a region of southeastern New York that includes forests, mountain peaks, and river systems. The wooded hillsides turn into a sea of fall colors every September with vibrant yellows, oranges and reds. The best time to see peak fall colors in the Catskills is from mid-September to late October.
The Berkshires, Massachusetts and Connecticut
The Berkshires is a region in western Massachusetts and Connecticut, also known as the Litchfield Hills and Berkshire Mountains. The forested mountain hamlets consist of birch, beech, aspen, and maple trees that exhibit the full range of autumn colors. This area also includes Kent Falls State Park with scenic trails and the highest waterfall in Connecticut. The best time to visit this area is between late September and mid-October.
Cascade Mountains, Oregon & Washington
The Cascade Mountains is a mountain range that runs from British Columbia through Washington, Oregon, and into northern California. The area of the Cascades near the border of Oregon and Washington is heavily forested with cottonwoods, maples, fir trees and ash trees that show red, gold, and bronze fall colors. The best places to take in the fall beauty of this area are on the McKenzie Pass-Santiam Pass scenic byway and the Columbia River Gorge that forms the border between Oregon and Washington. The best time to see the fall colors in the Cascades is from mid-September to mid-October.
Taos, New Mexico
New Mexico may not come to mind when it comes to fall foliage, but the mesas and mountain vistas around Taos, NM consist of aspens and cottonwoods that show a range of fall colors from purple and red to orange and bright yellows. When taking in this beautiful fall foliage, you may also catch a view of eagles, elk, and even black bears. The best way to view the fall colors in the area is to travel the Enchanted Circle Scenic Byway that runs from Taos to Eagle Nest. The best time to see the fall colors in Taos, NM is in late September and early October.
Great Smoky Mountains, Tennessee and North Carolina
The Great Smoky Mountains are a part of the Appalachian Mountains located in Tennessee and North Carolina. This mountain range is home to more than 100 species of native trees and 800 miles of roads and hiking trails. The tree covered mountains transform into stunning displays of fall colors that exhibit the entire color palette. One of the best places to take in the fall foliage in this area is the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Early October through early November is the best time to see the fall colors in the Great Smoky Mountains.
Upper Peninsula of Michigan
The Upper Peninsula of Michigan is surrounded by three Great Lakes and includes around 4 million acres of forested areas. There are more than 20 state parks in which visitors can see the fall colors of sycamores, maples, oaks, ash trees, beech trees, and birch trees lining the rivers and waterfalls. Fall colors across the spectrum can be seen throughout the UP, including reds, oranges, and golden yellows. The best time to see the fall colors in the UP is from mid-September to mid-October. Those in the Chicago area can drive to the Upper Peninsula in less than a day.
Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri
Many people visit the Lake of the Ozarks in central Missouri during the summer, but the tree covered Ozark Hills are a stunning sight in the fall. The trees in the area exhibit an impressive palette of fall colors including shades of scarlet, mahogany, and gold. Visitors can hike, bike, horseback ride, or take a boat onto the lake to enjoy the surrounding fall foliage. The best time to visit the Lake of the Ozarks for the fall colors is in the last two weeks of October. This is another destination that you can drive to from the Chicago area.
Central Park, New York City
The major metropolis of New York City is not where people would expect to find stunning fall foliage, but the oasis that is Central Park does have an impressive palette of fall colors. There are around 170 different species of trees on 843 acres that show every color from purple and red to orange and yellow. Visitors can walk deep into the park and forget that they are in the middle of Manhattan or walk around the edges of the park to have the New York skyline as a backdrop. You can also see the park on one of their fall tours.
North Conway, New Hampshire
North Conway, New Hampshire is located within the White Mountain National Forest where you can hike, bike, rock climb, and zip line while taking in the fall colors. You can also enjoy the foliage of the White Mountain National Forest by driving the 34-mile Kancamagus Highway.
Columbia River Gorge, Oregon
The Columbia River Gorge is on the border of Oregon and Washington and consists of more than 50 waterfalls. In the fall, the surrounding forests on Mount Hood display a spectacular range of fall colors that combined with the waterfalls create a truly stunning site. You can hike and bike in the Columbia River Gorge to take in the scenery. The best time to visit is during October and November.
Eastern Shore, Maryland
Eastern Shore, Maryland surrounds the Delmarva Peninsula and Chesapeake Bay, and it is near Elk Neck State Park. You can take in the vibrant fall colors while walking or biking the trails of this state park.
The Poconos, Pennsylvania
The Pocono Mountains in Pennsylvania have miles of incredible fall foliage as well as waterfalls in Bushkill Falls. There are hiking trails throughout the Poconos as well as train excursions, air tours, and vineyard tours. You can also drive Route 507 near Lake Wallenpaupack to see the foliage on the mountains.
Amicalola Falls State Park, Georgia
Amicalola Falls State Park features a 729-foot waterfall surrounded by oak and maple trees that turn vibrant colors in the fall. The waterfall can be seen from many of the trails within the park and looks particularly beautiful when surrounded by trees showing their fall colors.
Fall Tree Care from Hendricksen Tree Care
If you enjoy taking in the fall foliage and you like vacationing in the fall, the destinations mentioned above will fulfill your need for a vacation while you get to see some of the most beautiful fall foliage the U.S. has to offer. Just make sure you plan your fall trip soon as the fall colors in many of these areas will not last past October.
You also shouldn’t forget to make sure your trees receive the care they need during the fall season in the Chicago area. Effective maintenance and tree pruning during the fall will give your trees the strength they need to survive the winter and grow back healthy next spring. Our professional arborists at Hendricksen Tree Care will assess the condition of your trees prior to the winter and take the steps necessary to ensure that your trees are prepared to endure the winter.