Although New England bursts with colors during the fall foliage season – when leaves start turning colors in the northern regions of Maine and New Hampshire, typically around mid-to-late September, and peaking around mid-October – other parts of the country can be resplendent as well. The Upper Peninsula of Michigan and the Great Smokey Mountains National Park in North Carolina and Tennessee are a watercolor artist’s dream come true. The Ozark National Forest has more than one million acres of spectacular scenery, while the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio, boasts spectacular hues. With no disrespect to New England, here are some of the country’s best fall foliage destinations that can be found elsewhere.
Westchester County, New York
Starting just 30 minutes north of Manhattan, set between the Hudson River and Long Island Sound, Westchester County has so much to offer families, couples and solo travelers eager to enjoy the crisp fall weather and celebrate the season. Travelers can explore the well-shaded climbs of Westchester, which feature some of the best hiking trails in the state. Croton Gorge Park in Cortlandt offers an easy two-mile hike that includes gorgeous vistas of the New Croton Dam and its autumnal color palette. A former nun convent turned Westchester’s newest luxury hotel, The Abbey Inn & Spa is a boutique hotel featuring 42 distinctive guest rooms and suites, a full-service spa, and the Apropos farm-to-table restaurant.
Nowhere does Mother Nature show off her extensive wardrobe better than in the wilds of Montana. Fall brings a romantic pageantry of gold, orange and fiery reds making for an out-of-the-box leaf-peeping destination. Enjoy acres of unspoiled wilderness and signature fall adventures in the heart of the Blackfoot Valley at The Resort at Paws Up. From fly-fishing on the Blackfoot River, horseback riding through the changing Tamarack Trees, e-biking along the mountain trails or hot air ballooning across Montana’s Big Sky, guests will be enthralled by the adventures that fall can bring and majestic landscape of which 37,000 acres Paws Up calls home. Make the most of the property’s glamping season up until mid-October (dedicated camping butler included) or, enjoy all the comforts and privacy of home in a luxury Wilderness Estate all season long.
Autumnal beauty abounds in Portland, Oregon, thriving with unique leaf-crunching locations perfect for exploration. Start your journey by checking in to Hyatt Centric Downtown Portland, for prime access to the city’s top sights and the famous Pearl District. Next, find yourself in a haven of fall beauty by visiting the 12.4 acres of the Japanese Garden (known as the most authentic Japanese garden outside of Japan), where fiery-hued Japanese maples woven among a curtain of native evergreens, create the ultimate backdrop for those fall foliage pictures. For those looking to spend more time outdoors, the city offers some great trails surrounded by a lush canopy of leaves, including those found in Forest Park for the perfect day adventure.
The Pocono Mountains, Pennsylvania
Boasting 2,400 square miles of pristine landscapes, the Pocono Mountains of northeast Pennsylvania are home to splendid mountain terrain, gushing waterfalls, lush woodlands, and 170 miles of meandering rivers. Featuring more than 127 varieties of trees, shrubs and plants, the Pocono Mountains are truly a spectacular sight during the fall season. Because the region spans so many square miles, three distinct color zones are present allowing you to catch peak colors not only once, but three times. Hike along some of the country’s most scenic paths, or drive your way through miles of fall foliage vistas. After your day of leaf peeping, relax at the Lodge at Woodloch, a luxurious destination spa that pampers guests from the moment they arrive. This exquisite retreat for nutrition-conscious travelers embodies the culinary philosophy that food not only fuels our bodies but ignites passions and nourishes minds. Their “Nurture With Nature” Cookbook by Executive Chef Josh Tomson offers seasonal recipes for body, beauty, and healing.
Jackson Hole, Wyoming
The shoulder season of late September is actually a perfect time to visit Jackson Hole as the weather is still dry, the fall colors are changing and the national parks are still open, according to Jackson Hole Traveler. One of the area’s most luxurious retreats, Amangani is perched on the crest of East Gros Ventre Butte with expansive views of the most stunning surrounding autumn scenery, bright with colors of the changing leaves. Guests will discover the resort to be the ideal base for exploring the magnificent natural surroundings, including Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park, and for embarking on adventures ranging from wildlife safaris and hiking to mountain biking and fishing.
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