Best Places to See Fall Foliage in the U.S.

The U.S. boasts some of the most breathtaking fall foliage displays, from the picturesque East Coast to the vibrant heart of Tennessee. Under Canvas offers prime locations in Maine and Tennessee, immersing you right into nature’s spectacular show. For vivid colors, comfortable hiking conditions, fewer crowds, and unforgettable vistas look no further. Let’s map out your perfect autumn escape where colorful leaves lead the way.

1. Acadia National Park

Acadia, spanning over 47,000 acres, is a haven all year round. But there’s something magical about the fall foliage here. The brilliant red, yellow, and green leaves contrast against the blues of the water, and the rugged coastline creates a spectacle that can leave you spellbound. Fall also brings with it crisp sea air and comfort foods, like the creamy lobster chowder, taste even better.

By mid-October, Bar Harbor becomes a hotspot. Tourists throng the place to experience the sea’s salty embrace and the vibrant colors of fall. The downtown area is buzzing with activity, and those interested can indulge in activities like kayaking or even bird and whale watching in Acadia National Park.

When to See Fall Foliage in Acadia

Late September through mid-October is the golden period for leaf-peeping in Acadia, Maine.

Things to Do in Acadia National Park in the Fall

  • Have a scenic picnic at Jordan Pond
  • Hike the challenging Beehive Trail for panoramic views
  • Drive to the top of Cadillac Mountain to witness the first sunrise in the U.S.
  • Hear the roar of the ocean at Thunder Hole
  • Drive the 27-mile Park Loop Road through the park’s highlights
  • Take in the coastal views from Otter Cliff
  • Bike 45 miles of historic Carriage Roads
  • Visit the picturesque Bass Harbor Lighthouse
  • Explore Bar Harbor’s charming shops and try delectable seafood
  • Take a boat cruise from Bar Harbor to witness the park’s grandeur from the sea

How to Get to Acadia National Park

The most convenient route is flying into Bangor International Airport (BGR), just an hour’s drive from Bar Harbor. Consider a road trip from Boston to Acadia and passing through places like Salem and Portsmouth for an even more memorable getaway.

Where to Stay in Acadia

Named a 2022 ‘Top 20 Resort in the U.S. – Northeast’ by Condé Nast Traveler, Under Canvas Acadia is the perfect base camp for an ideal New England getaway. Enjoy glamping on 100 acres of waterfront land, with over 1,200 feet of coastline, just 35 minutes from the acclaimed Cadillac Mountain Trail and Acadia National Park. Under Canvas Acadia allows you to explore the beauty of Maine by day and the comforts of home by night from May to October.

2. Great Smoky Mountains National Park

The Smoky Mountains are a must-visit for those seeking a vibrant autumn display. The gold, crimson, and amber hues cascade down the mountains, reaching their peak by early November. This remarkable color show is attributed to the park’s diversity, home to over 100 species of native trees. With poplar, maple, oak, and hickory trees dominating the landscape, the Smokies ensure a mesmerizing fall foliage experience. Add to this the park’s diverse wildlife, misty mornings, and picturesque trails, and you’ve got a fall destination like no other.

When to See Fall Foliage in The Smokies

Starting in early October, the higher elevations begin to glow with fall colors. From mid-October to November, this vibrant display spreads to the lower elevations, reaching its peak.

Things to Do in the Great Smoky Mountains in the Fall

  • Drive to Clingman’s Dome, the park’s highest peak
  • Cruise the Blue Ridge Parkway, known as “America’s Favorite Drive”
  • Hike the Roaring Fork Trail for forested surroundings
  • Take the Rainbow Falls Trail to witness the park’s tallest waterfall
  • Get a bird’s eye view of the area from the Gatlinburg Space Needle
  • Take a ride on the Great Smoky Mountain Wheel for unparalleled views and fun
  • Look for wildlife in Cataloochee Valley, like black bears and elk
  • Photograph historic buildings or go on a seasonal hayride at Cades Cove
  • Hike the favorited 3-mile Chimney Tops Trail for breathtaking views
  • Explore a section of the iconic Appalachian Trail

How to Get to Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Land at McGhee Tyson Airport (TYS) in Knoxville, just an hour’s drive from the park’s entrance. Road trippers will enjoy scenic driving with spectacular views at every turn.

Where to Stay in the Great Smoky Mountains

Named a ‘Best Resort in the South’ by Travel + Leisure and a ‘Top 20 Resort in the U.S. – South’ by Condé Nast Traveler, Under Canvas Great Smoky Mountains is located just 10 miles from Gatlinburg, Tennessee, and is set upon 182 acres of lush, wooded terrain, near the entrance to Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Beckoning travelers to Tennessee’s ancient mountains and misty blue vistas, Under Canvas’ safari-inspired accommodations offer an unparalleled outdoor experience in “The Land of Blue Smoke” from April through November.


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