Our Guide to the Best Fall Color in Every Southern State

Fall Foliage on Lookout Mountain Scenic Parkway
Photo: John Dersham

Plan your next road trip to see the South's most spectacular fall foliage. Throw on some cozy layers, pack a cooler of spicy pumpkin beer, and plan a day trip to one of the best places to see autumn leaves in the South. When the weather cools and the air crisps, take a drive up to the Blue Ridge Mountains, ride along the Natchez Parkway from Mississippi to Tennessee, and see the changing leaves of the sprawling Ozarks in Arkansas and Missouri. Don't let the hot summers mislead you: the South has some of the most beautiful autumn leaves in the entire country. Come fall, the Southern horizon lines are painted in gold, crimson, fuchsia, and burnt orange. In almost every Southern state, you can find jaw-droppingly gorgeous fall foliage. Read on: From Alabama to Virginia, we've found the best places for you to experience a brilliant autumn season.

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Alabama: Little River Canyon Nature Preserve

Fall Foliage in Little River Canyon Nature Preserve
John Dersham

Little River Falls welcomes park visitors to Fort Payne, Alabama, with a glorious autumn view of its 45-foot falls. You'll also find vibrant fall foliage as the preserve's sassafras, flowering dogwood, hickory, dogwood, oak, and maple trees change colors.

Learn more: Little River Canyon Nature Preserve

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Alabama: Lookout Mountain Scenic Parkway

Fall Foliage on Lookout Mountain Scenic Parkway
John Dersham

The 93-mile parkway runs alongside waterfalls, canyons, small towns and villages, state and national parks, and some of the state's most colorful trees.

Learn more: Lookout Mountain Scenic Parkway

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Arkansas: Scenic Byway 7

Fall Foliage on Scenic Byway 7
Courtesy of the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism

The fall foliage and autumn views along this 290-mile long byway are famous for their vibrancy.

Learn more: Scenic Byway 7

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Arkansas: Talimena Scenic Highway 88

Fall Foliage on Talimena Scenic Highway 88
Courtesy of the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism

This scenic drive from Eastern Oklahoma to Western Arkansas runs along plenty of trails, unique places to eat, exciting destinations, and one breathtaking fall panorama after another.

Learn more: Talimena Scenic Highway 88

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Arkansas: The Ozarks

Fall Foliage in The Ozarks
Courtesy of the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism

The rolling plateaus, charming mountain towns, and exciting outdoor activities of the Ozark Mountains are great year-round, but in the fall, the range's maple, blackgum, sweetgum, hickory, sassafras, sycamore, flowering dogwood, and oak trees offer up some of the South's most glorious fall color.

Learn more: The Ozarks

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Delaware: Hagley Museum

Fall Foliage in Delaware
Courtesy of visitdelaware.com

Situated along the banks of the Brandywine River, the grounds of The Hagley Museum and Library burst into color every fall.

Learn more: Hagley

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Delaware: Trap Pond State Park

Fall Foliage in Trap Pond State Park
Courtesy of visitdelware.com

As you canoe, kayak, and meander your way through America's northernmost stand of bald cypress trees, you'll see the beauty of Delaware's turning foliage.

Learn more: Trap Pond State Park

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Florida: Three Rivers State Park

Fall Foliage in Three Rivers State Park
Robert Green

The Chattahoochee River, Flint River, and Lake Seminole converge in a peaceful park decorated with evergreen pines as well as hardwood trees changing their colors.

Learn more: Three Rivers State Park

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Florida: Torreya State Park

Fall Foliage Torreya State Park

This state park is a great spot to see fall foliage, particularly during the peak season, which arrives in the middle of November.

Learn more: Torreya State Park

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Georgia: Black Rock Mountain

Fall Foliage Black Rock Mountain

This park has some of the state's most dramatic scenery. It's situated in Mountain City and filled with hardwoods changing colors in autumn.

Learn more: Black Rock Mountain

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Georgia: Ellijay

Ellijay Georgia
rodclementphotography / Getty Images

North Georgia's apple capital is also a destination for beautiful fall foliage. Ellijay's charming downtown is lined with trees bursting into reds and golds in autumn.

Learn more: Ellijay

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Georgia: Russell-Brasstown Scenic Byway

Fall Foliage in Russell-Brasstown Scenic Byway
Courtesy of exploregeorgia.com

This is the perfect spot to witness one of the South's most stunning sites of changing leaves. The meandering road is flanked by trees undergoing seasonal shifts and includes several turnoffs with scenic overlooks.

Learn more: Russell-Brasstown Scenic Byway

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Georgia: Sweetwater Creek State Park

Fall Foliage in Sweetwater Creek State Park
Courtesy of the Georgia Department on Natural Resources

It's a 2,549-acre greenspace situated in Lithia Springs, and it offers several hiking trails and picnic shelters, as well as a site of historic mill ruins, all in addition to views of the region's fall foliage.

Learn more: Sweetwater Creek Lake

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Georgia: Tallulah Gorge

Fall Foliage in Tallulah Gorge
Alexa Lampasona

Visitors can hike on trails overlooking the rim of the gorge and its waterfalls all while taking in the glimmering yellow oaks and red-tinted maple trees.

Learn more: Tallulah Gorge

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Kentucky: Dale Hollow Lake

Fall Foliage Dale Hollow Lake
Courtesy of kentuckytourism.com

See fall color while aboard a houseboat at this 27,700-acre reservoir. Forest-covered hills and sweeping views showcase the natural beauty of the region.

Learn more: Dale Hollow Lake

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Kentucky: Red River Gorge

Fall Foliage in Red River Gorge
Courtesy of kentuckytourism.com

It's a densely forested area that's a designated Geological Area, National Natural Landmark, and National Archaeological District, and it's one of the top spots for fall color.

Learn more: Red River Gorge

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Kentucky: The Parklands of Floyds Fork

The Parklands of Floyds Fork Fall Color
John Nation/Courtesy of 21st Century Parks

Each park traces Floyds Fork, a stream lined with color-changing trees. For urban fall color in Kentucky, head to Beckley Creek, Pope Lick, The Strand, Turkey Run, or Broad Run Park.

Learn more: The Parklands of Floyd Fork

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Maryland: Deep Creek Lake

Deep Creek Lake Fall Color
Courtesy of the Garrett County Chamber of Commerce

Whether you're up for extreme sports from rock climbing to world-class paddling, prefer a serene forest hike, or would rather spend the day browsing the local antique shops and spend the night curled up by the fire at Deep Creek Lodge, this area truly has it all.

Learn more: Deep Creek Lake

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Maryland: Rock Lodge Road

Rock Lodge Road in Garrett County Fall Color
Courtesy of the Garrett County Chamber of Commerce

At its Southern reaches, it curves alongside Deep Creek Lake. A drive on this thoroughfare offers plenty of palettes of fall colors and lots of photo opportunities of the foliage all the way.

Learn more: Deep Creek Lake

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Maryland: Rt. 219 Scenic Overlook

Fall Foliage Rt. 219 Scenic Overlook in Accident, MD
Courtesy of the Garrett County Chamber of Commerce

You can catch one of the state's best technicolor fall views at a scenic overlook in Accident, Maryland.

Learn more: Rt. 219 Scenic Overlook

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Mississippi: Cypress Swamp

Fall Foliage Cypress Swamp on the Natchez Trace Parkway
Courtesy of natcheztracetravel.com/Vince Havens

The Natchez Trace Parkway has some of the deep South's brightest fall color. At Milepost 122 just north of Jackson, Mississippi, you'll find a swamp filled with tupelo and bald cypress trees. A boardwalk stretches through the bogs beneath a canopy of vibrant foliage.

Learn more: Cypress Swamp

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Mississippi: Jeff Busby Park

Fall Foliage in Jeff Busby Park on the Natchez Trace Parkway
Courtesy of natcheztracetravel.com/Debby McElroy Curtis

At Milepost 193.1 on the Natchez Parkway, check out the views at Jeff Busby Park. Fall foliage on the parkway is typically at or near its colorful peak from mid-October thru mid-November.

Learn more: Jeff Busby Park

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Mississippi: River Bend

Fall Foliage at River Bend on the Natchez Trace Parkway
Courtesy of natcheztracetravel.com/Joyce Richard

At Milepost 122.6 along the Natchez Trace Parkway, make a stop at River Bend to see Madison County, Mississippi's fall foliage. You'll also find a picnic area and plenty of space to walk around and enjoy views of fall leaves reflecting on the water.

Learn more: River Bend

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Missouri: Forest Park

Forest Park Fall Color
Courtesy o the Missouri Division of Tourism

Forest Park is a magnificent destination for fall photography. The park is massive and includes attractions such as the Saint Louis Zoo, Art Museum, and Missouri History Museum, which offer extra incentives for visiting leaf peepers and shutterbugs.

Learn more: Forest Park

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Missouri: Table Rock Lake

Table Rock Lake Fall Color
Courtesy of the Missouri Division of Tourism

Take Route 65 from Springfield to the Arkansas State Line south of Branson. There are some significant hills along this route, which offer you the chance to see for miles and miles. Taking a boat ride on Table Rock Lake (near Branson) when the leaves are at their peak color is amazing.

Learn more: Table Rock Lake

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North Carolina: Asheville

Fall Foliage in Asheville

Asheville, North Carolina, is a great location if your goal is finding foliage and also enjoying the laid-back city life. There are lots of fall color prediction maps online to help you plan your visit.

Learn more: Asheville

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North Carolina: Blue Ridge Parkway

Fall Foliage on the Blue Ridge Parkway
Courtesy of the Jackson County Tourism Development Authority

When you want the best autumn foliage the South has to offer, this parkway offers the most vibrant panoramas of fall foliage along the East Coast.

Learn more: Blue Ridge Parkway

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North Carolina: Panthertown Valley

Panthertown Valley Fall Color
Mary Anne Baker

The area features 30 miles of backcountry trails and 12 waterfalls—a destination for hikers, photographers, backpackers, and mountain bikers alike. Its high elevation offers up great foliage views.

Learn more: Panthertown Valley

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North Carolina: Whiteside Mountain

Fall Foliage Whiteside Mountain
Stacy Redmond

The famed "Shadow of the Bear" is a phenomenon that casts a bear-shaped shadow along Whiteside Mountain during only a select few weeks in October. Even if you miss the shadow, the beautiful fall foliage lasts until the winter.

Learn more: Whiteside Mountain

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South Carolina: Falls Park on the Reedy

Falls Park on the Reedy Fall Color
Courtesy of VisitGreenvilleSC.com

Downtown Greenville, South Carolina, has lots of walkable streets and color-changing fall leaves. Falls Park on the Reedy surrounds the Reedy River and is consistently ranked a Top 10 Park by TripAdvisor.

Learn more: Falls Park on the Reedy

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South Carolina: Lake Keowee

Lake Keowee Fall Color
Courtesy of the Reserve at Lake Keowee

Fall foliage in South Carolina doesn't get much better than the patchwork of autumn leaves along the 300-mile shoreline surrounding Lake Keowee.

Learn more: Lake Keowee

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South Carolina: Poinsett Bridge

Poinsett Bridge Fall Color

It's the oldest bridge in South Carolina. The arch bridge offers travelers a nice spot to enjoy a picnic, wade in the Little Gap Creek, go hiking, and enjoy the foliage.

Learn more: Poinsett Bridge

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Tennessee: Bays Mountain Park and Planetarium

Bays Mountain Park and Planetarium Fall Foliage

If you'd like to stargaze on a clear autumn night during the harvest season, find your way to this 3,550-acre nature park with a 44-acre lake and miles of hiking trails.

Learn more: Bays Mountain Park and Planetarium

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Tennessee: Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area

Fall Foliage in Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area
Courtesy of the Tennesse Department of Tourist Development

The 125,000 acres of land along the Cumberland Plateau that make up the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area are an adventurer's autumn dream.

Learn more: Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area

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Tennessee: Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Great Smoky Mountains National Park Fall Color
Courtesy of the Tennesse Department of Tourist Development

America's most visited national park is a treasure trove of adventure and leaf peeping during the autumn months. Guests can explore the many miles of hiking trails to see historic sites and waterfalls all accented by a palette of fall color.

Learn more: Great Smoky Mountains National Park

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Tennessee: Watauga Lake

Watauga Lake Fall Color
Courtesy of the Carter County Elizabethton Chamber of Commerce

Locals know that Watauga Lake has some of the best fall color around. Sailing along Watauga Lake with the mountains ablaze in autumnal colors is a wonderful way to spend a fall afternoon.

Learn more: Watauga Lake

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Texas: Guadalupe River

Fall Foliage on Guadalupe River
Mike Marvin

Find bright red sumac trees, blazing yellow cottonwoods, pale yellow chinaberries, mixed orange and yellow sycamores, and glowing orange cypress trees along this picturesque river in central Texas.

Learn more: Guadalupe River

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Texas: Lost Maples State Park

Lost Maples State Park Fall Color
Robin Carter

This park is filled with bigtooth maples that put on a vibrant show and draw significant fall crowds. Photographer Robin Carter says, "This is such a special photo to me because my son and grandson are the ones you see walking on the trail enjoying family time together and a beautiful day in Lost Maples Park."

Learn more: Lost Maples State Park

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Virginia: Blue Ridge Parkway

Blue Ridge Parkway Fall Color
Courtesy of Visit Virginia Blue Ridge

The Blue Ridge Parkway offers beautiful views up and down the East Coast. This thoroughfare follows the peaks and valleys of the Appalachian Mountains and boasts some of the most spectacular fall scenery in the world.

Learn more: Visit Virginia's Blue Ridge

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Virginia: James River

James River Fall Color
Courtesy of Botetourt County Tourism

Fourteen miles of the pristine river are designated as a Virginia Scenic River, and if you visit in fall, you'll know exactly why. The shoreline along the river is papered with autumn leaves and some of the brightest foliage around.

Learn more: James River

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Virginia: Mabry Mill

Fall Foliage in Mabry Mills
Bruce Henderson / Visit Virginia’s Blue Ridge

It's surrounded by picturesque mountains and colorful trees that come alive in the fall.

Learn more: Mabry Mill

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Virginia: Smith Mountain Lake

Fall Foliage on Smith Mountain Lake
Tedd Pratt/Smith Mountain Lake Chamber of Commerce

Boat rentals, miles of trails, and picturesque cabins make the surrounding state park a perfect destination year-round, but in fall, the forests light up with foliage, making it an ideal autumn destination too.

Learn more: Smith Mountain Lake

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West Virginia: Blackwater Falls State Park

Fall Foliage in West Virginia
Danita Delimont/Getty Images

Lauded as an area with some of the brightest foliage in the South, the forests in and around Blackwater Falls State park surround hiking trails, rushing rivers, and dramatic waterfalls. Stop at the viewing area to see Blackwater Falls, the centerpiece of the park.

Learn more: Blackwater Falls State Park

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West Virginia: New River Gorge

New River Gorge
Scott Suchman

For more great West Virginia foliage, set your sights on New River Gorge, a national park and preserve in southern West Virginia. Deep canyons, a whitewater river, and a stunning bridge are hallmarks of the area. They're also sights to be sure to take in while you're leaf peeping, hiking, whitewater rafting, and scrambling in the picturesque gorge.

Learn more: New River Gorge

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