State-by-State Guide to the Best Fall Color
Plan your next road trip around the South's most spectacular fall foliage.
Don’t let the hot summers mislead you: the South has some of the most beautiful autumn leaves in the entire country. When the weather cools and the air crisps, the Southern horizon lines are painted in gold, crimson, fuchsia, and burnt orange. In almost every Southern state, there's gorgeous fall foliage near you. 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 fall leaves in the South. We’ve spotted a range of locations near you that are bursting with golden tones. Take a drive up to the Blue Ridge Mountains, which grace the East Coast with one of the most jaw-droppingly beautiful scenic parkways. Ride along the Natchez Parkway from Mississippi to Tennessee, and see the changing leaves of a truly Southern season. In Arkansas and Missouri, the sprawling Ozarks are home to brilliant fall scenery and tons of recreational activities. In Greenville, South Carolina, fall colors appear right in the middle of the city’s popular downtown park. From Alabama to Virginia, we’ve found the best places for you to experience a brilliant autumn.
Alabama: Little River Canyon Nature Preserve
Right off Highway 35, Little River Falls welcomes park visitors to Fort Payne, Alabama, with a glorious autumn view of its 45-foot falls.
For more information: Little River Canyon Nature Preserve
Alabama: Lookout Mountain Scenic Parkway
Lookout Mountain Scenic Parkway spans from Gadsden, Alabama to Chattanooga, Tennessee. The 93-mile parkway runs along side waterfalls, canyons, small towns and villages, state and national parks, and some of the state's most colorful fall trees.
For more information: Lookout Mountain Scenic Parkway
Arkansas: Scenic Byway 7
This 290-mile long byway is arguably one of the most scenic drives in America. Passing through both Ouachita Mountains and the Ozarks, the fall views along this drive are famous.
For more information: Scenic Byway 7
Arkansas: Talimena Scenic Highway 88
Winding for 54 miles through the Ouachita National Forest, 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.
For more information: Talimena Scenic Highway 88
Arkansas: The Ozarks
The Ozarks' rolling plateaus, charmong mountain towns, and exciting outdoor activities are great year-round, but in the fall, the mountains' Maple, Blackgum, Sweetgum, Hickory, Sassafrass, Sycamore, Flowering Dogwood, and Oak trees provide some of the South's most glorious fall color.
For more information: The Ozarks
Situated along the banks of the Brandywine River, the founding place of the DuPont Company, bursts into color every fall. Vinbrant, natural leaves both contrast against and compliment the industrial brick mill buildings in a beautiful mixture.
For more information: Hagley
Delaware: Trap Pond State Park
As you canoe or kayak through America's nothernmost stand of Bald Cyrpress trees, you'll see the beauty of leaves turning from the inside of Trap Pond in Laurel, Delaware.
For more information: Trap Pond State Park
Florida: Three Rivers State Park
Where Florida meets the southwest corner of Georgia, the Chatttahoochee River, Flint River, and Lake Seminole converge in a peaceful park decorated with Pine and Hardwood trees.
For more information: Three Rivers State Park
Florida: Torreya State Park
Overlooking the Apalachicola River from Torreya's high bluffs in Bristol, Florida, this state park is one of Florida's most scenic places. Torreya gets its name from an extremely rare species of Torreya tree that only grows in this area of the nation.
For more information: Torreya State Park
Georgia: Black Rock Mountain
At an altitude of 3,640 feet, Black Rock Mountain is Georgia's highest state park situated in Mountain City.
For more information: Black Rock Mountain
Georgia: Russell-Brasstown Scenic Byway
The Russell-Brasstown Scenic Byway-CNF is the perfect spot to witness what is considered one of the most stunning mountainous fall foliage sites. The meandering road is flanked by trees undergoing seasonal change and includes several turnoffs with scenic overlooks along the way. You can also stroll two Appalachian Trail crossing points, listening to the leaves crunch below your feet.
For more information: Russell-Brasstown Scenic Byway
Georgia: Sweetwater Creek State Park
Sweetwater Creek State Park was one of the filming locations for the Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1. It is also Atlanta's closest state park, situated in Lithia Springs, and offers several hiking trails and a yurt village.
For more information: Sweetwater Creek Lake
Georgia: Tallulah Gorge
Visitors can hike on trails overlooking the rim and waterfalls and take in the glimmering yellow oaks and red-tinted maple trees. In November, watch the biannual "whitewater releases" when epxert kayakers brave the rushing rapids.
For more information: Tallulah Gorge
Kentucky: Dale Hollow Lake
See fall color from the lake on a housebout at this 27,700-acre reservoir. The lands surrounding the lake are some of the most scenic in the South. Forest covered hills and sweeping views showcase the natural beauty of the region.
For more information: Dale Hollow Lake
Kentucky: Red River Gorge
In Eastern Kentucky, the always-beautiful Red River Gorge is one of the top spots for fall color.
For more information: Red River Gorge
Kentucky: The Parklands of Floyds Fork
The Parklands park system includes four major parks linked by a park drive, a trail network, and a remarkable water trail. Each park traces Floyds Fork, a classic Ketcuky stream. For urban fall color in Kentucky, head to Beckley Creek, Pope Lick, The Strand, Turkey Run, or Broad Run Park.
For more informaton: The Parklands of Floyd Fork
Maryland: Deep Creek Lake
Whether you're up for every extreme sports from rock climbing to world-class paddling, prefer a serene hike through majestic, primeval forests, or would rather spend the day hunting the local antique shops and spending the night with good friends by the fire at the lodge, Deep Creek truly has it all.
For more information: Deep Creek Lake
Maryland: Rock Lodge Road in Garrett County
Rock Lodge Road runs alongside Deep Creek Lake, and offers infinite amounts of fall colors and photo opportunities.
For more informaton: Deep Creek Lake
Maryland: Rt. 219 Scenic Overlook
U.S. Route 219 enters Maryland near Backbone Mountain. You can catch one of the state's best scenic fall views at the overlook in Accident, Maryland.
For more information: Rt. 219 Scenic Overlook
Mississippi: Cypress Swamp
The Natchez Trace Parkway, which runs through Tennessee, Alabama, and Mississippi, has some of the deep South’s brightest fall color. At milepost 122, check out the Cypress Swamp.
For more information: Cypress Swamp
Mississippi: Jeff Busby Park
At milepost 193.1, pull over and check out the views at Jeff Busby Park. Fall foliage on the Natchez Trace Parkway is typically at or near its fall color peak from mid-October thru mid-November.
For more information: Jeff Busby Park
Mississippi: River Bend
At milepost 122.6 along the Natchez Trace Parkway, stop at River Bend for a view of fall foliage reflecting on the water.
For more information: River Bend
Missouri: Forest Park
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. South of St. Louis, you'll find terrain rolls a little more as you make your way into the section of Missouri known as the Boot Heel.
For more information: Forest Park
Missouri: Table Rock Lake
Southwest Missouri gives you a flavor of the Ozark Hills. Take Route 65 from Springfield to the Arkansas state line south of Branson. You have some really significant hills along this route, offering you the chance to see for miles and miles. And if you can pull it off, taking a boat ride on Table Rock Lake (near Branson) when the leaves are at their color peak is amazing. Top of the Rock offers unparalleled views of the lake as well.
For more information: Table Rock Lake
North Carolina: Blue Ridge Parkway
The Blue Ridge Parkway offers some of the best fall foliage views along the East Coast. Jackson County makes up about 70 miles of the 469-mile roadway, and includes its highest peak at Richland Balsam.
For more informaton: Blue Ridge Parkway
North Carolina: Panthertown Valley
Panthertown Valley, known as the "Yosemite of the East," features 30 miles of backcountry trails and 12 waterfalls.
For more information: Panthertown Valley
North Carolina: Whiteside Mountain
The "Bear Shadow" is located outside Cashiers, North Carolina, and casts a shadow on the Whiteside Mluntainside that looks like a bear. This phenomenon only occurs a few weeks in October, but the beautiful fall foliage lasts until the winter.
For more information: Whiteside Mountain
South Carolina: Falls Park on the Reedy
The unique and beautiful Falls Park in downtown Greenville is consistently ranked a Top 10 Park by TripAdvisor, alonside Central Park and Golden Gate Park.
For more information: Falls Park on the Reedy
South Carolina: Lake Keowee
Just west of Greenville with crystal blue waters, it's the perfect spot to see foliage by boat.
For more information: Lake Keowee
South Carolina: Poinsett Bridge
Poinsett Bridge, the oldest bridge in South Carolina, is a nice spot to enjoy a picnic, wade in the Little Gap Creek, and go hiking.
For more information: Poinsett Bridge
Tennessee: Bays Mountain Park and Planetarium
Star-gaze on a clear autumn night this harvest season, or wander around the park during a crisp fall afternoon in Kingsport, TN.
For more information: Bays Mountain Park and Planetarium
Tennessee: Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area
The 125,000 acres of land along the Cumberland Plateau is an adventurer's autumn dream. Saddle up and enjoy a ride along part of the more than 212 miles of horse trails. Grab a camera and explore the many miles of Tennessee hiking trails that lead to natural wonders like Twin Arches which features rock overhangs, cliffs, and an old home site.
For more information: Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area
Tennessee: Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Celebrating its 100th anniversary of the National Park System, America's most visited national park is a treasure trove of adventure and leaf peeping during the autumn months. Take a drive along Cades Cove and Newfound Gap to see bears, deer, and other wildlife. Guests can stretch their legs on one of the many miles of hiking trails to see historic sites and waterfalls all accented by a palette of fall color. Rise with the sun to bicycle the 11-mile one-way road of the Cades Cove Loop Wednesday and Saturday mornings until 10 am.
For more information: Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Tennessee: Watauga Lake
Locals know that Watauga Lake has the best fall color in Northeast Tennessee. Sailing along Watauga Lake with the mountains ablaze in autumnal colors is a wonderful way to spend a fall afternoon.
For more information: Watauga Lake
Texas: Guadalupe River
Find bright red Sumac trees, blazing yellow Cottonwoods, pale yellow Chinaberries, mixed orange and yellow Sycamores, and glowing orange Cypress trees along this central-Texas river.
For more information: Guadalupe River
Texas: Lost Maples State Park
Located about 90 miles northwest of San Antonio in Vanderpool, Lost Maples State Park is populated by Bigtooth Maples that 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."
For more information: Lost Maples State Park
Virginia: Blue Ridge Parkway
Winding from Shenandoah National Park to the Great Smoky Mountains in North Carolina, this Parkway follows the Appalachian Mountains and boasts some of the most spectacular fall scenery in the world.
For more information: Visit Virginia's Blue Ridge
Virginia: James River
The James River flows through the Allegheny and Blue Ridge Mountains on its way to the Chesapeak Bay. 14 miles of this pristine river are designated as a Virginia Scenic River.
For more information: James River
Virginia: Mabry Mill
This beautiful location has been painted and photographed many times throughout its 100 years of existence. It's surrounded by picturesque mountains and colorfull trees that come alive in the fall. This rural landmark is located at milepost 176.2 of the Blue Ridge Parkway in Floyd County, Virginia.
For more information: Mabry Mill
Virginia: Smith Mountain Lake
Smith Mountain Lake is the second largest freshwater lake in the state of Virginia. Numerous activities, including boat rentals, miles of trails, and picturesque cabins make the surrounding state park a perfect fall destination.
For more information: Smith Mountain Lake