Our Guide to the Best Fall Color in Every Southern State
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. (There are so many of them!) 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.
Head to These Southern Spots To See Gorgeous Fall Foliage
In the South, fall foliage isn't hard to find if you know where to look.
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. 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
Alabama: Lookout Mountain Scenic Parkway
Lookout Mountain Scenic Parkway winds its way from Gadsden, Alabama to Chattanooga, Tennessee, with canopies of autumn leaves all along the way. 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
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 foliage and autumn views along this drive are famous for their vibrancy.
Learn more: Scenic Byway 7
Arkansas: Talimena Scenic Highway 88
Winding 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, making it the perfect place for a weekend getaway.
Learn more: Talimena Scenic Highway 88
Arkansas: The Ozarks
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
Delaware: Hagley Museum
Situated along the banks of the Brandywine River, the grounds of the The Hagley Museum and Library burst into color every fall. Take a photography walk to capture the vibrant leaves and hop aboard a hayride at Hagley to experience the leaves in the fresh autumn air.
Learn more: Hagley
Delaware: Trap Pond State Park
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. There's no better place to experience it than from the calm waters of Trap Pond in Laurel, Delaware.
Learn more: Trap Pond State Park
Florida: Three Rivers State Park
You can find beautiful foliage in a tranquil setting where Florida meets the southwest corner of Georgia. There, the Chattahoochee River, Flint River, and Lake Seminole converge in a peaceful park decorated with plenty of evergreen pines as well as hardwood trees changing their colors.
Learn more: 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. It's a great spot to see fall foliage, particularly during the peak season, which arrives in the middle of November. Torreya gets its name from an extremely rare species of Torreya tree that only grows in this area of the nation.
Learn more: Torreya State Park
Georgia: Black Rock Mountain
At an altitude of 3,640 feet, Black Rock Mountain State Park is Georgia's highest state park and has some of the state's most dramatic scenery. It's situated in Mountain City and filled with hardwoods changing colors in autumn. The park gets its name due to the shades of the cliffs, which are comprised of dark gneiss.
Learn more: Black Rock Mountain
North Georgia's apple capital is also a destination for beautiful fall foliage. Plan a road trip to Ellijay and visit the charming downtown, which is lined with trees bursting into reds and golds in autumn. Then set your sights on one of the town's apple orchards and fill a basket with the fruits of fall.
Learn more: Ellijay
Georgia: Russell-Brasstown Scenic Byway
The Russell-Brasstown Scenic Byway 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 where you can linger and take photos. You can also stroll to two Appalachian Trail crossing points, listening to the leaves crunch below your feet.
Learn more: Russell-Brasstown Scenic Byway
Georgia: Sweetwater Creek State Park
Sweetwater Creek State Park is the closest state park to Atlanta. 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
Georgia: Tallulah Gorge
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. In November, watch the biannual "whitewater releases" when expert kayakers brave the rushing rapids as they make their way through the waters curving through the tracts of autumn trees.
Learn more: Tallulah Gorge
Kentucky: Dale Hollow Lake
See fall color while aboard a houseboat at this 27,700-acre reservoir. The lands surrounding the lake are some of the most scenic in the South. Located on the Kentucky-Tennessee border, the lake was formed by the damming of the Obey River. Forest-covered hills and sweeping views showcase the natural beauty of the region.
Learn more: 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. It's a densely forested area that's a designated Geological Area, National Natural Landmark, and National Archaeological District. It also has a place on the National Register of Historic Places.
Learn more: Red River Gorge
Kentucky: The Parklands of Floyds Fork
The Parklands park system in Kentucky includes four major parks linked by a drive, a trail network, and a remarkable water trail. Each park traces Floyds Fork, a classic Ketcuky 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
Maryland: Deep Creek Lake
Whether you're up for extreme sports from rock climbing to world-class paddling, prefer a serene hike through majestic, primeval forests, or would rather spend the day browsing through the local antique shops and spending the night curled up by the fire at Deep Creek Lodge, this area truly has it all.
Learn more: Deep Creek Lake
Maryland: Rock Lodge Road
Rock Lodge Road winds through Garrett County beginning north of the Cunningham Swamp Wildlife Management Area. 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
Maryland: Rt. 219 Scenic Overlook
U.S. Route 219 enters Maryland near Backbone Mountain, and it runs runs 48 miles from the West Virginia border to the Pennsylvania border. 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
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 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
Mississippi: Jeff Busby Park
At Milepost 193.1 on the Natchez Parkway, pull over and 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. The park has a campground, picnic spots, and an overlook atop Little Mountain, one of the highest elevations in Mississippi.
Learn more: Jeff Busby Park
Mississippi: River Bend
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
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.
Learn more: Forest Park
Missouri: Table Rock Lake
Southwest Missouri gives you the flavor of the Ozark Hills. 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. And if you want to make a day of it, taking a boat ride on Table Rock Lake (near Branson) when the leaves are at their peak color is amazing. Top of the Rock offers unparalleled views of the lake as well.
Learn more: Table Rock Lake
North Carolina: Asheville
Asheville, North Carolina, is a great location if your goal is finding foliage and also enjoying the laid-back city life. Sit at a picnic table at a local brewery, take a walk around town, and stop by the Biltmore. There are lots of fall color prediction maps online to help you plan your visit to the area and ensure you're there during the best and brightest times.
Learn more: Asheville
North Carolina: Blue Ridge Parkway
When you want the best autumn foliage the South has to offer, you know where to go. All signs point to the Blue Ridge Parkway, which offers the most vibrant panoramas of fall foliage along the East Coast. Jackson County, North Carolina, makes up about 70 miles of the 469-mile roadway and includes its highest peak at Richland Balsam.
Learn more: Blue Ridge Parkway
North Carolina: Panthertown Valley
Panthertown Valley, known as the "Yosemite of the East," is a great spot for hiking. The area features 30 miles of backcountry trails and 12 waterfalls. It's a destination for hikers, photographers, backpackers, and mountain bikers too. Its high elevation offers up great foliage; don't miss Big Green Mountain for an ideal photo op.
Learn more: Panthertown Valley
North Carolina: Whiteside Mountain
The famed "Shadow of the Bear" is located outside Cashiers, North Carolina. It's 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, and it's worth planning a trip to see it.
Learn more: Whiteside Mountain
South Carolina: Falls Park on the Reedy
Downtown Greenville, South Carolina, has lots of walkable streets and color-changing fall leaves. Don't miss Falls Park on the Reedy, which surrounds the Reedy River and is consistently ranked a Top 10 Park by TripAdvisor. Order up a coffee, tea, or cider from a local cafe and stroll beneath the changing leaves.
Learn more: Falls Park on the Reedy
South Carolina: 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. Just west of Greenville with calm, crystal blue waters, the lake is 18,500 acres of water that provide plenty of perfect spots to see the foliage by boat.
Learn more: Lake Keowee
South Carolina: Poinsett Bridge
Located in Greenville County, South Carolina, Poinsett Bridge is the oldest bridge in South Carolina. The arch bridge was built in 1820 and offers travelers a nice spot to enjoy a picnic, wade in the Little Gap Creek, and go hiking. Travelers can find it 2 miles northwest of South Carolina Highway 11.
Learn more: Poinsett Bridge
Tennessee: Bays Mountain Park and Planetarium
If you'd like to stargaze on a clear autumn night during the harvest season, find your way to Bays Mountain Park and Planetarium. A perfect trip for a crisp fall afternoon, it's a 3,550-acre nature park with a 44-acre lake and miles of hiking trails that you can find located on Bays Mountain in Kingsport Tennessee.
Learn more: Bays Mountain Park and Planetarium
Tennessee: Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area
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. Saddle up and enjoy a ride along part of the more than 212 miles of horse trails or 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).
Tennessee: Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Celebrating the 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.
Learn more: Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Tennessee: Watauga Lake
Locals know that Watauga Lake has some of 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. The lake is located east of Elizabethton, Tennessee, and was created by the Tennessee Valley Authority when they completed the TVA Watauga Dam in 1948.
Learn more: 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 picturesque river in central Texas. It runs from Kerr County, Texas, to the Gulf of Mexico and is a popular destination for sightseers as well as adventurers seeking rafting, fly fishing, kayaking, and canoeing opportunities.
Learn more: Guadalupe River
Texas: Lost Maples State Park
Located about 90 miles northwest of San Antonio in Vanderpool, Lost Maples State 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
Virginia: Blue Ridge Parkway
The Blue Ridge Parkway offers beautiful views up and down the East Coast. Winding from Shenandoah National Park in Virginia to the Great Smoky Mountains in North Carolina, this thoroughfare follows the peaks and valleys of the Appalachian Mountains and boasts some of the most spectacular fall scenery in the world. Stop in Virginia's Shenandoah region for rolling hills as far as the eye can see.
Learn more: Visit Virginia's Blue Ridge
Virginia: James River
The James River flows through the Allegheny and Blue Ridge Mountains on its way to the Chesapeake Bay. 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
Virginia: Mabry Mill
This beautiful location has been painted and photographed many times throughout the 100 years of its history. It's surrounded by picturesque mountains and colorful trees that come alive in the fall. A rural landmark run by the National Park Service, Mabry Mill is located at milepost 176.2 of the Blue Ridge Parkway in Floyd County, Virginia.
Learn more: 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 destination year-round, but in fall, the forests light up with foliage, making it an ideal autumn destination too.
Learn more: Smith Mountain Lake
West Virginia: Blackwater Falls State Park
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, and don't miss the area's other scenic views either.
Learn more: Blackwater Falls State Park
West Virginia: New River Gorge
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