15 Virginia Parks Where You Can Catch the Best Fall Foliage

You don’t have to look far to find the best fall color in Virginia.

Hop the Blue Ridge Parkway and take it north to find great fall foliage in Virginia. Parks across the commonwealth offer up vibrant foliage that blankets the mountains and valleys with the colors of autumn, and it happens sooner than many spots located farther south, which means you can start planning your road trip now. Winding scenic roads will take you to wilderness areas and state parks filled with deep forests of deciduous trees and campgrounds too—all perfect places for leaf peeping. Set your sights on Virginia's parks, and you'll also be charting a course to the area's small mountain towns, rivers, and vistas as well. Sections of the Appalachian Trail also run through, offering unparalleled access to the most dramatic fall sights. Explore a park from our list of the most picturesque autumn places in the Old Dominion state, and you'll be glad you did.

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1. Algonkian Regional Park

Algonkian Regional Park in fall
Courtesy of NOVA Parks

Sterling, Virginia
Find 838 acres of hiking trails, fields, and wooded areas in Algonkian Regional Park, located along the Potomac River in northern Virginia. Check out fall color along the river or fish along its banks for a welcome respite after a busy day of activities outside the park—Algonkian is just 30 miles from Washington, D.C.

47001 Fairway Drive, Sterling, VA 20165, novaparks.com/parks/algonkian-regional-park

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2. Bear Creek Lake State Park

Bear Creek Lake State Park in fall
Courtesy of Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation

Cumberland, Virginia
This 326-acre state park has plenty of room to roam along with camping facilities near a scenic lake in the Cumberland State Forest. Located in the central part of the state about an hour from Richmond, the park offers a boat launch, fishing pier, boat rentals, archery range, and playgrounds. Park trails connect to the 16,000-acre forest.

22 Bear Creek Lake Rd., Cumberland, VA 23040, dcr.virginia.gov/state-parks/bear-creek-lake

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3. Breaks Interstate Park

Fall Rainbow Breaks Interstate Park
Ronnie Hylton / Breaks Interstate Park

Breaks, Virginia
A state park located on the Kentucky-Virginia border, Breaks Interstate Park has campgrounds, picnic areas, lakefront log cabins, and scenic views overlooking the Russell Fork River. If you make the trip in early fall, don't miss the zip lining and elk tours. Peak leaf season usually occurs the last week of October, but you'll catch views of massive sandstone cliffs whenever you visit.

627 Commission Circle, Breaks, VA 24607, breakspark.com

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4. Claytor Lake State Park

Claytor Lake State Park
Courtesy of Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation

Radford, Virginia
Enjoy a day on the water at this 4,500-acre Virginia lake, and be sure to take in the scenic shoreline with its seasonal hues too. Camping and cabins are available in the park, as well as a full-service marina with docking slips and boat rentals. Rent a bike to tour the lake on wheels or stop by the historic Howe House for interactive exhibits on the ecology of the lake and surrounding areas.

6620 Ben H. Bolen Dr., Dublin, VA 24084, dcr.virginia.gov/state-parks/claytor-lake

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5. George Washington National Forest

Skidmore Reservoir in George Washington National Forest
Ross Ahlhorn / 500px / Getty Images

Roanoke, Virginia
The George Washington and Jefferson National Forests comprise 1.8 million acres across several states, one of the largest stretches of public land in the region. Visit the section in Virginia to see some of the most striking foliage on the East coast. Favorite viewing spots include the High Knob Tower on the state line with West Virginia and the Reddish Knob near Harrisonburg.

Plan your trip.

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6. Grayson Highlands State Park

Grayson Highlands State Park in fall
Courtesy of Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation

Mouth of Wilson, Virginia
Stunning vistas along the park's hiking trails are par for the course in Grayson Highlands, which makes anyone who visits year-round, but especially in fall, a fortunate traveler indeed. Near Virginia's two highest mountains, Mount Rogers and Whitetop Mountain, Grayson Highlands offers scenic views at more than 5,000 feet high. Campgrounds, yurts, and a bunkhouse are available in this backpackers' paradise.

829 Grayson Highland Ln., Mouth of Wilson, VA 24363, dcr.virginia.gov/state-parks/grayson-highlands

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7. Great Falls Park

Great Falls and Mather Gorge on the Potomac River at Great Falls Park Virginia
mbell/Getty Images

McLean, Virginia
If you like your foliage with a side of whitewater recreation, set your sights on Great Falls Park, which finds the shoreline of the Potomac River turning red and gold during the season. The 800-acre park is only 15 miles from the nation's capital, but you wouldn't know it in this peaceful escape. Explore one of the nation's first canals, see the Great Falls, hike along Mather Gorge's dramatic clifftops, and explore the museum exhibits in the visitor center.

9200 Old Dominion Drive, McLean, VA 22102, nps.gov/grfa/index.htm

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8. Hidden Valley Lake

Hidden Valley Lake in fall
Meghan Marchetti / DWR

Abingdon, Virginia
Fish with a view at Hidden Valley Lake, a mountain lake in Washington County at 3,500 feet. The south side of the lake in this secluded wildlife area is almost completely forested, while the north side provides good bank access for anglers. Be sure to obtain the necessary permits before visiting.

Route 690, Virginia 24210, dwr.virginia.gov/waterbody/hidden-valley-lake

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9. Mabry Mill and the Blue Ridge Parkway

Mabry Mills Fall Color
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. Bruce Henderson/Visit Virginia’s Blue Ridge

Milepost 176, Blue Ridge Parkway, Virginia
You can't go wrong touring any section of the Blue Ridge Parkway. America's longest national park consists of 469 miles of gorgeous roadway connecting Shenandoah National Park with the Great Smoky Mountains. A fan favorite on the Parkway, Mabry Mill, is located 15 miles from the town of Floyd at Milepost 176. Pull out your camera for snapshots of the original Mabry family mill, sawmill, and blacksmith shop in full fall color (cultural demonstrations and music occur on the weekends in early fall).

Milepost 176, Blue Ridge Parkway, Virginia, nps.gov/blri/planyourvisit/mabry-mill-mp-176.htm

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10. Mount Rogers National Recreation Area

Couple hiking with wild ponies on Mount Rogers in Virginia
Cavan Images/Getty Images

Marion, Virginia
This recreation area in southwestern Virginia near the Tennessee and North Carolina borders is full of sights to take in, from rugged mountain balds to wild ponies. It includes the Lewis Fork Wilderness area and Mount Rogers, Virginia's highest point. Mount Rogers is also home to a portion of the Virginia Creeper Trail, a popular 34-mile trail open to bikers, runners, walkers, and cross-country skiers.

3714 VA-16, Marion, VA 24354,

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11. Natural Bridge State Park

Natural Bridge State Park
Courtesy of Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation

Natural Bridge, Virginia
The centerpiece of this state park is a 215-foot-tall limestone gorge eroded into a natural bridge by Cedar Creek, which flows below. There are also hiking trails, waterfalls, and vibrant fall foliage throughout the park. Admission to the park includes a visit to the Monacan Indian Village; interpretive programs are held through November.

6477 South Lee Highway, Natural Bridge, VA 24578, dcr.virginia.gov/state-parks/natural-bridge

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12. Seven Bends State Park

Seven Bends State Park
Courtesy of Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation

Woodstock, Virginia
A few miles from historic Woodstock, find Seven Bends State Park, which offers access to the North Fork of the Shenandoah River. Enjoy a picnic, launch a boat, or set out on a hike along 8 miles of trails. Then explore the northern Shenandoah Valley for wineries and breweries, scenic drives, museums, and battlefields.

2111 South Hollingsworth Road, Woodstock, VA 22664, dcr.virginia.gov/state-parks/seven-bends

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13. Shenandoah National Park

Hazel Mountain
Dennis Govoni / Getty Images

Luray, Virginia
You can enter the 200,000-acre Shenandoah National Park from many places, but the best way to see it is by meandering along Skyline Drive and taking in the vistas along the way. Make a stop at Hazel Mountain Overlook near Luray to see the changing leaves. Lodging, camping, and guided horseback rides are available through October or November; check the website for details.

259 Big Meadows Visitor Road, Stanley, VA 22851, nps.gov/shen/index.htm

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14. Shenandoah River State Park

Shenandoah River State Park in fall
Courtesy of Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation

Bentonville, Virginia
This 1,600-acre park lies along the shore of the Shenandoah River, with scenic views of the area including Massanutten Mountain and Shenandoah National Park. Stay in the six-room lodge, fully stocked cabins, or campground. Then venture onto 24 miles of trails to check out the views, or spend the day fishing.

350 Daughter of Stars Dr., Bentonville, VA 22610, dcr.virginia.gov/state-parks/shenandoah-river

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15. Sky Meadows State Park

Sky Meadows State Park in fall
Courtesy of Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation

Delaplane, Virginia
This 1,860-acre state park has panoramic views and woodlands, access to the Appalachian Trail, and a historic farm. It's a popular spot for hiking, fishing, camping, and biking. Bring a packed lunch to make a day of it, and settle in for a leisurely picnic among the area's changing leaves.

11012 Edmonds Ln., Delaplane, VA 20144, dcr.virginia.gov/state-parks/sky-meadows

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