Your Guide to Leaf Peeping


As the summer gradually breaks into fall, people everywhere are looking forward to crisp autumn air, their favorite cozy sweater, and leaf peeping around the country. Fall is one of the best times to travel in an RV rental: it’s cool enough to enjoy a hike, but not too cold that you can’t relax outside next to a fire. Add in that beautiful fall foliage, and you’ve got a road trip that dreams are made of.

New England gets all the fame as the best place for fall colors, but did you know that there are great spots for leaf peeping all over the country? Whether you’re looking to go on an RVing adventure across the country, or take a drive around your home state, you can find amazing fall foliage around the United States. Below, you’ll find our top recommendations for where to catch gorgeous fall sites in different regions, plus tips on when to go and what else to do. Use our guide to create your own fall foliage map and plan an amazing fall road trip.

Leaf Peeping in the Northeast

When it comes to fall foliage, New England has a claim to fame, and for good reason. No region quite embodies autumn like small New England towns, with trees everywhere exploding into shades of yellow and red.

Where to go:

·      Stowe, Vermont: The fall foliage in Vermont is legendary, and this small town is the perfect starting point for hiking into the beautiful Vermont woods.

·      Camden, Maine: Maine boasts a beautiful combination of forest and ocean. From Mount Battie near Camden, you can soak in the fall foliage and harbor views.

·      Franconia, New Hampshire: The White Mountain National Forest is famous for its fall foliage (and its moose!). Franconia is a great base for some beautiful hikes.

When to go:

The peak of fall foliage in New England is typically from the end of September through the first half of October. The trees will start to change color farther north first and change more quickly at higher altitudes. So, if Vermont, Maine, or New Hampshire is your destination, go early. Fall colors might linger a little later in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island. This fall foliage map shows an estimate of when the leaves will change in New England.


While you’re there

·      Go apple picking: Fall is the season for apple picking in New England! Pick your own apples, and make sure you try some apple cider or – our personal favorite – a cider donut.

·      Take a spooky side trip: If you’re all about Halloween, consider a day trip to Salem, Massachusetts, the site of the Salem witch trials. The town is full of spooky decorations and activities in the fall.


Fall Leaf ColorLeaf Peeping in the Southeast

The southeast has its fair share of beautiful foliage and great hikes, so add leaf peeping in Tennessee and Georgia to your fall plan.

Where to go:

·      Gatlinburg, Tennessee: The Great Smoky Mountains, straddling the border between Tennessee and North Carolina, are an amazing place to go hiking, and fall is their peak season. You might just peep a black bear in addition to some fall foliage.

·      Elijay, Georgia: Elijay is home to some of the country’s cutest cabins and is the self-titled “Apple Capital of George.” It’s the perfect place for a fall road trip in the South.

When to go:

Fall hits a little later in the south, with the first hints of fall foliage emerging when the weather is still warm. The best time to see fall colors in Georgia and Tennessee is the second half of October into the first week or two of November.

While you’re there:

·      Get a view: If you’re traveling to the Great Smoky Mountains, don’t miss the view from Clingmans Dome, the highest point in Tennessee. You can drive up to the viewing point or, for more ambitious types, hike your way to the top.

·      Enjoy all things apple: Every year, Georgia celebrates apples with the Georgia Apple Festival. Sadly, the 2020 festival has been cancelled, but there will still be lots of places to pick apples or enjoy a family hay ride.


Leaf Peeping in the West

When people think of travelling in the Western United States, they often think of the shore or the snow. But there is some great fall foliage to enjoy as well.

Where to go:

·      Breckenridge, Colorado: The same mountains that make Colorado a hot spot for skiing also make it ideal for leaf peeping. Fall foliage in Colorado peaks around the Boreas Pass Road, a great place to go for a fall drive or hike.

·      Calistoga, California: Northern California is full of beautiful spots for a fall drive. Calistoga is unique for its aerial gondola, which offers a birds-eye view of Napa Valley.

When to go:

Fall typically peaks in the Northwest in the last couple weeks of October, into the beginning of November. If you want to be sure to avoid the leaves dropping due to an early frost, plan to go by the end of October.

While you’re there:

·      Do a wine tasting: What could be better than sitting on the porch of a vineyard, sipping wine while overlooking some beautiful fall views? Napa Valley is the best place to sip and peep.

·      Visit a national park: Yosemite and Yellowstone are beautiful in the fall, and typically less crowded than they are in the spring and summer.


Leaf Peeping in North CarolinaLeaf Peeping in the Midwest

The Midwest is less crowded during the fall than New England, but it’s full of beautiful roads for autumnal driving and spots for breathtaking campsites.

Where to go:

·      Adams County, Ohio: Adams County includes a number of state parks and nature areas, including Adams Lake Park and Shawnee State Park. There are some great hiking options, or take in all the sites by driving through.

·      Munising, Michigan: Any spot along the Great Lakes will give you gorgeous fall views. Munising, along the shore of Lake Superior, is a beautiful spot for some of the region’s best waterfalls.

·      Black Hills, South Dakota: The Black Hills are known for Mount Rushmore, but the area is full of winding mountain roads and picturesque hills that are full of color perfect for South Dakota leaf peeping. If you’re an adventurous driver, try the Needles Highway, a 14-mile stretch of hairpin turns and tunnels surrounded by granite hills.


When to go:

Typically, fall peaks in the Midwest between the end of September and the end of October. In 2020, AccuWeather predicted that fall might hit the Great Lakes region a couple of weeks later due to warm weather. Therefore, think about planning a trip in October.


While you’re there

·      Shop for Amish furniture: the Midwest is home to beautiful areas of Amish country, where you can also shop for handmade furniture. At Millers Bakery and Furniture in Ohio, you can take your pick between furniture, souvenirs, pies, and doughnuts.

·      Do a whiskey tasting: The Midwest is known for its rye whiskey. After a full day of hiking, relax with a nice glass of whiskey overlooking the fall foliage.

So, there you have it: your bucket list of leaf peeping spots around the United States. Use it to plan your perfect 2020 fall RV road trip, and soak in all those colorful views.