It is once again the perfect time of year for a leaf-peeping trip. For those who don’t know leaf peeping is, leaf peeping is an informal term in the United States and Canada for people traveling to see and photograph fall foliage in areas where the leaves change color. Organized leaf peeping trips are known as leaf tours or color tours. Every year, thousands of maple lovers travel to various places to enjoy the changing colors of the maple leaves. When the various colors of maple leaves are combined, with the breeze blowing through, it paints a vivid scenery among optimization.
Although the drought in some areas has caused the leaves to wilt long ago due to seasonal effects, some areas delay the leaves changing color due to warm weather. But the leaf peeping trip is still a good choice for family activities in autumn. So according to the environmental conditions everywhere in 2022, a map of the leaf-peeping trip has been drawn for you. Grab the camera, let’s go!
Leaf peeping trip packing list
Before you head out to enjoy the amazing maple leaves, remember to bring them along and check this list of items to prepare for your leaf-peeping adventure.
Rechargeable Battery Pack: If you plan to take a lot of photos and videos on your trip, or if you just want to make sure Google Maps is always ready. Or if you need to charge your flashlight, headlamp during camping, you’ll need a full battery backup kit.
Portable Jump Starter: Reliable portable car battery chargers are critical for inclement weather, vehicles with older batteries, and unforeseen conditions
Multifunction knives: When you choose to camp on the road, a multifunction knife helps a lot. Especially with a wine opener.
Boots: Fall rains lead to slippery roads, and a pair of boots suitable for walking in the forest ridge and mountains is crucial.
Waterproof jacket: Keep warm for those inevitable rainy days.
Canopy tent: Many parks that offer maple viewing also offer campsites. A lightweight and easy-to-set-up canopy tent allows you to sit back and enjoy the view.
Backpack: Choose a light but large enough backpack to hold your camera, jacket, and other equipment.
Thermos: The maple viewing route can sometimes take an hour or two, so bringing a water cup to keep you hydrated will make your trip more comfortable.
Gloves and hats: In the early morning or late evening, bring gloves and hats to keep you warm.
Cash: Bring some cash for emergencies, some towns may even have difficulty receiving cell phone signals.
Peppermint oil: To prevent motion sickness in the middle of a long drive.
Binoculars: Binoculars are not just for bird watchers. Some amazing views would be best served with a little optical help.
Best Location for Leaf Peeping
There are many places to see maple leaves in the United States, whether you go to the East, West, or South. If you are traveling in the East, you can visit New England, New York City, Washington, D.C., Niagara Falls, the Blue Ridge Parkway, Skyline Drive, and the Great Lakes.
In the west, you can go to Oregon, California, and New Mexico. And the southern leaf-peeping destinations are Texas, Colorado, and Georgia.
From these states, I’ve picked out a few of the best places to visit along with a detailed guide.
White Mountain National Forest
If you’re in Boston, it’s a two-hour drive from you. The White Mountain National Forest is located in New Hampshire but extends into western Maine. Every year, it attracts a large number of tourists from all over the world. Also walking, an aerial tram ride here provides a more comprehensive bird’s eye view of the entire park’s maple foliage. The White Mountains National Forest is usually visited from the town of Lincoln, NH to the town of Conway. The trail goes through the White Mountains National Forest, with green hills, winding roads, and many forest trails to get to the sites.
From Interstate 93, when you reach the town of Lincoln, do not get off the road. Continue driving north and head straight to the Flume Gorge Visitor Center, where you can see the beautiful maple leaves from the parking lot. Here you’ll find 800 feet of narrow, long, vertical valley trails and numerous waterfalls and rocks. Note that Flume Gorge is open daily from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. For a more relaxed view, the cable car ride is well worth trying. White Mountain Park has the longest aerial tramway in the state, offering great views of the White Mountain National Forest and a panoramic view of the maple leaves from above.
Besides, along the way to the White Mountain National Forest, you will pass through the town of North Conway, which is one of the popular stopping points of the White Mountain tour. You can eat and rest in the town, and most importantly, don’t miss the traditional tourist train, which is a must-see part of the White Mountain Forest. The sound of the old wheels hitting the tracks and the whistle, the occasional steam billowing through the windows, and the beauty of the maple forest on either side is an absolute delight.
As for hotels, you can choose between The White Mountain Hotel & Resort, which is affordable and right in the middle of the forest, and Omni Mount Washington Resort, which is like a fairy-tale castle nestled in the mountains.
National Geographic has named it the most beautiful place to see maple leaves in the world. The entire state of Vermont is almost covered with maple forests, so you could say that the whole area is an attraction. You can drive through the red maples, and the further north you drive, the redder the leaves become. It is very liberating and relaxing to get out of the car and walk around and take some pictures when you see the beauty.
Visitors to Vermont for leaf peeping usually start from the central part of the state and choose the most famous Route 100. The first attraction along Route 100 is the Bennington Battle Monument, the tallest building in Vermont, with a tower observation deck overlooking the fall colors. The fee is $5 per adult, $1 per child between the ages of 6 and 14, and free for ages 5 and under. After that is Stowe, which is a famous town in Vermont.
There is a gondola called Gondola Skyride, which was designed for transportation between ski resorts and cabins in the winter. In the fall, you can take the Gondola Skyride to see the fall from the bottom to the top of the mountain, the layers of different colors of maple leaves from above are very spectacular and romantic! This is also my recommended place to stay, there are both luxury resorts and affordable cabins to meet the needs of different travelers.
If you’re a movie fan, there’s another attraction in Vermont not to be missed. Jenne Farm is located off Route 106 in Redding, Vermont. It is one of the most photographed farms in the world and is the scene featured in Forrest Gump.
Michigan is in the Great Lakes region of the United States and consists of two peninsulas, one large and one small. Northern Michigan, bordered by Lake Michigan to the south and Lake Superior to the north, is densely covered with maple trees. When autumn comes, the maple forests quickly turn a charming golden red.
When visiting Northern Michigan, one of the first places to explore is Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park, the heart of the western part of the Northern Michigan Peninsula, next to Lake Superior. The most popular high point of the park, Lake of the Clouds, is the best place in Northern Michigan to enjoy autumn. The long, thin Lake of the Clouds spreads east-west and is blocked by a steep ridge on the north side. You can also head to the observation deck, which offers a high view of the lake and the maple forest between the river valley.
After that, you can follow Highway 41 to Copper Harbor, a very peaceful town. There is a lighthouse here, located in Wilkinsburg Historic State Park. It is a Michigan State Historic Site and well worth a visit. There is an overlook to Copper Harbor via a turn-off on Highway 26 where you can enjoy a great view of the entire town. Note that lodging on the peninsula is mostly in Copper Harbor and Houghton, which are in short supply during the high season and need to be booked in advance.
Virginia’s Skyline Drive is one of the highest-elevation roads in the country. It is arguably the world’s most famous foliage viewing area and a scenic road through Shenandoah National Park. It runs along the Blue Ridge Mountains for 105 miles. In addition to the breathtaking foliage, there is also a rich wildlife ecology along the way, noting that black bears are often found in the mountains. There are many trails to hike in the park and caves to see.
Blue Ridge Parkway
Starting at Shenandoah National Park and ending at the Great Misty Mountains National Park is 469 miles long, the most famous scenic highway in the east, especially for autumn foliage. It does not serve local traffic and is designed entirely for sightseeing. The Blue Ridge Highway runs through the heart of the Appalachian Mountains, with a maximum speed of 45mph and some sections at 25mph. The rolling hills are shrouded in a light haze and covered with an indigo filter, creating a unique view. Along the way, you can visit the Linn Cove Viaduct, whose curves have become a famous view of the Blue Ridge Highway. The last stop, Great Misty Mountains National Park, covers 2,000 square kilometers and has the largest primary forest in the United States.
Acadia National Park
Acadia National Park’s landscape is marked by woodlands, rocks, beaches, and glacier-washed granite peaks. From the waves lapping at the reefs to the maple forests staining the bridges and the glaciers melting into the lakes to form the beaches. On one side of the mountain, the maple leaves are rosy, and on the other side of the mountain, the pine trees are strong and sturdy. With thousands of acres of trees of various colors, the red leaves are also extremely colorful. The large red pines, spruces, and firs contrast with the orange, red, and yellow hues of the other autumn leaves.
Aspen, a small town in Colorado, is known for its summer music festivals, fall foliage, and winter ski resorts. Nestled in the Rocky Mountains, the town is a paradise, but it has all the amenities for food and lodging. Unlike the red and orange autumn leaves of the Northeast, Aspen’s fall is golden. Maroon Bells is naturally the best place to see the fall scenery, and if you go from Denver, you can pass Rocky Mountain and Independence Pass, one of the most beautiful highways in North America, along the way.
Enchanted Circle Scenic Byway
Canyons, mountains, and tablelands combine to create this quintessential American Southwest trail. In northern New Mexico, the Enchanted Circle Byway is 137 miles long and takes about three hours to drive. The trail is filled with a spectacular mix of red oak, yellow trillium poplar, ponderosa pine, and large golden mountain poplar trees. There are many trails in this area that are excellent for walking and biking. You can loop back to Taos, bypass Pilar and New Mexico Highway 570, and drive along the Río Grande through the yellow trillium poplar forest.
Bear Mountain State Park
Bear Mountain State Park is a 5,205-acre state park located on the west bank of the Hudson River in Rockland and Orange Counties, New York. The park’s Perkins Memorial Tower offers a majestic view of the Bear Mountain Bridge. There is also a cruise or helicopter ride to enjoy the view of the bridge. The address is 3006 Seven Lakes Dr., Tomkins Cove.
California’s one of the best places for leaf peeping is Mono County, located in the eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains, and the highway that runs through Mono County is US-395. The county has a total area of 3,132 square miles and its highest point is White Mountain Peak, which at 14,252 feet is the third-highest peak in California. If you are traveling from San Francisco or San Jose, you should take Highway 120 to 108 and then turn onto 395. Some of the most popular places to enjoy autumn are June Lake Loop, Convict Lake, McGee Creek, and Bishop Creek.
Big Bear lake
Big Bear Lake is located in the heart of Southern California, about 100 miles northeast of Los Angeles, surrounded by the San Bernardino National Forest. Every fall all the trees change color at the same time. Evergreens, aspens, maples, and oaks are everywhere. The beauty of the lake and the mountains is breathtaking. Fishing, skiing, and hiking are also available here.
Lost Maples State Natural Area
This state park covers 2,906 acres and is a pristine area of hills and canyons on the Sabine River on the Edwards Plateau. The park is best known for the Maple Trail, where the sunlight is filtered through the maple leaves into red and yellow, dancing with them in the breeze. Here you can hike, camp or bird watch. The location is 37221 F.M. 187 Vanderpool, TX 78885.
Spring Creek Forest
This nature preserve is probably the most scenic in the entire Dallas area in the fall, as it is home to the most extensive and oldest woods in the area. Spring Creek Natural Area, which includes over 100 acres of hardwood forest. In the fall, this area is a blaze of red and color. The creekside trails are a dream destination for hikers, travelers, and photographers alike. The location is 1770 Holford Rd, Garland, TX 75044.
Columbia Gorge Scenic
It is classified as the largest National Scenic Area in the United States. It has a 1,243-mile-long river and 80 miles of canyons. Located between the states of Oregon and Washington. From Portland, drive along Interstate 84 to Cascade Locks in Oregon, with different scenery to enjoy all the way. Take a section of US-30 from Exit 22 and you can see the layers of changing colors that reflect the water due to the elevation.
It is a 150-mile-long valley consisting of four valleys. This valley is often considered synonymous with “Oregon Wine Country” because it has over 19,000 acres of vineyards and more than 500 wineries. The valley is traversed by Interstate 5, which is a scenic and relaxing drive. In the fall, it offers endless views of fall foliage.
Before winter comes, go enjoy the unique charm of autumn. From where the green leaves remain, to the woods where the orange, pale yellow, or deep red leaves shake and glisten in the sun. Start your journey of leaf peeping, before the cold weather takes away the fun！