At the risk of sounding like we’re turning into our parents (hey, maybe we are), we kinda secretly pine for the magical time of year when cider’s everywhere, the air chills, and we make fun of people for leaf peeping while simultaneously planning drives using fall-color maps. This year, more than ever, the prospect of getting the hell out of the house to gawk at trees sounds like paradise.
For far too long, the conversation about which dense patches of chlorophyll-deprived trees has focused on New England. Yes, leaves look nice with covered bridges in the background. The humble people of Massachusetts have made sure to talk about it every other sentence for years. But across the rest of the country, trees are popping off too. And while some of our favorite places out west are currently under siege by wildfires, there’s so much to see across the country. Here are our favorite non-New England spots for 2020.
Shenandoah National Park, Virginia
Fall colors are great. Fall temperatures? Not always so much. That’s why if you prefer the climate-controlled comfort of your SUV there’s no better place in America for leaves than Shenandoah National Park. It’s home to the famous 105-mile Skyline Drive, where you’ll be enshrouded by a canopy of red, orange, yellow, and green. Aim the park’s eastern border and you’ll find another famous drive: Blue Ridge Parkway, which climbs thousands of feet in elevation from its start in central Virginia to its end in Cherokee National Forest. Typically, higher elevations will turn first – toward mid-September – and the lower elevations will transition as the season wears on.