Written by : Chris Libby

Seeing is Be-Leafing

Tap into your sense of awe with the changing of the seasons.

Fall color on curvy road over Fort Mountain in Northwest Georgia.

Tap into your sense of awe with the changing of the seasons.

Autumn is upon us, and Mother Nature’s annual carnival of colors is in full swing. From September through November, “Leaf Peepers” traverse backcountry roads across the nation (and world) just to catch a glimpse of mosaic landscapes adorned with shades of red, orange and gold. When we stop to notice and appreciate the beauty around us, we can elevate our sense of awe and wonder, stoking our altruistic and prosocial behaviors.  

Arkansas

The Natural State boasts a fall foliage season that lasts well into November. According to the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism’s Kerry Ann Kraus, the best time to visit is late October. The state’s most popular scenic views are in the Ozark National Forest in northwest and central Arkansas and the Ouachita National Forest in western Arkansas. For fantastic peeping opportunities, Kerry recommends taking the road less traveled and venturing to east Arkansas’ St. Francis National Forest. For updates on the state’s changing colors while you plan your trip, bookmark Arkansas.com.

California

Yosemite National Park is a nice place to visit any time of the year, but if you’re a leaf peeper, there’s nowhere else to be in autumn. With smaller crowds, cool weather and vividly colored maple, dogwood, aspen and oak trees, the park is perfect for enjoying the scenery in solitude. A bike ride through Yosemite Valley is an excellent way to take in the fall color and enjoy Yosemite’s granite peaks. If you are looking to feed your foodie appetite, don’t miss the 32nd annual Vintners’ Holidays food and wine event at The Ahwahnee, which begins in early November. Visit TravelYosemite.com for more great ideas for your Yosemite trip.

Japan

If you want to take your leaf peeping global, travel to Japan for “momijigari,” or “autumn leaf hunting,” and behold some of the season’s most brilliant colors. A popular destination for tourists and sightseers, Shiretoko National Park was designated a World Heritage Site by the United Nations to preserve its natural beauty. One of the most beautiful and untouched forests in the world is in eastern Hokkaido on the Shiretoko Peninsula. Roads go only three-fourths into the peninsula, but you can view the Shiretoko mountain range’s leaves by boat or on a leisurely drive through Shiretoko Pass. To learn more, go to Shiretoko.asia.

Massachusetts

The Northeast is a well-known hot spot for leaf peepers, and Massachusetts is no exception. Just a few weeks after Labor Day, the more muted and distinctive array of colors in popular travel destinations like Cape Cod and Nantucket begin to make their annual appearance. According to travel writer William DeSousa, the leaves change more slowly in that region, leading to longer visits and more time to peep. The colors also provide a beautiful backdrop for area festivals, including the Martha’s Vineyard Food & Wine Festival and the Nantucket Cranberry Festival. Go to MassVacation.com to learn about the state’s exciting fall activities.

Vermont

Leaf peeping in Vermont is serious business, with almost 3.6 million people descending upon the Green Mountain State every fall to see it turn red. With nearly three-quarters of the state forested, Vermont claims the highest concentration of sugar maples, producing spectacular scenes of crimson and bronze. Country road and small-town touring are must-do’s for any leaf peeper. And no trip is complete without a visit to the town of Burke, where every year, the city pays homage to autumn with its annual Fall Foliage Festival. Travel tip: Columbus Day weekend is the busiest of the year. For more planning information, go to VermontVacation.com.
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