Fall, also known as autumn, is one of the most anticipated seasons of the year. It arrives on the heels of the long, hot summer which had everyone sweltering in the unrelenting sun and just before the cold, barren days of winter. The mild temperatures make it easy for folks to get out and partake in the activities they enjoy, providing a respite from the summer sun and one last ‘hurrah’ before the frigid temperatures of winter set in, which often confine people to their homes for most of the season.
Fall announces its arrival in many ways – a crisp smell in the air, lower humidity, cool temperatures and a spectacular display of color in the trees. In fact, it’s that spectacular display of color that people usually anticipate the most. People travel from miles around to catch a glimpse of this annual display of nature at its finest. But what causes this natural phenomenon of color change and where are the best places to see it? We’re going to answer both of those questions and more for you in this article.
Because the days are shorter in the fall, less sunlight means the trees are going to produce less chlorophyll – the chemical that makes leaves green. Red, brown and yellow pigments are present in leaves all year round, but are masked by the green from the chlorophyll until it begins to wane. Trees have a self-preservation system in which they seal off their branches to protect themselves from the cold weather. This seal usually occurs at the base of the leaves on the tree, which makes them fall off eventually, due to having been ‘severed’ from the tree during the process. Not all trees turn colors and lose their leaves in the fall, however. Only the deciduous ones like maples, oaks and elms. Evergreen trees, like cedars and pines, are just that – ever green – and keep their color and their leaves year round. But where can you observe these amazing displays of fall color firsthand? We’re going to outline some of the best locations for viewing fall foliage.
Best Places (In The World?) To See Fall Foliage
Source – wolfgangstaudt
Fragrant Hills – Beijing, China
Source – alianto
When the frost falls on the smoke trees of West Mountain near Beijing, China, something magical happens. They transform into fiery hues of purplish reds that can be seen from miles around. From a distance, you’d assume the bright red leaves were flowers, given their bold color, but its actually red leaves that set the mountainside on fire from October through early November.
Mutianyu Great Wall – China
Source – 22240293@N05
This area of China is already a tourist magnet for other reasons, but during the months of October and November, millions more descend upon the area to see the nearly 300,000 trees transform into fairytale blends of yellow, green and red. Truly one of the most breathtaking scenes in all of China!
The Dolomites – Italy
Source – krossbow
The Dolomites is a section of the Italian Alps surrounded by alpine lakes and mountain village. The larch trees, which are native to the area, don dresses of vibrant golds and yellow during the fall months. The colors are amplified by the sun and reflected on the lake to create a backdrop that would rival that of any postcard.
Source – ukgardenphotos
The United Kingdom is known for its luscious countryside that is beautiful year round. Rolling hills, lush forests and hearty greenery blend flawlessly with winding streams and quiet creeks. In the fall months, the UK countryside comes alive with color, allowing even the most seasoned tourist a once a year glimpse of nature in all her glory.
Rhineland Palatinate, Germany
Source – ultracid
The German Wine Road in Rhineland Palatinate, Germany is a great scenic drive throughout the year because it meanders through some of the areas most prolific wine country and pristine nature areas. However, taking the drive in the fall allows you to experience the area in literal living color, as all of the trees seem to come to life in their seasonal hues of red, yellows, oranges and browns.
Source – randihausken
There are many areas in France that are known for their fall beauty. The fall colors will vary, depending on the region and the climate, but there are a few locales known to offer some of the best fall foliage viewing in the country. They are the cities of Montsegur, Strasbourg and Limoux.
Source – jpaudit
Mora is beautiful in its own right, year round. Its rolling hills, green pastures and quaint farmhouses that dot the countryside combine to create an almost surreal backdrop. When combined with the glorious colors of fall, they create a natural masterpiece that no artist could duplicate on traditional canvas.
Source – iboy
The thing that makes fall foliage so spectacular in Oppland is the backdrop of snow-capped mountains in the distance. The valleys and grasslands below explode in beautiful shades of orange, red and yellow, creating the illusion that entire valleys are on fire when viewed from above. The fall foliage in Oppland is best viewed from an elevated vantage point.
Source – st-stev
Nearly every region of Japan is home to the native Japanese maple tree, which turns a beautiful shade of red during the months of September through December. These red trees provide an amazing backdrop to the various temples, shrines and other Asian structures that have dotted the Japanese countryside for centuries.
Source – howardignatius
The US state of Vermont is world-renowned for its fall foliage. In fact, due to its relatively small size, there is no ‘bad’ place for fall foliage in Vermont. Anywhere you were to travel within the state during the fall months is going to guarantee you some of the most breathtaking fall scenery you’ve ever experienced – whether it be by car, bike or on foot.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park – Virginia
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a popular tourist destination any time of the year, but when the fall months roll around, the park really comes to life – both in terms of visitors and beautiful fall scenery. The park has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is home to more than 100 varieties of trees – all waiting to put on their colorful seasonal show just for you.
Blue Ridge Parkway – North Carolina
Source – fkehren
The Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina is home to some of the most beautiful mountain land in the United States. In the fall, the mountains and valleys below them are transformed in to wonderlands of color. The Blue Ridge Parkway is a scenic drive that meanders through the Blue Ridge Mountains, the Smokey Mountains and ends up in Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. In all, you’ll cover about 500 miles teeming with the gloriously colored wonders of fall.
White Mountains – New Hampshire
Source – renedrivers
If you’ve ever seen a postcard depicting a little white church surrounded by rolling heels, green fields, country homes and scenes from the rural life – you’ve got some idea of the beauty that awaits you in New Hampshire. When the trees fade to red, gold, brown and yellow this picturesque area surrounding a placid lake takes on an almost surreal beauty that is unsurpassed by any other fall foliage destination.
Things To Keep In Mind
- Weather and climate have a lot to do with leaves changing colors so if a particular area has had an unseasonably harsh or dry summer, chances are the fall foliage is going to suffer. Calling ahead to check foliage conditions would be wise.
- The months listed in the descriptions are only basic markers. The actual ‘fall season’ as it pertains to trees can last much longer or end much sooner, depending on the rate at which the trees respond to the climate/season changes.
- Some of the best locations for viewing fall foliage tend to be remote ones so whether you are driving, hiking or biking through an area, make sure that you are very prepared in the event of an emergency and that you travel with a companion.