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Leaf Peeping Central: Top Spots to See Fall Foliage

Riots of red, swashes of yellow, shrieks of orange, slashes of magenta: if you’ve never experienced the fabulous annual changing of the leaves, it’s a little like the aurora borealis of trees:Bright, beautiful, but gone in a flash if you don’t know where to look. But don’t worry, you haven’t missed Mother Nature’s great kaleidoscope, yet. Here are options in the North, South, and West for fall foliage spots where the leaves are still peaking and you can get your fill of autumn’s colorful fireworks. Don’t delay, book a hotel and get on your way before the season is done.

Before you hit the autumnal trail, check in with the National Forest Service’s Fall Colors page [ and hotline: 800/354-4595] as well as the Fall Foliage Network [] for updates on peak season viewing.

New York State — Due to an unseasonably wet and warm September, the fall foliage is peaking late this year in the New York State, making it a perfect vacation destination for Northeast procrastinators. The northern Catskills are especially awash in colorful leaves. To take advantage of all this leafy bounty, base yourself in one of these Cooperstown hotels.QuaintCooperstown (home of the Baseball Hall of Fame)is located in the northern foothills of the Catskills, and the area’s natural beauty is perfect setting to watch the leaves’ seasonal show. In particular, Lake Otsego provides stunning views of the foliage from kayaks and canoes.

North Carolina – In North Carolina it’s not about when visitors find the most vibrant autumn colors, but where. That’s because the brilliant annual show of reds, oranges, and golds takes its time, starting at the highest elevations such as Mount Mitchell and Grandfather Mountain in early October and meandering down through mountains and into the foothills into November. Which is more great news for autumn procrastinators; there are still lots of opportunities to leaf peep in the state’s richly forested mountain ranges. To make the most of your leaf-watching sojourn, book an Asheville hotel; the charming town is known for its fun atmosphere, great food, historic buildings, and friendly residents.

Colorado – Both the Roosevelt National Forest and the Rocky Mountain National Park provide spectacular leaf peeping in the West, but if you can’t decide between the two, book instead in an Estes Park hotel. The mountain town is nestled between the national forest and the national park and has hiking and biking trails through colorful aspen groves, lakes that reflect fall foliage, and some prime autumn photography opportunities. Added perk: this is also home to one of the highest elk concentrations in the state, so you’ll have an equally good chance of spotting wildlife around town as you do a colorful tree.


Contributing editor for Travelocity.

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