- Survey of 3,000 to identify which hidden fall foliage gems Georgians most want to experience.
- Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area and Cohutta Wilderness Area also cited.
Each Fall, images appear online showcasing some of the most stunning examples of foliage. Most of these hotspots occur in New England. For example, the entire state of Vermont is a canvas of fall colors, and the Green Mountains are especially renowned. However, many Americans are perhaps unaware of alternative ‘hidden gems’ to see Fall’s foliage. For example, New Mexico’s Cloudcroft is only really known by locals – nestled in the Sacramento Mountains, is a hidden gem for fall foliage enthusiasts. At over 8,600 feet elevation, this alpine oasis in a predominantly arid state boasts shimmering golden aspen trees set against evergreen pines each autumn. Its position off the national radar means fewer crowds, allowing for a more unique viewing experience. Likewise, the Upper Peninsula in Michigan offers some of the Midwest’s best fall foliage, especially around areas like Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.
Mixbook, a #1 rated photo book brand, carried out a survey of 3,000 respondents, asking them which under-the-radar destinations they would most like to visit to see fall foliage this year. The results were as follows:
#1 Sterling Forest State Park, New York
Sterling Forest State Park is a hidden gem for fall foliage viewing because it offers a less crowded alternative to other popular spots, allowing visitors to enjoy the vibrant autumn colors in a peaceful setting. The park’s diverse landscapes, from tranquil lakes to dense forests, provide a unique backdrop for the brilliant reds, oranges, and golds that define the season.
#2 Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park, Michigan
Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park is an underrated treasure for witnessing fall foliage. Far from the bustling tourist spots, it provides a peaceful escape to experience autumn’s vibrant palette. With its expansive forests, rolling hills, and picturesque views, the park showcases the Midwestern fall in its purest form.
#3 Bear Creek Lake State Park, Virginia
Bear Creek Lake State Park is a lesser-known haven for fall foliage enthusiasts. Tucked away from major tourist hubs, it offers a tranquil setting to admire the autumnal transformation. The park’s mix of dense woods and reflective lakeside views makes it an idyllic spot to witness Virginia’s brilliant array of reds, oranges, and yellows.
#4 Mount Greylock State Reservation, Massachusetts
Mount Greylock State Reservation is a hidden jewel for those seeking the beauty of fall foliage. As the highest point in the state, it offers panoramic views of the vibrant autumn colors stretching across the New England landscape. Away from the hustle of city life, visitors can enjoy the tapestry of reds, oranges, and golds that blanket the mountain’s slopes.
#5 Sunkhaze Meadows National Wildlife Refuge, Maine
Distanced from the usual tourist paths, Sunkhaze Meadows National Wildlife Refuge presents a peaceful setting where nature takes center stage. The wetlands, meadows, and forests of the refuge are illuminated with a brilliant display of reds, oranges, and yellows during the fall, making it a picturesque destination for leaf-peeping in New England.
#6 High Bridge Trail State Park, Virginia
High Bridge Trail State Park is a true spectacle of beauty during the fall season. As the leaves transition into vibrant hues of red, orange, and gold, the park’s expansive trail weaves through a breathtaking tapestry of colors. The iconic High Bridge itself, spanning the Appomattox River, becomes a focal point amidst the scenic foliage, creating a picturesque setting that captures the essence of fall’s charm.
#7 Hocking Hills State Park, Ohio
Hocking Hills State Park is a lesser-known delight during the fall season. As the foliage turns to rich shades of red, orange, and gold, the park’s varied terrain, from gorges to waterfalls, is accentuated by this colorful canvas. The natural beauty of the park, often overshadowed by more popular destinations, provides a tranquil and stunning setting that truly celebrates the essence of fall.
#8 Beartooth Highway, Montana
Beartooth Highway is an under-the-radar gem during the fall months. As the surrounding landscapes shift into brilliant reds, oranges, and golds, this scenic drive offers unparalleled views of the season’s transformation. Elevating travelers to high-altitude vistas, the highway reveals a vast expanse of autumnal splendor, making it a breathtaking and peaceful journey that highlights the magnificence of fall.
#9 Fall Creek Falls State Park, Tennessee
Fall Creek Falls State Park is a lesser-known oasis during autumn. As the leaves adopt fiery hues of red, orange, and gold, the park’s cascading waterfalls and rugged terrains are beautifully framed by this vibrant backdrop. Though overshadowed by more renowned locations, this park presents a quiet, scenic retreat, epitomizing the Southern charm of the fall season.
#10 Hope Valley, California
Hope Valley in California is a tucked-away marvel during the fall months. As the alpine landscape transforms with vivid reds, oranges, and golds, the valley becomes a captivating display of California’s autumnal beauty. Often eclipsed by the state’s more famous fall destinations, Hope Valley offers a picturesque escape, perfectly encapsulating the tranquility and splendor of the season.
Georgia’s top pick was Providence Canyon State Outdoor Recreation Area, voted in #11 position nationally: While often overshadowed by more famous destinations, its unique blend of vibrant red, orange, and gold hues amidst the striking geological formations create an unforgettable autumn tapestry. The dramatic canyons, adorned with the rich palette of fall colors, make it an off-the-beaten-path treasure for leaf-peeping.
Other locations within the state that were cited were:
#32 Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area
Beyond its unique rock formations and diverse landscapes, the area’s expanses of lichen-covered granite come alive with hues of red, orange, and gold during autumn. Its off-the-beaten-path appeal and lesser-explored status provide a serene escape for nature enthusiasts seeking an immersive encounter with the vibrant beauty of the season.
#125 Cohutta Wilderness Area
The area’s mix of hardwood trees burst into a captivating array of red, orange, and gold hues during the autumn months, creating a stunning contrast against the rugged landscapes and pristine streams.
“We hope these stunning, hidden gems across the U.S. inspire people to pack their bags and experience some incredible fall destinations firsthand,” commented Leslie Albertson, Director of Brand at Mixbook. “Even better, these fall spots make the perfect backdrop for this year’s family photos, to share in a holiday card or gift in a photo book. The autumn leaves and serene landscapes offer the perfect canvas for crafting unique and unforgettable memories that will be cherished for years to come.”