Want to see the most vibrant kaleidoscope of hues blend together in burnt orange, crimson red, and bright golden yellow? When it comes to fall colours and foliage, few places can rival the 10 most southern states in the U.S – Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and West Virginia.

Over the next few months, each state will experience its own, unique view of fall. Thanks to the diverse landscapes, plentiful outdoor spaces, and mountainous regions, nature lovers can truly enjoy some wonderful scenery. Here are some highlights throughout the South that all leaf peepers need to add to their fall travel bucket lists.

Alabama’s Colour Trail 

Alabama mountain road with fall colors

Alabama is beautiful throughout the year but especially in the fall. As the greens of summer surrender to glittering yellow poplars, scarlet dogwoods, orange maples and golden hickories, Alabama unfolds its patchwork quilt of colour. This blend of brilliant autumn foliage, coupled with cooler temperatures and an occasional gentle breeze, makes for an unforgettable experience. Fall colours will begin showing in the mountains of North Alabama in early October and then sweep across the region. Colours will be at their peak from late October to early November. At Oak Mountain State Park in Pelham, take in the view from Peavine Overlook and Peavine Falls. Head north to Oneonta/Blount County and enjoy the colour from Horton Mill, Old Easley or Swann covered bridges and Palisades Park.

Fall Foliage Drive in Arkansas
Arkansas is one of the top fall foliage destinations around for drives and favorite outdoor activities around the changing of the leaves. The colour change begins in October in the Ozarks of northern Arkansas…moves slowly to the south…until it reaches the peak of colour in late October and early November. The Crowley’s Ridge Parkway National Scenic Byway route is where autumn leaves are likely to be especially vivid. This drive runs roughly the length of Crowley’s Ridge in otherwise flat northeast Arkansas. It begins a bit north of Piggott and winds its way through fertile land as far south as Helena-West Helena.

Fall in love with Kentucky

Horses in Pasture along Old Frankfort Pike near Lexington Kentucky

Autumn is a great time to explore the Bluegrass State! The falling temperatures offer a perfect setting for your adventures, plus the colourful fall foliage adds that extra pizzazz to your photos and experiences. In central Kentucky, take a relaxing drive through Horse Country on Old Frankfort Pike Historic and Scenic Byway (KY 1681) while the leaves fall around you. This 16.9-mile National Scenic Byway connects Frankfort and Lexington, winding its way through beautiful scenic horse farms surrounded by rock and wooden fences. Hungry? Stop in Wallace Station Deli and Bakery, an unassuming eatery created by popular Chef Ouita Michel. If you turn north onto U.S. 62, you’ll end up in the charming, historic town of Midway with plenty of antique shops, boutiques and restaurants. There’s also Pisgah Pike nearby, an approximately 5 mile long roadway running north and south from Old Frankfort Pike to U.S. 60 between Versailles and Lexington. On the Lexington end, you’ll find a magical site – The Kentucky Castle, and further east along U.S. 60 is Keeneland, an internationally renowned racecourse and the Thoroughbred industry’s leading auction house. When you’re ready, Kentucky is waiting.

Soulful for Fall: Enjoying Louisiana in the Fall 
Fall in Louisiana brings cooler temperatures perfect for getting outside to experience some of the state’s beautiful landscape and fall foliage. Beautiful Caney Lakes just north of Minden are a part of the Kisatchie National Forest. The upper and lower lakes are perfect for fishing, swimming, water skiing, hiking, and camping. Situated on the western shore of Lake Bistineau, this park offers a satisfying blend of beautiful vistas and outstanding recreational facilities. Memorable for its upland mixed hardwood forest, its open waters, and its enchanting stands of cypress and tupelo trees, the park offers two boat launches, hiking and biking trails, playgrounds, two swimming pools, a lakefront beach, camping, cabins, lodges, and excellent fishing!

Peak Fall Colours in Missouri

Scenic overlooks provide an unforgettable view to rolling hills of fall colour; Weston Bend State ParkHa Ha Tonka State ParkTaum Sauk Mountain State Park. Kayaking in the fall gives an up-close view of the changing scenery. For cyclists, a bike ride along the Katy Trail is sure to please. Missouri’s blufftop wineries (Les Bourgeios, Montelle, among others) provide the perfect vista will sipping Missouri wines. Even a train ride on the east leg of Amtrak’s Missouri River Runner follows the Missouri River, optimum changing ground for nearby trees. The best time to see peak fall colours is typically late October, early November.

Fall Fun in Mississippi 
Autumn in Mississippi brings foliage, festivals, and family fun with tradition at the heart of it all. Falling temperatures welcome locals and visitors outside for annual events like Biloxi’s Cruisin’ the Coast and Greenville’s Delta Hot Tamale Festival, both held every October. Football fans wear the colours of their alma maters in university towns such as Oxford, where tailgating in The Grove takes on a whole new meaning. Frights abound in Mississippi’s spookiest attractions, where legends of hauntings like historic McRaven in Vicksburg and The Witch’s Grave in Yazoo City are passed down through generations. If daytime adventures better suit your style, make priceless memories with loved ones at one of Mississippi’s many family farms and pumpkin patches, such as Wise Family Farm in Pontotoc. The scenic Natchez Trace Parkway connects it all, where vibrant shades of the foliage are best experienced in the fall months.

Experience Fall Colours like Never Before in North Carolina

Fall in North Carolina is a top experience people flock to the state for. Vivid colours line roads and highlight the Appalachian Mountains, providing bright sights for all ages. Oranges, yellows, and reds are scattered across the mountain range, making up a unique view. Along the roads, you can also find many spots to hike and find fantastic waterfalls hidden in the forests. The bright foliage rivals any, making North Carolina a top spot in the fall. The Appalachian Mountains host a variety of locations that are the best for fall in North Carolina. Laying in western North Carolina, the Appalachian Mountains have a long history, from old folktales to the filming location of the popular “The Hunger Games” series. While exploring the forests, you can also hike, shop, or try out a variety of local breweries! This is something everyone should experience, and below, we list the ten best places to experience fall in North Carolina.

Fall Itinerary through South Carolina

Fall is the time to head up to the mountains for that annual rite of autumn — leaf gawking. Every year, South Carolina’s Upstate cuts loose with colour as the season’s sunny days and cool nights transform the vibrant green forest foliage into a brilliant palette of oranges, reds, golds and pinks. Throw in a couple of fun side excursions, some fresh-from-the-farm cuisine and a cozy cabin in the woods and you have one bodacious autumn getaway. No need to rush on this road trip. It’s all about enjoying the sights, sounds and smells of fall in the mountains. Slow down, stop often and take plenty of pictures to show the friends back home.

Start your adventure at the southernmost end of the Cherokee Foothills National Scenic Highway. As you travel through the low, soft hills of the Piedmont, you’ll see the subtle peaks of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the distance awash in fall colour. Take a turn off the highway to venture into the heart of Sumter National Forest, where you’ll find Wildwater’s Chattooga Rafting Center. Take your pick of several great excursions. Just down the road from Wildwater’s outpost is Chattooga Belle Farm, a 138-acre u-pick plantation featuring exquisitely maintained fields of peach and apple trees, grape and muscadine vines and berry patches. Make your way back to the Cherokee Foothills Highway through Traveler’s Rest and head north to Devils Fork State Park, a hidden jewel tucked deep in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Finish the day with a pleasant hike to one of the prettiest waterfalls in the Upstate, Twin Falls.

Fall Colours of Tennessee

The double-arched Natchez Trace Parkway Bridge in Franklin, Tennessee.

Fall in love with Tennessee on a scenic hike, road trip to see trees bursting with colour, get the family together to visit a pumpkin patch or farm or soak in the bone-chilling ghost stories at haunted destinations. Beauty for all to see. Tennessee installed colour-blind scenic viewfinders outfitted with colour vision deficiency technology in 12 of the most scenic overlooks across the state to give everyone the chance to experience the beautiful landscapes. Discover hidden gems, charming towns and waterfalls along the Discovery Tennessee Trails & Byways. Touching all 95 counties, the 16 self-guided driving trails feature attractions, museums, restaurants, state parks, outdoor scenic beauty and other points of interest. East Tennessee is considered one of the best places in the U.S. to see fall foliage, with rolling hills, mountains and valleys. Every fall, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park see an influx of visits who come to hike and experience the outdoors. Take a ride on the Ober Gatlinburg Aerial Tramway or a walk along the Gatlinburg Skybridge, the longest pedestrian bridge in North America. Nights come aglow in fall colours with pumpkin displays, unique treats, festive entertainment and more during Dollywood’s Harvest Festival and Great Pumpkin LumiNights. Experience the brilliant colours on the 444-mile Natchez Trace Parkway. The Parkway commemorates the ancient trail used by animals and people that connected portions of the Mississippi River to the salt licks in central Tennessee. Hidden gems offer unique stories, restaurants, historic sites, campgrounds, hiking, biking and horseback riding along the way.

The Perfect Fall Getaway, West Virginia

West Virginia is the third most forested state in the country and the only state completely covered by the Appalachian Mountains. Our mountainous topography creates one of the longest fall seasons on the East Coast, as colours peak at higher elevations first (in early September) and trickle down to lower elevations  (spanning through early November). Fall colour in West Virginia is best enjoyed through a variety of outdoor recreation activities. From leisurely leaf peeping across charming mountain towns to river riding in America’s newest national park, there’s a fall experience to fit every need in the Mountain State. Among adventure seekers, fall is most known as Gauley Season, a time where special water releases of the Summersville Dam give way to some of the best Whitewater rafting in the world along West Virginia’s Gauley River. This annual event boasts Class IV and V rapids and attracts outdoor enthusiasts from all over the globe. The Gauley River is not only the heart of adventure but is also surrounded by stunning fall foliage amidst America’s 63rd national park — the New River Gorge Park & Preserve.

For visitor guidance due to COVID-19 such as mask-wearing, a list of tourism related re-openings or closures, and a link to public health guidelines, visit https://industry.travelsouthusa.com/

Source: Travel South USA

Previous post When you’re ready to travel, don’t miss these incredible Philippines locations
Next post St. Martin’s fantastic French imports will make you say “C’est incroyable!”