Fall is approaching and taking a weekend to watch the leaves change is one of the favorite things for many Southerners to do. Below are our picks for best places to see the colors of Fall in the South:
Take a round-trip scenic chair lift ride up and down Beech Mountain for a one-of-a-kind view of the mountain’s fall color on display from above. Available on select days and weekends throughout the fall, the round-trip lift ride takes visitors up to the town’s highest elevation to capture birds-eye views of the ever-changing fall foliage in North Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia. Perfect for families, couples, solo travelers, and groups alike, this distinct attraction at Beech Mountain is the best way to soak in the fall colors of the Blue Ridge Mountains with views you can’t find anywhere else.
Chattanooga is a top destination, rated one of 10 Best Small Cities in the U.S. by Conde Nast Traveler readers. TripAdvisor named the Scenic City one of 14 Idyllic Fall Family Vacations in the U.S. in 2019, while Orbitz selected Chattanooga as one of five Best Leaf-peeping RV Trips for Fall. The Scenic City is the first city voted twice as “Best Town Ever” in Outside magazine.
Fall in Chattanooga is ideal for walks on the Tennessee Riverwalk and Walnut Street Bridge; hikes on one of 50 trails located within a 30-minute drive of downtown; mountain, gravel and road biking; floating, paddling or surfing the Tennessee River; and hang-gliding over acres of brilliant foliage.
Travelers may be able to linger outside a little longer in fall 2020. Weather experts predict that fall color will develop later this year and temperatures will be warmer early in the season due to La Niña, an ocean-atmosphere phenomenon that impacts weather around the globe. Road trippers seeking open spaces, fresh air, scenic views and local culture with safety front-and-center can take advantage of this longer stretch of warm weather.
In the Blue Ridge Mountains near Asheville, North Carolina—known for one of the world’s longest fall color seasons—outdoor pursuits, new visitor experiences and local businesses with updated, space-conscious operations offer serenity, safety and variety, no matter when the fall color show begins.
Just a day’s drive (or less) for 50 percent of the nation’s population
Ozark National Forest
The Ozark-St. Francis National Forests have something for everyone and are on the way to almost everywhere in Arkansas! Rustic mountain cabins have provided a peaceful getaway for people since the 1930’s at Lake Wedington and White Rock Mountain. Six National Scenic Byways offer breathtaking Ozark vistas and out-of-the-way places for those who enjoy driving for pleasure. There are 200+ camping and picnic sites, 9 swimming beaches, 11 special interest areas, 5 wilderness areas, thousands of acres of lakes and streams, and more than 400 miles of trails. Located in central and northwest Arkansas and also along the Mississippi River in eastern Arkansas, the forests offer numerous opportunities for either one-day trips or extended vacations filled with fun and relaxation.
Amicalola Falls State Park
Amicalola Falls State Park is home to Georgia’s tallest waterfall. At 729 feet, it can be seen from many different trails along the park, and the bottom of the falls gives visitors a beautiful view of Georgia’s plant life, including maple and oak trees.
Great Smoky Mountains
The park usually experiences an autumn leaf season of several weeks as fall colors travel down the mountain sides from high elevation to low. However, the timing of fall color change depends upon so many variables that the exact dates of “peak” season are impossible to predict in advance.
Elevation profoundly affects when fall colors change in the park. At higher elevations, where the climate is similar to New England’s, color displays start as early as mid-September with the turning of yellow birch, American beech, mountain maple, hobblebush, and pin cherry.
The fall color display usually reaches peak at mid and lower elevations between mid-October and early November. This is the park’s most spectacular display as it includes such colorful trees as sugar maple, scarlet oak, sweetgum, red maple, and the hickories.