Autumn is the favorite season of many landscape and nature photographers, and for a good reason. The beautiful colors of fall foliage can help to make your photos truly remarkable and memorable.
There are countless destinations that are perfect for fall photography. This article showcases ten in the US that are worthy of being mentioned, in no particular order.
1. Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee & North Carolina
The Smoky Mountains are beautiful in any season, but perhaps they are at their best in the fall. The combination of fall colors, mountains, streams/rivers, and waterfalls make this an ideal location to capture amazing fall photos.
October is a very busy time of year in the Smoky Mountains, so plan ahead and know where you want to be. The Roaring Fork Motor Tour and Cade’s Cove, both located within the national park, are excellent choices. For detailed information, see this Photography Guide to Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Virginia has the Blue Ridge Mountains and a handful of lakes that look stunning in fall. Shenandoah National Park, located along the Blue Ridge Mountains, is especially famous for its beautiful autumn nature and wildlife. You can get stunning views and photos from Skyline Drive, the only public road through the park. There are 75 different overlooks along Skyline Drive, so there’s no shortage of places to capture shots in all directions.
3. New York
The state of New York has many different areas and locations that are worth visiting. Some of the most noteworthy areas in New York are: the Adirondacks (including Lake Placid), the Catskills in the southeastern part of the state, and the Finger Lakes region (Watkins Glen State Park, Taughannock State Park, and Letchworth State Park) in central New York.
Aspen trees make autumn in Colorado absolutely gorgeous. And where better to see fall foliage than in Aspen, a town named after the tree? Aspen is well-known for great skiing and beer, but it’s equally awesome for beautiful autumn scenery. The Maroon Bells located near Aspen are a popular subject for autumn mountain photos.
Vermont’s busiest tourist season is in autumn, thanks to its amazing fall foliage. You can drive along the billboard-free Route 100 in search of lovely views, stopping in picturesque towns along the way. The Green Mountains in Vermont (the same range that is known as The Berkshires in Massachusetts) is one of the best places to catch the state’s autumn scenery.
Michigan’s Upper Peninsula borders three of the great lakes and is an excellent choice for a secluded fall destination. This is a rather large area with loads of different places to see and photograph. There are several different suggested routes that you can follow (see this list) for your own photographic treks.
You have just as many options in the Lower Peninsula, as well. The Lower Peninsula is home to Michigan’s fruit country, two large National Forests, and lakeside towns with brilliant sandy beaches. Read through this list for tip ideas. There’s definitely enough in Michigan to spend a whole season here, shooting the fall colors.
7. Columbia River Gorge, Oregon
The Columbia River Gorge, and especially Multnomah Falls, is a popular spot for photography. Fall colors only make the scenery even more beautiful. The river forms the boundary between Washington and Oregon, and there are plenty of great photo opportunities along the 80-mile-long gorge. See this list for recommend hikes for autumn foliage.
8. Southern Utah
If you want fall colors but also varied landscape, Southern Utah might be your ideal destination. It has the classic forest-and-mountain scenery, plus deserts and red rock formations that add an unexpected twist to autumn photos. Check out this fall color loop to drive around Cedar City, one of the highlights of Utah’s fall season.
9. Acadia National Park, Maine
Acadia National Park is located on the coast of Maine, mostly on Mount Desert Island. The park has amazing coastal scenery, beautiful fall foliage, and the highest point on the east coast, Cadillac Mountain. One of the best options is the 27-mile-long Park Loop Road, which will give you views of both the mountains and the coast.
The Great Allegheny Passage is one of the top places to shoot fall photos in Pennsylvania. Originally a railway track, the passage now provides 150 miles of biking and hiking trails between Pennsylvania and Maryland. Its section in Pennsylvania is particularly beautiful as it winds through Ohiopyle State Park, a much-loved autumn destination in itself.
Another lovely place is Gettysburg, the site of an influential battle in the American Civil War. Now, the small town includes a National Military Park and plenty of open fields that make it an ideal spot for fall photography. The tree-lined Confederate Avenue and tree-covered Little Round Top are among the best spots for capturing the fall foliage. For details see the Guide to Photographing Gettysburg, PA.
Of course, these locations are just a sample of what you can find all over the US and the world. As beautiful and well-known as these destinations are, they’re not the only places you can find stunning fall foliage. Opportunities are just about everywhere.
Taking a trip to any one of these locations can be a great experience, but if that isn’t possible, you can simply find an area closer to home with gorgeous fall colors. All you need is one colorful tree, and you’ve got a photo.