Ah, autumn… it conjures thoughts of corn mazes, football, haunted houses, candy corn, Thanksgiving, and yes, even pumpkin spice lattes. But it’s the beautiful array of fall colors – golden yellows, deep reds and bright oranges – that are really a clear indication that fall has arrived, especially on road trips along Vermont’s Route 100, through New York’s Hudson Valley and on Virginia’s Skyline Drive. Here at Vacation, we want you to think beyond New England and prepared to be dazzled by Mother Nature. Get ready to embrace autumn’s grandeur in some of the most picturesque places in the world.
Rocky Mountains, Canada
Where: The Rocky resorts of Alberta, west and northwest of Calgary.
When: Last week of September and first of October, when trees peak at both subalpine and mountain elevations.
The Experience: With piercing yellow larches, poplars and aspens against a background of evergreens and, of course, the spectacular mountains, fall in the Rockies is unlike anywhere else. As the chill creeps in around the resorts of Banff, Jasper and Lake Louise, the colors start popping. The Lake Louise Fall Festival features events such as photography workshops, as well as special menus at local restaurants.
The Wow Factor: In Kananaskis Country, west of Calgary, you can catch golden eagles zipping above the foliage on their annual migration.
Bishop Creek Canyon, California
Where: Part of the Inyo National Forest in California’s Eastern Sierra, between Yosemite and King’s Canyon.
When: Late September through early October.
The Experience: Often overshadowed by its national park neighbors, Bishop Creek Canyon, southwest of Bishop, CA, is spectacular in fall, its slopes ablaze as its aspen groves turn fiery golds and crimsons. The three lakes within the large canyon area – South Lake, North Lake and Lake Sabrina – make for formidable photo opportunities, while there are hiking and biking trails, and even a campground.
The Wow Factor: To give your leaf-peeping some historical cred, rent a cabin at the nearby Cardinal Village Resort – some of them date back to frontier mining times.
Loire Valley, France
Where: In central France, along the middle stretch of the Loire river.
When: First half of October, when the grape harvest – along with the colors – are in full swing.
The Experience: Famed for its vineyards and fairytale chateaux bordering France’s longest river, the Loire Valley is a dreamy destination year-round; but it comes into its own in fall, when the grape harvest coincides with spectacular New England-style foliage. It’s not just the trees turning red, orange and gold, here; the vines themselves take on traditional burnished colors.
The Wow Factor: Wine tours and tastings add a certain je ne sais quoi to your leaf-peeping; the Domaine du Closel in pretty Savennieres runs a harvest experience each October.
Where: Northern Italy, around Milan and the lakes.
When: A weekend in October, to catch the sagre.
The Experience: The yellow fall coloring of slender poplar trees is so spectacular that Vincent van Gogh painted them, and they’re most at home in Lombardy, from where, of course, the Lombardy poplar gets its name. As the landscape bursts into color – russets and oranges join the golden native poplars – local towns put on sagre, or food festivals. Pretty much every weekend, there’s a festival dedicated to local offerings from cheese and salami to local wines and mushrooms.
The Wow Factor: Como and the other Italian lakes make spectacular foliage viewing points, with the hillsides’ colors shimmering in the still water’s reflection.
Inspired by this article and want to speak with a Vacation travel agent about how you can plan an amazing fall trip? Let one of Vacation’s on-call travel experts connect you with a specialist to plan your next vacay.