Tour any northern US State during the autumn ‘Fall’ months and you will be treated to a spectacular kaleidoscope of colour.
Gorgeous leaf displays along the highways, back-roads and small towns of the north attract visitors globally to a natural phenomenon known in the US as ‘leaf peeping’, where Mother Nature shows off her stunning palette of brilliant rusty red, deep orange, mauve brown and vibrant yellow colours.
The US is blessed with some of the world’s great National Parks and if you know where to look, many of them offer easy access to view some of the best Fall displays.
Yellowstone was the first US National Park to be established in 1872 and today, there are 59 parks in total. From wildlife encounters, to towering rock peak formations, verdant forests, gushing geysers and creeping glaciers, the attractions found in the US wilderness areas are simply extraordinary.
While all national parks are spectacular year-round, if it’s ‘leaf peeping’ you’re after, then these places are where Mother Nature really shines;
- Glacier National Park (Montana)
- Yellowstone National Park (Wyoming)
- Grand Teton National Park (Wyoming)
- Yosemite National Park (California)
- Canyonlands National Park (Utah)
- Zion National Park (Utah)
- Monument Valley (Utah/Arizona) and
- Grand Canyon (Arizona).
For an update on the season, the US Forest Service has a great website with a detailed map showing the path of Fall colours by region.
‘The Best of America’s National Parks’ luxury tour starts just over the border in Canada’s Calgary before heading south through national park heartland and onward to the ultimate ‘manmade creation of colour’, the glitz of Las Vegas.
You’ll feel like you’re passing through the set of a classic western movie as you enjoy a jeep ride through the gigantic rock structures of Monument Valley, as part of an exclusive Scenic Enrich experience.
Take a walk among the bones of ancient creatures at Dinosaur Provincial Park, marvel at the spectacular volcanic pigments of Yellowstone National Park, view the iconic Grand Canyon – one of the world’s Seven Natural Wonders – or try your luck in Vegas.
This rich and diverse itinerary is packed with highlights, but it’s those autumnal scenes that will no doubt dominate your Instagram feed.
On the ‘California & Grand National Parks of the West’, you’ll not only explore the glorious Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, Bryce Canyon and Zion National Park, but California’s Yosemite National Park, the picturesque wine regions of Sonoma and Napa Valley, plus the pulsating cities of San Francisco, Los Angeles and Santa Monica.
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The eastern states that make up the New England region (Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island) are probably the most famed for their leaf-peeping opportunities, and just a stones-throw from America’s scenic neighbour to the north.
The landscapes of Canada come alive during the Fall with bright hues, as if dabbed by the brush of an impressionist artist. Scenic’s 25-day ‘Fall Colours of the East & Canada New England Cruise’ starts in Montreal, and progresses through Montréal and Ottawa and on to Pennsylvania and New York where you’ll witness nature’s magic at work painted on every tree, street, mountain river and city.
This tour concludes with a special 10-night Holland America cruise from New York back to Quebec City with stops in Boston, Bar Harbor, Halifax, Sydney, Charlottetown, scenic cruising in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence and Saguenay.
Western Canada also has its fair share of Autumnal colour. Head to beautiful Banff and Lake Louise in the Canadian Rockies for its stunning Fall foliage, set against a breathtaking mountain backdrop.
This brief window between September and October is the optimum time to immerse yourself in the best of the Fall colours and to see the Canadian Rockies adorned in full autumnal glory. Here you can see one of Mother Nature’s grand spectacles as the needles of the larch tree turn a golden-yellow.
Leaf Peepers photography guide
With so much vibrant foliage, it can be a colour overload when framing a photo, so we spoke with Award-Winning Australian professional photographer and photography tour operator, Danielle Lancaster, and asked for her best tips to capture that image of a lifetime.
“When setting up your photo, find colours that contrast or complement each other and always place the strong colours in the foreground. Red is a stronger colour than green or yellow, so for a more dramatic looking picture, put more red into the foreground.
“And last, look for patterns or lines to make a balance; remember the rule of thirds; and I tend to underexpose autumn images so the vibrancy of the colours look more like they do to the human eye.”
View Scenic’s North America tour brochure
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