Americans seeking a view of dramatic fall colors travel to Tennessee and Pennsylvania more
than any other states, according to a recent survey of leisure travelers AAA conducted with
a partnership. Tennessee and Pennsylvania each capture 13 percent of fall foliage
travelers, followed by Massachusetts and New York, which both draw 10 percent. Virginia,
North Carolina and Wisconsin round out the group, each with 9 percent.
The survey also
revealed that “mature” leisure travelers (born before 1946) are more likely than Gen X-ers
(those born 1965 to 1978) to have taken leisure trips to see leaves in their fall colors
during the past 12 months. On their most recent fall foliage trip, mature travelers were
more likely than Boomers (Americans born from 1946 to 1964) to have taken an organized
group tour and to have traveled without kids.
Interestingly, travelers who live in the West
or Northeast are less likely to have taken a trip to see fall foliage than those who live
in the Midwest or South. For Westerners, the distance required to visit top fall foliage
destinations may be an inhibiting factor while, for Northeasterners, easy access to the
most famous fall colors may diminish the likelihood to plan viewing trips, according to
AAA’s travel experts.
Travelers considering an autumn “leaf-peeping” trip should plan ahead
as much as possible. AAA’s TourBook guides, available in print and online, as well as the
do-it-yourself TripTik Travel Planner and the preplanned AAA Drive Trips itineraries on
AAA.com provide valuable information for vacationers. Travelers who want the convenience of
having their “leaf-peeping” vacations arranged for them should contact their nearest AAA
office to ask about group tours.
AAA travel experts put together a list of some of their
favorite locations to enjoy the fall foliage, including tips on when the colors will be at
Blue Ridge Parkway, N.C. and Va.
This famous, picturesque 469-mile route is best seen in October. Connecting Shenandoah
National Park in Virginia and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina,
the parkway shows off over 100 species of trees. Leaf color changes begin high in the
mountains, progressing gradually to the lower slopes and valleys. Bobcats, foxes,
white-tailed deer, and woodchucks inhabit an area overflowing with geological features.
Folks treasured the physical beauty of this family-oriented Ozarks destination well before
live music theater began luring visitors. Though neon signs along the strip illuminate the
city year-round, Branson’s dense hardwood forests are aglow with fall color in late
October. Nature lovers can ride Branson Scenic Railway through Missouri’s backwoods and,
from an altitude of 500 feet, scan rugged hills and tinted woodlands aboard the Branson
Northern New England, Mass. and Vt.
Skirting the border between Massachusetts and Vermont, this AAA Drive Trips journey
meanders by covered bridges, dairy farms, cornfields, and Bennington Battle Monument, a GEM
attraction. Molly Stark Trail, a AAA Scenic Byway, runs through Vermont’s Green Mountains
and Green Mountain National Forest, which are known for their incredible colors. Beginning
around mid-September, miles of country roads inspire hordes of veteran leaf peepers.
Seeley Lake, Mont.
The valley between the Mission and Swan mountain ranges is a great place for the outdoorsy
traveler to enjoy horseback riding, fishing, and backpacking. Visitors encounter densely
wooded slopes, sun-kissed streams, bald eagles, moose and otters. The region also is
characterized by its western larches, or tamaracks. One of only three types of conifers
that shed their needles, this tree exhibits bright yellow fall foliage. The unusual display
is the highlight of mid-October’s Seeley Lake Tamarack Festival, which includes a larch
interpretive center, an arts and crafts fair, and a bike race.
This rural hideaway in northeastern California presents nearly 300 miles of trails as well
as camping, fishing and white-water rafting opportunities. Bridges, waterfalls and meadows
along Feather River National Scenic Byway are well worth the trip. Here, where the Sierra
Nevada and Cascade mountain ranges meet, evergreens are abundant; however, a palette of
fall hues is visible in mid-October.