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Never Mind New England: The Best Fall Foliage Vacation Spots That Aren’t In The Northeast

Fall foliage vacations are a time-honored tradition — but New England is far from the only game in town when it comes to brilliant autumn color. Skip the crowds this fall with these off the beaten path destinations and you’ll be rewarded with ravishing reds and glorious golds everywhere you turn.

Natchez Trace Parkway (Tupelo, Mississippi)

Peak Foliage: Mid- to late-October

One of the nation’s top 10 national parks, Natchez Trace Parkway (which is headquartered in Tupelo, but winds through three states — Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee), is a 444-mile tree-canopied route that delivers picturesque views of maple, hickory, and oak trees vibrantly changing into autumn colors.

Newfound Gap Road (Gatlinburg, Tennessee)

Peak Foliage: Late-September to Late-October

Known as one of the most popular and scenic drives in the Smokies, Newfound Gap Road is ideal for travelers hoping to go leaf-peeping in Tennessee. The road is also known for being the location where former President Franklin D. Roosevelt delivered his speech during the grand opening of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in 1940.

The Apostle Islands National Lakeshore (Bayfield, Wisconsin)

Peak Foliage: Late-September to mid-October

Set sail aboard one of Wisconsin’s boat cruises and you’ll get a new view of spectacular fall foliage. In the Apostle Islands, fall color paints the area each year adding a magical glow as you cruise past lighthouses, sea caves, shipwrecks and abundant wildlife. To see when and where things are really popping off, check out Travel Wisconsin’s Fall Color Report.

Rocky Mountain National Park (Estes Park, Colorado)

Peak Foliage: Throughout September

Known as the basecamp to Rocky Mountain National Park and only a 90-minute drive from the Denver airport, Estes Park offers dazzling leaf-peeping in the fall, including lovely golden aspens. Surrounded by the protected lands of Rocky Mountain National Park and Roosevelt National Forest, Estes is home to hundreds of miles of trails, breathtaking views and chilly mountain streams.

ABQ BioPArk Botanic Gardens (Albuquerque, New Mexico)

Peak Foliage: Late-September to mid-October

One of the most beautiful displays of fall colors in Albuquerque is at the ABQ BioPark Botanic Garden. The BioPark is impressive all year long, but in the fall, the park truly comes to life with fiery reds, bright oranges and vibrant yellows mixed in with spectacular shades of green. The whole park is something special to take in, but the Japanese Garden within the Botanic Garden should be at the top of your leaf-peeping list.

Clifty Falls State Park (Madison, Indiana)

Peak Foliage: Late-September to mid-October

Located on Route 56 just west of Madison, Indiana, the gorgeous Clifty Falls State Park sits atop the hills overlooking the Ohio River. Enjoy a scenic, winding drive through the park while taking in picturesque waterfalls, cliffs and steep gorges, all bathed in the beauty of fall.

Table Rock State Park (Pickens, South Carolina)

Peak Foliage: Mid-October to Mid-November

Some of the most beautiful fall foliage in the U.S. can be found in the Upstate region of South Carolina. Table Rock State Park’s rocky namesake mountain provides the backdrop for beautiful fall colors from below, but there are also miles of hiking trails — including the lovely Pinnacle Mountain Trail.