Fall Foliage Peak Periods in the Southeast

Guide to the Southeast's Peak Fall Foliage


Fall foliage usually peaks in various areas of the Southeastern United States from September to November. Mother Nature, however, can be fickle so the following average peak fall foliage periods are approximations, based on the events of past years. The best way to stay informed about up-to-date fall foliage progress for this year is to visit the websites listed for the states you would like to visit.

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Fall creek scene near Smith Lake in Alabama

Strickland Fine Art Photography / Getty Images

The Southeastern state of sweet Alabama is especially lovely to visit during the fall when bursts of color and a welcome relief from the heat of summer provide an excellent setting for outdoor enjoyment. According to the Alabama Tourism Department, estimates for peak fall color are in northern Alabama are late October to early November.

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02 of 08


Road amidst trees in forest in Georgia

Daniel Bates / EyeEm / Getty Images

The most colorful fall foliage in Georgia can be seen in the northern part of the state where you will find the Blue Ridge Mountains, scenic mountain trails, and many state parks. In this part of the state, peak colors occur in late October and early November.

  • Georgia State Park’s Leaf Watch page will keep you up to date with the changing leaves in Georgia.
  • Georgia Department of Economic Development offers recommended scenic fall trips.
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03 of 08


Fall at Cumberland Falls in Kentucky

Danita Delimont / Getty Images

The first bursts of red, yellow, and gold fall foliage begin to appear in some areas of Kentucky as early as mid-September. According to the Kentucky Department of Travel, color changes appear in the eastern regions of the state first and work toward the west, usually for one to two weeks. The average typical peak time is around mid-October.

  • Kentucky Department of Travel Color Fall Guide features information and updates about leaf color changes, fall events, and fall destination information.
  • Kentucky State Parks provides updates on fall foliage in the state parks.
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04 of 08

North Carolina

Award-Winning Linn Cove Viaduct on the Blue Ridge Parkway near Grandfather Mountain

Tim Kiusalaas / Getty Images

North Carolina's earliest and most vibrant fall foliage occurs in the beautiful mountains in the western part of the state, although leaf peepers may also enjoy good fall color a little later in the season in many areas of the North Carolina Piedmont. Because of the high elevation of many of the North Carolina mountains, some of the tallest in the eastern United States, the peak fall foliage period in the higher areas usually precedes peak foliage periods in more northern regions.

Based on past averages, the best times to see fall foliage in North Carolina are:

  • Western North Carolina Highest Elevations: Late September to early October
  • Western North Carolina: Early to mid-October
  • Western to Central North Carolina: Mid-October to late October
  • Central North Carolina: Late October to early November
  • The North Carolina Travel and Tourism website features a Fall Travel Guide with a wealth of seasonal information for fall travelers.
  • The Asheville Convention and Visitors Bureau offers a Fall Guide Guide and Color Report that covers useful tips for fall color seekers. Also, check out The Science Behind Fall Color, featuring 3-D animations, satellite image flyovers, time-lapse skyscapes, and more.
  • The Romantic Asheville website provides a Fall Color Forecast with a week-by-week forecast.
  • The National Park Service provides information about fall at Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
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05 of 08

South Carolina

Autumn Leaves and Moss at Goose Creek, South Carolina

Marc Crumpler / Getty Images

The colorful foliage displays in the mountains of South Carolina normally peak later in fall because of the state's warm fall weather. The most brilliant leaf changes usually occur sometime between the end of October and early November, although bursts of color often start in early October. Throughout November, and sometimes extending a bit later, the fall color changes progress across this Southeastern state.

In addition to the traditional beauty of fall leaf foliage, South Carolina's autumn displays also feature other picturesque sights. Along the coast, the marsh grasses change dramatically from the summer shades of soft greens to shimmering fall hues of gold and amber. Across the interior farm country, fields of bright white cotton bolls create illusions of freshly fallen snow.

  • The South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation, and Tourism features recommendations on where to find the best fall colors in South Carolina's state parks.
  • You can also find weekly fall foliage reports on the South Carolina State Parks website.
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Autumn painted views in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Robert C Nunnington / Getty Images

Tennessee has many areas to see beautiful fall colors, but many people head to the mountains, especially the Smokies. Typical periods for peak fall foliage in Tennessee are:

  • Northeastern Mountain Regions: Last two weeks of October
  • Color Across Tennessee: Peaks from east to west mid-October to late November
  • Search the Tennessee State Department of Tourist Development website for its fall guides on eastern and middle Tennessee. 
  • The National Park Services offers information on fall colors in ​Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
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07 of 08


Fall View from the Blue Ridge Parkway near Roanoke Virginia

David Sucsy / Getty Images

According to the Virginia Department of Forestry, peak fall foliage in Virginia tends to begin in the western mountains around mid-October and end in the eastern areas of Virginia in mid-November. Based on previous years, the best times to see the changing leaves in Virginia are:

  • Western Virginia: Mid- to late October
  • Central Virginia: Last week in October through the first week in November
  • Eastern Virginia: End of October to mid-November
  • The Virginia Tourism Corporation offers fall tourism information including weekly fall foliage reports, scenic drives, getaways, and more in its fall guide. 
  • Visit the Virginia Department of Forestry Website to see a map of typical peak color Periods, weekly reports, driving tours, and fall activities. 
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West Virginia

Glade Creek Mill at Babcock State Park, West Virginia

Tim Kiusalaas / Getty Images

West Virginia, nicknamed the Mountain State, is a wonderful destination for fall road trips, fun festivals, and more. According to this map from the WV Division of Forestry, typical periods for peak fall foliage in this Southeastern state are:

  • Eastern Panhandle and Neighboring Counties (excluding the northernmost Panhandle areas): Late September to early October
  • Central and Northwestern Regions: Early to mid-October
  • Southeastern and Southern Regions: Late October
  • Northern Panhandle Regions: Early October
  • Visit the West Virginia Division of Tourism Fall Guide for fall foliage and activity maps, recommended fall driving tours, and more.

Reminder: These average peak periods are based on previous years and do not necessarily reflect the peak fall foliage periods of the current year. To avoid disappointment, be sure to obtain updated fall foliage information before making your final travel plans.

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