Fall is a magical time of the year. Maple trees descend into their red hues, captivating leaf watchers from around the country. But the rich colors hit each state at a different time, which makes it possible to extend the season. This year’s peak foliage in New England is in late September and early October. Yet late season watchers will be able to leaf watch in the Southeast from mid October to early November. Miss out on the boom in the Northeast? Check out these late-season foliage hotspots. 

Courtesy: Mary Anne Baker

The Blue Ridge Parkway

The Blue Ridge Parkway is one of the nation’s most scenic highways. This iconic drive begins in the Great Smoky National Park in Tennessee, and it ends in Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. Stretching nearly 500 miles in length, those who are lucky enough to travel the entire highway are likely to see late season hues. 

Some of the most iconic foliage vistas on the Blue Ridge Parkway include destinations like Virginia’s Mabry Mill (one of the most photographed spots along the Parkway), Beacon Heights in North Carolina, and Mount Mitchell (North Carolina’s highest peak). Because the Parkway meanders through the region’s tallest peaks, it’s often possible to see vistas stretching in every direction. And the deciduous forests of the south east are likely to captivate your attention as you travel. The Blue Ridge Parkway connects to 349 miles of hiking trails, and it overlaps the Appalachian Trail several times. In Shenandoah National Park, it’s possible to find hilly trails with moderate inclines that are best for beginner or intermediate hikers. 

Courtesy: Jennifer Boyer

Biltmore Estate, Asheville

The Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina is a good leaf watching destination for a number of reasons. Today, the Biltmore Estate is known for being the largest home in America, featuring 35 different bedrooms and occupying 175,000 square feet. The Vanderbilt family occupied this estate for many years. But it’s currently predominantly a tourist attraction with ample outdoor attractions. On the grounds of the Biltmore Estate, leaf watchers can travel through the south terrace or view the foliage from the Esplanade. The grounds feature stunning statues, marvelous gardens, and plenty of history for those with interest in Asheville’s roots. 

Courtesy: Domenico Convertini

Chimney Rock State Park

North Carolina’s Chimney Rock State Park is a short drive from Asheville, but it features some of the best vistas in the area. This historical park contains 7,000 acres of land. The most popular destination in the park is Chimney Rock, which is a 315-foot piece of granite that protrudes from a cliff. From this peak, it’s possible to see for miles in nearly any direction. The hike to the top of Chimney Rock is a 1.5-mile journey that involves 499 steps and 800 feet of elevation gain. It’s a hike that’s best for moderate adventurers, although anyone with a lot of determination will likely make it to the top of this feature. 

This park has plenty of hiking opportunities within a stone’s throw from nearby campgrounds and lodges. Not only is Chimney Rock State Park a great destination for leaf watchers and fall foliage, it’s also close to the nearby town of Lake Lure, which features quaint shops and local restaurants. 

Courtesy: Phil Varney

Newfound Gap Road, TN

Another great late season leaf watching destination is Newfound Gap Road in Tennessee. Newfound Gap Road features several different overlooks and vistas that are terrific to see through October and November, perfect for fall foliage. This road takes you through the Great Smoky National Park where you can also stop at Clingman’s Dome — the highest peak along the 2200-mile Appalachian Trail. As a 6,644-foot peak, this mountain is one of the tallest destinations along the East Coast. But Clingman’s Dome gives adventurers 360 degree views of the surrounding area on a cloudy day. But don’t forget your jacket, because the Smokies’ high elevations are often chilly. 

If you’re feeling adventurous, there are about 900 miles of trails throughout the Great Smoky National Park that can be accessed by beginner to advanced hikers. Featuring shelters throughout the park, it’s also possible to reserve a spot for yourself during overnight stays.