Best time to travel to Virginia

Virginia Fall Foliage

Discover the brilliance of Virginia's Blue Ridge during the peak foliage display

Virginia Fall Foliage
Virginia Fall Foliage
Virginia Fall Foliage
Virginia Fall Foliage
Virginia Fall Foliage
Virginia Fall Foliage
Sherando Lake

Virginia is an oasis of state parks and national forests, each overshadowing one another to the point that it might be hard to choose the best places to see fall colors. One thing is certain—the Blue Ridge Mountains and Shenandoah National Park stand out with the most vivid foliage. You'll find plenty of opportunities along the northwestern side of the state.

Blue Ridge Mountains (peak foliage: mid-October–early November)

Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains boast some of the world's most remarkable fall foliage. Explore the scenic beauty along local favorite Blue Ridge Parkway that connects the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Shenandoah National Park. The drive winds for 469 mi (754 km) through the spine of the mountains and features almost 400 striking overlooks.

Additionally, the Blue Ridge is home to a portion of the well-known Appalachian Trail, and other popular routes such as Dragon's Tooth, McAfee Knob, Sharp Top Mountain, and also Humpback Rocks at the northern end of the Parkway corridor.

Shenandoah National Park (peak foliage: October)

At the highest elevations of Shenandoah National Park, the peak foliage season falls in the first week of October, while mid and low elevations see the prime colors during the last three weeks of the month. The main highlight of the park is the picturesque 105-mi (169-km) Skyline Drive with 70 overlooks offering mindblowing views. You can always take a break and enjoy some of the best fall hikes under the forest canopy. Check out a short section of the Appalachian Trail to Little Stony Man Overlook, or opt for a more challenging all-day hike on Old Rag Trail.

Leesylvania State Park (peak foliage: end of October–early to mid-November)

Nestled along the tidal shores of the Potomac River, the Leesylvania State Park in Prince William County is also a great place to visit when fall foliage transforms the area with a maelstrom of color. The park boasts enchanting sunrises and sunsets over the Potomac. In addition to natural beauty and recreational opportunities, Leesylvania bears significant historical importance to Virginia. You'll be strolling the area where the legendary Lee and Fairfax families once lived and where Capt. John Smith visited.

Chris Greene Lake Park (peak foliage: late October)

Aside from the mainstream locations, Virginia offers other less trafficked options to consider. The lovely Chris Greene Lake Park is located just north of Charlottesville and is vastly underrated. With a few miles of hiking trails, two picnic shelters (each with six picnic tables), open grills, electricity, and a dog park, this natural area is a nice place to plan your fall getaway. The admission is $3 for adults and $2 for children.

Claytor Lake State Park (peak foliage: mid-October)

Claytor Lake State Park is another lesser-known spot for leaf peepers in Dublin, Virginia. You can rent a bike or a boat to enjoy the kaleidoscopic color show around the waterline of Claytor Lake. Take in the fall foliage while driving State Park Road or hiking 7 mi (11 km) of scenic leafy trails.

Where to stay

When you plan on a getaway to Virginia, examine the fall foliage map first to choose the most convenient place to stay. Also, be sure to check the latest fall foliage report. The peak color season depends on the weather and differs from year to year.

Practical info

When is the best time to visit Virginia for fall foliage?

The fall foliage in Virginia peaks from early October to early November. The peak depends on the elevation-level and location of the state, with higher elevations experiencing peak foliage earlier. It is advisable to stay updated with the latest fall foliage report and weather conditions while planning the trip. This time is perfect for witnessing the colorful nature of Virginia in all its glory with cool temperatures and local festivals. Show more

Where are the best places to witness the fall colors in Virginia?

If you're looking for the best spots to witness the fall foliage in Virginia, the Blue Ridge Mountains and Shenandoah National Park are the perfect attractions. Exploring the Blue Ridge Mountains while driving through the Blue Ridge Parkway or hiking the Appalachian Trail to landmarks like Dragon's Tooth, Sharp Top Mountain, McAfee Knob, and Humpback Rocks offers a memorable experience. Shenandoah National Park and Leesylvania State Park offer breathtaking views from the highest elevations and Potomac River tidal shores. Show more

What activities can I do during the fall foliage season in Blue Ridge Mountains?

The Blue Ridge Mountains are an outdoor lover's paradise during the fall foliage season. You can embark on a variety of activities such as hiking, biking, camping, and picnicking while taking in the vibrant colors. The Blue Ridge Parkway's drives feature almost 400 overlooks, with scenic waterways, horseback riding, and wildlife watching activities available. The wineries in the area offer the chance to unwind and taste the local wines while soaking up the stunning views. Show more

Where can I find a combination of natural beauty and historical significance in Virginia?

Leesylvania State Park provides a combination of natural beauty and historical significance, located on the banks of the tidal Potomac River. Visitors can experience the beauty of history through activities like hiking, kayaking, fishing while experiencing breathtaking sunrises and sunsets. The location once served as a spot where the Lee and Fairfax families, and Captain John Smith lived. The Freestone Point area of the park features an exhibit of the Lee family life, adding to the historical significance. Show more

What are some lesser-known state parks to witness the fall colors in Virginia?

To experience fall foliage without the cost of the more popular state parks, Chris Greene Lake Park and Claytor Lake State Park provide an affordable alternative. Chris Greene Lake Park provides various recreational activities, including hiking trails, open grills, picnic tables, electricity, and a dog park. Claytor Lake State Park includes scenic boat rides and hikes and other activities, such as bird watching, geocaching, and many others. Show more

Ask a question
Last updated: by Olha Savych