Best Places to See Fall Colors in Virginia

Best Places to See Fall Colors in Virginia

Despite the warm temperatures we’ve had in Virginia lately, fall is definitely settling in! The humidity is dying back and the American sweetgum and liquid amber and the occasional maple are starting to show some of their early golden fall plumage. Travelers are starting to plan their trips to catch peak leaf season in some pretty epic places.

Lucky for us, Virginia is a pretty epic place. Instead of packing our bags and traipsing all over the east coast {as much as I’m dying to spend fall someday on Maine’s Mount Desert Island and Acadia National Park}, we can see a lot of amazing leaves in just a day trip. And some of these places are less than an hour from the house!

For the best forecast of peak leaf, check out Smoky Mountains’ Fall Foliage Map!

You don’t always have to go far away to see amazing things and have adventures. Sometimes you can find them in your own backyard. And if your backyard is here with ours in Virginia, here’s our list of places where you can get an amazing view of the fall foliage – and other natural wonders, too!

Where to Go See Fall Leaves in Virginia

Rock Creek Park {3545 Williamsburg Lane N.W., Washington D.C. 20008}.

This amazing 1700 acre park sits right smack in the middle of D.C. and full of walking and jogging trails, tall trees, and, you guessed it, Rock Creek. If you live and work in the Capital, it’s a great place to get away for a lunchtime or after work walk or bike ride.

Shenandoah National Park {3655 US Highway 211E, Luray VA 22835}.

Shenandoah is an absolutely gorgeous park, and you can traverse nearly all of it by car via Skyline Drive! I haven’t driven this since I lived in Charlottesville for grad school, and I’d love to take a Saturday and cruise the 105 miles of gorgeous wild forest and habitat.

Bluemont Vineyards {18755 Foggy Bottom Road, Bluemont VA 20135}.

We love Bluemont Vineyard for its delicious wines, but in this case, we’re recommending it for the stunning views from the tasting room. The tasting room sits right on the side of the Blue Ridge Mountains and looks over the valley below, making it a wonderful place to spend an afternoon viewing leaves and sipping wine.

Mt. Vernon {3200 Mt. Vernon Memorial Highway, Mt. Vernon VA 22121}.

George Washington’s 50 acre estate offers beautiful views of the fall foliage, both from the house itself and from the multitude of walking paths through the surrounding woods. Some lead you right to the waterfront, where you can also see local bald eagles hunting fish. How’s that for some Americana?

Paradise Springs Winery {13219 Yates Ford Road, Clifton VA 20124}.

Our favorite kind of day at Paradise Springs is starting things out with a morning hike along Hemlock Overlook, right beside Bull Run, and checking out the ever changing forest. And then finishing the hike up at the parking lot of Paradise Springs and wandering into the tasting room for delicious wine and one of their lovely charcuterie platters. That really is paradise, as far as we’re concerned.

Bull Run Mountain {17405 Beverley Mill Drive, Broad Run VA 20137}.

The Bull Run Mountains are an offshoot of the Blue Ridge Mountains with a number of different great trails that are perfect for viewing the foliage. You’ll pass along the river and see the remains of Chapman’s Mill, an eighteenth century gristmill.

Doukénie Winery {14727 Mountain Road, Purcellville VA 20132}.

We fell in love with the Doukénie Winery after I ran through its rolling vine-covered hills for the Wine Country Half this summer. It has a beautiful tasting room with a great view of the surrounding hills and tree-lined vineyard roads.

Humpback Rocks {Milepost 5.8, Blue Ridge Parkway, Rockfish VA 22920}.

Humpback Rocks is an 800 acre wilderness preserve along the Blue Ridge Parkway just outside Waynesboro, Virginia. The trailhead starts by a preserved nineteenth century mountain farm and rolling fields and will take you to a gorgeous panoramic view of the forested mountains. From the main trail, you can also jump onto the Appalachian Trail.

Balcony Falls {Rt 782, Glasgow VA 24555}

Balcony Falls is more rapids than falls, and happens where the James River meets the Maury. However, late fall, when the leaves are turning and falling, is the perfect time for this trail. Not only will you see beautiful color, you’ll actually be able to see the rapids and the river through the dense trees!

Crabtree Falls {Rt. 46, Massies Mill VA 22976}

Crabtree Falls is one of the tallest waterfalls on the East Coast. It lies in the middle of George Washington National Forest, right smack in the heart of Virginia. When I lived in Charlottesville, we used to hike this one regularly, even in the winter months when the falls were frozen over. The surrounding forest and waterfall are gorgeous in the autumn months!

The Channels {Rt. 80, Rosedale VA 24280}

The Channels Natural Area Preserve is an amazing place to hike, especially if you love impressive rock formations. Who knew Virginia had its own slot canyons? They don’t have the red stone of famous Antelope Canyon, but they are absolutely spectacular and surrounded by acres of gorgeous forest. It’s the perfect fall day hike!

In the year we’ve been living in Virginia, we’ve been absolutely amazed by the amount of natural beauty surrounding us. When we moved from Hawaii, there were a lot of people convinced we’d be going through nature withdrawal, and that couldn’t be farther from the case. We’re looking forward to enjoying more of Virginia in each of her beautiful seasons.

Do you guys plan on leaf viewing this year? Where?

  • Denise Blust Vermillion

    I’m flying into Norfolk on Friday evening, spending Saturday in Virginia Beach, and then driving up to DC. Hoping to see some beautiful sites!

    • I hope you do, too! Things are just starting to go to gold, but there’s no telling how long they’ll hold out before exploding in color! Hoping for a long leaf season here this year!

  • I grew up in Virginia, mostly near the Shenandoah, and it is beautiful. I think I probably take it for granted some. I was in New Mexico last week and when I told people I was from Virginia, many of them commented on our beautiful fall colors and it reminded me just how lovely they are. Also, I apparently really need to go to Bluemont Vineyard since you’re maybe 10th person to recommend it!

    • It’s funny how we’re often surprised to find that people travel to the places we grew up in and were likely trying to travel out of, and that they find them beautiful. And yes, definitely try Bluemont Vineyard! Delicious wine, great kitchen, nice people, and epic views!