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Michaella Sheridan | 09.23.2019

It’s that time of year again: The temperature is dropping, the leaves are changing to gorgeous colors, and adventure is calling. That’s right, autumn is here again, and this is your year to seize the season. Maybe that means discovering a new adventure in your neck of the woods, but if you’re looking to experience fall in a whole new place, here are our top picks for autumn adventure meccas. From meditating to mountain biking, these places are home to some of the most epic fall adventures that go way beyond corn mazes and pumpkin spice lattes.


Summit views atop Mount Waumbek, New Hampshire. Stephanie Graudons.

Hiking in White Mountains National Forest, New Hampshire

New Hampshire is the quintessential place to enjoy fall, and for good reason. Intense hikes up 4,000-foot mountains reward hikers with sweeping views of the colorful landscape below while also packing in an amazing workout. Mount Starr King + Mount Waumbek and Mount Tecumseh both make for great fall day hikes that’ll have you down the mountain in time for apple picking.

Wildlife in the Smokies, Tennessee and North Carolina

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is not only home to some of the best fall foliage on the East Coast, but it’s also teeming with wildlife. The unique mountain ecosystem has created one of the densest populations of black bears in the country, and the high elevation allows for a diverse set of species that are usually not found in the Southeast. Explore our guide to the Smokies to find the best backcountry hikes that will immerse you in this wild and wonderful landscape, which takes on a special magic in the fall.


Gile Mountain in full color. Stephanie Graudons.

Leaf Peeping in Green Mountain National Forest, Vermont

When autumn falls on the Green Mountains, the lush landscape turns into a colorful canvas streaked with brilliantly warm colors. A long drive through Green Mountain National Forest should satiate your leaf-peeping cravings, but make sure to pull over and really enjoy the scenery with a short hike up Gile Mountain. If you’re staying the weekend, book a campsite at Woodford State Park and wake up early to paddle or hike around the tranquil lake, watching and listening for moose, foxes, or deer picking their way through the crunchy fall foliage.


Cathedral Rock at Crescent Moon Ranch, Arizona. Deanna Chase.

Relaxing in Sedona, Arizona

When the cool fall temps drift through Sedona, it’s finally time to creep out of the AC and enjoy the outdoors, paying special attention to the gradually changing foliage that begins to match the red rock landscape. There are plenty of short trails and scenic adventures close to downtown Sedona, making this autumn mecca perfect for those who are looking to spend their fall vacation just relaxing and enjoying the season.

Take a slow, enjoyable hike on the Red Rock Loop Hike or enjoy a fall sunrise at Crescent Moon Ranch, hiking the 1.5-mile trail to Buddha Beach for a fall meditation. For a more upbeat adventure, climb the Queen Victoria, a sandstone pinnacle that will grant you amazing views of the surrounding fall landscape. Cap off your Sedona fall retreat by heading to Lover’s Knoll to soak in views of Cathedral Rock and Courthouse Butte while mulling on the changing seasons.

Mountain Biking in Moab, Utah

The rocks in Moab never look better than when they’re bathed in warm fall sunlight—but the lack of summer crowds doesn’t hurt either. With wide open trails and plenty of backcountry views to be discovered, hop on your mountain bike and explore Bar M, Circle O, Rockin’ A, and Bar B trails. The bike routes are filled with amazing views of the La Sal Mountains and, aside from Bar B, are relatively easy, making this a great adventure for families and beginners.


Twin Peaks Wilderness, Utah. Kyle Jenkins.

Backpacking in Salt Lake City, Utah

The best way to really get to know fall is to spend a few days in the backcountry, sleeping under the myriad of colorful leaves and breathing in the crisp fall air. Salt Lake City is surrounded by designated wilderness areas that have a unique sense of solitude thanks to rules that prohibit roads, bikes, and developed campgrounds. The Twin Peaks Wilderness, Lone Peak Wilderness, Mount Olympus Wilderness, and Mount Timpanogos Wilderness areas are only minutes from downtown, and all offer multi-day hikes that allow you to fully immerse yourself in the autumn wilderness.

Climbing in Joshua Tree, California

Fall in California isn’t quite complete without escaping to Joshua Tree National Park to enjoy the cooler temps and get in some climbing. With 28 routes, Intersection Rock has enough problems to keep you busy all weekend, but be sure to make time for an ascent up Old Woman Rock, which lives just across the parking lot. If you’re pitching a tent at Indian Cove Campground, be sure to climb the nearby Pixie Rock, which has great routes for beginners and experienced climbers alike.


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