It’s officially fall in Virginia which means its time to start planning your fall foliage viewing! Many trees have begun their “great fade,” a dulling of green color as chlorophyll production slows. This is happening earlier than usual in areas with low summer rainfall and if you look closely, you’ll notice a few tree species beginning to show shades of red and yellow.
Fall will soon progress beginning in the highest mountains of southwest Virginia and the Alleghenies allowing us to see more of the gorgeous fall foliage beginning to peak in the coming weeks. See below on where to visit throughout October and November for optimal viewing opportunities.
Please note: These times are estimates and subject to change. Please contact the individual parks or check the Fall Foliage Report for updates.
Mount Rogers, Photo Credit: Sam Dean, @sdeanphotos
Grayson Highlands State Park - Near Mount Rogers and Whitetop Mountain, Virginia’s two highest mountains, Grayson Highlands offers scenic views of alpine-like peaks of more than 5,000 feet. Hiking trails lead to waterfalls and an overlook. Campgrounds, scenic horse trails and a horse camping area with stables are available. The park also provides access to the Appalachian Trail and the Virginia Highlands Horse Trail.
Natural Tunnel State Park – More than 850 feet long and as tall as a 10-story building, Natural Tunnel was naturally carved through a limestone ridge over thousands of years. Along with the amazing views, the park has two campgrounds and cabins for lodging. You'll also find the Wilderness Road historic area, and be able to go on cave tours and canoe trips on the Clinch River.
Wilderness Road State Park - This 310-acre park lies astride the Wilderness Road, a route carved by Daniel Boone in 1775. Rent a bike and ride along the Wilderness Road Trail, an eight-mile multi-purpose trail, while taking in the incredible fall colors.
Photo Credit: Brad Deel, @brad.deel
Hungry Mother State Park - Known for its beautiful woodlands and placid 108-acre lake in the heart of the mountains, Hungry Mother is a great place for leaf gazing. It has campgrounds, cabins, hiking and biking trails and so much more.
EARLY TO MID-OCTOBER
Sherando Lake Recreation Area, Photo Credit: Scott K. Brown
George Washington and Thomas Jefferson National Forests - With over 1.66 million acres in Virginia, the forests boast over 2,200 miles of trails. There are 23 federally designated wildernesses within mountainous terrain ranging from 515 feet in elevation near the Shenandoah River all the way up to Virginia’s highest point of 5,729 feet at Mount Rogers.
Photo Credit: Nicholas Moore
Shenandoah National Park – This national treasure includes the 105-mile long Skyline Drive, a National Scenic Byway. There are over 500 miles of hiking trails, numerous waterfalls and mountain summits. Camping is available in the park as well as lodges and cabins. Guided horseback rides depart the Skyland stables.
Douthat State Park - Amid some of Virginia’s most breathtaking mountain scenery, visitors can enjoy more than 40 miles of hiking and mountain-biking trails, picnic areas, tent and trailer camping, a restaurant overlooking the lake and more. The park also features two completely furnished lodges.
James River State Park - James River State Park has more than 1,500 acres of rolling farm meadows and three miles of river frontage. There are 15 miles of trails for hiking, biking and horseback riding. Cabins, lodges, and campsites are available as well as picnic shelters offering beautiful views of the surrounding hills.
Photo Credit: Creative Dog Media, @creativedogmedia
Natural Bridge State Park - The 215-foot tall Natural Bridge is a limestone gorge carved out by Cedar Creek. The park features beautiful forests, rolling meadows, six miles of hiking trails, and more.
MID TO LATE OCTOBER
High Bridge Trail State Park, Photo Credit: Chad Williams, @echadwilliams
High Bridge Trail State Park – The majestic High Bridge is more than 2,400 feet long and 160 feet above the Appomattox River allowing for incredible views of both the river and surrounding park. The park also features a multi-use trail ideally suited for hiking, bicycling and horseback riding.
Prince William Forest Park – With more than 15,000 acres of woodlands, streams, ponds, and scenic trails, this park is the largest nature area in the National Park Service's Washington Capital Region. The park features nature trails, an abandoned mine and many cultural, geological and historical sites. It also offers a RV park, cabins, and camping sites.
Occoneechee State Park – Located on the John H. Kerr Reservoir, better known as Buggs Island Lake, this park has cabins, campsites, an equestrian campground, picnic shelters and more. The park also has 20 miles of trails for hiking, biking and horseback riding and 800 miles of wooded, cove-studded shoreline.
LATE OCTOBER TO EARLY NOVEMBER
First Landing State Park, Photo Credit: Bill Crabtree Jr.
First Landing State Park - Explore a unique habitat featuring lagoons, large cypress trees and rare plants. More than 19 miles of hiking trails wind through the natural area. Climate-controlled cabins, campsites, picnic areas and miles of various trails are available.
Belle Isle State Park - With 733 acres and seven miles of shoreline on the Rappahannock River, Belle Isle lets visitors explore a wide variety of tidal wetlands, agricultural fields and upland forests. Belle Isle has three picnic shelters, hiking, biking and bridle trails, and overnight lodging at the Bel Air Mansion and the Bel Air Guest House.
York River State Park - Known for its rare and delicate environment where freshwater and saltwater met, this park offers more than 25 miles of hiking, mountain biking and equestrian trails. Visitors can explore the marsh, river shoreline and forests.
Photo Credit: Rachel Stevens
Kiptopeke State Park - Kiptopeke offers five cabins, RV and tent camping, a group camping lodge, a yurt and camping trailers. There's also 4.2 miles of hiking and biking trails, a playground, bird habitat and more.
Check out the map below for park locations.