The leaves are starting to change color in Virginia, making it a beautiful time of year to visit. Whether you’re looking to see the fall colors on a scenic drive, a hike or a local park, here we’re sharing 30+ places to see fall foliage in Virginia, when is the best time to go to different sites.
The colors of fall in Virginia vary depending on the higher elevations and location. The Shenandoah Valley and the mountains of western Virginia are typically the most colorful so a road trip may be in order!
The leaves on the trees turn a spectrum of oranges, yellows, and reds that you don’t want to miss! That’s why you don’t want to miss the places we share here.
Best Time to See Fall Colors in Virginia
The best time to see fall colors in Virginia is from mid-October to early November but varies depending on the location.
In Northern Virginia, the colors typically peak in early October.
Farther south, in Charlottesville and Central Virginia, the colors will reach their peak around mid-October.
In Richmond and the Tidewater region, the leaves usually peak color in late October.
According to the Virginia Department of Forestry, the peak time to see peak fall colors is between October 12th and October 28th. The landscape throughout Virginia has different elevations so the times in each area will be different. Other factors like temperature and annual rainfall will impact these dates each year.
For example, in some years the colors in the northern part of the state peak earlier than in the south. To get the most out of your trip, it’s a good idea to check the fall foliage forecast before you go (more on how to do that below).
When the leaves start changing color in Virginia, it’s a sign that autumn is in full swing. And while the state is beautiful year-round, there’s something special about seeing it in all its fall glory.
How to Check the Fall Foliage Forecast
There are a few factors that can affect the timing and intensity of the fall foliage season in Virginia. One is the weather.
It’s important to keep an eye on the weather forecasts as that makes a different for when the peak fall foliage will happen.
Warm, sunny days and cool, crisp nights are ideal for bringing out the vibrant colors of the leaves. However, if the weather is unseasonably warm or cold, the leaves may change color sooner or later than usual, or the colors may not be as intense.
Virginia has a fall foliage hotline that begins to provide updates on the fall foliage colors in mid to late September each year. You can call 800-434-LEAF for updates.
If you are planning on visiting the Blue Ridge Parkway, you can call 828-298-0398 (option 3) for updates on fall foliage.
You can also sign-up for weekly fall foliage email updates here.
Links to specific location based updates will be included in the location guide below.
Most Popular Trees for Fall Color in Virginia
The most popular trees for fall color in Virginia are:
- Sugar maple
- American beech
- Yellow birch
- Sweet gum
- Red maple
- Black gum
Best Places to See Fall Foliage in Virginia: When & Where to Go
If you’re trying to decide where to go and wondering where is the best fall foliage in Virginia, you’ll discover all of your options right here.
Let’s start with where to go in Mid-October as the colors begin to change.
Central Virginia has plenty of beautiful places to see during the fall. Roanoke has a number of places and perhaps some of the most popular options are the Roanoke Star & Mill Mountain Park and Roanoke Valley Greenways.
Some additional Central Virginia fall spots are The Priest Wilderness and Upper James River Water Trail.
A few great Central Virginia hikes for the fall are Humpback Rocks, Texas Beach and Crabtree Falls.
The park has acres of forests and fields that change color in the fall. Visitors can enjoy hiking and biking on the park’s trails, as well as fishing. There are also several picnic areas and a playground.
Peak foliage time is late-October to mid-November.
Potomac Heritage Trail is another option. The trail follows the Potomac River and its tributaries, offering hikers and cyclists a chance to explore some of America’s most beautiful and historic landscapes.
In the fall, the trail is especially stunning, as the leaves change color and create a patchwork of oranges, yellows, and reds.
Other great options include:
- Huntley Meadows Park
- Great Falls Park (a few good hikes in this park are this, this and this)
- Scott’s Run Nature Preserve
- Burke Lake
- Lake Accotink
- Riverbend Park
- Mason Neck
- State Park
- George Washington Memorial Parkway
A few good hikes for fall foliage are: Bear’s Den, Turkey Run Park, Raven Rocks.
One of the best places to see fall colors in Virginia is Shenandoah National Park. Within the park, Skyline Drive is a popular destination with some of the best views and scenic byways to see the beautiful fall foliage. Here the peak foliage is typically in October.
If fall colors and waterfalls sound amazing (definitely bring your camera for this one!), head to White Oak Canyon Trail & Cedar Run Falls.
If you’re looking for some great fall hiking options within the valley, try: Loft Mountain Loop, Buzzard Rock Trail, or Bearfence Rock Scramble.
Also pay a visit to National Bridge State Park to view the enormous rock bridge.
If you’re looking to stay in the area, Big Meadows Campground in Shenandoah National Park.
You can check the park’s fall color report here.
The Southern part of Virginia (as well as southwest Virginia) has many state parks that are perfect spots to viewing what the fall season has to offer without having to hike or go very far. These are great to visit typically starting in mid-October.
Some great options are:
- Grayson Highlands State Park has scenic views of the peaks and trails leading to waterfalls.
- Natural Tunnel State Park has been naturally carved over thosands of years, this park has amazing views, the 850-long foot tunnel and is a great place for cave tours, campaing and canoe trips.
- Hungry Mother State Park is a large, beautiful woodland for enjoying the fall foliage and hiking. They have some nice cabins too!
You can also visit some of the lakes in the area like Smith Mountain Lake and Hidden Valley Lake.
Naturally, the forests contain Virginia’s expansive woodlands so a visit to Channells State Forest is a perfect place to visit.
Some other good options include:
- Mount Rogers National Recreation Area (which has some of the highest peaks in the state)
- Mabry Mill
- Grassy Hill Nature Preserve
- Virginia Creeper Trail
If you’re looking for some of the best hiking trails in the fall in this part of the state, try: Twin Pinnacles, Breaks Interstate Park Loop and Buffalo Mountain.
Blue Ridge Highlands
The Blue Ridge Mountains and the parkway that runs through it, is home to one of the country’s most scenic drives. The peak foliage time is typically mid-October to early-November.
The Blue Ridge Mountains spans from the Shenandoah National Park to The Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
TIP: if you are continuing on to The Great Smoky Mountains, you can view the Smoky Mountains Fall Foliage Prediction Map here.
Williamsburg has a lot of great options for viewing fall colors including the Colonial Gardens, Palace Gardens, and the Arboretum. When you’re done, head over to Great Wolf Lodge Williamsburg with the family.
There are also some beautiful state parks in this area worth visiting in the fall including Pocahontas State Park and Kiptopeke State Park.
If hiking is your thing, try Waller Mill Park, Boyd’s Hole Trail, and White Oak Nature Trail.
Tips for the best time to see fall colors in Virginia
- Timing can vary depending on the weather conditions each year. So it’s always a good idea to check online or call ahead to local tourism offices to get the most up-to-date information.
- If possible, try traveling on a weekday instead of a weekend. Weekdays typically have less traffic and more parking availability at popular overlooks and hiking trails.
- To maximize your leaf-peeping experience, check the weather forecast beforehand so you can plan accordingly.
- Regardless of when you go, take a little patience with you as you may find crowds, especially at more of the popular spots.
- If you plan on staying overnight in the area, book your reservations as early as possible as places tend to fill up.
- If you plan on taking photos of the fall foliage, the morning and late afternoon offer the best sunlight for photos.
- Make sure to fill up the gas tank if you will be visiting larger state or national parks.
More Fall Fun
- 26 Apple Festivals in Virginia
- 30+ Best Pumpkin Festivals in Maryland
- 37 Fall Festivals in Maryland: Fall Festivals & Events
Map of Locations
The best time to see the fall colors in Virginia is starts in October and goes into November depending on the part of the state you are visiting.
Make sure to plan ahead not only to make sure you visit during peak time but also to make any reservations for hotels or stays you may need before they get booked.