Best Places to See Fall Colors in Virginia

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Best Places to See Fall Colors in Virginia

The changing of the seasons is a truly magical time of year in the beautiful state of Virginia. As the temperatures drop and the leaves erupt into color, all the summer bugs and mosquitoes dissipate – except for one that bites you and you can’t quite scratch the itch: the adventure bug. Autumn is one of the best times to explore the state! Hiking and traveling to see the fall colors in Virginia is something everyone should do at some point in their lives, if not yearly. 

To help you plan your fall adventures, I’ve compiled a list of my favorite places to see the fall colors in Virginia. Let me know in the comment section what are your favorite places to see fall colors in Virginia!

1. Shenandoah National Park

3-Day Itinerary in Shenandoah National Park
Shenandoah National Park (Rose River Falls)
  • Fall Colors Peak: Early-Mid October
  • Region: Northwest Virginia
  • Travel Time: 1.5 hrs from DC | 1.5 hrs from Richmond | 3 hrs from VA Beach | 1.5 hrs from Roanoke

Thousands of tourists flock to Skyline Drive every year to see the iconic changing of colors in this park, so you know it’s worth the hype! This park offers an endless amount of hiking trails as well as many overlooks for easy viewing. Check out my Shenandoah National Park Weekend Guide to plan your trip!

2. Blue Ridge Parkway

  • Fall Colors Peak: Early-Mid October
  • Region: Southwest, Central, and Northwest Virginia
  • Travel Time: Varies depending on which section of the parkway you are visiting

The sister highway to Skyline Drive, this iconic parkway offers an endless amount of overlooks and hikes for those seeking beautiful fall colors. Visit the parkway’s website to plan your visit!

3. Grayson Highlands State Park

Best Places to See Fall Colors in Virginia
Grayson Highlands State Park
  • Fall Colors Peak: Early-Mid October
  • Region: Southwest Virginia
  • Travel Time: 6 hrs from DC | 5 hrs from Richmond | 6.5 hrs from VA Beach | 2.5 hrs from Roanoke

Deep in Southwest Virginia lies this absolute gem of a state park. There are several easy-to-access overlooks that open to the beautiful valley below and the surrounding mountains, as well as endless miles of hiking trails.

4. Breaks Intersate Park

  • Fall Colors Peak: Early-Mid October
  • Region: Southwest Virginia
  • Travel Time: 7 hrs from DC | 6 hrs from Richmond | 8 hrs from VA Beach | 3.5 hrs from Roanoke

Located at the most southwestern tip of Virginia, this bi-state park contains the Grand Canyon of South. An adventurer’s paradise, this park offers lots of hiking and mountainbiking trails, zip-lining, horseback riding, rockclimbing, canoeing, birding, and fishing.

5. Douthat State Park

  • Fall Colors Peak: Early October
  • Region: Northwest Virginia
  • Travel Time: 3.5 hrs from DC | 2.5 hrs from Richmond | 4 hrs from VA Beach | 1 hr from Roanoke

This park contains a 50-acre lake surrounded by mountain hills and forest which makes for a beautifully striking view once the leaves start to turn. There are great hiking trails for aerial views of the lake as well as boat rentals, fishing, and camping.

6. High Bridge Trail State Park

  • Fall Colors Peak: Early-Mid October
  • Region: Central Virginia
  • Travel Time: 3.5 hrs from DC | 1.5 hrs from Richmond | 3 hrs from VA Beach | 2 hrs from Roanoke

Located in Central Virginia, this park allows you to take an easy walk to the middle of the bridge for a stunning view of the fall foliage below. Very easily accessible and great for sunsets or sunrises as well as fall color hunting.

7. Holliday Lake State Park

  • Fall Colors Peak: Early-Mid October
  • Region: Central Virginia
  • Travel Time: 3.5 hrs from DC | 1.5 hrs from Richmond | 3.5 hrs from VA Beach | 1.5 hrs from Roanoke

This large lake in Central Virginia is surrounded by thick forests that come alive during the month of October. Rent a kayak or canoe for the best view of the trees from the middle of the lake or take a hike to immerse yourself in the colors.

8. Kiptopeke State Park

  • Fall Colors Peak: Mid-Late October
  • Region: Eastern Virginia
  • Travel Time: 4 hrs from DC | 2 hrs from Richmond | 1 hr from VA Beach | 5 hrs from Roanoke

“Beach” and “autumn” are not words commonly used in the same sentence, but autumn does creep out to the Eastern Shore! Take a walk along the beach with the ocean on one side and the bright colored forest on the other to enjoy the best of both worlds.

9. Sky Meadows State Park

  • Fall Colors Peak: Mid-Late October
  • Region: Northwest Virginia
  • Travel Time: 1 hr from DC | 2 hrs from Richmond | 3.5 hr from VA Beach | 3 hrs from Roanoke

Nestled on the edge of the Shenandoah Valley, this peaceful park offers great hiking to perfect vantage points for fall color viewing!

10. Great Falls Park

  • Fall Colors Peak: Mid October
  • Region: Northern Virginia
  • Travel Time: .5 hrs from DC | 2 hrs from Richmond | 3.5 hrs from VA Beach | 4 hrs from Roanoke

These falls are impressive by themselves, but if you add in the bright color of the autumn leaves then you’re in for a stunning view.

The exact timing of the peak fall colors in Virginia is very hard to nail down. Several things factor into the speed of autumn sweeping through the state, such as rainfall, temperature, and sunlight. If you want to stay up-to-date on the latest foliage developments, there are several websites and resources that you can monitor.

Enjoy the adventure as you chase the fall colors in Virginia this autumn season!

Meet Sunshine
and Sancho

I’m so glad you’re here (and so is Sancho). I’m Sunshine! A Virginia-based travel enthusiast on the hunt for cozy stays, great views, unique experiences, and dog-friendly adventures. Sancho and I have spent the past 3 years exploring Virginia (and beyond) in order to share our favorite places and uncover hidden gems.

Join us on a journey to get out of our comfort zone, take the road less traveled, and explore alongside our furry family members.

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