What Trees Provide the Best Fall Colors?

Dee S.
Dee S.

Fall colors can be found any place there are deciduous trees - from woodlands to mountains and from cities to the rural countryside. Watching the trees turn from green to brilliant reds, oranges, and yellows is a sign that fall has arrived and winter is around the corner. Sometimes trees are planted specifically for their fall colors and other times the trees are part of the natural vegetation of a given area.

Autumn is a noteworthy time for deciduous trees to drop their leaves.
Autumn is a noteworthy time for deciduous trees to drop their leaves.

Pick nearly any area of the United States, for example, and there will usually be ample opportunity to view the fall colors on a wide range of trees. The United States Forest Service has a list of over 100 scenic byways, many which were designed to give people the chance to see the leaves changing colors via car. Some of the most famous byways where beautiful fall foliage can be seen are Missouri’s Great River Road, Tennessee’s Cherohala Skyway, Colorado’s San Juan Skyway, Virginia’s George Washington Memorial Parkway, Arkansas’s Talimena Scenic Drive and New York’s Mohawk Towpath Byway. The United States Forest Service even has a toll-free number that gazers can call to find out where the fall colors are at their peak.

Birch leaves turn yellow in the fall.
Birch leaves turn yellow in the fall.

Depending on the region, there are various trees that have beautiful fall colors. Maples for instance come in several different varieties – and each type has its own distinguishing group of fall colors. For example, the Hedge Maple becomes yellow or gold while the Japanese Maple can be bright orange, yellow, red or even purple. As the name would suggest, the Crimson King Maple turns into a rich reddish-orange display of color. The common Sugar Maple has gorgeous foliage that is orange and yellow in color.

When the fall colors are most pronounced, birch trees also have beautiful leaves. Most varieties of birch trees including the Paperback Birch, European White Birch, and European Hornbeam turn yellow during the fall. The Kousa Dogwood is always eye-catching in the fall with its purple-red to scarlet colored leaves. Both the American Beech and the European Beech become yellow, bronze, or brownish in color. Many people prefer to find the deep reds on the Sour Gum or Black Gum trees.

In the mountain region, Aspens sprinkle the slopes with pockets of awe-inspiring yellow or gold. The contrast between the brilliant yellow and the deep green of the evergreen trees make marvelous photographs. When it is the peak time to view the Aspens, people make week long excursions – because once the gusty winds start blowing, the leaves will quickly be blown to the ground.

Lastly, the majestic oak also has a vivid range of fall colors. The Scarlet Oak, Pin Oak, English Oak, Red Oak, and Eastern Oak are sure to pop each fall. The colors range from red to scarlet and brown to bronze. Even the Red Oak itself can have a yellow leaves. A burst of color - either in town or around the countryside – is a sight to behold.

Japanese maple trees are prized for their foliage, which turns bright red and orange in the fall.
Japanese maple trees are prized for their foliage, which turns bright red and orange in the fall.
Dee S.
Dee S.

Dee is a freelance writer based in Colorado. She has a B.A. in English Literature, as well as a law degree. Dee is especially interested in topics relating to medicine, legal issues, and home improvement, which are her specialty when contributing to wiseGEEK.

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Discussion Comments

Soulfox

In these parts, pine trees simply dominate. Those look great in the winter with snow hanging in them but are downright terrible for producing fall colors.

What does a pine needle do when it changes colors? It goes from a vibrant green to a dreadful brown. Yuck.

Terrificli

Keep in mind that a summer drought can absolutely ruin fall colors. If conditions are so dry in the summer that leaves are turning brown before fall, you can bet that fall colors will be awful.

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