Best Time to See Fall Colors in Virginia & Where to Go

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When is the best time to see fall colors in Virginia?

Early October to early November is generally the best time to see fall colors in Virginia. Every year, though, the time period will vary based on temperature and rainfall.

Best Time to See Fall Colors in Virginia

Map of the best time to see fall colors in Virginia.

Peak fall colors will generally occur in early October to Mid-October in the western parts of the state (including the Blue Ridge Mountains and Shenandoah National Park). Peak fall colors will occur in late October to early November in Virginia Beach, the Eastern Shore, and other eastern parts of the state. 

You can check the Virginia fall foliage report ahead of time to get a good idea of when the best time will be to see fall colors. 

Beginning in mid to late September, you can also call (800)-424-LOVE to get the most up-to-date information on the best time to see fall colors in Virginia. 

And if you want to learn more about some of the best times and places to see the best fall colors in Virginia, then read on! 


Fall Leaves and tree

Best Time to See Fall Colors in Virginia and Where to Go

Virginia has some fantastic spots to see incredible fall foliage. At the top of that list is the 200,000-acre Shenandoah National Park, but there’s much more that the state has to offer! 

Below are some of my top recommendations for the best places to see fall colors in Virginia.

Map of the Best Places to See Fall Colors in Virginia

1. Shenandoah National Park 

Best Time to See Fall Colors: Early to Mid-October

Shenandoah National Park features incredible views all year round, but if you go in the fall, you’ll be treated to fewer crowds and stunning scenery! 

The park has 500 miles of trails to explore through woods and fields, over rocks, by streams, and to waterfalls.

Parts of the Appalachian Trail also run through the park. Some of the most popular hikes include Old Rag (which is very strenuous and requires a reservation) and Dark Hollow Falls, which leads to a waterfall. 

You can find a full list of all of the hikes on the National Park Service website. 

You can also drive along Skyline Drive and stop at one of the many overlooks to take in the scenery of the rolling hills and expansive valley. 

Luray, VA is a great home base for exploring the Shenandoah National Park. The town is located near one of the park entrances, and it’s also home to the famous Luray Caverns, which are also worth a visit. 

🛏️ Interested in staying overnight in Luray, VA? Book a stay at Mimslyn Inn – a gorgeous historic building with great character and amenities! 🛏️

Waynesboro, VA is another great place to explore the park. In fact, it’s even known as the Gateway to Shenandoah National Park! The town is just 28 miles west of Charlottesville.

Waynesboro is a great destination for all things outdoors. South River runs through the town and is a popular spot for fly fishing.

🛏️ Interested in staying overnight in Waynesboro, VA? Book your stay at the Residence Inn Marriott Waynesboro – rooms have full kitchens, plus there’s a pool and hot tub! 🛏️

2. Great Falls National Park

Best Time to See Fall Colors: Mid to Late-October

Great Falls National Park is one of my favorite hiking destinations in Northern Virginia! I recommend going on the hike from Difficult Run up to the park. Much of the trail leads through the forest and skirts both Difficult Run and gorgeous sections of the Potomac River.  

The park is filled with wooded sections along the Ridge Trail that look particularly lovely in the fall. 

And of course, it all culminates in the three overlooks of the falls themselves, which are a spectacular series of rapids and mini waterfalls plunging over jagged rocks in the middle of the Potomac. 

Fall leaves and trees

3. Prince William Forest Park

Best Time to See Fall Colors: Mid to Late-October

Prince William Forest Park is a lesser-known national park that definitely deserves a spot on your Virginia fall foliage list! It’s located in Prince William County in Northern Virginia and can be conveniently reached right off of I-95. 

The park has 37 miles of hiking trails, which means there’s no shortage of ways to explore the 15,000-acre forest. Bicycling, camping, fishing, and picnicking are also popular in the park. 

4. Leesylvania Park

Best Time to See Fall Colors: Mid to Late-October

Leesylvania Park is another great fall foliage destination in Northern Virginia. The park is located in Prince William County along the Potomac River. 

There are several miles of hiking trails that lead through the park and along the river. Part of the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail also runs through the park. 

Beyond the forest foliage, there are a number of water activities in the park, including boating, fishing, and canoe and kayak rentals. 

5. Burke Lake Park

Best Time to See Fall Colors: Mid to Late-October

Burke Lake Park is the largest lake in Northern Virginia and a popular weekend destination. 

Though the park is most popular during the summer months, the fall is a great time to go and take in the lovely fall leaves that ring the large lake. 

You can easily take a path around the lake to take in both the leaves and the water views. Along the way, you’re likely to see a lot of ducks, geese, and other waterfowl. 

6. Lake Mercer Park

Best Time to See Fall Colors: Mid to Late-October

Lake Mercer Park is a hidden gem nestled in the suburbs of Springfield in Northern Virginia. It features a trail around the lake, as well as a series of paths leading from the lake and into the surrounding forests. 

The paths are popular among bicyclists but are generally not too busy. In the fall, you’ll be treated to a peaceful wooded retreat and a rainbow of fall colors towering overhead!  

Fall leaves and trees

7. Mason Neck State Park

Best Time to See Fall Colors: Mid to Late-October

Mason Neck State Park is a top outdoor destination in Northern Virginia and another great place to see the fall colors in Virginia. 

The park is located along the Potomac River and includes the Elizabeth Hartwell National Wildlife Refuge, historic Gunston Hall, and Pohick Bay Regional Park. 

The park has six miles of unpaved hiking trails and three miles of paved multi-use trails. Canoe and kayak rentals are also popular. 

When you’re visiting, be on the lookout for bald eagles, which are commonly spotted in the park!

8. Scott’s Run Nature Preserve

Best Time to See Fall Colors: Mid to Late-October

Scott’s Run Nature Preserve is a heavily wooded park in Northern Virginia right along the Potomac River. It is conveniently located close to both Turkey Run Park and Great Falls National Park. 

One of the highlights of the park is a gorgeous waterfall cascading over large boulders. The hiking trails lead directly to the falls. 

Because the nature preserve is almost entirely in the woods, it produces lovely fall colors to make your hike even more magical. 

9. Turkey Run Park

Best Time to See Fall Colors: Mid to Late-October

Turkey Run Park features one of the best hikes in Northern Virginia. It has a little bit of everything, including forest walks, open field walks, rock scrambles, and even mini waterfalls and water slides along Dead Run. You can even walk along the beaches of the Potomac River!

Similar to Scott’s Run, the heavily wooded sections of the park make for some lovely scenery during peak fall foliage! 

Fall leaves, trees, and path

10. Chris Greene Lake Park

Best Time to See Fall Colors: Mid to Late-October

Chris Greene Lake Park is a great destination for seeing fall colors near Charlottesville, VA. The park is just 12 miles north of downtown Charlottesville. 

There are several loop trails to walk around the lake and surrounding areas, plus there’s an excellent dog park where you can bring your furry friends! 

The park also has several picnic shelters for rent, and they even added a new disc golf course in 2023. 

11. Pocahontas State Park

Best Time to See Fall Colors: Mid to Late-October

Pocahontas State Park is a great place to see fall colors in central Virginia. The park is located just 22 miles south of Richmond. 

The park is an immense 8,000 acres in size and features a network of 90 miles of trails! There are also three fishing lakes in the park. 

The trails give you a great opportunity to take in the fall colors and water views. 

For overnight stays, the park has plenty of options, including a lodge, four three-bedroom cabins, campsites, yurts, and camping cabins. 

12. Grayson Highlands State Park

Best Time to See Fall Colors: Early to Mid-October

Grayson Highlands State Park is one of the most stunning locations to see beautiful fall colors in Virginia!

The park is located in southwestern Virginia, about 40 miles southwest of Abingdon, VA and close to the North Carolina border. 

Grayson Highlands contains the two tallest mountains in Virginia: Mount Rogers and Whitetop Mountain. Parts of the Appalachian National Scenic Trail also run through the park. 

You’ll find no shortage of hiking trails in the park: there are 13 hiking trails that lead to overlooks and waterfalls. 

The park is also home to wild ponies, which you’re likely to see along the way!

If you’re planning to stay overnight, the park has campgrounds, yurts, and a bunkhouse available to rent. 

Fall leaves and trees

13. Virginia Creeper Trail

Best Time to See Fall Colors: Early to Mid-October

The Virginia Creeper Trail is a top attraction in Abingdon, VA, which is tucked away in the southwestern region of the state. This means that peak color is likely to occur earlier in the fall, generally closer to mid-October. 

The trail is one of the top rails-to-trails locations in the country. It’s 34.3 miles long and travels to the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area, which is near the Virginia-North Carolina border. 

🛏️ Interested in staying overnight in Abingdon, VA? Book your stay at the Hampton Inn Abingdon – it’s bright, modern, and close to major attractions! 🛏️

14. Natural Bridge State Park

Best Time to See Fall Colors: Early to Mid-October

Natural Bridge State Park features one of the top natural wonders in Virginia, so it definitely deserves a place on the list!

Natural Bridge is an awe-inspiring 215-foot tall bridge carved naturally out of limestone. There are 7 miles of trails that lead you to waterfalls, through meadows, and under the bridge itself!

I also recommend visiting the nearby Natural Bridge Caverns, which are one of many spectacular caverns in Virginia

🛏️ Interested in staying overnight near Natural Bridge, VA? Book your stay at the Natural Bridge Hotel – it’s right next to Natural Bridge and it’s pet friendly! 🛏️


FAQs About the Best Time to See Fall Colors in Virginia

What is the best time to see fall colors in Shenandoah National Park?

Mid-October is generally the best time to see fall colors in Shenandoah National Park, but this varies each year based on weather conditions. 

Where is fall foliage in Virginia?

The best fall foliage in Virginia can be found in the western part of the state, particularly in the Blue Ridge Mountains and in Shenandoah National Park. 

Are there fall colors in Shenandoah National Park? 

Yes, there are fall colors in Shenandoah National Park. The park has 200,000 acres of trees that change color in the fall.


Conclusion: Best Times to See Fall Colors in Virginia

Fall is a magical time in Virginia, filled with beautiful blue skies and rich fall colors! The state is filled with many parks that will give you a front-row seat to the spectacular colors on display each October and November!


Learn more about the best outdoor activities in Virginia!

Explore all of the best national parks in Virginia

Shenandoah Mountains

Explore the best sunflower fields in Virginia

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Discover the best hot air balloon festivals in Virginia

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