22 perfect fall trips

Here are our favorite hikes, bike rides, wineries, spa getaways, and more

Sheep run

Glenn Oakley

Sun Valley's golden season

The sweet autumn lull is when this Idaho resort shows its true colors.

More:  What to do in this Idaho resort town

 

Yosemite Valley

David Zaitz

Catch the golden season at Yosemite

Quiet hikes and lazy picnics are yours for the taking in autumn. Before winter comes, take a long weekend to see the best of what the park has to offer.

Three days are a perfect chunk of time to explore the park's three main areas: Tuolumne Meadows, Yosemite Valley, and Wawona. Plan to stay in the valley―it's central to everything, and reservations are easier to come by at this time of year.

More:  Golden Yosemite

Sonoma shoreline

David Fenton

Fall under the Sonoma Coast spell

The rugged stretch of land that runs along Sonoma County's coast inspires grand passions. From the pocket coves of Bodega Bay and windswept bluffs of Sea Ranch to inland pine-covered peaks and ocean-carved sea stacks, the area is marked by layers of fog, gulls, sweetgrass, and wildness.

It's a place where you can tidepool for hours in precious solitude or ride thrilling, frigid waves; a place where delicious wine and cheese are made carefully, lovingly, by hand.

More:  The Sonoma Coast spell

 

Holly's Hill Vineyards

Brown Cannon III

Gold Country autumn

In the folded foothills of the Sierra Nevada, California's Gold Country, autumn lingers long into October, offering blue skies, tawny hills, and grapevines tinged fierce red

Good new restaurants are popping up in unexpected places. Even more strikingly, an influx of creative new winemakers has made the Gold Country one of the most fascinating wine regions in the West. 

More: Where to go and what to do

Lazy Creek Vineyards in Anderson Valley

Emily Nathan

Taste your way through Anderson Valley

For farm-fresh food and sublime wine, spend an autumn weekend in California's least known, most beautiful wine country.

More:  Taste your way through Anderson Valley 

The view from the Chehalem Ridge B&B.

John Clark

Pour a glass in Oregon's Willamette Valley wine country

With luxe new inns and tons of tasting rooms, Willamette is ready for prime time. 

You can get lost on the backcountry roads but always find a good glass of Pinot around the bend.

And now, with new hotels opening and tasting rooms mustering in towns like Carlton, you can experience the valley’s off-the-beaten-path vibe yet have the comforts of a soft bed close by.

More:  Oregon's wine country

Bikes in Boise

John Clark

Bike around Boise

This Idaho town is made for riding ― especially now with fall foliage at its peak.

More:  Detailed directions for three rides through Boise

Clark's Tree

Pete Stone

Follow in Lewis and Clark’s footsteps on the Long Beach Peninsula

In fall, you'll have this Ilwaco, Washington coastal trail all to yourself.

More:  Autumn amble

Exploring the ghost forest

Jim McCausland

A walk along on the Oregon Coast

Forget about fall leaves, the roots of Sitka spruce are the draw at Neskowin Beach.

More:  The Oregon Coast's Neskowin

Pacific Crest Trail

Samuel Robbins

Pacific Crest Trail

The Kendall Katwalk trail, near Seattle, offers big rewards for small effort. 

Casual hikers who might be daunted by the 2,650-mile Pacific Crest Trail can dip in a tentative toe on the Kendall Katwalk trail, an hour east of Seattle.

In 6 not-too-demanding miles from Snoqualmie Pass to the Katwalk, a morsel of the PCT provides many of the scenic delectables of the full Mexico-to-Canada buffet.

More:  PCT for beginners

Boulder Colorado's Flatirons

Erik Rank

Boulder, Colorado

The Colorado town has it all: gorgeous trails, great restaurants, and some of the sportiest people around.

The jagged Flatirons rise at Boulder's western edge offers invigorating hiking, climbing, and exploring.

And visitors find lots of fine restaurants and independent shops ― especially sporty ones ― along the Pearl Street pedestrian mall.

More:  Plan an active getaway in Boulder

Zion National Park Angels Landing trail

Dave Lauridsen

Quiet Zion

Escape the crowds and find the hidden beauty of southern Utah's incomparable canyons.

With daytime temperatures in the 60s and 70s, autumn is a good time to explore.

The cottonwoods blaze brilliant yellow against the surrounding red rock. No wonder renowned artists like Maynard Dixon found inspiration here.

More:  Zion's top wow spots and travel guide

Rocky Mountain National Park

James Boone

Wildlife wonders

Spot bighorns, elk, and fall color in Rocky Mountain National Park.

More:  Wildlife wonders

Guy Drew Vineyards

David Fenton

Colorado wine country

There's seriously good wine among Colorado's red rocks.

Take one of our 3 backroad tours through the West's newest wine country and discover gems for foodies, foragers, power tasters, and true explorers.

More:  9 Colorado wineries to visit this fall

Taos New Mexico's San Francisco de Asis Church

Cedric Angeles

Magical Taos, New Mexico

Golden leaves, killer margaritas, and an artistic core: This Southwestern town is the real deal.

At a time when so many towns have become soulless clones of one another, Taos, with its creative heart, natural beauty, and ancient roots, delivers an inimitable experience, especially in autumn.

More:  Taos, New Mexico

New Mexico Mountains Warm Springs

  Alison Bank

New Mexico hot springs weekend

In the New Mexico mountains, a beautiful road leads to three great places to soak your worries away.

Get our picks, plus a suggested 3-day weekend itinerary.

More:  Hot springs weekend

Gila Wilderness

David Fenton

New Mexico's Gila Wilderness, tamed

On a guided pack trip, you can explore some of the Southwest’'s most rugged, pristine country ― and let someone else worry about dinner (and pitching the tent).

Get our guide to the outfitters and the wilderness you can explore.

More:  Rough it easy in the Gila Wilderness

mountains lockett meadows near flagstaff

Courtesy of Logan Brumm

Getaway in Flagstaff, Arizona

This high-altitude town has the best of both worlds: great food and culture combined with some of the best hiking and foliage around.

Here's how to get there, what to do and where to shop, eat, drink, and stay.

More:  Experience Flagstaff's fall 

Death Valley's Badwater Basin

Brown Cannon III

Journey through Death Valley

In autumn, the fabled desert park is at its most hauntingly beautiful. Hike, explore, and experience a world unlike any other.

More:  Journey through Death Valley

Paragon Vineyard

Nik Wheeler

Edna Valley harvest

Wander through this quirky, unassuming wine region just south of San Luis Obispo. The nascent wine region is located in a triangle bordered by Arroyo Grande, Pismo Beach, and San Luis Obispo, and it still retains a distinctive, backroad California charm.

Today it's home to more than 3,000 acres of vineyards and 30 wine labels, including 17 tasting rooms that run the gamut from a former one-room schoolhouse to the stylish Jack Niven Hospitality Center at Edna Valley Vineyard.

At the latter, you can sample Chardonnays in front of picture windows with views of the valley's most distinctive icon, Islay Peak, an ancient volcanic plug that rose from the ocean floor.

More:  Edna Valley wines

Laguna Beach California

Gina Sabatella

Laguna Beach in the off-season

Now that summer crowds have cleared out of this coastal town 50 miles south of L.A., it’s time for a romantic fall getaway.

Here's how to get there, 3 romantic stays, where to eat, and what to do.

More:  Weekend in Laguna Beach

The Santa Rita Valley in California

Chris Leschinsky

Soak up a Santa Rita wine getaway

For beautiful back roads and even better wines, head to these hills in California's Santa Barbara County.

Until receiving designation as an appellation in 2001, this compact region was largely overshadowed by the neighboring Santa Maria and Santa Ynez Valleys. But no more.

Easily explored via a 34-mile loop linking Santa Rosa Road and State 246, the Santa Rita Hills have become a destination for visitors looking for distinctive Pinot Noirs or a lazy drive through the unspoiled country of western Santa Barbara County.

More:  Santa Rita wine getaway

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