California: Destinations For Best Fall Foliage

It is mid-September and with temperatures hovering near 100°F in the Los Angeles area, one can’t help but yearn for cooler autumn days with crisp blue skies and trees glowing with the spectacular colors of fall. Parts of Central and Northern California are prime destinations for enjoying the spectrum of fiery colors along beautiful winding country roads. Here is just a glimpse of what is available in this amazing state of ours!

Tomales Bay Map

Just 50 miles north of San Francisco is a sublime place to catch the fall colors in the Bay Area. Tomales Bay flanked by rolling hills dotted with fir trees, oaks and redwoods is ablaze with deep reds, vibrant golds and brilliant oranges in autumn and definitely worth the trip. Oyster farming is a major industry on the bay and can be enjoyed served up various way at the restaurants and inns that line the shore.


Nick's Cottages - Tomales Bay

Nick’s Cottages – Tomales Bay


Approximately 270 miles north of San Francisco is Eureka, California. Fall color in this area generally begins to appear in late September starting with the poison oak vines followed by the maples and other deciduous trees through mid-November. One of the best fall foliage drives is through Prairie Creek Redwoods on the Newton Drury Scenic Parkway just north of Eureka. Another scenic drive is south of Eureka on Highway 101 through Avenue of the Giants.


Newton Drury Scenic Parkway

Newton Drury Scenic Parkway


Avenue of the Giants

Avenue of the Giants


The rural Sierra Foothills near Placerville is an ideal destination for enjoying fall colors and the harvest season of the Apple Hill Growers Association. Apple Hill has more than 50 ranches, farms, wineries, and bake shops. Indulge in a slice of fresh-baked apple pie, pick the perfect pumpkin, enjoy an outdoor concert or harvest dinner, or just take a drive along country roads with changing fall colors. The foliage in the area begins to turn in October and peaks within the first three weeks of November.






In Nevada County, California, the mountain town of Truckee is nestled among pine, maple and aspen trees, which provide beautiful fall color early in the season. As the temperatures begin to drop mid-September, the fall colors emerge. An situated so close to Lake Tahoe, there is plenty to do.



South of Lake Tahoe, the aspen trees in Hope Valley put on a spectacular show from late September through the end of October. One of the best drives showcasing the golden foliage is from the top of Carson Pass on Highway 88 to the top of Luther Pass on Highway 89. The area populated with acres of aspen and pine is ideal for fishing, hiking, and bicycling.



In the fall, Napa’s vineyard-draped hills are a feast for the senses. Clusters of ripened grapes stand out against the leaves as they turn crimson and gold. Take a drive along the winding vineyard roads to savor the fall colors and the fine wines.



Finally, another great destination for enjoying autumn’s wine country color show is Paso Robles, where visitors can explore back roads winding through the region’s 32,000 acres of vineyards. The cooler fall weather turns the grape vine leaves from gold to scarlet to flaming orange and is truly a site to behold whether you are a wine aficionado or not.



So there you have it, a brief introduction to enjoying the fall foliage in California. Something to savor and look forward to as those of us living in the Southern part of the state battle yet another heat wave!


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