Each fall, blue-haired tourists crowd onto tour buses and B&Bs fill up with road trippers as thousands of tourists flock to New England for the great autumn spectacle. The northeast USA is famous for its fall colors, and rightfully so. I had the great luck to visit Vermont last week during peak foliage and it is nothing short of incredible. However, I think there is a corner of America with fall colors that are just as spectacular, but it doesn’t get its due, in part because it is hidden away in interior Alaska. That place: Denali National Park.
New England’s fall foliage comes primarily from trees, with the crimson and tangerine maples leaves being some of the most colorful and vibrant. Walking in the forest or driving the narrow mountain roads is to be immersed in a tunnel of kaleidoscopic color. On the roads, rolling farmland with impossibly green fields are backed by gold, maroon and crimson trees.
In contrast, Denali’s most vibrant color comes from the blueberry bushes and ground cover on the open tundra that turns a fiery red and orange. At lower elevations, golden aspens grow among deep green spruce trees, creating beautiful contrast in color. There are no quaint farms in Alaska – just raw wilderness. Alaskan foliage is backed by towering peaks; Vermont foliage is interspersed among New England charm.
So which area has the better fall foliage? Let us take a look at some photos.
Vermont Fall Colors
Denali fall colors
The great news: you don’t have to choose just one. Peak color in Denali is the last week of August and the first week of September; peak Vermont colors are usually the last week of September and first two weeks of October. You can do both in the same year, then we can meet up and compare notes. Bring snacks.
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