When fall finally overtakes summer, Zion National Park in Utah celebrates by bursting with triumphant golds that rustle in the cottonwoods and shimmer on the waters of the Virgin River. The park's blushing sandstone sets off the show, its striated canyon walls looming. "Foliage peaks in late October," says park spokesperson Ron Terry. "Along the river it can be spectacular." Hike to Emerald Pools, where bigtooth maples glow a vivid red. Elsewhere, watch for male wild turkeys blocking traffic as they flaunt their feathers. (435) 772-3256, nps.gov/zion.
In mid-October, aspens in Hope Valley, Calif., quake gold against dark evergreens. You'll find this pristine spot on the Carson River 20 miles south of Lake Tahoe on Highway 88. hopevalleyca.com.
Silver City's aspens should be aglow in time for its open house, September 13 and 14. Tour the Idaho town's historic buildings or go leaf peeping on horseback. historicsilvercityidaho.com.
Autumn hits in September along the soaring Beartooth Scenic Byway (Highway 212). From Red Lodge, Mont., head south and watch golden aspens light up the mountainscapes. byways.org.
Photography by Ron Niebrugge
This article was first published in September 2008. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.