When life becomes uncertain, history tells us human instinct is to retreat to nature. And that is indeed what Americans are planning to do more of with their four-legged sidekicks. What better time to spend some precious moments with Mother Nature than now - the beginning of autumn. Fall's spectacular colors will soon transform woods and forests around the United States, delighting leaf peepers and their pups.
The question is where to go and when to go. What are the best places to find gorgeous fall foliage and are also welcoming to dogs? Further, how do you figure out when to see the fall foliage at the peak of their transformation?
We recently polled pet parents across the United States about their favorite pup-friendly destinations when it comes to the best leaf peeping. Take a look at our respondents’ top five favorites.
Amazing Autumn in Asheville, North Carolina
Can you hear it? The Biltmore is calling. Spectacular is an understatement when it comes to describing autumn in Asheville - particularly when you and your pup are visiting the Biltmore Estate.
This French Renaissance castle in the heart of Asheville and the Blue Ridge Mountains is an architectural jewel. It’s set on an 8,000-acre estate which is home to forested trails and grand gardens. Pups are welcome to explore the picturesque trails with you while you take in the kaleidoscope of fall’s colorful foliage.
Asheville boasts a multitude of dog-friendly hiking trails, as well as an eclectic downtown area that’s chock-full of cafes, shops and breweries that welcome four-legged patrons.
Fall colors begin at the highest elevations in early October, and work their way down to the lower elevations in early November.
Crunchy, Colorful Leaves in Aspen, Colorado
You can be sure that a trip with your pup to Aspen promises a robust, colorful display of breathtaking foliage. Whether you prefer a scenic drive or boots-on-the-ground leaf peeping experience, Aspen will not disappoint.
Pet parents can enjoy a wide variety of dog-friendly hiking trails in Aspen. From beginner to more advanced, you can be assured that a fall visit will guarantee the crunch of colorful fall leaves underfoot! Aspen offers an abundance of dog-friendly hiking trails. Cathedral Lake Trail is a go-to for leaf peepers. It will dazzle you with its amazing autumn views, including meadows, waterfalls and Alpine Lake.
Aspen is also home to many breweries that welcome dogs. A stand out is Aspen Brewing Company. Home to their furry mascot, Yukon, pet-friendly Aspen Brewing serves up specialty craft brews and a tasty food menu.
This fan favorite ensures breathtaking fall foliage between mid-September to mid-October. Keep in mind that the higher the elevation, the sooner the leaves change.
Peeping Pups in Portland, Maine
Known for its splendor, history, unique cityscape, and (of course) lobster, Portland is definitely a top spot for taking in all the fall beauty that New England has to offer.
Pets and their people can stroll the sidewalks of Portland’s waterfront while admiring the amazing, brightly-colored leaves. In addition to postcard-worthy views, you’ll find quaint shops, outdoor cafes and breweries that welcome both you and your furry leaf peeper.
You can even opt for an “ocean view” of the Portland area’s breathtaking fall designs.The Casco Bay Ferries welcome dogs to come aboard. You can do a bit of island hopping or opt to just cruise and leaf peep from afar.
The best time for peak color in southern and coastal Maine, which includes Portland, is mid- to late-October.
Fan Favorite “Go-to” Great Falls, Montana
Saddle up, partner, and head to Great Falls, MT for some spectacular fall foliage and a warm welcome to furry sightseers. This pup-friendly destination sits on the banks of the Missouri River - with five nearby mesmerizing waterfalls. Great Falls has a rich heritage, with considerable influence from the Lewis & Clark expedition.
The autumn leaves are a vibrant backdrop to this beautiful city, which sets up a magical leaf-peeping experience for you and your dog.
Plus, this dog-friendly city is a basecamp for art and adventure. Its genuine western charm and hospitality spills over to its four-legged guests. Boasting a wide variety of dog-friendly breweries, shops, and trails, Great Falls is the perfect destination for furry fall foliage fans (and their people).
The month of October is the best time to enjoy Great Falls' displays of colorful trees and leaves.
Fall Foliage Filled Franklin, Tennessee
If you’re looking to leaf peep and dive into a bit of history all at once, then Franklin, TN may just be the ticket. Located about 21 Miles from Nashville, Franklin offers human and four-legged leaf peepers the chance to stroll among the autumn trees along the 16-block walk in downtown Franklin, which is part of the National Register of Historic places. As you wander, you can pop into boutiques, eateries, breweries and outdoor music venues that welcome dogs.
How about a fall foliage filled scenic drive? The Natchez Trace Parkway is a fan favorite for leaf peepers – providing miles upon miles of spectacular autumn beauty. Another go-to scenic drive is through the Cherokee National Forest via the beautiful Cherohala Skyway.
Fall colors abound in Franklin from early October all the way into early November.
No matter where you and your pooch decide to leaf peep, just get out there and do it! It’s all about bonding and spending quality time with your pup. And of course, connecting with nature.
Pick your destination and start planning your leaf peeping trip with your pet.
Photo credit : istock/Irina Nedikova