As summer draws to a close and cool evenings begin to signal that fall is on its way, there might be a lot of folks who aren’t quite ready for summer to end. But it’s not all bad news! Fall in Wyoming means sweater weather,
pumpkin patches, an abundance of wildlife, and best of all, leaf-peeping your way across the state. Every year like clockwork, Wyoming’s bucolic countryside transforms into a soothing palette of golds and oranges, while our state’s mountains come alive with pops of color from aspens, larches, and a variety of richly-hued flora. In preparation for the changing of the seasons, we’ve rounded just a few of the best places to see fall colors in Wyoming.
While every corner of the state has its own dreamy foliage displays to offer, we have a few tips for you as you plan your autumn travels. Use this
interactive foliage map to help you plan when and where to see leaves change colors in Wyoming, and note some of our specific stops below.
1. Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park, United States
Yellowstone National Park
may not boast the dense, legendary foliage of New England, America's first national park is nevertheless prime for fall adventuring. This geologic wonderland boasts incredibly diverse colors that enchant visitors from every angle: from the aspens and pines intermingling along hillsides to the sweeping golds of the valleys and geysers to the brushstroke colors of red-leafed shrubs. Mammoth Hot Springs, Lamar Valley, Blacktail Plateau Drive, and
near the falls and in the Lewis River Canyon are prime spots to ogle the autumn sights.
Most of Yellowstone’s 1000-plus miles of trails are still accessible in the fall, although fluctuating temperatures (and even snow!) mean that preparation is key. Bechler Meadows Trail to Dunanda Falls offers a little taste of everything. To enjoy the colors of the season without leaving the comfort and warmth of your car, the 68-mile
Beartooth Scenic Highway
just outside of Yellowstone winds through the Shoshone National Forest and offers remarkable pops of color as well.
2. Grand Teton National Park
Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming, USA
Naturally, both of Wyoming's national parks deserve a mention on this list! While Yellowstone in the fall boasts the soft, soothing colors of the countryside that the Cowboy State is known for, GTNP boasts some truly breathtaking sights of its own. And with 310,000 acres of park to explore, the opportunities are endless! Picturesque mountainscapes create a brilliant backdrop to the changing foliage, while the abundance of fantastic lakes, rivers, and plains all collide in a vibrant palette of fall hues. The mirrorlike reflections that can be found around the park are particularly appealing - they boast double the color!
Autumn park highlights include Oxbow Bend, Jackson Lake, Leigh Lake,
, the Grand Teton Scenic Loop, Buffalo Valley Road, Mormon Row, Paintbrush Canyon, and the
National Elk Refuge
- just to start! Although once you start exploring, you'll find far too many places to pull over and ogle.
3. Aspen Alley
Encampment, WY 82325, USA
Aspen Alley, located near
, is going through a transition phase of its own as the older trees reach their end of their life and new trees grow up to take their place. But don't let that stop you from visiting! This unique tunnel of trees is aptly named, delightfully photogenic, and makes for a wonderfully peaceful stroll beneath a brilliant canopy of gold overhead. You'll find this lovely slice of autumn heaven tucked away in the Sierra Madres of south-central Wyoming - which means the leaves change color here in late September, and peak foliage is early in the season.
4. Flaming Gorge/Green River
Flaming Gorge Avenue, Flaming Gorge Ave, Cheyenne, WY 82001, USA
Sprawling over 207,000 acres, Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area is a treasure trove for avid outdoorsmen. Year-round, the gorge is aptly named due to the fiery hues of the canyon walls. But come fall, the landscapes surrounding the gorge come alive with color as well, lighting up with warm golds and brushed orange. In the canyon proper, it's a spectacular sight made all the more dramatic by the crimson formations in the background!
Most often known for its small town charm and
abundance of winter activities
, Pinedale's scenic setting at the foot of the Wind River Range means endless opportunities to enjoy Wyoming's fall colors. In the distance, the iconic
towers nearly 4,000 feet above a sea of fiery golds and oranges, while a multitude of spectacular trails (both hiking and ATV) wind through Bridger-Teton National Forest to offer glorious pops of color amidst the evergreens. But don't feel like you have to get out and hike to experience the colors; Pinedale's charming downtown and the brilliant shores of Freeman Lake are pretty picture-perfect on their own.
6. Vedauwoo Recreation Area
Vedauwoo Climbing Area, Buford, WY 82052, USA
This fantastic geologically carved sculpture park is a one of a kind natural wonder. And, thanks to the abundance of aspens and red-leaf foliage growing alongside the towering rock formations,
is also a treasure trove of fall color as well! The closer to sunset you can get here, the better as the lighting illuminates the clouds, rocks, and warm-hued foliage to perfection. Nearby Laramie boasts its own foliage as well. When do leaves change color in Flaming Gorge, Wyoming? You'll likely find peak here to be mid-October.
7. Black Hills
Black Hills Wyoming, WY-387, Midwest, WY 82643, USA
The Black Hills are a dreamy place to experience fall in Wyoming. While many locals instinctively picture the
when talking about the Black Hills (which is certainly an absolute must-visit in autumn!), there are plenty more places to discover hidden within this stark, geologically unique landscape.
Sundance White Ranch Hiking Park
, and even the Belle Fourche River are all incredibly rewarding for foliage-hunters. And since the hikes in this area are often relatively easy, Wyoming's Northeast corner is an idyllic place to enjoy the season without taking on a grueling hike. For a taste of the rich red hues that are more challenging to find in Wyoming,
Dugout Gulch Botanical Trail
is an especially rewarding family-friendly hike near Beulah that offers a little taste of East Coast foliage. When do leaves change color in Black Hills, Wyoming? You can likely nab these views in mid to late September.
8. Tongue River Canyon
Tongue River Canyon Access, Parkman, WY 82838, USA
Tongue River Canyon
is a fantastic hike on the outskirts of the Bighorn Mountains. In fact, the Tongue River itself has its headwaters in the Bighorns, and if you remember from your school days, water equals brilliant foliage! The canyon is absolutely magnificent, boasting sheer rock walls (a well-loved draw for local climbers), secret caves, alpine meadows, and breathtaking views of the water rushing thousands of feet below the trail.
Every turn of the trail reveals new canyon vistas, and within those wondrous sights, brilliant pops of color peeking out from the rock walls, rolling across the valley floor, lining the water, and creating a sea of gold on every hillside. The geology of the canyon intermixes with the autumn mist and vibrant hues to perfection, creating picture-perfect scenes that are hard to beat.
9. Sinks Canyon State Park
Sinks Canyon State Park, 3079 Sinks Canyon Rd, Lander, WY 82520, USA
Sinks Canyon State Park
is a geologic marvel. This rugged canyon at the base of the southern Wind River Mountains, the legendary "Sinks" is where the Popo Agie river vanishes underground near the mouth of the canyon after flowing across the Lander Valley. This region is incredibly diverse ecologically - moving from sagebrush and juniper flatlands up into vibrant, rolling foothills, dense forests, all the way up to stunning alpine landscapes. This unique diversity offers unrivaled opportunities to dive into Wyoming's fall colors - and the varying plant species ensure a rich depth of fiery hues every year that are longer lasting than in other parts of the state.
10. Cloud Peak Skyway Scenic Byway
Cloud Peak Skyway Scenic Byway, Buffalo, WY 82834, USA
The 47-mile stretch of
Cloud Peak Skyway Scenic Byway
(U.S. 16) borders the Bighorn National Forest and stretches from Ten Sleep to Buffalo. You'll find the high point at the 9,666-foot Powder River Pass, where the vibrant fall views are absolutely spectacular (well, any season, actually). Snowfall at this elevation can be unpredictable, and can certainly impact the timing of foliage, but the sight of powder and autumn hues intermingling is nothing short of breathtaking. to the west, leaf-peepers will find some touchy hairpin turns winding between the spectacular limestone walls of Ten Sleep Canyon, but will also find pops of autumn colors dotting the canyon walls. It's magnificent, to say the least!
11. Chief Joseph Scenic Byway
Chief Joseph Scenic Byway, Cody, WY 82414, USA
Wyoming has its fair share of iconic drives around the state, from the Cloud Peak Scenic Byway to the Devil's Tower Scenic Byway and everything in between. The Chief Joseph Scenic Byway runs 45 miles across Western Montana, linking Cody with the Beartooth Highway and the Northeast Gate of Yellowstone National Park. Along the way, you'll cross the
Sunlight Creek Bridge
, the tallest bridge in the state. But it's the views from up here that will bowl you over! Around every curve: an ocean of fall colors, and jaw-dropping views to boot. Some of the most vibrant in the state, in fact! Right around Camp Creek you'll find one of the only red aspen groves in Wyoming, and they are magnificent, to say the least.
Now that you have a starting point to exploring our state’s best foliage, the question remains: when do the leaves actually change color in Wyoming? Truth be told, fall in Wyoming can be a little tough to predict! With so many varying altitudes, numerous mountain ranges, and a surprising amount of regional diversity, autumn is a long, beautiful journey of color from start to finish. One thing is for sure, though: there’s no wrong place to be, and a million right ones!
In Wyoming, fall typically arrives from west to east, with higher altitudes seeing colors turning and disappearing much more quickly than valley floors. To help you plan your fall adventures, grab this Wyoming
fall foliage map for 2023, courtesy of Smoky Mountains National Park.
Of course, you’re definitely going need more than one day to check out Wyoming’s best fall colors, so
make a full weekend of it! In fact, why not book a luxury cabin in the mountains so you can experience all the beauty up close?
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