Places to Look at Fall Foliage

Top 5 Places To Watch Fall Foliage

Published on October 24, 2022


A boat on a trailer and some flexibility is your ticket to fall foliage cruising at its best.   


Autumn boating doesn’t get any better than knowing when and where to see fall foliage from the water. Being in the right place at the right time to watch the leaves turn color takes a bit of planning and flexibility. Fortunately, there resources like that has a link to every state’s best leaf watching and travel websites to help dial in the perfect time to go throughout the country. If you have a Sea Ray boat on a trailer, you have what it takes to watch nature’s greatest show.

1. Fontana Lake 

Located between the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Appalachian Trail near Bryson City, N.C., Fontana Lake has 240 miles of scenic shoreline and numerous coves over its 29-mile length. The surrounding elevation changes make for majestic leaf viewing and there are numerous boat ramps and waterside accommodations for easy water access. It’s a deep lake so even when the water gets drawn down in the fall, there’s still plenty of water for boating. Peak leaf season is usually October/November.

2. Lake Chatuge

Near Hiawassee in north Georgia, Lake Chatuge is off the beaten track but still has enough amenities and resources to make this a great getaway. It has 129 miles of largely undeveloped shoreline, which makes it ideal for photography. Unlike many lakes in the southeast that are subject to low water levels, it only varies about 9 feet on average throughout the year, and it's far enough south to allow boating year-round. The best leaf viewing season is October/November. 

3. Wisconsin Dells

Located on the Wisconsin River, this town in the upper Dells is known for its dramatic rock bluffs. During summer, Wisconsin Dells hums with tourists but after the kids go back to school it’s less frantic. Take a side trip to Devil’s Lake near Baraboo, which is among Wisconsin’s prettiest. The best month to watch the leaves change here is in October. 

4. Squam Lake

Although it doesn’t get as much publicity as its larger neighbor, Lake Winnipesaukee, just to the south in New Hampshire, Squam Lake is a great place to watch the fall foliage. Numerous islands dot this gem that was the setting for “On Golden Pond” starring the Fondas. The best leaf-watching time here is in September/October.

5. Table Rock Lake

This 43,000-acre lake set in the Ozarks near Branson, Missouri, Table Rock Lake is surrounded by large swaths of wilderness on its 750-mile shoreline. Numerous coves are great places to anchor and enjoy the view. In fall, the hordes of tourists are gone and there are plenty of waterfront lodging options at lower rates. The best time for leaf watching is in October. 


Pro Photo Tips

Taking good photos to document your trip is a must and most cell phones can do a great job by using a few pro techniques:

Use a polarizing lens. It makes the sky a brilliant dark blue and helps cut down on unwanted glare.

Go before peak leaf season to get more color contrast. A few bright red trees amidst a sea of green really pops.

Look for colors reflected in the water. When there is a little ripple on the surface, the impressionist painter-effect is stunning.

Go early and stay late. Sunrise can be spectacular with the mist coming off the water. Stay until just after sunset to add a colorful sky to the mix. 

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