Discover When Leaves Change Color in Utah (and 5 Beautiful Places to See Them)

Zion National Park - Hidden Canyon Trail
© VIKVAD/Shutterstock.com

Written by Kirstin Harrington

Published: September 18, 2023

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As the warm weather comes to an end and Utah experiences summer slowly turns to Autumn, the entire landscape changes. The lush green forests surrounded by mountains suddenly turn to orange, crimson, and golden shades.

There are several amazing places to see the fall foliage throughout Utah. We’ve narrowed down the top spots and have the ideal timing to get in the car for a fall adventure. Let’s take a look at where and when is the best time to see the vibrant colors the Beehive State has to offer. 

When Do Leaves Change Color in Utah?

Under Autumn Oaks A path beckons hikers to rest and enjoy the autumn colors at The Morton Arboretum, Lisle, Illinois.

Leaves typically change throughout September in Utah.

©Mark Baldwin/Shutterstock.com

There are numerous prime fall leaf dates since there are so many national parks, natural forests, and scenic byways spread out over various elevations. The most favorable time typically lasts from the middle of September through early October. 

Autumn color splendor first appears in the highlands before moving down to lower elevations. Depending on the weather, each year’s best time to see fall foliage may be different. Carefully check the most recent prediction for the excursion of your choice and make plans appropriately. 

Before making travel arrangements, it is wise to do a bit of research into the peak seasons of the many parks and forests that are situated at various altitudes. 

The Best Places to See Leaves Change in Utah

1. The Alpine Loop

Autum tree colors in the Mount Timpanogos wilderness along the Wasatch Mountains in American Fork Canyon, Utah county.

It’s $6 to explore the American Fork Canyon on foot.

©Abbie Warnock-Matthews/Shutterstock.com

Without pauses, the 20-mile Alpine Loop route requires 45 minutes to travel. It starts on SR-92 in the American Fork Canyon, travels into Provo Canyon, and ends on US-189. The best area to see the autumnal hues of northern Utah and the picturesque views of Mount Timpanogos is along this loop path. 

It’s not uncommon for people and pets to experience motion sickness because the route is narrow and curvy in certain places. For a stunning fall-colored selfie or family picture for holiday cards, think about going for a quick hike into the lush forest. 

If you’re not into hiking, you can park at one of the turn-offs and snap a picture! If you do decide to stop somewhere along the way, be aware that in order to use the amenities, you’ll need to buy a recreation pass.

2. Indian Creek Canyon and The Needles District of Canyonlands National Park

Canyonlands National Park

Canyonlands National Park will make you feel like you’re on another planet.

©canadastock/Shutterstock.com

Are you traveling near Monticello, UT? If so, consider stopping at the Needles District. This is within Canyonlands National Park. The Indian Creek Scenic Byway makes a great leaf-peeping destination! 

This area draws in tourists due to the juxtaposition of the fall foliage against the dry desert. The sandstone cliffs tower over the landscape, leaving visitors in awe. We highly suggest stopping by Newspaper Rock while you’re here. 

There you will see a series of the world’s oldest petroglyphs that are over 2,000 years old! Canyonlands National Park’s Needles District is isolated and barren, but it never fails to inspire visitors.

You won’t find any modern conveniences here, and the only choices for lodging are a few simple campsites, but you’ll probably have the place to yourself when you visit because it lacks amenities. 

Island in the Sky, a region in Canyonlands National Park close to Moab, receives the most visitors during leaf-peeping season.

3. Timpanogos Cave National Monument

The trail to the Timpanogos Cave and beautiful fence.  National Monument, Utah

The Timpanogos Cave National Monument sees roughly 100,000 visitors a year.

©IrinaK/Shutterstock.com

Locals love to visit Timpanogos Cave National Monument in the fall. Although you might not think of a cave excursion as being associated with fall foliage, getting to this tour takes a hike, and the cooler temperature renders the mile-and-a-half climb there much more tolerable.

The 1,000-foot ascent is challenging in the summer because of the constant 100-degree warmth. But in the autumn season, the weather is much more bearable, and there are ample breathtaking vistas and scenic vantage spots to take in along the journey.

The round-trip hike including a professional tour of the cave takes around three hours. 

4. Zion National Park

zion national park

Zion covers nearly 230 square miles of Utah.

©Asif Islam/Shutterstock.com

The first national park in Utah is a popular tourist destination all year round. But during the entire fall season, visitors have the opportunity to see the vibrant trees and their gorgeous autumn shades.

The majority of the fall season is filled with activities and beautiful scenery at Zion National Park in southern Utah. Mid-September is when you may expect to observe colors at higher places, but the end of September and early October is when things truly become intense.  

If you are unable to visit the forest by then, fall foliage can still be seen as late as the latter half of October at lower levels of Zion. Because this is a national park, expect to pay $30 per vehicle to get in. Consider buying an America the Beautiful Pass that gives entry to over 2,000 national parks for $79 per year.

5. Mount Nebo Scenic Byway

Sunset at Mount Nebo

Seeing the sunrise paint over the colorful trees is a must when visiting Mount Nebo.

©Nngowen / Creative Commons – Original / License

Are you in search of an excursion that offers scenery and entertainment along the way? The Mount Nebo Scenic Byway ascends 9,000 feet while passing through the Uinta National Forest. Magnificent mountain ranges, Mount Nebo, and an abundance of fall colors can all be seen. 

There are many viewpoints along the way where you may stop and take pictures. Another great thing about this local is that it is rich in local wildlife. The route, which is roughly 40 miles long and takes just under an hour to complete, intersects with walking and equestrian trails if you wish to continue your excursions outside of a car. 

Summary of The Best Places to See Leaves Change in Utah

Leaf-Peeping LocationClosest Town
Alpine LoopSundance
Indian Creek Canyon and The Needles District of Canyonlands National Park

Moab
Timpanogos Cave National MonumentHighland
Zion National ParkLa Verkin
Mount Nebo Scenic BywayNephi


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About the Author

Kirstin is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering animals, news topics, fun places, and helpful tips. Kirstin has been writing on a variety of topics for over five years. She has her real estate license, along with an associates degree in another field. A resident of Minnesota, Kirstin treats her two cats (Spook and Finlay) like the children they are. She never misses an opportunity to explore a thrift store with a coffee in hand, especially if it’s a cold autumn day!

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