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Pennsylvania’s Laurel Highlands Ranks As Top 10 Fall Foliage Destination

Mother Nature is ready to demonstrate why Pennsylvania’s Laurel Highlands ranks among the most beautiful destinations in the United States to view colorful foliage.

Experts are predicting an impressive display in the Laurel Highlands, which finished seventh in USA TODAY’s 10Best Readers’ Choice Awards for the Best Destination for Fall Foliage. The results of online voting were announced Friday, and the honor marks the third consecutive year that the Laurel Highlands has placed in the top 10 nationally.

“GO Laurel Highlands is extremely honored to once again be recognized as an extraordinary fall destination,” said Ann Nemanic, executive director of GO Laurel Highlands. “For this to happen three years in a row helps to solidify what we already know, and love – an unforgettable getaway awaits anyone traveling to our corner of Pennsylvania. Full fall days can be filled with festivals, visits to Frank Lloyd Wright homes, and historic walks on scenic and sacred ground. Toss in getting lost in a corn maze or finding the perfect pumpkin and you have the makings of a most memorable time in Pennsylvania’s beautiful Laurel Highlands.” 

While much of the Northeast is expected to experience below-average colors this fall, the Laurel Highlands should have another brilliant display, according to Paul Pastelok, a senior meteorologist with AccuWeather in State College.

“What’s going to happen in New England and Mid-Atlantic states, they’re going to see less bright red, vibrant color,” Pastelok said. “For us, I think we got enough rain in the summer season. Now we’re drying out a little bit. We should see those oranges and reds appear this year.”

Nathan Reigner, Pennsylvania’s director of outdoor recreation, said there’s more to great fall foliage than diversity of trees. The Laurel Highlands’ mountain ridges and plunging river valleys make for incredibly scenic views.

“Oftentimes, I associate high elevation with northern latitudes,” Reigner said, “but if you really want to get up into the thin air of Pennsylvania and see long, sweeping vistas, the Laurel Highlands is the place to go. When the leaves are changing, getting up high to those sweeping vistas is what you want to do.”

As home to thousands of acres of unspoiled state forests, parks, and gamelands, the Laurel Highlands is the ideal destination for an autumn getaway for visitors.

Paired with the natural beauty of the fall foliage, the Laurel Highlands’ charming small towns, covered bridges, and iconic attractions like Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater and the Flight 93 National Memorial are also must-sees on a leaf-peeping getaway. Autumn outdoor opportunities abound in the region, from hiking and biking to fishing and hunting.

Eager leaf peepers are always anxious to take their first fall hike or drive of the season and curious to know when the leaves will be at their brightest. While Mother Nature is not always predictable, it is expected that the Laurel Highlands will hit its peak in the second or third week of October.

You may want to consider planning your visit to coincide with one of these fun events:

About the Laurel Highlands

A magnificent mountainous region, the Laurel Highlands spans 3,000 square miles in southwestern Pennsylvania. Located east of Pittsburgh, the beautiful four-season destination offers some of the most spectacular natural scenery, outstanding outdoor recreation, historic sites and attractions, classic family activities, and world-class resorts. Notable destinations within the region include four architectural masterpieces by Frank Lloyd Wright – Fallingwater, Kentuck Knob, Mäntylä and Duncan House – Seven Springs Mountain Resort, Nemacolin, Flight 93 National Memorial, Idlewild and Soak Zone, whitewater rafting at Ohiopyle State Park, and more.

Located within 200 miles of the major metropolitan areas of Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Cleveland, and Washington D.C., the Laurel Highlands can be easily accessed from exits 67, 75, 91, and 110 of the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

September 28, 2022

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