We welcomed autumn officially a couple weeks ago and I’m already starting to feel like it’s fully arrived because the evenings are cooler and pumpkin-spiced everything is everywhere. I’m also whipping out my closed-toe shoes and layerable shirts. Bring it on autumn!
I consider myself a Texan, so I didn’t typically witness a change of seasons growing up. I honestly don’t remember the leaves turning till I moved to New York. That’s when I began appreciating the autumn season. It’s the right temperature for a light coat and hours of hiking.
Even after moving out of New York, I’ve realized that Virginia had some beautiful autumn sights to see too. Based on my experiences and with the help of Fodor’s and Travel+Leisure, I’ve wrangled together the 10 best duty locations to witness fall foliage:
10 Best Duty Stations to Experience Fall Foliage
Fort Drum, New York. Despite having some of the harshest winter weather, Fort Drum is near some awesome sights to see the autumn leaves. It’s a couple hours away from the Finger Lakes region to the southwest and the Adirondacks to the east. I’ve been lucky enough to see the autumn leaves myself when my husband was stationed up there.
Fort Carson and Peterson AFB, Colorado. These two military installations are so close to the Pikes Peak area and that’s a beautiful location to see the autumn leaves. If you have a chance for a weekend getaway and feeling adventurous, your family can head to Aspen. That’s one of the best places to experience the fall foliage. Because you’ll be going through some mountain ranges, the drive would be a great experience in itself.
Washington, D.C. My husband and I heard about Shenandoah National Park early on into our tour in the D.C. Metro area. It’s only a couple hours west and it’s truly an amazing site once you get yourself on Skyline Drive no matter the season. Last year, we made an effort to travel there as the autumn leaves were turning. What a beautiful color mixture of orange, brown and green. Don’t forget your Annual Military Pass when you go to any National Park!
Malmstrom AFB, Montana. Glacier National Park is less than a 3-hour drive from this base in Montana and is truly for the courageous because most of the concessions in the area close up shop in September. It’s said that the wildlife and foliage is just too good to pass up if you’re in the area.
Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington. I haven’t been to the JBLM area in the fall, but I’ve heard such great things. If the sights were beautiful in the springtime (that’s when I visited the area), I can only image how it looks in this time of the year. The Olympic Peninsula is noted to have amazing views, especially while driving through.
Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. FLW doesn’t have the best reputation as a top pick duty station. It might be because it’s secluded, which actually makes it an ideal location for a family that loves camping and the outdoors. The post is less than 2 hours away from Lake of the Ozarks and that park boasts some of the best fall sites in the Midwest.
Luke AFB, Arizona. Sedona, Ariz., is a popular destination to hike and bike, especially through the red rocks and Luke AFB is only a couple hours away. Luckily, when my husband was stationed at Fort Huachuca, we drove up toward the Sedona area. That was a relatively long drive at about 4.5 hours, but we really wanted to ride the Verde Canyon Railroad to see the autumn leaves. I can’t forget to mention the Ales on Rails event that the Verde Canyon Railroad does this month too. We had a great time drinking craft beer and sightseeing in the Sedona area.
USCG Cape May, New Jersey and Dover AFB, Delaware. Cape May is a quaint town in New Jersey that houses a Coast Guard Sector. There is also a ferry from Dover, Delaware, that takes you directly to Cape May. Although this historic coastal town gets most of its tourist in the summer months, it’s also a great place to see the fall foliage while strolling the streets. If you’re stationed at Joint Base McGuire–Dix–Lakehurst, Cape May is only a couple hours away.