As summer bows gracefully to the crisp embrace of autumn, there’s a reason nature enthusiasts and leaf peepers across the globe turn their gaze toward the Beehive State. Utah is known for its breathtaking natural beauty which transforms into a tapestry of vibrant colors in autumn, setting the stage for unforgettable adventures and fall foliage experiences. 

There are endless ways to experience fall colors in Utah. Explore any of the 5 National Parks or take a scenic drive through the canyons to Utah’s ski and snowboard resorts. Surrounded by peaceful wilderness, here you can embark on crunchy fall foliage hikes and bike rides on backcountry trails, flyfish Utah’s blue-ribbon waters lined with golden aspens, or simply fall into the embrace of autumn with feasts, family fun, and stunning fall foliage views with Alta Chalets

Our guide to the best places to see fall foliage in Utah will have you cruising canyons, chasing waterfalls, exploring secret alpine lakes, raising a stein to Utah’s fall colors at Snowbird’s Oktoberfest, and snuggling up fireside with Alta Chalets.   

Alta Ski Area 

Nestled in the heart of Little Cottonwood Canyon, the Alta Ski Area is more than a destination for world-class ski slopes and the “greatest snow on Earth!”. When autumn arrives, it’s the breathtaking fall foliage that steals the spotlight. As the temperatures drop and the first whispers of winter approach, the dense forests of quaking aspens and oaks transform to fiery reds, vibrant oranges, and golden yellows making Alta Utah a standout choice for fall foliage enthusiasts. 

The Cecret Lake Trail is one of our favorite spots for fall foliage in Alta. This scenic 1.8-mile out-and-back trail begins in beautiful Albion Basin with interpretive signs leading to a pristine alpine lake at the base of Sugarloaf Peak and Devil’s Castle. Cecret Lake is no longer a “secret” – expect other leaf peepers along the way! Returning on the trail, or from Cecret Lake, it is a moderate-strenuous hike to the top of Sugarloaf Peak, gaining 1,300 feet in elevation. 

For Utah’s fall foliage at its finest – find a place to stay in the Alta Ski Area

Oktoberfest at Snowbird Ski & Summer Resort 

woman holding two mugs of beer in her hands for Oktoberfest

No autumn getaway is complete without a visit to the world-famous Oktoberfest at Snowbird Ski & Summer Resort. This annual event brings over 60,000 visitors to Snowbird Utah to soak in the spirit of Bavaria surrounded by a stunning backdrop of Wasatch peaks and autumn splendor. 

When you’re not indulging in delicious German fare, enjoying live Bavarian music, and sipping steins of German beer, Snowbird Resort offers resort activities, tram rides to the summit of Hidden Peak, and miles of hiking and biking trails for leaf-peepers to escape into nature. The Snowbird Oktoberfest is family-friendly and takes place every weekend and holiday from August 12, 2023 to October. 15, 2023. 

Keen to sip steins in Snowbird? Find a place to stay at Snowbird Resort with Alta Chalets!

Big Cottonwood Canyon 

Nestled in the heart of Utah’s Wasatch Mountains, Big Cottonwood Canyon is a paradise for leaf-peepers. This 15-mile scenic byway boasts dramatic alpine scenery with aspens and pines popping with color, roadside picnic spots, and historic trails to escape into nature. Highlights of the canyon drive include fall foliage hikes to Donut Falls, family-focused fall activities at Solitude Mountain and Brighton Resort, and the golden glow of Silver Lake in fall. 

Nestled at 8,760 feet at the head of Big Cottonwood Canyon, Silver Lake is surrounded by mountain summits and beautiful colors peaking early in fall. An easy trail winds around the lake with a wheelchair-accessible boardwalk, interpretive signs, picnic sites, fishing access points, and trailheads to explore deeper in the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest. 

Avid hikers can skip the scenic drive from Alta and discover the beauty of the Cottonwood Canyons along an 8-mile hike on the Alta-Brighton Lakes loop. Starting near the Alta Rustler Lodge, the loop trail meanders through some of the most picturesque scenery in the Wasatch Mountains including Albion Basin and Utah’s pristine alpine attractions – Lake Mary, Lake Martha, and Lake Catherine. 

Guardsmans Pass to Park City 

Fall colors at Guardsmans Pass in Utah

For another unforgettable journey through Utah’s autumn wonders, take a scenic drive on Guardsmans Pass scenic byway (please note this is a seasonal road) to Park City and the Heber Valley. Starting in Big Cottonwood Canyon, this spectacularly scenic backcountry mountain pass boasts a sea of vibrant aspens and oaks as it climbs to Guardsmans Pass summit at 9,700 feet. The fall foliage views from the overlook are striking – brilliant shades of orange and gold aspens and rich red oaks stretching over the Salt Lake Valley. 

When to Expect Fall Foliage in Utah 

Timing is everything to experience peak fall foliage in Utah. The ideal window for fall foliage in the Beehive State is late September through early October. By the official start of Fall season on September 22, the higher elevations of Utah’s ski country are already bursting into a kaleidoscope of colors. Visitors can expect bold and beautiful bigtooth maples, quaking aspens glowing gold, and red oaks, known for their brilliant fall colors. 

Check out this American Forests Estimated Fall Foliage Map to find peak areas around Utah!

Leaf Peep from your Alta Snowbird Vacation Rental 

While exploring these fantastic fall foliage destinations is a must, our Alta Snowbird vacation rentals offer a front row seat to the changing seasons and fall foliage in Utah. Imagine waking up to the sight of leaves ablaze with color outside your bedroom, enjoying a cozy evening by the fireplace after a day of Wasatch mountain adventures, or watching the Full Harvest Moon aglow from your private hot tub. 

Alta Chalets provides the perfect starting point for an autumn getaway filled with brilliant leaf peeping opportunities. Whether you’re hiking and biking the colorful canyons, savoring the flavors of Oktoberfest, or snuggled up in a luxury Alta Chalet rental, the Fall season in Alta is unforgettable!