LEXINGTON, Ky. (FOX 56) – The seasons are changing in Kentucky. With fall comes the weather cooling and the trees taking on their shades of yellow, orange, and red.

The Smokey Mountains 2023 Fall Foliage Prediction map shows Kentucky should see its peak in autumn colors on Oct. 30, but the colors will be enjoyable as early as Oct. 3.

Be sure to check the weather forecast and map as you plan your seasonal activities.

“Another important part of leaf-peeping is knowing the right time to go!” according to the Almanac. “For the best experience, not only should leaves be near their peak colors, but the weather should be agreeable, too.”

FOX 56 News has collected 15 ways to enjoy Kentucky’s fall colors.

Explore and hike Kentucky parks

1. Daniel Boone National Forest

Named after Appalachian folk hero Daniel Boone, the forest covers large portions of eastern Kentucky and offers wilderness views, hiking, and picnicking, making it perfect for a day trip or a weekend visit.

The forest swallows major portions of eastern Kentucky—a total of 21 Kentucky counties from north of Morehead to south of Whitley City.

Kentucky Tourism’s Insider Guide to the Daniel Boone National Forest said, “Considering the sheer size of the forest, you’d be hard-pressed to have the same experience each time you go. Every visit is a new adventure, no matter your outdoor recreation preference.”

Images of Kentucky in the fall:

2. Cumberland Falls State Park

Aerial view of Cumberland Falls. (Kentucky Tourism)

Cumberland Falls State Park is a park nestled in the London district of the Daniel Boone National Forest with waterfall viewing and hiking opportunities. Cumberland Falls State Park is one of the few places to see a moonbow in North America.

“Cumberland Falls is one of the few places in the world that regularly produces a moonbow. The “moonbow,” also called a white rainbow or lunar rainbow, is formed just like a rainbow—light is refracted in tiny water droplets—and appears for two or so days, as long as the sky is clear, on either end of the full moon,” reads the Kentucky Parks website.


3. Red River Gorge, Natural Bridge State Park

Red River Gorge is home to beech, sugar maples, white pines, hemlock, oaks, and hickory trees that paint the Daniel Boone National Forest year-round, and the naturally formed lookout points like Chimney Top Rock and Natural Bridge will provide great views of the fall foliage.

Drive the Bluegrass

Cumberland Gap National Historical (Kentucky Tourism)

4. Zilpo Scenic Byways

The Zilpo National Forest Scenic Byway is an 11-mile road that allows for easy viewing of the hardwood forests of the Cumberland District in the Daniel Boone National Forest.

The Forest Service website says the road takes about 20 minutes to drive.


5. Wilderness Road Heritage Highway

Starting in the Cumberland Gap National Historic Park in Middlesboro, the historic route travels north to Berea. The route passes through Renfro Valley, Kentucky’s capital for country music and the home of the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame.

Visit Lexington

Lexington is home to many quiet and beautiful locations for viewing fall foliage on foot or in a car.

6. Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill

Shaker Village in Lexington, Kentucky. (Kentucky Tourism)

Shaker Village is a landmark destination with over 3,000 acres to explore the spirit of the Kentucky Shakers. The village was home to the third-largest Shaker community between 1805 and 1910 and offers multiple ways to explore the ingenuity and beauty of the historic village.

7. Lexington Cemetary

A cemetery might not be the obvious choice, but the cemetery has been nationally recognized for its beauty, and the smooth walking areas are great for everybody.


Train rides

8. Rail Explorers

(Rail Explorers)

In July, Versailles joined the Rail Explorers family. The experience is similar to an alpine coaster and takes riders on a 10-mile tour along the railroad through thoroughbred farms, limestone cliffs, the Kentucky River, distilleries, and Young’s historic High Bridge.

9. Big South Fork Scenic Railway

Located in Stearns, the Big South Fork Scenic Railway offers just the ride on its own, or you can make it a date and add lunch to your ticket as well. The railroad is a piece of history.

“The Kentucky & Tennessee Railway once stretched over 25 miles into the Big South Fork River valley and operated 12 steam locomotives. It served as the primary passage not only for timber and coal but also for workers and supplies going to camps along its line,” reads the Big South Fork Scenic Railway website.

Tickets for the railway can be bought here.

10. Bluegrass Scenic Railroad and Museum

The Bluegrass Scenic Railroad and Museum is another option for enjoying the fall colors. Located in Versailles, the train offers a few themed rail tours depending on the time of the year, including a pumpkin patch train and a Thanksgiving train.

Visit Kentucky’s capital

Kentucky State Capitol building viewed from the Frankfort Cemetery in Frankfort, Kentucky. (Getty Images)

11. Frankfort, the Kentucky Capitol Building

Why not get a look at Kentucky’s Capitol Building while hunting for seasonal views? Frankfort is home to multiple fall festivals that happen during Kentucky’s peak fall foliage season.

A full calendar, including Murder Mystery Weekend and Halloween at the Grand, can be seen here.

12. Buffalo Trace Distillery

Buffalo Trace Distillery driveway in the fall in Frankfort, Kentucky. (Kentucky Tourism)

Visit the breathtaking views of Kentucky’s lakes

13. Lake Cumberland State Resort Park

Woodsend Bend Resort is surrounded by Lake Cumberland near Somerset, Kentucky. (Getty)

The Lake Cumberland State Resort Park offers hiking with views of Lake Cumberland, as well as a fish hatchery, an education center, and a restaurant.

14. Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area

People camping at the Land Between The Lakes recreation area campground. (Kentucky Tourism)

Located in western Kentucky, Land Between the Lakes offers around 170,000 acres of land, and 500 miles of trails for hiking, biking, and riding.

The area offers an elk and bison prairie reserve. The grassland habitat was once common in Kentucky and gives the elk and bison a 700-acre enclosure to roam free in.

15. Kentucky Lake

The Kentucky Lake has the largest surface area east of the Mississippi River and offers tons of water activities in the warm months, but also plenty of shorelines to walk along and enjoy the views of during the autumn season.