Virginia Fall Foliage: A MapQuest Guide

10/07/2011 05:03 pm ET | Updated Nov 29, 2011

Virginia fall foliage features brilliant hues and spectacular scenery. The changing colors of leaves in autumn is one of nature’s most beloved rites of passage -- and makes for one of the most popular and inexpensive getaways for families. As part of LeafQuest -- a MapQuest series helping leaf peepers across North America find easy and rewarding destinations -- here are three recommended spots for viewing Virginia fall foliage. — Nick Romano

Skyline Drive

Skyline Drive is Shenandoah National Park’s world-famous 105.5-mile scenic byway and, with more than 75 overlook locations -- offering breathtaking views of the Shenandoah Valley and the Blue Ridge Mountains -- is one of the nations' most popular fall-foliage destinations. The park's flora is enjoyed not just by leaf-peepers, but by a variety of animal species, including the American black bear, bobcat, the big brown bat and white-tailed deer, the latter often spotted amidst the autumn-resplendent chestnut, red oak and hickory trees.

Skyline Drive, Front Royal, VA 22630 | Get Directions

Great Falls National Park

The Potomac River and Gorge make Great Falls National Park a popular destination for nature lovers. Various tree and animal species flourish along the banks of the river, whose waters rush down a number of rock formations and waterfalls, forming “the steepest and most spectacular fall line rapids of any eastern river,” according to the National Park Service. In addition, the park is frequented by many hikers looking to experience the blazing fall colors, especially from the white oak trees.

9200 Old Dominion Drive, McLean, VA 22102 | Get Directions

George Washington's Mount Vernon Estate & Gardens

The historic home of George Washington -- perhaps you've heard of him? -- is cherished for its plantation, gardens, natural scenery and national significance. Visitors love exploring the grounds of Mount Vernon, overlooking the Potomac River, stopping at the botanical garden and Forest Trail. Oak, holly and laurel trees populate the estate -- not cherry trees -- and provide a patriotic fall-color tribute to our nation's founder.

3200 Mount Vernon Memorial Highway, Mount Vernon, VA 22309 | Get Directions

Fall colors in Northern Virginia.

Did we miss a Virginia fall-foliage spot? Tell us about it in the comments section

Want other great fall-foliage destinations? Check out more LeafQuest.

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