Fall rolls in with waves of gold, crimson and copper foliage throughout the Show-Me State. Some of the best spots to admire the colors are from above – atop bluffs, at scenic overlooks and along ridgetop roadways – where the views are truly unmatched.
Glade Top Trail, Taney County – Missouri's only National Forest Scenic Byway is one of the most spectacular trails in the state. Seven overlooks along the 23-mile gravel road provide sweeping views of rolling hills up to 40 miles away. Many different native plant species, each with their own colorful hue, make up the highly diverse glade ecosystem.
Ha Ha Tonka State Park, Camdenton – You won't find many castles in Missouri, but the ruins of one can be found on a bluff overlooking the Lake of the Ozarks. Explore the stone skeleton of a once-grand early 20th century mansion surrounded by forests awash with fall color. Fifteen miles of trails travel through forests and glades and lead to a sparkling blue spring, sinkholes and a natural bridge.
Lovers Leap, Hannibal – Reported to be the site of the tragic end of star-crossed Native American lovers, this five-acre park offers a panoramic view of the Mississippi River. When autumn sets in, the view from the top of the bluff is a kaleidoscope of color.
Roaring River State Park, Cassville – The shades of fall fill the stunning valley framed with vibrant vegetation. Trout fishing enthusiasts know the area as one of three state parks stocked with rainbow trout. Spend the day fishing, hiking and exploring the nature center. Stay the night at the park's campground or the Emory Melton Inn and Conference Center.
Taum Sauk Mountain State Park, Ironton – Travel to the top of Taum Sauk Mountain – Missouri's highest point at an elevation of 1,722 feet – for a picturesque perspective of the surrounding countryside bathed in fall hues. After taking time to soak in the scene, head to Mina Sauk Falls, the highest wet-weather waterfall in the state, for more gorgeous sights. Bring a tent and stay at the campground to extend your autumn adventure.
Weston Bend State Park, Weston – Fall adds another layer of beauty to the park's sweeping views of the Missouri River. A boardwalk leads to a scenic overlook, accessible for people with disabilities. Trails include a 3-mile paved path that takes hikers and cyclists through the woody terrain. The park also offers secluded picnic areas and a campground.
Castlewood State Park, Ballwin – Extending across the Meramec River Valley, the park is great place to experience autumn's rich hues. Hiking, fishing and mountain biking are popular activities.