I've been to New England on a few occasions, and I just returned from western New York. Both are locations I would love to visit during the fall. And the cooler temperatures come much earlier to those regions of the country than they do here in Kentucky. So they get the beauty of fall foliage much earlier, too.

KENTUCKY'S BEAUTIFUL FALL FOLIAGE

While that kind of vacation is a goal, I have never been disappointed in autumn in the Bluegrass. We just have to wait.

And I know that the color variety hinges on how much or how little rain we get at specific times of the year. Heat is also a factor; if late September is much hotter than it should be, that VARIETY might not vary as much as we'd like. But again, I'm still very seldom disappointed.

KENTUCKY FALL FOLIAGE IS AMONG THE BEST IN THE NATION

In fact, weather notwithstanding, Kentucky landed on a relatively recent list of the best states to visit to enjoy the fall colors.

So where would you begin? Well, I'd say close to home. And by that I mean, Land Between the Lakes. We're fortunate, in this part of the Commonwealth, to live so close to one of the most beautiful lake areas in the country, and by all accounts, autumn is a home run. Who knows? Maybe you'll get to hike with bison (just don't get too close).

LAND BETWEEN THE LAKES

As an indirect descendant of Daniel Boone--he's a great, great, great, great, great, etc. uncle, or something--I really should get my fanny over to Daniel Boone National Forest. And I really should do it in the fall.

DANIEL BOONE NATIONAL FOREST

This extraordinary drone footage courtesy of the Lexington Herald Leader shows us an unbeatable locale near Morehead, Kentucky and it is simply amazing. And Morehead isn't a tough drive; it's right on Interstate 64. (Note to self.)

So, if I'm going--and I really shouldn't say "if"--I'd want to go sometime after October 18th. The University of Kentucky knows its foliage and suggests that date as the one to begin thinking about a fall color getaway. And if you go closer to the 18th, you'll need to start in eastern Kentucky, as the changes begin there and spread westward.

THE SCIENCE OF FALL FOLIAGE

Now here's a bonus. I had no idea when I started researching this topic that I was going to get a scientific explanation as to exactly WHY leaves change colors, but I did get one, and it's fascinating. Science class is officially in session. Here's what UK tells us:

During the spring and summer months, chlorophyll, the green pigment in leaves, photosynthesizes sunlight and carbon dioxide into sugars that trees need to survive and thrive. This process takes place in numerous cells throughout the leaf and is what gives leaves their green color. 

When daylight starts to fade and a chill enters the air during early fall, it is a sign for trees to stop their food making process. Chlorophyll breaks down and the green color diminishes in the plant, revealing the colors which make autumn notable.

I have NEVER heard this explanation before. And no, it's not because I fell asleep in biology class; we just didn't get to it.

GET THEE TO APPALACHIA FOR BREATHTAKING KENTUCKY FALL COLORS

Now, let's get back to some suggestions. Appalachia, Appalachia, Appalachia...and specifically the magnificent state parks in that region.

OR MAYBE JUST GET THEE TO BERNHEIM FOREST

And then, of course, there's unbeatable Bernheim Forest just outside of Louisville. It's a treat year-round but ups its game naturally thanks to the best season of the year.

Listen, Kentucky is gorgeous and so is fall. They make for an unbeatable combination and a road trip you will never forget.

LOOK: Stunning vintage photos capture the beauty of America's national parks

Today these parks are located throughout the country in 25 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The land encompassing them was either purchased or donated, though much of it had been inhabited by native people for thousands of years before the founding of the United States. These areas are protected and revered as educational resources about the natural world, and as spaces for exploration.

Keep scrolling for 50 vintage photos that show the beauty of America's national parks.

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Stacker lists the must-do activities at every national park ranked by the annual number of visitors. 

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To determine the most popular national parks in the United States, Stacker compiled data from the National Park Service on the number of recreational visits each site had in 2020. Keep reading to discover the 50 most popular national parks in the United States, in reverse order from #50 to #1. And be sure to check with individuals parks before you visit to find out about ongoing, pandemic-related safety precautions at www.nps.gov/coronavirus.

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