Top 10 Best Fall Foliage Road Trips in the US
The United States is filled with scenic drives that attract tourists from all over the world. During the fall these scenic routes are transformed into an oasis of autumn beauty. The leaves change from green to vibrant hues of reds, and oranges providing a spectacular view of nature.
From the Pacific Northwest to New England, there are tons of epic road trip destinations to be discovered. I’ve rounded up my top picks for fall road trips from around the country, so you know exactly where to go for the most astonishing natural beauty and fall foliage. Get your cameras ready!
Here are the top 10 best fall foliage road trips in the US:
Skyline Drive, Virginia
Skyline Drive, located in the iconic Shenandoah Valley in Virginia is one of our favorite road trip destinations from the Washington, DC area. Skyline Drive spans 105 miles along the Blue Ridge Mountains. It is the only road that runs through Shenandoah National Park. There are more than 70 overlooks that allow visitors to stop and admire the breathtaking beauty of the Shenandoah Valley. But you don’t even need to leave your car to bask in the glow of stunning fall foliage.
Skyline Drive takes its visitors through the entirety of the national park, with sweeping mountain views and lush forests all around that boast vibrant shades of red, orange, and yellow during the fall season.
Plymouth County Scenic Drive, Massachusetts
Stretching nearly 49 miles of coastline and protected forests, the Plymouth County Scenic Drive is one of the most beautiful drives in New England. There is an array of historical sites and charming small towns to check out along the way.
From Plymouth Rock to the quaint coastal town of New Bedford, there is much to be admired. While coastal areas are not typically known for fall foliage, this one is an exception to the rule. Fall foliage is abundant throughout the drive, making for a stunning contrast to the peaceful views of Atlantic Ocean inlets and bays.
San Juan Skyway, Colorado
Nicknamed “The Million Dollar Highway,” the San Juan Skyway has received national recognition as one of the most scenic drives in the country. Between the mesmerizing fall foliage and the snow-capped mountains that tower above, this is one of the most incredible road trip destinations for fall foliage in the US. The drive covers 236 miles across southwest Colorado, with stops in historic mountain towns like Telluride and Durango.
During your journey, park the car and board the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad to get up close and personal with breathtaking fall foliage.
Mountain Cloves Scenic Byway, New York
Just a few hours north of New York City, the Mountain Cloves Scenic Byway is the deal road trip for adventurers and nature lovers alike. The 41-mile route goes through the picturesque Catskill Mountains. This beloved scenic byway offers access to an abundance of natural beauty, historic landmarks, and recreational activities.
You’ll be surrounded by some of New York’s finest fall foliage as you drive past panoramic views of towering mountains, rushing waterfalls, and lush valleys. If you’re looking for some of the most incredible fall foliage in the northeast US, the Mountain Cloves Scenic Byway is a can’t-miss destination.
Green Mountain Byway, Vermont
Traveling through charming towns like Waterbury and Stowe, the 11-mile Green Mountain Byway features extraordinary views of rolling meadows, lush forests, and sweeping mountain views. During the fall season, the byway is transformed into a nature lover’s paradise with spectacular fall foliage from every angle.
While in the area, there are plenty of things to see and do. If you’re traveling with kids, a trip to the home base for Ben & Jerry’s is a must. Cold Hollow Cider Mill in Waterbury is another great pit stop for a fall-inspired snack of cider and donuts.
Kancamagus Scenic Byway, New Hampshire
Lovingly referred to by locals as the “Kanc,” Kancamagus Scenic Byway runs nearly 35 miles through the beautiful New Hampshire backcountry. The artery runs through the White Mountain National Forest.
At its highest point, visitors rise to an elevation of 3,000 feet, boasting brilliant views of the area’s fall foliage. Come fall, people come from all over New England to witness the stunning fall foliage found throughout the iconic drive.
Rangeley Lakes Scenic Byway, Maine
Winding along the spellbinding Appalachian Mountains is Rangeley Lakes Scenic Byway. This is known as one of the best drives in Maine at any time of year. As a result, leaf peepers from around the country flock to this 52-mile circuit during the fall.
The drive takes its visitors through lush forests, valleys, fields. From vibrant wildflowers to trees in explosive shades of red, orange, and yellow, Rangeley Lakes Scenic Byway is a stunning example of natural beauty and fall foliage.
Sylamore Scenic Byway, Arkansas
When you think of the best US road trips for fall foliage, Arkansas may not be the first (or second) state that comes to mind. However, the Ozarks during the fall is not to be missed. The Sylamore Scenic Byway stretches across 26.5 miles of picturesque landscape that guarantees to take your breath away.
The meandering byway features incredible views of mountain vistas, limestone cliffs, and white oak-hickory forests. All of this, decked out in the warm shades of fall.
Newfound Gap Road, Tennessee
This 33-mile route has been welcoming visitors since 1872. As a result, making Newfound Gap Road one of the oldest drives in Tennessee’s Smoky Mountains. The roads wind through the heart of the Smoky Mountains offering spectacular views all the way to the top.
Moreover, during the fall season, the trees that line the road transform into stunning depictions of what fall foliage should be. Newfound Gap Road is the most popular drive in the Smokies in any season. But when the fall foliage is in its prime, it should not be missed.
Read on for some of the most beautiful spots to see fall foliage in the Smokies.
Historic Columbia River Highway, Oregon
As America’s first designated scenic highway, the Historic Columbia River Highway is chock-full of incredible scenery and stunning fall foliage. The highway spans more than 70 miles and runs along the famous Columbia River Gorge. The tightly packed deciduous trees line both sides of the road. As a result, visitors are treated with a show of the areas mesmerizing hues of red, orange, and yellow.
Moreover, the area is rich with hiking trails. Some lead to some of the nation’s most impressive waterfalls, like the 620-foot Multnomah Falls. For awe-inspiring views of rolling hills, wildflower fields, basalt cliffs, and vibrant fall foliage, the Historic Columbia River Highway is a must-see road trip destination.
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