Catherine Hiles
No Comments

7 Best Road Trips for Fall Foliage

Decrease Font Size Increase Font Size Text Size Print This Page
fall drives autumn
Fall drives
Photo: Arek Socha via Pixabay

Fall is upon us, which means bright orange and red leaves, crisper air, and the perfect time to start thinking about a road trip. No matter where you live in the country, you’ll find the perfect road trip to see breathtaking fall foliage. Check out these seven fantastic fall road trips around the U.S.

Need a New Road Trip Ride? Here’s your guide to deciding between an SUV or a truck

1. The Catskills | New York

panoramic view of the Catskills region of New York in the fall
View of the Catskills in the fall
Photo: Diana Robinson via CC

Fall colors in the Catskills are typically at their peak around mid October. The scenery is truly stunning in the fall, with leaves turning bright shades of yellow, orange, and red. As you meander down country roads, you’ll come across charming B&Bs tucked away all throughout the area. You can enjoy the outdoors by hiking among the trees or ziplining through the forest. The Catskills is the perfect place to visit in New York if you want to see fall at its most beautiful.

2. Columbia River Gorge | Oregon

Columbia River Gorge, Oregon, in the fall
Columbia River Gorge in the fall
Photo: Jay Huang via CC

This 80-mile gorge cut into the Cascade Mountains creates a stunning border between Oregon and Washington. Fall foliage is at its peak in this area in late-September/early-October, so plan your trip during that timeframe to guarantee the best fall road trip. Whether you want to just drive and enjoy the sights, hike the trails, or kayak down the river, there are endless ways that you can experience fall in this beautiful region.

3. Great Smoky Mountains | North Carolina & Tennessee

Great Smoky Mountains in the fall
Great Smoky Mountains in the fall
Photo: Mike Burton via CC

With more than 100 species of trees native to the area, you could spend a lifetime exploring this beautiful area. Gatlinburg, Tennessee, is the perfect little town to stay in to get the full effect of fall in the Smokies. Fall colors are at their brightest in the area in mid-October, though leaves can start to change color as early as mid-September. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most-visited national park in the country, and for good reason. From motor trails where you can explore the park from your car to strenuous hikes on the Appalachian Trail, the park is accessible for everyone.

4. Bar Harbor | Maine

Acadia National Park, near Bar Harbor, Maine, in the fall
Acadia National Park in the fall
Photo: Jim Dollar via CC

An already stunning area, Bar Harbor reaches an entirely new level when its autumn colors creep in. Visit Acadia National Park to truly take in all of the fall foliage — you can even go whale watching while you’re there! Fall season in Maine starts in late September and extends through the first few weeks of October, so plan your visit then if you want to experience the full splendor of autumn in Bar Harbor.

5. The Enchanted Circle | New Mexico

View from the Enchanted Circle , Taos, New Mexico, in the fall
Enchanted Circle in the fall
Photo: Shafi via CC

This 83-mile scenic byway begins and ends in Taos, New Mexico. If you thought the Northeastern U.S. was the best place to see fall foliage, prepare to have your beliefs shaken. Aspens and cottonwoods show off bright orange and red colors in their own unique way. Colors may last only a week or two, so it’s important to be flexible about your route so you can make the most of the area’s autumn splendor.

6. Blue Ridge Parkway | North Carolina

Blue Ridge Parkway in the fall
Blue Ridge Parkway in the fall
Photo: Valerie via CC

Asheville, North Carolina, is stunning in the fall, and it’s an awesome place to stay to easily navigate the Blue Ridge Parkway. The Parkway is 469 miles long and links Shenandoah National Park in Virginia to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina. The mountains are awash with fall colors starting in mid- to late-October, so plan your trip accordingly. Along the way, you can stop off at plenty of hiking areas to really experience the beauty of the Appalachian fall.

7. Jackson | Wyoming

Jackson, Wyoming, in the fall, with the Grand Teton mountain range in the background
Jackson, Wyoming, in the fall
Photo: Tim Lumley via CC

If you want the chance to see fall colors alongside snow-capped mountain peaks, take a trip to Jackson, Wyoming. Fall tends to be a quieter season in this popular resort, which is primarily known for its skiing. If you stay in Jackson, you’ll be close to two gorgeous national parks: Grand Teton and Yellowstone. Since temperatures are cooler in the fall, it’s the perfect time to get out and explore these national parks without worrying about heatstroke or snow drifts. Seeing the breathtaking Teton mountain range surrounded by fall colors is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.