After a long, hot summer, fall foliage is always a welcome sight. As the days grow shorter and the temperatures cool down, the leaves of deciduous trees begin to reveal vibrant shades of red, orange, and yellow. One of the best things about fall is the chance to enjoy the beauty of the changing leaves, and what better way to do so than on a scenic drive?
Whether you’re winding your way through backroads or taking in views from an overlook, fall is the perfect time to hit the open road. Below, we’ll explore some of the most scenic fall road trips you can take across America.
Scenic U.S. Drives with Stunning Fall Foliage
1. Pig Trail Scenic Byway (Arkansas)
The 19-mile Pig Trail Scenic Byway is great for seeing Arkansas’ fall foliage. The byway winds through the Boston and Ozark Mountains, offering stunning views of the changing leaves. Along the way, you’ll have many opportunities to stop and enjoy the scenery, whether it be on a hike or a few selfies at an overlook.
2. Everitt Memorial Highway (California)
California’s Everitt Memorial Highway is a perfect place to take in the fall colors. The highway winds through miles of forested land, offering views of red and orange leaves set against a backdrop of evergreen trees. Everitt Memorial Highway is also the main road that leads to the volcanic Mt. Shasta. Standing at over 14,000 feet, it is the tallest peak in the Cascade Range.
3. Guanella Pass (Colorado)
Guanella Pass is a scenic mountain pass located in central Colorado. The Guanella Pass is known for its fall foliage, which lights up the landscape with a beautiful display of color. The aspen trees turn bright gold, and the Rocky Mountains are dusted with snow. The best time to visit is in October when the leaves are at their peak color.
Planning a visit during warmer weather? Colorado is a fantastic destination for paddle boarding, so if you haven’t tried this popular sport, a trip to Colorado might be the best time for it!
4. Merritt Parkway (Connecticut)
As fall arrives in New England, nature puts on a beautiful show. Nowhere is this more apparent than on Merritt Parkway. The parkway, which runs from Greenwich to Stratford, is known for its winding roads and breathtaking views. Stretching for nearly 40 miles, the parkway takes you through some of Connecticut’s most beautiful scenery. The fall foliage along Merritt Parkway makes for the perfect fall road trip and is a must-see for anyone visiting the area.
5. Russell-Brasstown Scenic Byway (Georgia)
The Russell-Brasstown Scenic Byway is a 41-mile loop that winds through the Chattahoochee National Forest in Georgia. The byway offers stunning views of the fall foliage and an abundance of hiking, camping, and fishing opportunities. The byway also takes you past Brasstown Bald, the highest point in Georgia.
6. Illinois River Road (Illinois)
Fall is the perfect time to drive along the Illinois River Road National Scenic Byway. The fall foliage is simply beautiful, and the scenery changes daily as the leaves continue to turn. The byway winds its way through some of Illinois’ most picturesque countryside.
An easy drive from Chicago, the Illinois River Road spans nearly 150 miles from Ottawa, IL, to Havana, IL. You’ll see beautiful forests and charming small towns along your drive.
7. Ohio River Scenic Byway (Indiana)
The Ohio River Scenic Byway is a beautiful fall drive. The byway follows the Ohio River through southern Indiana, providing great views of the river and the fall foliage. On your drive, you’ll pass through several small towns, each with its own unique charm. You’ll also have the opportunity to stop at scenic overlooks to enjoy the views.
8. Upper Delaware Scenic Byway (New York)
The Upper Delaware Scenic Byway is a scenic byway in New York located in the Catskill and Pocono regions. Spanning 53 miles through New York, the byway runs along the banks of the upper Delaware River, offering gorgeous views of the river and the surrounding mountains. The byway offers spectacular views of fall foliage, opportunities to see wildlife, and small towns to explore.
9. Blue Ridge Parkway (North Carolina)
For over 80 years, the Blue Ridge Parkway has drawn visitors from all over the world. “America’s Favorite Drive.” The parkway runs 469 miles through Virginia and North Carolina, and the fall foliage can be seen along most of your drive. Every October, leaf peepers flock to the parkway to see the stunning display of color and gorgeous mountain views.
10. Mt. Hood Scenic Loop (Oregon)
The Mt. Hood Scenic Loop is a great way to see the fall foliage. The loop is a 40-mile drive that winds through the forests of Mt. Hood National Forest, providing amazing views of the vivid fall leaves. There are several stops where visitors can get out and explore, including hikes to waterfalls, lakes, and overlooks. In addition, the loop passes by several wineries and breweries, making it the perfect place to enjoy a fall day.
11. Route 6 (Pennsylvania)
The fall season is a beautiful time of year, and there is no better way to enjoy the changing leaves than driving down Route 6 in Pennsylvania. As one of the longest scenic highways in the country, Route 6 offers drivers a chance to see some of the best fall foliage in the Northeast.
A two-hour drive from Philadelphia, this route runs over 400 miles from Scranton to Erie, and passes through rural and urban areas. Along your drive there are numerous opportunities to stop and enjoy the views, whether by taking a hike in one of the many state parks or simply admiring the leaves from the comfort of your car.
12. Great Smoky Mountains Parkway (Tennessee)
The Great Smoky Mountains Parkway is one of the most scenic roads in the United States. It runs for 23.4 miles through the state of Tennessee, offering breathtaking views of the Great Smoky Mountains. The Parkway is especially popular in the fall when the leaves change color and provide a beautiful autumn backdrop for drives and hikes.
13. Stone Valley Scenic Byway (Vermont)
Vermont is well-known for its scenic sights, and the Stone Valley Scenic Byway is a perfect example of its natural beauty. The byway winds through picturesque mountains, offering an abundance of fall foliage and wildlife views. The byway also has swimming, boating, camping, hiking, biking, and picnicking stops for you to enjoy. With its incredible scenery and abundance of activities, the Stone Valley Scenic Byway is a must-drive for anyone visiting the area.
14. Skyline Drive (Virginia)
A National Scenic Byway, Virginia’s Skyline Drive is the perfect road trip to see fall foliage. The leaves are changing color and the views of the Blue Ridge Mountains are simply beautiful. No wonder this is considered one of the spots for the best backpacking on the East Coast. The scenic road runs 105 miles through Shenandoah National Park and will take you approximately 3 hours on a traffic-free day. There are also a few small towns you can stop and visit.
15. Cascade Loop Scenic Highway (Washington)
Nestled in the Cascade Mountains, the Cascade Loop Scenic Highway offers a breathtaking journey through some of Washington State’s most beautiful scenery. Stretching for 440 miles, the loop winds through three national forests and past numerous mountains, lakes, and waterfalls. Fall foliage is particularly attractive along the Cascade Loop, with the vibrant colors of the leaves providing a spectacular contrast to evergreen trees.
16. The Highland Scenic Highway (West Virginia)
The Highland Scenic Highway is a popular fall foliage scenic drive. The highway runs for nearly 43 miles through the Appalachian Mountains of West Virginia, offering great views of the changing leaves. Fall is the ideal time to visit, as the trees are at their peak color. In addition to fall foliage, the Highland Scenic Highway offers many other attractions. You can enjoy hiking, camping, and picnicking in the beautiful wilderness of West Virginia.
There are many scenic drives across the country, from New England to the Pacific Northwest. Fall is one of the best times to take a drive or road trip and enjoy the scenery. The leaves are changing color, and the air is crisp and fresh. So, grab your camera and be sure to hit the road this fall!
This article originally appeared on Hello Sensible.
About the Author
Alex Sumuel is the founder of the travel website Wander With Alex. She provides vacationers and travel enthusiasts with trip ideas, travel guides, news, and itineraries. Alex travels to experience, eat, explore and, on occasion, escape! Her mission is to help people travel a little easier. She also runs the Explore Coastal Virginia website, where she helps visitors find things to do!