8 Fall Road Trip Drives in the U.S. and Canada
Autumn’s changing leaves and cooler temperatures call nature lovers from all over. Reds, golds and browns provide gorgeous photo opportunities and inspire road-trippers to pack up the car for an adventure. Additionally, the fall season marks the perfect opportunity to appreciate natural beauty and explore areas you may have not yet seen. For a little inspiration, here are some fall road trip destinations in the U.S. and Canada.
Fall Road Trip Ideas: 8 Scenic Destinations for Vibrant Colors
Blue Ridge Parkway, NC and VA
Touted as “America’s Favorite Drive,” Blue Ridge Parkway measures nearly 600 miles, ranging in slopes measuring 650 feet at James River in Virginia to more than 6,000 feet at Mt. Pisgah in North Carolina. Fall color varies depending on location, but many sites peak in mid to late October. Asheville, North Carolina, is a great place to start, as it’s home to vibrant fall colors and outdoor attractions.
Enjoy color explosions and amazing views of the Ozark Mountains in Branson, home to three driving tours. Reaching peak colors in late October and early November, travelers find quick drives to half-day options. For a quick tour, check out downtown Branson, Forsyth and Rockaway Beach. Or take the 90-minute Table Rock Lake, Kimberling City route. To spend a full day exploring, see Bull Shoals Lake, Peel Ferry and Mark Twain National Forest, with an estimated drive time of four hours.
British Columbia, Canada
Drive or fly into British Columbia and enjoy a scenic drive of less than two hours from Vancouver to Whistler, a resort town north of the city. The area features brilliant fall colors and mountains in the background, with hiking and driving options. Another popular drive in B.C., is Alexander Falls in Callaghan Valley, which guests enjoy year round. This easy drive leads to a 141-foot waterfall, and keep the camera ready for bear sightings.
Great Smoky Mountains, TN
One of the most popular spots for a fall road trip is Smoky Mountain National Park in Tennessee. The park offers 384 miles of roads with a speed limit of 30 mph. Clingman’s Dome Road takes visitors to Clingman’s Dome, the highest peak along the Appalachian Trail. The 18-mile Little River Road connects Gatlinburg to Townsend, and many drivers heading to Cades Cove use this route. The Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail is a paved 6-mile loop (one way only) that offers wildlife viewing, and visitors can hike to Rainbow Falls.
Historic Byways, CO
Colorado has 25 scenic byways that range from canyons and prairies to the Rocky Mountain peaks. Trail Ridge Road journeys into Rocky Mountain National Park, where nature-lovers explore America’s highest paved through-road. Drive the Top of the Rockies to cross the Continental Divide three times, and see Colorado’s tallest peaks, Mount Elbert and Mount Massive. The state’s oldest scenic byway, established in 1918, is Peak to Peak, which offers views of valleys and the Continental Divide.
Merrimack Valley, NH
One of the northeast’s most loved states for fall drives, New Hampshire features colors that start as early as August and change well into October. In the northern area of the state, see peak season from late September into early October. Meanwhile in southern regions, peak viewing occurs early to mid October. Merrimack Valley, in southern New Hampshire, features five scenic drives and five byways. The General John Stark, named for the Revolutionary War hero, measures 34 miles and connects Goffstown, Dunbarton, Weare, and New Boston.
Sonoma County, CA
Packed full of vineyards – which are great fall trip ideas as well as scenic sites – Sonoma County is home to the two-lane Bohemian Highway. This short drive ranks as one of the most scenic and pastoral drives in California. Travelers enjoy views of redwoods, ravines and pastures. Additionally, the corridor is protected from marine fog and inlet heat, providing nearly perfect climate. Along the highway, find stops and attractions in Monte Rio, Occidental and Freestone.
Traverse City, MI
Known for outdoor recreation and attractions, Traverse City shines even more in the fall. One of many popular scenic drives is Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Good Morning America viewers even named this spot the “Most Beautiful Place in America.” Set against Lake Michigan – with views of bluffs and islands – Sleeping Bear guarantees colorful sites. Don’t miss coastline views on the Leelanau and Old Mission peninsulas.
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