This time of year, it seems as if Mother Nature has brought out her paint box filled with lush shades of red, orange, yellow and gold and transformed the trees into an impressive canvas of fall colors. If you can get away from the office for a few days, head to one of these parts of the country known for its amazing foliage. The following suggestions are just a sampling of the most scenic and memorable autumn road trips you’ll find throughout the United States:
Hudson Valley, New York
If green rolling hills, quaint red barns and leaves in a plethora of fall colors sound ideal, then a road trip to Hudson Valley, New York, is in order. Use Route 82 and Route 44 in Salt Point, New York, as your beginning and end points and meander your way down the winding roads, admiring the incredible views.
When it comes to fall foliage, Colorado is chock full of road trip options. In the southwestern part of the state, start off in Ridgway and drive west on Colorado 62 over Dallas Divide. Along the way you will see amazing and wide-open views of the Sneffels Range, which has plenty of gorgeous aspens in rich fall colors. Once you get to Placerville, head toward Telluride on Colorado 145. Along the way to Lizard Head Pass you will see more aspens and breathtaking views of Wilson Peak.
Columbia River Gorge, Oregon
The 80-mile Columbia River Gorge features myriad of maples, Oregon ash, pines, firs, cottonwoods and more. Starting in Portland, head east on I-84 and enjoy the views of both the trees and the Columbia River. Along the way, you might wish to stop at Multnomah Falls, a 611-foot cascading waterfall. Once you park in the nearby lot, a five-minute walk puts you up close and personal with the spray from the waterfall, and there are a variety of hikes you can choose from as well.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina and Tennessee
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is home to more than 100 types of trees, including sweetgums, hickories, maples and scarlet oaks. These trees transform themselves into palettes of gold, red and even purple during the fall months. To access the park on the Gatlinburg, Tennessee, side, take exit 407 from I-40 to TN-66 South. Once you reach the Sevierville intersection, head onto US-441 South, and follow it through Sevierville and Pigeon Forge into the park. Once you are in the park, you can drive as much of the 800 miles of roads that have time for; just be sure to stop often to get lots of photos of the amazing colors.
Road Trip Tips
- Use a road trip planner such as TripIt. This online tool will generate your driving route, calculate your mileage and give you maps, directions, photos and more.
- If your car is older or you just don’t want to put the miles on it, consider renting a car through Enterprise or a similar rental agency. Keep in mind, however, that you don’t need to buy their rental car insurance—it’s usually cheaper to buy coverage beforehand through a service such as Protect Your Bubble.
- When you’re not leaf-peeping, pass the time with these classic road trip games.