Not only does the end of summer mark the beginning of many people’s favorite season, it also inspires travelers to hop on the road and cruise the crayon box of colorful foliage sprinkled throughout the country. Though the climate and tree variety of the northeast make it the top contender for most picture-worthy region during autumn, we’ve found a few other fall-tastic options you’ll want to stop for. Read on to find out where you’ll be driving this season.
Northeastern Pennsylvania is the region where the iconic TV show The Office is set. While that makes the area worth a visit for any fan of the sitcom, during the fall, visitors come for a different reason. On the outskirts of Scranton, you can find vibrant fall colors in charming and secluded woodland areas. Deciding to venture to the Poconos Mountains or Endless Mountains will literally elevate your viewpoint of this sensational scenery.
Catskills Mountains, New York
Hike through the Catskill Mountains, one of the most adored places for transformative fall colors in the country. Choose from shorter, family-friendly hikes so you can spend more time gawking at the rainbow assortment of trees, or take your time and get closer to nature on an extended campout. For those of us who prefer to admire nature on-the-go, scenic drives make this a great destination.
Bryce Canyon, Utah
Most people wouldn’t think of visiting Utah to see fall colors, but Bryce Canyon will leave leaf peepers speechless. The contrasting tones of desert-like browns and vibrant green leaves meet the deeper reds and yellows that change with the season. Compared with the northeastern states, Utah sees autumn come and go a bit quicker, taking these beautiful colors away sometimes as soon as early October. So, you’ll want to get to Bryce Canyon sooner rather than later.
Henniker, New Hampshire
Another stop well known for its glorious fall flora is Henniker, New Hampshire. The leaves might be falling off, but the trees seem as alive as they’ll ever be and complemented by bridges that add something special to this road trip. Stick close to New England College for the best bridges and scenic drives.
Twin Lakes, Colorado
You’ll want to get out of the car for this one. Twin Lakes in Colorado is always a spectacle, with its heavenly carved, mountainous backdrop, but it’s a dream during autumn. Take a hike, rent a small boat or go horseback riding between ombre-colored trees fading into their next colors. The landscape is ample enough (and fully stocked with recreational activities) that you can truly take your time, breathe in the cool air and relax in complete peace.
Since Vermont is mostly covered in forests, it shouldn’t shock you to know this is the place to find autumn colors at their finest. What will surprise you will be the actual sighting of the sunset-colored leaves, in amazing reds, oranges, and yellows, that cascade from tree to tree. The abundance of maple trees, since they have a wider variety of colored leaves compared with other trees, add a special element to the unique fall arrangement in places like Huntington.
Hiawatha National Forest, Michigan
Another place filled with maple trees (among others) is Hiawatha National Forest, located in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Autumn is a great time to drive through the lush scenery, miss the crowds and do some salmon fishing. Grab a nice spot by Red Jack Lake for one of the prettiest reflections of natural landscape you’ll ever see.
A good place to find yourself during fall months, Oregon reigns supreme in the northwest for perfect weather and hues of all kind. There’s a generous spread of fall foliage statewide, but we love Albany for the scenic drive, which feels more like a seasonal “best of” tour. Get ready for colors to pop out from every direction, and have your camera ready (the passenger-side rider, of course) to snap these unforgettable sights.
Bainbridge Island, Washington
Leave the car parked in Seattle and take a short ferry ride to Bainbridge Island, Washington. Along with impressive colors signaling the end of summer, you’ll also find attractions suited for road-trippers, including the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art. Conveniently close to downtown Seattle, the island offers travelers natural serenity while still providing access to city perks. If you visit, you’ll be much too consumed by the jaw-dropping colors of Bainbridge to think about what’s happening in Seattle.
Central Park, New York
We can’t make a list about fall wonderlands surrounded by urban jungles without mentioning Central Park in New York City. The massive public park gets a colorful makeover once summer is finished and turns into the setting of your favorite romantic movies (think When Harry Met Sally). There’s the Central Park Zoo, Victorian Gardens Amusement Park and horse-drawn carriages to accommodate a full family with a range of ages.
Indiana’s Historic Pathways
Resting in southern Indiana is another picturesque autumn experience that you won’t have to get out of the car for. Indiana’s Historic Pathways are rolling with hills of color-crowned trees. This drive is so stunning, it was designated as a National Scenic Byway, proof that the sights along the way are undeniably breathtaking.
Knock two things off your travel to-do list with a stop in Chicago, Illinois, this fall. First get a photo with the legendary, shiny landmark “The Bean,” then sample striking colors of the season in nearby parks. Illinois is a state brimming with autumnal hues, but Chicago is a destination where visitors can soak up that contagious metropolitan energy before hitting the road again.
Acadia National Park, Maine
Astounding Acadia National Park is always a treat, but have you seen it after summer has clocked out for the year? Maine is a popular state for leaf peepers who want a vision of color they won’t soon forget. Specifically, Acadia National Park delivers views with a punch, especially from Cadillac Mountain. Perfect hiking weather and the most vibrant tones of color last through early to mid-October, so try to make it here before Halloween!
Host to the Applebutter Fest (a free event, not including parking), Burton, Ohio, is a town with the cozy colors, climate and ciders that you’d expect to come with autumn. Outside of the festival (always held on the second weekend in October), peace and quiet are the main attractions here. Drive slowly to catch every possible view of foliage, and in case you’re sharing the road with a horse and carriage—a common occurrence in this part of Ohio.
Double Trouble State Park, New Jersey
Visit Double Trouble State Park for a unique palette of autumn colors. Nestled within the park, leaf peepers will find the expected fall tones they came for, along with the brilliant crimson-colored cranberry bogs that are harvested around this time of year. Pop into the historic cranberry-packing house, and add a history lesson to the takeaway from this seasonally suited stop.
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