If you’re looking forward to cooler weather, fall colors and everything pumpkin-spice as much as we are, you might be trying to figure out the best way to embrace the fall season. One of our favorite ways is through scenic fall road trips! And since road trips are easy ways to stay social-distanced, it’s a great option for 2020 travel. Whether you’re on the East Coast or the West, or somewhere in between, there’s plenty of great options for places to soak in the fall colors. Here’s 7 of our favorite fall road trips.
1. New England
For some of the best fall foliage in the country, New England is a no-brainer. New England is the region including Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island. There’s a nearly-endless amount of exploring available in this region in the autumn months. Start in Boston and work your way west to the Berkshires in Massachusetts, north to the small towns of Vermont or the famous White Mountains in New Hampshire, or south to Connecticut’s quieter roads. Acadia National Park in Maine also offers some stunning scenery in the fall. If you don’t have much time, head straight to the Kancamagus Highway in New Hampshire, one of the most famous and gorgeous fall road trips in the region (or the country). It offers stunning foliage and plenty of hiking opportunities, but is doable even if you just have a long weekend.
2. Catskills Mountains, New York
The Catskills Mountains in New York offer incredible foliage and mountain views in the fall months. Even better, the region is just a 2.5 hour drive from New York City. Head north for cozy cafes, amazing hiking, farm-to-table restaurants and craft breweries (if you’re 21+) and scenic drives galore. If you’re up for a hike, Sam’s Point and Overlook Mountain offer stunning views (and the perfect scenic lookouts for a few Instagram pics).
3. Blue Ridge Parkway
The Blue Ridge Parkway is perfect for a scenic road trip just about any time of year. However, it’s particularly gorgeous in the fall. The nearly 500 miles of mountain roads and fall colors, with plenty of small towns to stop and stay in along the way, offers the perfect fall road trip. The parkway runs from Shenandoah National Park’s Skyline Drive in Virginia to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina. (These are also both great places for an autumn road trip.)
Although the West Coast may be known more for it’s coastal regions than it’s fall colors, Oregon has plenty of fall foliage to give you all the cozy vibes. The Columbia River Gorge Scenic Area and Silver Falls State Park have some amazing fall colors. Plus, there’s plenty of waterfalls to see, too! You can easily head out for a day-hike to soak in the views before grabbing a PSL and cozying up at home. If you want a great weekend trip, connect the two areas—there’s plenty to see along the way! If you want to get out of the car and enjoy a day hike to see the colors, the Trail of Ten Falls and Multnomah Falls are two of the best.
5. Enchanted Circle Scenic Byway, New Mexico
With a name like the Enchanted Circle Scenic Byway, you know there’s going to be beautiful views! This short, 84-mile loop starts and ends in Taos, New Mexico (worth exploring in it’s own right), just about 2 hours from Albuquerque and about 1.5 hours from Santa Fe. It’s the perfect spot for a getaway if you just have a weekend. With stunning mountain views and tree-filled valleys, it’s a great loop to see some of the best fall colors in the area. The small towns of Questa and Red River along the way are great places to stop and grab a bite to eat during your drive, too!
6. Utah’s National Parks
For plenty of oranges and reds even without many leaves, head to Utah’s National Parks such as Zion, Bryce Canyon or the Arches National Park. You’ll find amazing fall colors in the sandstone, arches, and giant rock formations. Since all of these parks are pretty close together, linking all of them up in a longer road trip is perfect for a fall vacation. Even better—the dark fall nights and unpolluted skies of Utah make for excellent stargazing as well!
7. Illinois River Road National Scenic Byway
Looking for a Midwest getaway? The heart of the Midwest is no stranger to fall colors. A road trip along the Illinois River Road is a great way to soak up some scenic fall views. With the expansive river on one side and tree-lined cliffs on the other, you’ll have views for days. Take a break at one of the dozens of parks and forests along the way, where you can get some up-close views of the colors, stop at one of many farmer’s markets and local restaurants, go apple picking or plan an afternoon of kayaking or canoeing.
Ready to plan your fall road trips? Grab a cheap rental car and get ready to hit the road!