Though summer fun might be behind us, there’s a lot to look forward to this autumn: the famous latte with a certain spice that must not be named, apple cider donuts, leather boots and pea coats. And perhaps best of all: fall offers leaf peepers the perfect opportunity to get in the car and just drive.
Join us for a fall foliage road trip to see the sites on a quintessentially American adventure:
Green Mountain Byway, Vermont
It’s no secret Vermont offers stunning views of fall foliage, and scenic route 100 byway is perhaps the best way to view leaves of maple, birch, and beech trees as they slip into their winter slumber. Travel through the heart of the Green Mountain State on more than 200 miles of relatively quiet highways and pass through more than 20 towns, end to end. We gathered a few pointed recommendations can help you make the most of your trip:
When to go: Peak foliage is a little different each year (the first week in October is usually the absolute best time), but plan your trip now through October and you’re sure to see trees laden with fiery reds and electric yellows. As of mid-September this year, foliage colors were just beginning to peek through, so there’s still lots of time.
Begin: If you’re traveling from south of Vermont (and, unless you’re a Canadian sibling to the north, you are), begin in Stamford, Vermont, at the bottom of the state. If you take route 100 all the way through, you’ll end up at Lake Memphremagog near the Canadian border. Here’s a full map of route 100.
Bonus: The Country Store Calendar and Scavenger Hunt, to keep kids (and maybe even restless teenagers) entertained and excited about sight seeing. (Hint: you can only get the calendar at a handful of quaint Vermont country stores, details at the link).
If it’s foliage you’re after, don’t miss Vermont in peak season. Route 100 has been called the most scenic in all of New England.
Natchez Trace Parkway, Oxford, Mississippi
The Natchez Trace Parkway spans from Tennessee through Mississippi and ends in Alabama. We love combining the scenic drive for leaf viewing with the cultural and foodie destination of Oxford, MS. Doubling as a big literary attraction, Oxford Mississippi and the surrounding area features breathtaking fall colors all the way through December (for the leaf-peeping procrastinators among us):
When to go: Late October through early December offers the best leaf-peeping opportunities.
Travel: Starting from Oxford, MS, drive south toward the Natchez Trace Parkway for stunning fall foliage views. Finish your drive at the Natchez Trace Reservoir Overlook, about 3 hours south of Oxford.
Independence Pass, Aspen, Colorado
Located in the Rocky Mountains, Aspen is a popular destination for skiers and outdoorsy summertime vacationers, but the idyllic mountain town also boasts some seriously stunning foliage (and thinner crowds) in autumn. See the golden foliage of the trees by the same name while traveling the incredible Independence Pass (Highway 82), which conveniently leads from the Denver area to Aspen.
When to go: The end of September to the beginning of October are usually the best times. Check out this live video of the foliage for an up-to-the-minute view.
Begin: If you’re driving from the Denver area to Aspen, you’ll travel approximately 220 miles (which will take you about 3.5 hours, not including stops). If you’re looking for more scenic drives around Aspen once you’re there: don’t miss Maroon Creek Road, a short, winding drive through gorgeous autumn foliage.
Oak Creek Canyon, Sedona, Arizona
The southwestern U.S. has fall foliage colors of its own to showcase: Sedona, Arizona, often known for its stunning rock formations, also makes for excellent leaf-peeping. The 14-mile Oak Creek Canyon drive was named a top-5 scenic drive in the U.S. You’ll see why as you drive along forests of evergreen trees intermingled with the changing leaves of oaks and maples. The details:
When to go: Peak beauty usually happens late-September through mid-October.
Begin: If you leave from Flagstaff, you’ll drive down State Route 89A and follow a series of switchbacks to world-famous rocks and formations surrounded by brightly-colored autumn leaves.
Make a stop: The winding roads of Oak Creek Canyon mean the driver (and any exceptionally nervous passengers) won’t be able to really take in the beauty without stopping. Luckily, the Oak Creek Canyon Vista Overlook offers the perfect opportunity for a scenic stop.
We hope you enjoy the season with a scenic drive of your own. Did we miss any of your favorite fall foliage drives? Share with others in the comments!