Take a Fall Color Road Trip

Filed in American Culture by on October 17, 2014 0 Comments
By Dawn's Early Light

Photo by Curt Fleenor.

While summer may be a great time for a road trip, the transition from summer to autumn and the harvest season is another time to take a road trip to see the changing season’s color displays. When it comes to viewing autumn’s changing colors, many places across America offer opportunity for dramatic drives through spectacular scenery.

With a variety of national parks, national forests, and state parks, certain regions of the country are famous for their fall color displays of rich reds, oranges, and yellows. The peak of fall color in a particular area is typically sometime in October, depending on local weather, climate, and elevation factors. A simple drive through the countryside, a hike through a colorful forest, or a visit to a local fall harvest festival, can all be part of a fall color road trip.

Here are four broad regional suggestions for a fall color road trip:

  1. New England. Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Massachusetts comprise one of the regions people think of when considering a fall foliage road trip. A drive up Maine’s Atlantic coast will lead motorists through picturesque coastal towns and villages, with fall color displays along the way. Acadia National Park on the coast of northeast Maine is also a great destination. Vermont and New Hampshire contain scenic drives through small towns, rolling hills, and mountains, including the dramatic White Mountains of northern New Hampshire and the Green Mountains of Vermont. The Berkshires of western Massachusetts are another pastoral region of hills and mountains.
  2. New York. North of New York City, a drive up the Hudson River Valley will lead to the Catskills for a winding drive past colorful mountainsides, sparkling lakes, and quaint towns. Further north, north of Albany, are the Adirondacks, another mountainous area of New York. The Adirondacks comprise the largest natural wilderness region in the eastern United States and visitors can admire a dramatic display of autumnal colors in the six-million-acre Adirondack Park.
  3. Southern Highlands. The Blue Ridge Parkway, traversing over 400 miles of mountainous terrain from Shenandoah National Park in Virginia to Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina, is one of America’s great scenic drives. With overlooks and hiking trails along the drive, and passing near several towns and cities, the parkway includes helpful amenities while offering the opportunity for spectacular views of fall foliage in the southern Appalachian Mountains. The North Carolina portion of the Blue Ridge Parkway traverses some of the highest mountains in the eastern U.S. And adjacent Pisgah and Nantahala National Forests offer additional fall foliage sightseeing opportunities in western North Carolina.
  4. Colorado Rockies. In the fall, Aspen trees in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado turn a rich yellow color and literally shimmer in the breeze. The golden color of Aspen leaves is a stunning contrast to the deep evergreen forests and rocky peaks. A drive from Denver through different places and towns in the Colorado Rockies, including Rocky Mountain National Park, Maroon Bells in White River National Forest, and the town of Aspen, provides great views of the trees.