Must See Places presents: The best fall road trips in the US!
Are you looking for spectacular, stunning, and simply the best fall road trips in the US? Well, you’ve come to the right place! Fall is our favorite season.
And without a doubt, our preferred fall activity is driving through our beautiful country in search of the best autumn foliage in our country. There are many options, and some of them are just incredible when the leaves are full of yellow, red, gold, and burgundy colors.
But picking the right route for you and your family can be tough. So we did the heavy lifting for you. With that in mind, here are 8 spectacular routes for the best fall road trips in the US.
Maine coastal trip
The coast of Maine is breathtakingly beautiful no matter which season you choose to visit. But autumn on the Maine coast is exceptional for a fall road trip in the US. It’s a wonderland of autumn foliage in fascinating colors.
Rich reds, mellow yellows, and warm oranges are as far as the eye can see. Your drive along Vermont Route 1, which will take you from Kennebunkport to Acadia National Park, is famous for being one of the country’s most picturesque fall road trips in the US.
This four-and-a-half-hour drive should ideally be completed in a few days, taking time to enjoy the scenic stops along the way. Only with a leisurely drive can you appreciate all the area offers. Golden yellow maple trees will surround you.
On the trip, the charming New England villages offer cozy bed and breakfasts, fantastic seafood, and various attractions.
If you do choose to visit in the fall, bookings in advance are strongly recommended because the region is popular with international tourists who come to see the changing colors.
Blue Ridge Mountains, Georgia
You might not have guessed this. But southern parts of the country have unforgettable colors, as well. A fall road trip in the US through Georgia’s Blue Ridge Mountains offers spectacular foliage without the cold weather you’d find in the northern part of our country.
Begin at The Russell Brasstown Scenic Byway in north Georgia. It’ll take you through the Blue Ridge Mountains along the Chattahoochee River.
Be sure to stop in at Helen, a charming mountain town that looks like a quaint Bavarian village, and at Brasstown Bald, which has the highest natural point in Georgia and the best foliage viewing vantage point.
Clayton, an old mountain town with galleries, antique shops, and eateries, is also worth a visit. Take a leisurely hike in the nearby Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest, or stop at a few wineries and vineyards in Georgia Wine Country.
Then, drive east to the Tallulah Gorge State Park, where you’ll explore 1,000 feet carved over millions of years by the Tallulah River.
Skyline Drive, Virginia
Driving the Skyline Drive in the state of Virginia is the most incredible way to see the fall foliage in Shenandoah National Park. When autumn arrives, this National Park is colorful, with vibrant leaves of many various trees.
The 105-mile-long Skyline Drive crosses the ridge of the Blue Ridge Mountains and has picture-perfect views over the mountains bursting with colors. The road has over 70 lookouts, which are perfect for taking in the landscape and photo opportunities.
Besides foliage viewing, the region is bustling with many fall festivals. We recommend starting your fall road trip in the US at the northernmost Front Royal entry to Skyline Drive. To get the most out of this trip, you should time your visit around the peak season.
The park rangers at Shenandoah are helpful and will guide you toward the prime spots to see fall colors at the time of your visit.
New England’s historic trails, Massachusetts
No matter which fall road trips in the US you take, we recommend you include this stop on your journey. Walk the Freedom Trail, which is a two-and-a-half-mile, red-lined route that will lead you to 16 historically noteworthy sites.
When it’s time to hit the road, you’ll head west through the state’s Berkshires, taking in plenty of beautiful fall colors along your way. Make a detour to stop in the living museum that is Old Sturbridge Village or Northampton.
And if you’re looking for more revolutionary-period history, keep driving through Connecticut, leaving New England as you transit through New York to Philadelphia, and stop by the Museum of the American Revolution.
Southern Pacific Coast, California
You might think a drive up the California coast belongs on a summer road trip list. But it’s just as beautiful in the fall. And the best part is that the weather is better on a fall road trip in the US.
Begin your trip outside Los Angeles with a leisurely oceanside hike in Point Mugu State Park. Then hop in your vehicle and head through the coast on Highway 101 until you arrive in Santa Barbara.
Spend a night or two there and stroll down State Street to check out the restaurants and shops. We’re sure you’ll want to make a few stops along the way.
But no matter what you choose, be sure to make a pit stop in nearby Solvang, modeled after an old Danish town with wineries, a windmill, and stunning scenery. If you have the time, continue northwest for beautiful ocean views at Jalama Beach County Park.
Northern Pacific Coast, Oregon
The Oregon coast has sensational coastal scenery bordered by dense forests. Begin your fall road trip in the US in Astoria, and head south. Along your way, you can hike at Ecola State Park or Lewis And Clark National Historical Park.
Stay a couple of nights in Cannon Beach to see Haystack Rock and stroll among the large beach boulders that are distinctive of the Pacific Northwest. When you meet the locals, they’ll tell you that a stop at the Tillamook Creamery for sweet frozen treats is a MUST.
You can also travel down the coast and end your trip on a high note with a visit to the redwood forests near the town of Brookings.
The Great Lakes, Michigan
Take a detour on the country’s northern edge by driving along the famous Great Lakes. You can begin your fall road trip in the US at the southern edge of Lake Huron and geta glimpse of the tall ship schooners or go on a shopping trip in the downtown antiques market in Bay City.
Afterward, head north along the lake to take a hike in one of the state parks close to Alpena. Then, drive a couple of hours up the shore to Mackinaw City, where you can jump on the ferry to Mackinac Island.
But don’t let the no-car rule deter you! With a horse and buggy or bike, you can easily explore this 3.8-square-mile National Historic Landmark.
San Juan Skyway, Colorado
We’ve saved the best for last! The San Juan Skyway is a 236-mile loop that spans the Colorado cities of Durango, Dolores, Mancos, Stoner, Rico, Telluride, Ouray, Ridgway, and Silverton.
The highway travels through tall mountain passes and charming historic towns, passing by 5 million acres of the San Juan and Uncompahgre national forests.
If you decide to choose this option for your fall road trip in the US adventure, you’ll be treated to fantastic views of waterfalls, mountain ranges, wildflowers, and, in the fall, the unique color display put on by the aspen trees lining the road.
While on your trip, the adventures are endless, including the following:
- Cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde National Park
- Historical towns of Telluride and Silverton
- Take a scenic train ride from Durango to Silverton
- There are many beautiful hiking trails along the route
That being said, don’t forget to pack a camera to snap many pics along your fall road trip in the US. Don’t have one? Our friends at Amazon can help you out!
Be sure to leave us a comment to let us know if you’ve ever been on any of these routes! And if you liked this post, Must See Places has many more besides fall road trips in the US we think you’ll enjoy, including: 7 Incredible US UNESCO World Heritage Sites to See in Your Lifetime