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Best Fall Foliage Driving Tours in the USA

If you’re looking for some of the best fall road trips in the US, then look no further! From Maine to Vermont, you’re sure to love these scenic fall foliage routes.

Photo of fall foliage mountains with a view of two red barns.
The Berkshires. Photo © Reinout Van Wagtendonk/Dreamtime.com.

The Berkshires, Massachusetts

There’s nothing like New England fall. From Maine and Massachusetts to Vermont, you’re sure to find the best fall foliage drives here. One road trip worth doing is following the Hudson River Valley toward Great Barrington, Massachusetts. Leave the highway behind for the winding roads through the Berkshires. Stretch your legs on a hike up Monument Mountain, where you’ll see bright leaves rolling through a series of quiet valleys. When visiting during fall foliage season, it’s essential to book accommodations and rental cars well in advance, though impromptu campers can usually find somewhere to sleep without much notice.

Photo of the highway with fall foliage and a sign that reads "nature trail"
Natchez Trace Parkway. Photo © Anton Foltin/Dreamstime.com.

Natchez Trace Parkway, Tennessee & Mississippi

Fall is a popular time to drive the Natchez Trace Parkway. It is one of the best places in the South to see the leaves change. Stark white cotton bolls in bloom are a breathtaking contrast to the rich yellows and golds on the trees. Fall is also a good time to explore Nashville, Memphis, and New Orleans, as the temperatures are cooler and the crowds have dispersed.

Photo of the winding Blue Ridge Parkway with fall foliage.
Blue Ridge Parkway. Photo © Daveallenphoto/Dreamstime.com.

Blue Ridge Parkway, Virginia and North Carolina

Tracing the ridges and hillsides of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the Blue Ridge Parkway hosts millions of visitors every year, lured by the hum of tires on the road and the whisper of mountain winds through the trees. October is the height of autumn color. You can pull over at any overlook for a frame-worthy photo. Some of the best ones include: Range View Overlook and Rockfish Valley Overlook.

Photo of the mountains with fall foliage on Alpine Loop in Utah.
Alpine Loop View. Photo © Relato/Dreamstime.com

Alpine Loop, Utah

Aspens turn gold in the high country in late September-early October, followed by colorful displays of oaks, cottonwoods, and other deciduous plants in lower canyons lower. This can be the best time to travel in Utah.

The best road trip is Alpine Loop. From its start at the mouth of American Fork, the road climbs through a stunning canyon past Timpanogos Cave National Monument. (Stop for a cave tour if you have most of the day to make this drive.) It then climbs to an 8,000-foot summit with views of Mount Timpanogos. Just past the summit, consider taking the turnoff to Cascade Springs to see spring water gush from the ground and flow down a series of lushly vegetated travertine terraces. Back on the main scenic drive, the road continues through a grove of aspen trees, passes Sundance Resort (worth a stop) and descends to Provo Canyon. Ticket booths at either end of the drive sell the required $6. Don’t aim for a winter drive here; snow usually closes the road from late October until late May.

View of a misty fall foliage road on Grafton Notch Scenic Byway.
Grafton Notch Scenic Byway. Photo © Jon Bilous/Dreamstime.com.

Grafton Notch Scenic Byway, Maine

Maine gets fewer leaf peepers than other New England states, so roads are less congested and lodging and dining reservations are easier to score. But do plan in advance. Combine New England’s trees with lakes and mountains and you have the best of nature’s palette.

From Bethel, take Route 26 north to Errol, New Hampshire, then Route 16 north to Rangeley. Return via Route 17 south to Route 2 west. Heading north, you’ll cut through Grafton Notch State Park on the Grafton Notch Scenic Byway; the rest of the drive is speckled with mountains, lakes, and streams. Returning south from Rangeley, the Rangeley Lakes National Scenic Byway passes over Height of Land, providing dazzling views. The entire route is through prime moose country, so keep alert.

View of a winding road with fall trees on the Historic Columbia River Highway.
Historic Columbia River Highway. Photo © Paula Cobleigh/Dreamstime.com.

Historic Columbia River Highway, Oregon

The Historic Columbia River Highway, also now known as U.S. 30, is made up primarily of two drivable, disconnected stretches that still preserve the magic of the old road, leisurely guiding you to many of the region’s highlights: panoramic viewpoints, roadside waterfalls, and trailheads that allow you to explore the breathtaking
scenery in more depth.

Keweenaw Peninsula on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Photo © Sne Hit Design/Dreamstime.com.

Baraga to Copper Harbor, Michigan Upper Peninsula

Planning a fall color tour of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula can be tricky, as the timing of peak colors is often unpredictable. The risk is that you’ll arrive a week early and be met with a landscape of midsummer green, or you’ll come too late and be greeted by a sea of bare trees. But the fortunate traveler is in for a real treat. If your timing is right, all you need to enjoy the glory of countless trees in their peak color is the will to get outside. The Keweenaw Peninsula from mid-September to early October showcases the best colors. A leisurely drive from Baraga to Copper Harbor (the base of the peninsula to the tip) is about 150 miles and will take about three hours.


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