October is peak leaf-peeping season. It’s when the maple trees of New England burst into color, the aspens of Colorado turn the Rockies golden, and hordes of camera-toting tourists swarm the back roads of popular foliage locations from North Carolina to Oregon. There are numerous destinations where the marvels of autumn can be enjoyed, but a few drives in particular will spur you to wear out the battery in your digital camera. Here are seven stunning fall foliage drives for you to enjoy.
Route 100, Vermont
The quintessential fall foliage route. All of New England is known for its foliage vistas, but if you want your excursion to include town greens, church steeples, roadside farm stands and covered bridges, then Route 100 is for you. It extends across Vermont from Massachusetts to Canada and is home to some of the region’s most postcard-friendly views.
Blue Ridge Parkway, Virginia and North Carolina
This famed 469-mile drive through two states connects Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina with Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. Select any section of the Blue Ridge Parkway and you’ll be rewarded with spectacular fall views of the Appalachian Mountains.
Kancamangus Highway, New Hampshire
The Green Mountains of Vermont are justly famous for their foliage scenery, but the White Mountains of New Hampshire are a worthy rival. The Kancamangus Highway (Route 112) is the most scenic drive in the state. This 35-mile road cuts through the White Mountains from Lincoln to Conway and provides lovely autumn panoramas.
San Juan Skyway, Colorado
If cliff-hugging roadways and 14,000-foot peaks are more your style, then check out the San Juan Skyway, a 236-mile loop through southern Colorado. The Rocky Mountains provide an lovely backdrop to the aspen-strewn landscape as you swoop through Durango and Telluride or past Mesa Verde National Park. The Ouray to Silverton section is a particularly dramatic drive and is popularly known as the Million Dollar Highway.
Mohawk Trail, Massachusetts
The Mohawk Trail is also known as Route 2. It’s one of the oldest scenic roads in the country and follows an American Indian trade route across northern Massachusetts. The pinnacle of the Mohawk Trail is the segment that courses through the Berkshire Mountains and the charming college community of Williamstown.
Peter Norbeck Scenic Byway, South Dakota
You’re well aware, no doubt, of the Blacks Hills of South Dakota and the Mount Rushmore National Memorial. But you may not know that the Peter Norbeck Scenic Byway encompasses these and other sites along a 68-mile loop through South Dakota. This picturesque drive is dotted with the changing leaves of aspen, spruce and birch trees.
Columbia River Highway, Oregon
This 70-mile road through the Columbia River Gorge was built early in the 20th century and is a National Historic Landmark. The Columbia River Highway takes you past astounding views of cliffs, gorges and waterfalls, including 620-foot high Multnomah Falls. You can also drive south from Hood River and take in a drive through part of Mt. Hood National Forest.
Photo credit: chensiyuan via Wikimedia Commons.