Finally, summer is gone and fall has arrived. The brisk air and smell of autumn leaves is abound. Leaves all over the country are turning from green to vibrant hues of orange, red and brown and gold. If you want to get the full experience there is no better way than to dust off your wheels and hit the road. Every part of the country hits it color change peak at a different time, but here are a few of the nation’s best spots to see a spectacular range of multi-colored foliage.
1) Columbia River Highway, Oregon
Built in 1913, the Columbia River Highway was the first scenic drive in the U.S. to earn National Historic Landmark status. The drive was designed to emphasize the natural beauty of the area by winding its way to the top of 900-feet cliffs overlooking the river and valley below. Visitors who follow this drive will encounter the fiery hues of fall alongside brilliantly colored wildflowers, epic waterfalls, and deep revines.
2) Feather River Scenic Byway, California
The Golden State erupts in color through the Feather River valley. The route covers 130 miles, starting near the Sacramento Valley, traveling through the Sierra Nevadas, and ending in the Great Basin. Visitors will see traces of railroad and gold mine memorabilia hidden among the waterfalls, rivers, forests, and desert terrain along their journey.
3) Grand Mesa Scenic and Historic Byway, Colorado
In autumn, Colorado’s landscape becomes a quilt of colors. The ever-popular Aspen trees turn golden hues in early fall and one of the best spots to witness the change is from the world’s largest flat-top mountain. You can reach it by taking the 63-mile Grand Mesa Scenic and Historic Byway, which begins off route 70 and passes by lakes, fields of wildflowers, narrow canyons, and evergreen forests.
4) Appalachian Fall Foliage Tour, Ohio
The state of Ohio provides more than ample opportunities to witness the season’s finest, but the Appalachian Fall Foliage Driving Tour is huge on scenery and activities. Over 55-miles from Marietta up route 60, connecting with route 78 and ending in Gloucester, covers some of the same pavement as the Ohio River Scenic Byway for a brief stint.
5) Peter Norbeck Scenic Byway, South Dakota
The 68-mile Byway weaves its way through the Black Hills of South Dakota, passing granite pinnacles through tunnels and going over spiral “pig-tail” bridges. Most visitors come to witness the huge Mount Rushmore National Memorial, but the Peter Norbeck Scenic Byway offers even more. Just a few miles down the road is Chief Crazy Horse, the mountain-sized sculptural project that aspires to be the largest in the world, at 564 feet high and 641 feet long. The route is worth a visit year-round, but is popular during the autumn months when these structures are highlighted by a colorful fall background.
6) Jacob’s Ladder Scenic Byway, Massachusetts
Originally, the Jacob’s Ladder Scenic Byway was built in 1910 to accommodate the first horseless carriages. Located in Massachusetts’ Berkshires region, it begins in Lee and weaves its way through Becket, Chester, and Huntington before ending in Russell. Today, the route runs almost parallel to the speedy highway, and visitors are encouraged to meander at a slower pace to enjoy the natural scenery, especially in the fall when the landscape bursts into a riot of red and gold hues.
7) Maple and Mountains Tour, Maine
Much of the state of Maine is notorious for Mother Nature putting on her best and brightest for fall. The Maple and Mountain Tour is one of the nation’s prettiest drives for true leaf-peeping aficionados. The loop begins in Naples, passing through Bridgton, South Paris, Bethel, and Stow, before ending in Fryeburg. Along the way, guests can visit Sebago Lake State Park, ascend Pleasant Mountain, explore Grafton Notch State Park, and partake in many other outdoor activities.