Fall is probably the greatest time of year for a road trip. The weather begs for a ride with the windows rolled down, and autumn activities like apple picking are usually a bit of a drive away. But the most compelling reason to hit the road during the last few months of the year is the sheer beauty. As the leaves turn to bright orange, red, yellow and brown, driving though tree-heavy roads becomes an immersive art experience. Enjoy all the sights autumn has to offer with these scenic roads:
1. Lady Slipper Scenic Byway
This 28-mile route through the Chippewa National Forest is the perfect way to spend an afternoon enjoying the colors of fall. Head over the Mississippi River and past lakes, beaches and trails. In addition to the foliage, you should be able to spot some Lady Slipper orchids – Minnesota’s state flower.
2. Skyline Drive
You can explore the Blue Ridge Mountains on this 105-mile road through Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. Goldenrod grows along the side of the path, giving you an extra splash of fall color. Take advantage of the highways’s many outlook points to take in Shenandoah Valley in all of its autumnal brilliance.
3. Mountain Waters Scenic Byway
Taking a ride down this picturesque road in North Carolina is a great fall activity. Snaking through the Nantahala National Forest, the 61.3-mile road goes past gorges and waterfalls that will leave you breathless. Take advantage of the trails to venture deeper into the forest and get some one-on-one time with nature.
4. Green Mountain Byway
Don’t be fooled: This 14.5-mile route might not be very long, but there’s a lot to check out on the way. The ideal route for someone who wants to spend the day exploring on foot as well as by car, this byway takes you to some of the best outdoor activity destinations in Vermont. Enjoy beautiful hiking trails and biking paths and, if there’s early snow, great ski trails. There are also a number of villages and historic areas along the trail, giving you plenty to see and do.
5. Olympic Trail
This trail takes you through 170 miles of the Adirondack region of Upper New York, a gorgeous area that becomes absolutely stunning during fall. Be sure to make a stop at Lake Placid and spend some time taking in the sights
6. Amish Country Byway
To experience the rich history and culture of Ohio’s Amish community, head down this 160-mile highway. You’ll drive past many different Amish villages and communities you can stop and visit, giving you the chance to learn about the people and pick up some excellent Amish-made products. Remember, Sundays are a day of rest in the Amish community, so plan accordingly: Many shops will be closed.
7. Pequawket Trail Scenic Byway
This 60-mile route through the White Mountains in Maine is sure to make you feel one with nature. Though the drive itself is plenty beautiful, it’s worth it to park the car and do some exploring by foot or bike. There are miles of trails for hikers, climbers and bikers of all skill levels.
8. Smith River Scenic Byway
If you’ve never gotten a chance to see the Redwoods in California, the Smith River Scenic Byway should be on the top of your to-do list. Drive the 33 miles through California state parks to take in the view of these arboreal giants.
9. Highlands Scenic Byway
This is the most elevated major highway in West Virginia, which means it gives you the perfect overhead view of the Allegheny Highlands’ fall foliage. Running through parks, towns and mountains, this scenic route brings something new with every mile.
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