15 Road-Trip Stops to See the Best Autumn Colors

Danyale Reed | Aug 30, 2019 Home & Garden
15 Road-Trip Stops to See the Best Autumn Colors
Image: Twenty20

15 Road-Trip Stops to See the Best Autumn Colors
Twenty20

The end of summer marks the beginning of many people's favorite season, and it also inspires travelers to hop on the road and cruise the crayon box of colorful foliage sprinkled throughout the country. Though the climate and tree variety of the Northeast often make it the top contender for the most picture-worthy region during autumn, we've all seen those stunning photos of the Hudson Valley in October, or the Vermont mountains turned bright as chrysanthemums even in November. But the beauty of fall isn't limited only to the Northeast -- we've found several other fall-tastic options that are absolutely worth stopping for across the country, so no matter what part of the US. we're in, we can take a little road trip to enjoy the colors. Read on to find out where to drive this season for a peek at those perfect leaves.

We absolutely love a road trip. It's a convenient and inexpensive way to have a fun vacation! That said, spending a ton of time in the car with little ones isn't always easy. We have found road trip hacks for moms incredibly helpful so we can keep it together (and kids have more fun) on a road trip-style vacation. Then there the essentials moms need for a long road trip, which mom should definitely add to her shopping list. And for anyone who's bummed that a little leaf-peeping is the extent of their vacation this year, just remember sometimes staycations are better than vacations. (If there's room in the budget for an overnight stay, check out these 20 Family-Friendly Last Minute Airbnb Vacations to Book for This Weekend).

  • Scranton, Pennsylvania

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    Scranton, Pennsylvania
    Twenty20

    Northeastern Pennsylvania is the region where the iconic TV show The Office was set. While that makes the area worth a visit for any fan of the sitcom, during the fall, visitors come for a different reason. On the outskirts of Scranton, it's easy to find vibrant fall colors in charming and secluded woodland areas. Deciding to venture to the Poconos Mountains or Endless Mountains will literally elevate the viewpoint of this sensational scenery.

  • Catskills Mountains

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    Catskills Mountains
    Shutterstock

    Hike through the Catskills Mountains, one of the most adored places for transformative fall colors in the country. Choose from shorter, family-friendly hikes so we can spend more time gawking at the rainbow assortment of trees, or take our time and get closer to nature on an extended campout. For those of us who prefer to admire nature on-the-go, scenic drives make this a great destination.

  • Bryce Canyon, Utah

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    Bryce Canyon, Utah
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    Most people wouldn't think of visiting Utah to see fall colors, but Bryce Canyon will leave leaf-peepers speechless. The contrasting tones of desert-like browns and vibrant green leaves meet the deeper reds and yellows that change with the season. Compared with the northeastern states, Utah sees autumn come and go a bit quicker, taking these beautiful colors away sometimes as soon as early October. So, hit up Bryce Canyon sooner rather than later.

  • Henniker, New Hampshire

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    Henniker, New Hampshire
    Shutterstock

    Another stop well known for its glorious fall colors is Henniker, New Hampshire. The leaves might be falling off, but the trees seem as alive as they'll ever be and complemented by covered bridges that add something special to this road trip. Stick close to New England College for the best bridges and scenic drives.

  • Twin Lakes, Colorado

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    Twin Lakes, Colorado
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    Definitely get out of the car for this one. Twin Lakes in Colorado is always a spectacle, with its heavenly carved, mountainous backdrop, but it's a dream during autumn. Take a hike, rent a small boat, or go horseback riding between brightly colored trees fading into their next colors. The landscape is expansive enough (and fully stocked with recreational activities) that we can truly take our time, breathe in the cool air, and relax in complete peace.

  • Huntington, Vermont

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    Huntington, Vermont
    Twenty20

    Since Vermont is mostly covered in forests, it shouldn't shock anyone to know this is the place to find autumn colors at their finest. What might be surprising is the actual sighting of the sunset-colored leaves, in amazing reds, oranges and yellows, that cascade from tree to tree. The abundance of maple trees, since they have a wider variety of colored leaves compared with other trees, add a special element to the stunning fall arrangement in places like Huntington.

  • Hiawatha National Forest, Michigan

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    Hiawatha National Forest, Michigan
    Twenty20

    Another place filled with maple trees (among others) is Hiawatha National Forest, located in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Autumn is a great time to drive through the lush scenery, miss the crowds, and do some salmon fishing. Grab a nice spot by Red Jack Lake for one of the prettiest reflections of natural landscape we'll ever see.

  • Albany, Oregon

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    Albany, Oregon
    Twenty20

    A good place to be during fall months, Oregon reigns supreme in the Northwest for perfect weather and hues of all kind. There's a generous spread of fall foliage statewide, but we love Albany for the scenic drive, which feels more like a seasonal "best of" tour. Get ready for colors to pop out in every direction, and have a camera ready (the passenger-side rider, of course) to snap these unforgettable sights.

  • Bainbridge Island, Washington

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    Bainbridge Island, Washington
    Shutterstock

    Leave the car parked in Seattle and take a short ferry ride to Bainbridge Island, Washington. Along with impressive colors signaling the end of summer, we can also find attractions suited for road-trippers, including the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art. Conveniently close to downtown Seattle, the island offers travelers natural serenity while still providing access to city perks. Visitors will be much too consumed by the jaw-dropping colors of Bainbridge to think about what's happening in Seattle.

  • Central Park, New York

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    Central Park, New York
    Shutterstock

    We can't make a list about fall wonderlands surrounded by urban jungles without mentioning Central Park in New York City. The massive public park gets a colorful makeover once summer is finished and turns into the setting of favorite romantic movies (think When Harry Met Sally). There's the Central Park Zoo, Victorian Gardens Amusement Park and horse-drawn carriages to accommodate a full family with a range of ages.

  • Indiana’s Historic Pathways

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    Indiana’s Historic Pathways
    Twenty20

    Resting in southern Indiana is another picturesque autumn experience that we won't have to get out of the car for. Indiana's Historic Pathways are rolling with hills of color-crowned trees. This drive is so stunning, it was designated as a National Scenic Byway, proof that the sights along the way are undeniably breathtaking.

  • Chicago, Illinois

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    Chicago, Illinois
    Twenty20

    Knock two things off the old travel to-do list with a stop in Chicago, Illinois, this fall. First get a photo with the legendary, shiny landmark "The Bean," then sample striking colors of the season in nearby parks. Illinois is a state brimming with autumnal hues, but Chicago is a destination where visitors can soak up that contagious metropolitan energy before hitting the road again.

  • Acadia National Park, Maine

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    Acadia National Park, Maine
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    Astounding Acadia National Park is always a treat, but post-summer is the most amazing time. Maine is a popular state for leaf-peepers who want a vision of color they won't soon forget. Specifically, Acadia National Park delivers views with a punch, especially from Cadillac Mountain. Perfect hiking weather and the most vibrant tones of color last through early to mid-October, so try to make it here before Halloween!

  • Burton, Ohio

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    Burton, Ohio
    Shutterstock

    Host to the Applebutter Fest (a free event, not including parking), Burton, Ohio, is a town with the cozy colors, climate, and ciders that we expect to come with autumn. Outside of the festival (always held on the second weekend in October), peace and quiet are the main attractions here. Drive slowly to catch every possible view of foliage, and because it's common to share the road with a horse and carriage in this part of Ohio.

  • Double Trouble State Park, New Jersey

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    Double Trouble State Park, New Jersey
    Twenty20

    Visit Double Trouble State Park for full palette of autumn colors. Nestled within the park, leaf-peepers will find the expected fall tones they came for, along with the brilliant crimson-colored cranberry bogs that are harvested around this time of year. Pop into the historical cranberry-packing house, and add a history lesson to this seasonally suited stop.

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