Trees all ablaze with red and gold, leaves crunching under your feet, and a cold nip to the air—autumn is upon us. To celebrate, we’ve rounded up some of our authors’ favorite places to visit on a fall road trip.
Sedona, Arizona: In the high deserts of Sedona, which is typically 15-20°F cooler than Phoenix throughout the year, the sycamore trees along Oak Creek begin to turn in October, revealing golden-yellow and fiery-red leaves against the green ponderosa pines. Head north from the Village of Oak Creek along Route 179, aka the Red Rock Scenic Byway, and you’ll see many of the area’s most prominent rock formations along the seven-mile scenic drive.
Hoover Wilderness, California: A trip to the Hoover Wilderness in early autumn offers an opportunity to admire fall foliage, hiking and camping amid aspen trees as their leaves turn from emerald green to a glittering and brilliant gold. Don’t miss the out-and-back Lundy Canyon Trail (8 mi/13 km round-trip, 4-6 hours, moderately strenuous) along the side of Lundy Lake.
Milbridge, Maine: In fall—roughly early September-early October in coastal Maine—the postharvest blueberry fields take on brilliant scarlet hues. They’re gorgeous. The best barren-viewing road is Route 193 between Cherryfield and Beddington, via Deblois, the link between Routes 1 and 9—a 21-mile stretch of granite outcrops, pine windscreens, and fiery-red fields.
Upper Peninsula, Michigan: The area’s assortment of flaming maples, oaks, and various other hardwoods reveal a truly stunning palette of reds, ambers, and yellows—balanced with a fair amount of aquamarine from the high number of evergreens. Fall colors in the Upper Peninsula typically peak between late September and early October.
Highway 475, New Mexico: From Santa Fe, drive up Highway 475 (the road to the ski basin), where pullouts are positioned for the best vistas of the many colorful aspen stands; the pullout at the aptly named Aspen Vista trailhead is one of the best. Abiquiu’s dramatic rock formations are also a good backdrop for cottonwoods.
Ashtabula County, Ohio: Lovers of fine wine and picturesque scenery should head east to Ashtabula County, the official capital of the Ohio wine industry. Two dozen wineries and tasting rooms dot the scenic landscape, and most drives include passages through postcard-worthy covered bridges with stunning fall foliage.
Northwest Rhode Island: Ease into autumn with sunny Sunday drives to the northwest corner of the state, where apple orchards and pick-your-own farms abound. Favorites include Barden Family Orchard or Harmony Farms in North Scituate, Jaswell’s Farm in Smithfield, and Steere Orchard in Greenville, all within a 30 minute drive from Providence.
Zion National Park, Utah: Zion’s grandeur is evident all through the year, but from about mid-October through early November, cottonwoods and other trees and plants blaze with color. This is also when the crowds are smallest.
Blue Ridge Parkway and Skyline Drive, Virginia: As you cruise along Skyline Drive and the Blue Ridge Parkway during October, the height of autumn color, be prepared for two things: a slower pace and a feast for the eyes.
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