We’ve been conditioned to love summer and dread fall since we were kids, eagerly awaiting the end of the school and dreading the next semester’s beginning. But fall comes with a lot to like, from football season to a little nip in the air to the breathtaking colors of changing leaves, which transform trees into works of art.
That makes fall the perfect time for a getaway. One of the best ways to see the colors in all their glory is take a ride smack dab in the middle of them, which is why we’ve rounded up some of the best routes for enjoying fall foliage via car. They span both coasts and offer equally stunning views for travelers across the country.
Maroon Creek Road
Aspen might conjure up images of snowboarding, but the Colorado town was actually named after a tree — so it shouldn’t be too surprising that it’s one of the most popular foliage driving routes. Before snow season kicks into gear, Aspen and all its trees are beautiful, relaxing, and scenic.
The most popular route to enjoy their changing colors is Maroon Creek Road, as visitors can get a glimpse of the lovely Maroon Bells while taking it the trees’ scenic fall colors. Travelers simply have to book a hotel in Aspen, such as the four-star Limelight Hotel Aspen, then drive 10 miles or so southwest via Highway 82.
One thing to note: The route is so popular that a drive is restricted from the summer months to October 4. During the day, the route to the Maroon Bells can only be access by public bus, but visitors can take their own car after-hours for a small fee. Giant mountains, fall foliage and fields of wildflowers will undoubtedly make both the drive and fee worth it, though.
Our second route may sound similar because it also features mountains and fall foliage, though it’s all the way across the country. The Blue Ridge Parkway is labeled as “America’s Favorite Drive” and it’s easy to understand why. The drive spans two states, 496 miles, and 26 tunnels, and drivers are surrounded by nature’s glory the whole way.
Countless hotels are scattered along the Blue Ridge Parkway and offer spectacular views of the mountains, trees and other attractions like lakes from their windows. The Blue Ridge Parkway has numerous entrances in Asheville, North Carolina, and visitors can enter the Parkway at US 25, US 70, US 74, or NC 191. A lot of great hotels are available along each, such as the Quality Inn & Suites Biltmore East, which is situated right off of US 70.
Plan to make the drive in mid to late October for the best fall foliage sightings, and be aware of the fact that leaves begin changing at higher locations first, so the scenery may vary throughout the route.
Green Mountain National Forest
Travelers can also find amazing foliage throughout New England. While there are a variety of routes to choose from, one of the most beautiful is in the Green Mountain National Forest in Vermont. This destination also boasts the unbeatable combination of mountain, wildlife, and beautiful trees. It’s also home to six different scenic driving route: Two in the north zone and two in the south zone.
The Trailside Inn is located nearby, right off Route 100. The highway runs north to south through nearly the entire state, including along almost the entire eastern side of the Green Mountain National Forest.