Fall Road Trips – Best US States to Enjoy Epic Experiences

2
101

Share on Social...

Whether you are a leaf peeper that loves discovering the best fall foliage in Minnesota or perhaps you just prefer this time of the year as its all about pumpkin lattes and toasted marshmallows around the campfire, the fall season is undoubtedly a great time to explore the inherent beauty of all 50 US states. If you love hitting the open road, enjoying a collection of epic fall road trips is certainly going to inspire you to get out and explore.

Regardless of which state you reside (or perhaps intend on visiting from overseas), there are an abundance of amazing road trips waiting for you…and frequently right on your doorstep that we all tend to take for granted. We are delighted to collaborate with some of the most knowledgeable travel experts in the industry to share some of the best US states to experience a myriad of eye-catching road trips this fall or in the future.

alaska bear fall

Best Fall Road Trips in USA

Heather and I frequently love to get out and explore the US during the fall season, not only because of the spectacular colors on display but also because temperatures tend to be the perfect time to get out and enjoy the great outdoors.

fall road trips

Let’s take a look at some of the US states we would strongly recommend experiencing during the fall season…many of these will be obvious because of their iconic fall foliage but some may surprise you as you may not generally associate them with being a state worth visiting during the fall season.

  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • Colorado
  • Florida
  • Maine
  • Missouri
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • Ohio
  • South Dakota
  • Texas
  • Vermont
  • Wisconsin
denali national park in fall

Alaska

Planning your Alaska itinerary for the fall is so rewarding! And one of the best fall US road trips is the Seward Highway, from Anchorage to Seward. From start to finish, it is full of brilliant breathtaking scenery you will never forget.

This 125 mile stretch of highway has garnered many significant awards due to its raw beauty. Among them are National Forest Scenic Byway, All American Road, and Alaska Scenic Byway! You will be driving alongside mountains and their glaciers, through forests, and alongside glacially silted Alaskan waters. All beaming and full of autumn finery.

While the drive can easily be made in a few hours, it is wise to devote ample time so you have the luxury of stopping to view the stunning sights along the way! Heading south out of Anchorage, you will see the unforgettable waters of Cook’s Inlet to your right. On the left, you will pass by Chugach State Park.

alaska road trip in fall

Plan a stop at Beluga Point Lookout for amazing views of the spectacular autumnal scenery. A stop at the resort town of Girdwood is a fun way to spend a few hours, and for outdoor enthusiasts, the Seward Highway has a myriad of options for hiking to leaf peep up close and personal.

All along the drive south, you have the lots of opportunities to see Alaska’s unspoiled wilderness in towns such as Whittier and Moose Pass. And see spectacular Alaskan scenery such as Portage and Exit Glaciers, and Tern Lake, all brimming with their fall finery. Finally, you arrive at Seward, at the terminus of the Seward Highway. Here you will find the stunning Kenai Fjords National Park and waters so blue teeming with wildlife to welcome you.

From brilliant blazing yellows, golds and orange laden trees to golden tipped fireweed you will see Alaska at its finest and realize that the Seward Highway is one of the best fall US road trips you can take.

By Linda Malys Yore from Linda on the Run

Arizona

Perfect weather and beautiful colors make fall a great time for road trips as you will enjoy the magical colors of the foliage while you encounter great attractions.

Arizona is one of the best states for road trips, and Phoenix happens to be a great start while the grand canyon will make for a great finisher. There are a lot of fun things to do in Phoenix, Arizona. Starting at Saguaro National Park is a good idea with its enchanting view of golden foliage and countless green cactus plants.

grand canyon arizona

Your next stop should be the petrified forest. It holds evidence of stonelike trees that were in existence years back, probably before man walked the earth. That would be about 225 million years into the past. Amazing right? Up next is the Monument Valley, a frequent feature in movies due to the breath-taking views. Antelope Canyon and Grand Canyon are the last attractions thrill you with their glorious views and rock formations.

Of course, there’s more to see, but you’ll have to pack your bags and hit the road if you want a first-hand experience.

By Ossama Alnuwaiser from The Awesome Traveler Blog

Colorado

Colorado is one of the most beautiful destinations to visit in the United States during the fall. From the front range near Denver to the San Juan Mountains in Colorado’s Southwest corner, there are many passes, hikes, and picturesque towns throughout the state that burst in colors during fall. If you have never been to Colorado, and want to see its amazing golden aspens, there is a particular road trip that you should take.

fall in colorado

After arriving in Denver, take Interstate-70 before exiting toward Independence Pass, the highest paved road in North America that connects Twin Lakes and Aspen. As you drive toward the end of the pass, you will start seeing tons of golden aspens. Next, spend a few days in Aspen. It’s a gorgeous mountain town where you can hike, relax and enjoy its atmosphere. One of the best places to visit near Aspen in fall is the iconic Maroon Bells, the most photographed spot in North America!

If you have extra time, take a day trip to the small town Crested Butte along the gorgeous Kebler Pass. The best time to take this trip is in late September – a peak time for fall colors in Colorado’s High Country!

By Daria Bachmann from The Discovery Nut

Florida

Would you ever consider a Florida road trip in the fall? If not, you totally should! Florida in the fall is one of the best times to visit. It is on the tail end of hurricane season and the later into fall you get, the less chance you will have of bad or rainy weather! Next, you will get to enjoy slightly cooler temperatures and fewer crowds as tourists and children go back to school and work.

Some of the best places to visit on your Florida fall road trip are the beaches to enjoy the amazing weather and gorgeous sunset! You should also visit Disney while the Epcot Food And Wine Festival is going on. Fall in Florida is also a fantastic time to visit unique locations such as the Ringling Museum in Sarasota or stroll the historic streets of Saint Augustine.

ringling museum florida

You really can’t go wrong by road tripping Florida in the fall!

By Victoria Yore from Florida Trippers

Maine

Maine, the northeasternmost state, is one of the best in the US to enjoy the fall foliage. The crisp colors of the leaves from orange to red to browns just makes for a spectacular sight through the coastal state with rocky cliffs and mountains.

A road trip through the Acadia National Park in fall is not to be missed. One of the best things to do in Acadia National Park is driving on the 27-mile Park Loop road that will give you an insight into the diverse landscape spread across the park.

acadia national park

There are many scenic points like Thunder Hole, Sand Beach, Otter Cliff that unfold the magic that this place is famous for. Another place not to be missed is the Cadillac Mountain, the highest peak of the East Coast. You could hike to the summit or drive up for spectacular vistas of the park. It is totally worth getting up at dawn to catch the first rising glory of the sun at the summit.

Jordon Pond is popular for some spectacular sight of the colorful trees around the pond. And don’t forget to eat at the Jordon House restaurant amidst the scenic vistas.

By Neha from Travelmelodies

Missouri

Missouri is one of the best states for road trips in the fall, especially in southern Missouri. While the northern part of the state is mostly flat farmland, the southern half is quite different. Start out in St. Louis for a chance to see not only one of the best Midwestern cities the United Stated has to offer, but also to check out the Gateway Arch that towers over the mighty Mississippi River. Check out this collection of amazing public parks to see the best fall colors in St. Louis.

missouri fall foliage

From the city, I-55 south will take you through some absolutely stunning rolling hills and gorgeous fall colors for as far as the eye can see. About an hour outside of the city you’ll find the town of Saint Genevieve where you can enjoy everything from sipping wine inside of a cave winery to visiting with tigers at the Big Cat Tiger Sanctuary!

From there, you can turn west any time you like and take the backcountry roads through the Mark Twain National Forest for hikes and more fall foliage views. You’ll also find some pick your own orchards where you can sample fresh apple cider and snap a few Instagram worthy photos before turning back north and heading for I-44.

By Ron from Unearth The Voyage

New Mexico

New Mexico is one of the best states in the US to enjoy a fall road trip. The weather is stunning, and the foliage in the northern part of the state turns gorgeous shades of yellow.

Start your road trip on Route 66 in Albuquerque, the biggest city in New Mexico. Every October, it hosts the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, which is the largest hot air balloon festival in the world. Continue your road trip to Santa Fe, New Mexico’s capital. The best place in Santa Fe to appreciate the fall foliage is the spa Ten Thousand Waves, located in the mountains.

new mexico hot air balloon festival

After Santa Fe, it’s an hour’s drive to Los Alamos where you can learn about the history of the Manhattan Project during World War II. Next, continue north to the beautiful town of Taos, which is known for its art and architecture. Fall weather is the perfect time to explore the buildings of Taos Pueblo and visit galleries like the Millicent Rogers Art Museum.

new mexico road trip

For the final stop, head to Chama for an all-day ride on the historic Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad. This train will show you some of the best fall scenery in the whole country!

By Stella Jane from Around the World in 24 Hours

New York

Fall is a fabulous time to go on a road trip around New York State. With winding mountain drives through the Catskills and the Adirondacks, and scenic regions to explore, driving around New York State is a colorful journey in autumn. One of the best fall road trips is a comfortable cruise along US 9, which is the state’s longest north to south highway. Whizz past roadside farm stands, scenic outlooks and hiking trails. The river-mountain-valley landscape is a riot of oranges, yellows and gold.

hudson valley fall new york

Along the way, you can take in the culture, food and history of the towns in the Hudson Valley, such as historic Hyde Park, which can be explored as a getaway from New York City, and Saratoga Springs. Home to grand estates such as the Vanderbilt estate and President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s home, Hyde Park’s historical attractions are fascinating to explore amidst the stunning backdrop of fall.

By Christina Pfeiffer from Travel2Next

North Carolina

North Carolina is popular for fall leaf peeping with good reason! The famous Blue Ridge Parkway is a simple way to explore the state, cruising along the peaceful road through small towns that are all bursting with fall color. Check with local foliage forecasts before choosing where to start; colors will peak earliest in higher elevations and slowly progress into lower elevations as time goes on.

fall in north carolina

There are many hiking options right off the parkway with varying difficulties and lengths, and frequent overlook pull-offs for anyone who wants to gaze at the horizon without hitting the trails. A few of the most popular spots to hike in fall include Rough Ridge Trail, Crabtree Falls, Mt. Mitchell State Park, Craggy Gardens, and Black Balsam Knob.

After cruising the parkway, detour down south into Hendersonville and choose from one of the many apple orchards and pumpkin patches to get your fall fun on with apple cider doughnuts, pumpkin picking, and corn mazes. If you have time to spare, pick another of the best things to do in Asheville NC and explore more of this popular mountain town.

By Stephanie Woodson from Explore More Clean Less

Ohio

Ohio is a gorgeous state for a fall road trip. Located in the Midwest along Lake Erie, Ohio enjoys a traditionally colorful fall, spanning late September through late October.

There are many great choices for fall road trips in Ohio. You could drive down Route 6, or Lake Road, from Cleveland, and view beautiful, bright leaves popping out against the blues of Lake Erie. You could even take this route to more rural, backcountry roads, such as those within the village of Vermilion. Here, you can enjoy an outdoor glass of Chardonnay at Vermilion Vineyards or stop at one of many local farms for apple and pumpkin picking.

fall in ohio

For those who are even bigger outdoors enthusiasts, there are parks and reservations all over Ohio worth visiting. A road trip just thirty minutes south of Cleveland will take you to beautiful and historical Peninsula, the site of Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Along with the scenic drive down, you can also enjoy many wooded hiking paths, which are an autumn dream at peak foliage time.

With so many road trip varieties available, you absolutely cannot go wrong with a fall visit to Ohio.

By Theresa McKinney from Fueled By Wanderlust

South Dakota

When it comes to crisp fall days and the golden hues of Autumn leaves, your first instinct is probably to head to New England. But what if I told you South Dakota holds a breathtaking fall road trip of its own? The Needles Highway or State Highway 87 cutting through the heart of Custer State Park in Southwestern South Dakota snakes through the scenic Black Hills.

fall in south dakota

From mid-September to mid-October, the hills are splattered with gold quaking aspens and rust-red oak & ash trees creating a patchwork quilt of fall foliage broken up by tall piercing columns of granite, the namesake of the highway. The drive itself is only about 30 miles, punctuated by single-car tunnels created to force drivers to slow down and enjoy the views. & the views are spectacular. It’s one of my favorite drives (alongside the North Cascades National Park) I’ve ever taken.

If you have a day or two to visit, I highly recommend hiking the 6.5-mile Black Elk Peak trail which begins in the Sylvan Lake area at the start of the highway. It provides the prettiest panoramic views and a chance to get inside the scenery of the Black Hills & truly experience the fall colors of South Dakota.

By Geena Truman from Beyond the Bucketlist

Texas

For a delightful fall road trip in the USA featuring warm weather, you can’t beat the Texas Hill Country, which is home to many of the best things to do in Texas! Located in central Texas and bordered by both Austin and San Antonio, the Texas Hill Country is known for its fantastic wines, charming small towns, live oak trees, and sparkling rivers.

Start your road trip in Austin, where you can experience the Live Music Capital of the World while eating your way through a delightful food scene. From there, wind your way through the hills. Some of the best small towns to visit include Fredericksburg (known for its German heritage and wine), Lockhart (self-proclaimed barbecue capital of Texas), and Wimberley, which features a whimsical vibe and two beloved swimming holes.

texas in fall

Later, dip down to Lost Maples State Natural Area, which features some of the most vibrant fall foliage in Texas. The foliage comes a bit later in Texas than in much of the country–late October through mid-November is a good time to shoot for–but it’s absolutely delightful.

Finish up your road trip in San Antonio, where the weather will (hopefully) finally be cool enough to truly enjoy the Alamo, the Riverwalk, and Texas’ only UNESCO World Heritage Site–San Antonio’s collection of 18th-century Spanish missions.

By Kate Storm from Lone Star Travel Guide

Vermont

Picturesque Vermont is one of the most coveted fall road trip destinations. Tourists flock here each autumn to witness the leaves turning brilliant shades. Quaint Woodstock, in particular, is an autumn addict’s dream, nestled in the heart of central Vermont. Woodstock takes autumn to another level, from fantastic foliage, to festive farm life, to pumpkin-adorned homes and businesses. Visitors can ogle the display of vibrant fall foliage on the way to one of the area’s many farms.

sugarbush farm vermont

Billings Farm & Museum is perfect for family members of all ages. This outdoor history museum includes a fully-operational Jersey dairy farm and plenty of fun fall festivities. From a fall harvest, to a Halloween costume parade, to pumpkin bowling, families are sure to be entertained! Sugarbush Farm is another delight, offering visitors cheese and maple syrup samples for a taste of the season. Stunning Sleepy Hollow Farm is also a must-see. Photographers gather here to capture this storybook farm in its fall finest.

sleepy hollow farm vermont

Outside of farm life, visitors can enjoy the great outdoors by hiking Quechee Gorge. Located just a 15-minute drive outside of Woodstock, this popular attraction is the state’s deepest gorge, offering some of the most breathtaking views in Vermont.

By Elena from Carry On Chronicles

Wisconsin

The fall season in Wisconsin is all about the colors and getting out on a scenic road trip. The driving routes in Wisconsin in the fall season are guaranteed to put you in amazement with nature’s fall colors. You can go on a drive tour any way from urban parks to colorful county roads because it’s beautiful everywhere.

If you want to go on a fall getaway in Wisconsin, you should visit between late September to early October. There are a bunch of scenic drives that you can enjoy during fall in Wisconsin. Here are some of the prettiest locations.

fox river fall wisconsin

Marinette County’s Waterfall Tour is a wonder to experience when you visit there in autumn. You can tour through a series of 14 waterfalls. See one or see them all, you can make your fall foliage driving tour as small or as long you want to. They are mostly located in pleasant county parks with picturesque picnic areas.

Door County is another attraction in Wisconsin to which you can go on a fall road trip. Skyline Road, Kangaroo Lake circle, Horseshoe Bay Drive, and Washington Island are some of the routes where you can see the brightest season colors.

By Paulina from Paulina on the Road

Summary

Anyone feeling inspired to head out this fall to explore the inherent beauty of all 50 US states? We certainly are! We want to thank all of our amazing travel blogging friends for sharing their amazing experiences across a myriad of unique locations across the US. While we could easily have covered 50 unique experiences across every state, we hope this small collection offers an eclectic look at why the fall season is the perfect time to experience the beauty of the US!

Please share your favorite fall destinations across the US in the comments below and let us know where you are planning on heading this upcoming fall season!

2 COMMENTS

  1. I was curious which road trips would be mentioned for the two states most popular for autumn road trips. But neither state is listed at all. Wow. For fall road trips, New Hampshire and Virginia are epic.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.