The hustle and bustle of summer often leave households feeling drained. If you can relate, why not plan a fall road trip? Traveling by car arguably offers more freedom than planes, plus you get constant opportunities to admire fall foliage from the windows. Keep reading to discover five can’t-miss fall road trips sure to inspire your wanderlust.
1. Aspen, Colorado
Known for vividly colored leaves against a mountainous backdrop, Aspen has several places to admire nature’s splendor this fall. Try the gorgeous route of Castle Creek Road or travel slightly eastward to check out part of the Continental Divide by traveling along Independence Pass.
The latter is the highest paved pass in the state and features an elevation of over 12,000 feet. When you’re ready to park the car and explore in other ways, Independence Pass has several free and fee-based camping areas, plus over a dozen hiking trails, including one with Braille signage.
2. Shenandoah National Park/Skyline Drive in Virginia
Skyline Drive is a National Scenic Byway running north to south through Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park. The $15-per-car entry fee gives a week’s worth of access. Marvel at the colorful views from 75 scenic overlooks, then venture into the woods to wander nearly 500 miles of hiking trails.
Most visitors admire the fall leaves along Skyline Drive in October, but park representatives say it’s impossible to predict the peak period of color from year to year. Fortunately, every Friday through October, you can receive an updated Fall Color Report at the park’s website, which may help nail down specific dates for your road trip.
3. The Arts Road 46 in Indiana
There are only 40 miles between the Indiana destinations of Nashville, Bloomington and Columbus, and the Arts Road 46 gives easy access to all each place offers. As the name suggests, there are plenty of cultural activities to participate in during this fall journey.
Pass through the thick woodlands of Brown County State Park, and look closely to spot German-style farms dotting the hilly landscape. Then purchase tickets to a ballet performance, play or bluegrass gig, just to name a few.
4. The Oregon Trail
Once the stomping grounds of ambitious gold seekers, fur trappers, and settlers of the early American West, the Oregon Trail persists with an allure today. Considered one of the best road trip routes in the country, it lets you experience scenic stretches of nature in a car instead of a wagon train.
You’ll drive along Interstate 25 for much of this road trip, then transition to Route 220, home of Independence Rock. Sometimes called the Register of the Desert, Independence Rock includes more than 5,000 names carved into its surface.
After reaching the Blue Mountain Crossing in La Grande, Oregon, stretch your legs and visit the National Oregon Trail Interpretive Center. View 13 miles of wagon ruts made by pioneer travelers and head to the wagon encampment replica to glimpse ways of life for those bold individuals. The center operates daily during the fall.
5. Cumberland Gap National Park, Kentucky
Bravely venture off the beaten path at this unspoiled treasure. Located near the convergence point in Kentucky, Virginia, and Tennessee, this park is an easy, two-hour interstate drive from Lexington. Once inside the park, depart from the visitor center and coax your car up a four-mile mountain path called the Skyland Road. It leads to Pinnacle Overlook, which has a 2,440-foot elevation and showcases segments of all three aforementioned states simultaneously.
Alternatively, leave your car, lace up your hiking boots and trek along more than 85 miles of hiking trails within the park. Trail lengths range from a quarter-mile loop to a 21-mile journey, so you’ll find something suitable regardless of your hiking expertise or energy level.
Having trouble deciding when to travel? October features both an elk viewing tour and fall festival, so keep those possibilities in mind while considering reasons to get out of the car. Also, you can tour Hensley Settlement through the end of October and see rustic cabins, along with a primitive schoolhouse.
Hopefully, these destination suggestions soothe your stress and facilitate memorable time spent in nature this fall. Fuel up your vehicle, grab your camera and get ready for autumn trips of a lifetime.
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