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America’s byways are known for offering some of the most spectacular fall foliage displays in the world. As the leaves change colors during the autumn season, these scenic routes come alive with vibrant reds, oranges, and yellows. Here’s a sample of scenic byways renowned for their breathtaking fall colors:

Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina and Virginia

Often called “America’s Favorite Drive,” this 469-mile road runs through the Appalachian Highlands and offers stunning views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. In the fall, the foliage bursts into a riot of colors, making it one of the most iconic fall drives in the country. Known for its high-elevation views and abundant rhododendron thickets, Craggy Gardens at milepost 364 offers a magnificent display of fall colors. The heath balds here explode with vibrant reds, oranges, and yellows during the autumn months.

The Linn Cove Viaduct at milepost 304 is an engineering marvel that offers both sweeping views of the surrounding mountains and a unique perspective on the fall foliage. The viaduct seems to float among the treetops, providing a fantastic photo opportunity. Mount Mitchell (milepost 355) is the highest peak in the eastern United States and provides an unparalleled vantage point for enjoying the autumn colors. A short hike from the parking area leads to the summit where you can take in the panoramic views.

Cascade Loop National Scenic Byway, Washington

There are many ways to enjoy the amazing “Autumn” season along the Loop. The month of October has traditionally been celebrated as the season of Harvest, and the season of Crush, and it almost always includes adult beverages! Bier on the Pier and Oktoberfest come to mind first – be sure to experience these great events!

Anacortes Bier on the Pier is a celebration that perfectly encapsulates the town’s maritime heritage and love for craft brewing. Held annually on the first Friday and Saturday in October, this event transforms the historic downtown pier into a lively hub of beer enthusiasts, food vendors, and live entertainment. The event showcases the Pacific Northwest’s vibrant craft beer scene while offering attendees a chance to immerse themselves in the coastal ambiance.

Local and regional breweries set up shop on the pier, offering a diverse selection of craft beers that cater to all palates. From rich stouts to hoppy IPAs and smooth ales, the event boasts a variety of flavors that celebrate the creativity and expertise of local brewers. As visitors savor their drinks, they can also take in the stunning views of Guemes Channel and the surrounding islands, adding an extra layer of charm to the experience. If visitors can’t get enough at the festival, Historic Downtown Anacortes is just a stroll away to continue the fun of shopping, eating, and drinking.

Catskill Mountain Scenic Byway, New York

A scenic fall foliage drive along the Catskill Mountain Scenic Byway is an enchanting journey that unveils nature’s grandeur in all its splendor. As the calendar pages turn to autumn, the Catskill Mountains transform into a breathtaking tapestry of fiery reds, vibrant oranges, and deep golden hues. The drive through this region is a symphony of colors that dances along winding mountain roads and lush valleys. The Great Northern Catskills, with their dense forests, rolling hills, and pristine lakes, provide the perfect canvas for this annual spectacle of nature’s artistry.

The journey begins as the first leaves start to change, and the air takes on a crisp, invigorating quality. The roads wind through dense woodlands where the trees stand tall, their leaves forming a radiant canopy overhead. Every bend reveals a new vista, each more captivating than the last. As you ascend the mountains, the panoramic views from overlooks and scenic viewpoints are nothing short of awe-inspiring. The reflection of the foliage in the tranquil waters of mountain lakes adds an extra layer of magic to the experience. The Great Northern Catskills fall foliage drive is not just a visual feast; it’s a sensory delight, with the earthy scent of fallen leaves and the gentle rustle of the wind through the trees serenading your senses. This journey through the Catskills during the fall is a reminder of the extraordinary beauty that the changing seasons bring, a reminder that nature’s artistry is the most brilliant of all.

Anticipated peak color is mid-October. You can check for updates on the I Love NY foliage report.

Delaware Crossing Scenic Byway, Iowa

This scenic drive through Delaware County’s Maquoketa River valley can take you back in time or plant you firmly in the present. The Delaware Crossing Scenic Byway is a 36-mile loop route, so it’s easy to jump on at any point. Wherever you begin your travel, you’ll enjoy spectacular views of farmland, rolling hills, and limestone bluffs. A fall drive along the byway’s gentle curves will showcase stunning leaf color on the shores of Lake Delhi and the banks of the Maquoketa River, fields of corn and forests of white pine and aspen, Amish homesteads and small communities, and some of the more than 70 painted barn quilts found across Delaware County. Here are a few suggestions for things to do with your family along the byway this fall:

Anticipated peak color is the last week of September through the first week of October, but you can check the Iowa Fall Color Report for the most up-to-date information before planning your visit, and Delaware Crossing Scenic Byway website for more information.

Door County Coastal Byway, Wisconsin

Autumn’s arrival in Wisconsin heralds the annual transformation of landscapes into a dazzling display of fiery reds, vibrant oranges, and golden yellows. While the Badger State boasts numerous scenic routes for fall foliage enthusiasts, one destination stands out as an iconic masterpiece of autumn colors—the Door County Coastal Byway. This picturesque 66-mile route on the Door Peninsula promises a kaleidoscope of hues amidst a backdrop of charming towns, historic lighthouses, and breathtaking waterfront views.

As you embark on the Door County Coastal Byway in the fall, prepare to be enveloped by a symphony of colors. The peninsula’s lush forests, including maple, birch, and oak trees, undergo a remarkable transformation, creating a vibrant tapestry of fall foliage that stretches as far as the eye can see. The peak of fall foliage in Door County typically occurs from late September to early October. The timing may vary depending on factors like weather conditions and the specific location on the peninsula, so it’s advisable to check local foliage reports and forecasts for the most up-to-date information before planning your visit.

The Door County Coastal Byway meanders through Peninsula State Park, a haven for nature enthusiasts. Explore the park’s dense forests, serene inland lakes, and panoramic overlooks that provide breathtaking vistas of Green Bay, all aglow with autumnal splendor. Keep an eye out for wildlife during your journey. White-tailed deer, wild turkeys, and a variety of bird species call this area home. Wildlife sightings against the backdrop of fall foliage add a touch of enchantment to your experience.

The byway closely follows the coastline of Lake Michigan and Green Bay. As you drive, you’ll be treated to stunning views of crystal-clear waters framed by trees ablaze with color. This delightful blend of land and water vistas creates an unparalleled sense of serenity and beauty. Door County is renowned for its historic lighthouses, and the byway offers opportunities to explore these iconic structures. Eagle Bluff Lighthouse, Cana Island Lighthouse, and others stand proudly amid the fall foliage, providing picturesque scenes that beckon both history buffs and photographers.

Along the route, you’ll encounter charming villages and towns like Ephraim, Fish Creek, and Sister Bay. These communities come alive with the spirit of the season, hosting fall festivals, farmers’ markets, and events where you can experience local culture and hospitality. Door County is famous for its cherry orchards, and in the fall, these orchards become part of the colorful landscape. Consider visiting a cherry orchard or vineyard to sample local products and savor the flavors of the season.

The Door County Coastal Byway in Wisconsin is a true gem for fall enthusiasts seeking an unforgettable foliage experience. With its vibrant colors, historic landmarks, coastal vistas, and charming communities, this scenic route encapsulates the essence of autumn’s splendor. As you traverse the byway, you’ll find yourself immersed in a world of natural beauty, cultural richness, and seasonal delights that make Door County a must-visit destination during the fall season. So, pack your camera, don your coziest sweater, and embark on an autumn adventure you won’t soon forget along the Door County Coastal Byway.

Driftless Area Scenic Byway, Iowa

The Driftless Area Scenic Byway is one of the most scenic areas along the Great River Road, a National Scenic Byway as it follows the Mississippi River, zigzagging along in Allamakee County Iowa.  The first two weeks of October seem to bring out the “vibrant” fall colors although this year with the lack of rainfall it may be sooner.  You will not only see the various fall colors but also wildflowers and wildlife as well.

While traveling from the northern border of Iowa starting at New Albin heading south through Lansing, Wexford area, Harpers Ferry, and Effigy Mounds, there are many sites to see as well as great food.  Suggested stops are the City Meat Market, Splash Pad, Historic Iron post in New Albin; Mt. Hosmer Mississippi Overlook, Horsfall’s Variety Store, and the Driftless Area Visitors Center over-looking the Mississippi River with interpretive display in Lansing; Madigan Winery and the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church & Grotto in the Wexford area; Mohn’s Fish Market, Family Splash Pad, Oil Springs one-room School Museum, Lock & Dam # 9 Riverwalk, Yellow River State Forest and Effigy National Monument in Harpers Ferry with all of these along the Great River Road.  There are plenty of local eateries offering a variety of local favorites.

Historic Columbia River Highway Scenic Byway, Oregon

This All-American Road traverses the Columbia River Gorge which is famous for its vibrant fall foliage. The mix of deciduous and evergreen trees in the area creates a striking contrast of reds, oranges, and yellows against the lush green backdrop. The peak of fall foliage in the Columbia River Gorge typically occurs in late October and early November. However, the timing can vary depending on weather conditions and elevation, so it’s a good idea to check local foliage reports and forecasts for the most accurate information.

Along the byway, you’ll encounter numerous waterfalls, including iconic ones like Multnomah Falls. The fall colors around these waterfalls make for stunning photographs. The Columbia River itself, with its winding course and surrounding forests, adds to the scenic beauty.  Vista House at Crown Point offers stunning panoramic views of the Columbia River Gorge and the surrounding hills covered in colorful foliage. There are several designated viewpoints and overlooks along the byway, allowing you to pull over and soak in the scenic beauty. These spots are perfect for capturing the vivid fall foliage in photographs.

The Columbia River Gorge is a hiker’s paradise, with numerous trails that lead you through the colorful forests. Popular hikes like Angels Rest and Dog Mountain offer fantastic views of the fall colors. Keep an eye out for wildlife along the byway. You may spot bald eagles, osprey, and other birds of prey soaring above the gorge. Deer and other small mammals are also commonly seen.

The Historic Columbia River Highway Scenic Byway in Oregon is a quintessential fall destination, offering a remarkable journey through some of the most beautiful landscapes in the Pacific Northwest. Whether you’re a leaf-peeping enthusiast, a hiker, or simply looking for a scenic drive, this byway promises a memorable autumn experience.

Historic Hills Scenic Byway, Iowa

Autumn is a lovely time to visit the Historic Hills Scenic Byway in southeastern Iowa. Gorgeous weather, changing foliage, and fall festivities make it a great trip for all ages. The Fall Festival in Bloomfield takes place September 23, kicking off the season in style. Enjoy kids’ games, a car show, and farmer’s market during this day of celebration. The byway boasts beautiful foliage mid-October and you will want to head to the Villages of Van Buren’s Scenic Drive Festival October 13-15. Vendors, events, and entertainment make this a weekend to remember.

The Historic Hills Scenic Byway is known for its quiet roads, quaint towns and abundance of places to enjoy the outdoors. This 100-mile scenic drive has almost as many parks as there are miles of byway, giving you an opportunity to get out and picnic, explore trails, check out the changing colors, or find new adventures. Take a hike at one of the many state forests and parks in the area.  Bike the byway and enjoy the slower pace along the roadway. Boat, fish, camp, or bird watch while you take in the scents of autumn.

Let the Historic Hills Scenic Byway help plan your trip!

Kancamagus Scenic Byway, New Hampshire

Kancamagus Scenic Byway, often referred to as the “Kanc,” is one of New Hampshire’s most beloved and picturesque routes for experiencing the vibrant fall foliage. Located in the heart of the White Mountains, this 34.5-mile-long byway offers a front-row seat to the stunning transformation of the region’s hardwood forests during the autumn season. As you drive along the Kancamagus Byway, you’ll be treated to a breathtaking display of autumn colors. The dense forests that flank the road burst into brilliant shades of red, orange, and yellow, creating a captivating and immersive experience for leaf-peepers. The peak of fall foliage along the Kancamagus Scenic Byway typically occurs in late September to early October, though the timing can vary slightly from year to year. It’s advisable to check the New Hampshire foliage tracker for the most accurate information on when the colors are at their brightest.

Along the route, you’ll have the opportunity to spot several charming covered bridges, which provide quintessential New England photo opportunities. These historic structures, framed by autumn foliage, make for stunning snapshots. The Kancamagus Byway intersects with numerous hiking trails, some of which lead to fantastic overlooks and vistas. A short hike can reward you with panoramic views of the colorful forests and surrounding mountains. And keep an eye out for wildlife, as the White Mountains are home to a variety of animals. Moose, deer, and various bird species are frequently spotted during fall excursions.

The area around the Kancamagus Scenic Byway boasts several campgrounds and picnic areas. Enjoy a meal surrounded by the fall colors, or even consider camping to fully immerse yourself in the autumn ambiance. The small towns along the route, like Conway and Lincoln, often embrace the fall season with festivals, farm stands, and other seasonal activities. It’s a great opportunity to interact with friendly locals and get a taste of New Hampshire hospitality.

Lake Country Scenic Byway, Minnesota

The Lake Country Scenic Byway in Minnesota stretches 88 miles and uniquely transitions from tallgrass prairie to hardwood and conifer forests interspersed with lakes, rivers, and streams. Oranges and reds. Pale greens and bright yellows. Deep green conifer spires. Autumn in lake country is the opportune time to take leisurely drives and hikes to see the spectacular changing Minnesota foliage colors. The Lake Country Scenic Byway corridor includes eight state forests, the Chippewa National Forest, Itasca State Park, and several nature areas including Tamarac and Hamden Slough National Wildlife Refuges. Most of these public lands include hiking trails.

Additional things to do include beer and wine tastings, pow wows, fall festivals including Octoberfest and Ethnic Fest, pumpkin patches and apple orchard picking, corn mazes, live theatre performances, muskie fishing, driving Art Leap, mountain biking and more. Find more information at the Lake Country Scenic Byway website and Visit Detroit Lakes.

Peak fall colors are usually the last week of September-first week of October, often lasting another week beyond that. You can check the Minnesota fall colors website for more details.

Lookout Mountain Parkway, Alabama

For visitors from coastal southern states, Lookout Mountain Parkway is one of the closest mountain regions displaying beautiful fall color. Travelers choose the Lookout Mountain Parkway and its breathtaking views of the Appalachian foothills because of the natural areas that include state and national parks, a 600-foot-deep canyon, waterfalls, numerous natural woodlands, rock formations, and scenic overlooks. The best time to witness the fall colors along the Lookout Mountain Parkway is typically in October, with peak foliage occurring in mid to late October. However, the timing can vary slightly each year depending on weather conditions.

Lookout Mountain Parkway is a wonderful leisure destination offering campgrounds, rental cabins, bed & breakfasts, and hotels along the way. Families can hike, bike, zip-line, picnic, rock climb, repel, swim and enjoy nature at its best, along with quaint small cities and towns. Exploring Lookout Mountain Parkway in Alabama during the fall is a memorable experience, with the vibrant colors of autumn enhancing the already stunning scenery. Whether you’re driving the parkway, hiking the trails, or simply taking in the views, you’ll be treated to a picturesque display of fall foliage in the Appalachian foothills. Learn more at the official Lookout Mountain Parkway website.

Los Caminos Antiguos Scenic and Historic Byway, Colorado

Take a brisk fall drive through the southern end of the San Luis Valley to the beautiful San Juan Mountains along the Conejos River. Climb Highway 17 along the Los Caminos Antiguos Scenic and Historic Byway through colorful aspen trees and crisp mountain air. Enjoy the views from Conejos Canyon Overlook. You may spot the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad train rumbling by.

With 11,000 years of documented human habitation, the Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area is a crossroads of the centuries. Here a unique blend of Native American, Hispano, and Anglo settlement is reflected in the diversity of the people, art, and traditions. The geographic isolation of our high desert valley and the peoples’ enduring ties to the land have given rise to a rich cultural heritage and ensured its preservation. The area’s fertile cultural landscape is complemented by remarkable natural resources, including the mighty Rio Grande, majestic Rocky Mountain peaks, Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, Alamosa, Monte Vista, and Baca National Wildlife Refuges, and the high mountain desert, all of which lend the Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area an unparalleled beauty that offers a sense of retreat and a powerful source of inspiration for visitors.

Things to do along the Los Caminos Antiguos Scenic and Historic Byway:

 

Old Canada Road National Scenic Byway, Maine

The Old Canada Road Scenic Byway in Maine, also known as U.S. Route 201, offers a captivating and immersive experience for those seeking the vibrant fall colors of New England. This scenic route takes you through the western part of the state, following the Kennebec River and the historic path that early settlers used to travel from Boston to Quebec. Old Canada Road is renowned for its splendid fall foliage. The journey takes you through dense forests, along riverbanks, and past picturesque lakes, all of which burst into a symphony of reds, oranges, and yellows during the autumn season.

The best views are from the breathtaking overlooks dotting the byway. Marking the southern gateway and showcasing the sprawling beauty of Maine’s western High Peaks, Robbins Hill is a must-stop. A gentle network of trails, some being ADA-accessible, offer a mix of forest floor and the chance to get up close to some of Maine’s flora and fauna on crushed stone and grass paths, all with expansive mountain views. Just south of Jackman, the Attean overlook highlights sweeping views of Moose River Valley, Attean Pond, border mountains, and miles of connecting rivers and streams flowing to the Canadian border.

The peak of fall foliage in Maine, including along the Old Canada Road, typically occurs from late September through early October. However, the timing can vary depending on weather conditions, so it’s a good idea to check Maine Foliage reports and forecasts for the most accurate information.

Payette River Scenic Byway, Idaho

As summer’s warmth gradually yields to the crisp embrace of autumn, nature prepares to put on one of its most magnificent displays. In the heart of Idaho, the Payette River Scenic Byway emerges as a hidden gem for those seeking the breathtaking beauty of fall foliage. This picturesque route takes travelers on a mesmerizing journey through dense forests, alongside the sparkling Payette River, and into charming mountain towns.

Every autumn, the Payette River Scenic Byway transforms into a canvas of warm, fiery hues. The deciduous trees that line the byway, including aspen, cottonwood, and maple, burst into brilliant shades of red, orange, and gold, creating a visual spectacle that captivates all who pass through. The peak of fall foliage along the Payette River Scenic Byway typically occurs in late September through early October. However, the exact timing can vary due to factors such as elevation and weather conditions. To catch nature’s paintbrush at its finest, be sure to check local foliage reports and forecasts as you plan your journey.

The byway leads through the charming mountain towns of McCall and Cascade, where you can experience the magic of fall in an idyllic setting. These communities often host seasonal events, farmer’s markets, and festivals that celebrate the harvest season.

The Payette River Scenic Byway is a gateway to outdoor adventures. Consider taking advantage of the fall season to explore hiking trails, go boating on nearby lakes, or cast a line in the Payette River. The crisp autumn air and stunning scenery make outdoor activities even more delightful. Keep your eyes peeled for wildlife along the byway. Deer, elk, eagles, and a variety of bird species are commonly spotted during the fall months. Wildlife sightings amidst the fall foliage add an element of wonder to your journey. Situated near the beginning of the byway, Ponderosa State Park is a haven for fall enthusiasts. The park’s dense forests and tranquil lakeshores offer endless opportunities for leaf-peeping, hiking, and wildlife spotting. Be sure to explore the park’s network of trails for the best views of the fall foliage.

The Payette River Scenic Byway in Idaho offers a captivating journey through a world of fall beauty. With its vibrant foliage, tranquil river vistas, and the charm of mountain towns, this scenic route invites travelers to immerse themselves in the rich tapestry of autumn’s colors. Whether you’re a leaf-peeping enthusiast, an outdoor adventurer, or simply seeking a serene escape, the Payette River Scenic Byway is a must-visit destination during the fall season. So, pack your camera, breathe in the crisp mountain air, and embark on a journey through Idaho’s canvas of fall splendor along this enchanting byway.

Skyline Drive, Virginia

In the heart of Virginia, the combination of Skyline Drive and the Shenandoah Valley forms a picturesque canvas that comes alive with the vibrant hues of fall foliage. This iconic route offers an unparalleled opportunity to witness the majesty of autumn in all its glory. The deciduous trees that adorn the region, including maples, oaks, and hickories, undergo a remarkable transformation, painting the landscape with brilliant shades of crimson, amber, and gold. This breathtaking display of color is a sight to behold.

Skyline Drive is a 105-mile National Scenic Byway within Shenandoah National Park and the crown jewel of fall foliage destinations in the eastern United States. As you wind your way through this picturesque route, you’ll be treated to sweeping vistas, overlooks, and countless opportunities to bask in the beauty of the changing leaves. The Shenandoah Valley, known for its picturesque towns, charming farms, and rolling hills, offers a stunning backdrop to complement the fall colors of Skyline Drive. As you venture into the valley, you’ll find quaint communities like Staunton, Harrisonburg, and Winchester, each embracing the season with festivals and local markets.

Scattered throughout Shenandoah National Park are designated picnic areas where you can savor a meal amidst the colorful foliage. Pack a picnic basket, find a serene spot, and relish the flavors of autumn in this serene setting. The park also offers an extensive network of hiking trails, many of which provide incredible views of the fall colors. Popular hikes like Old Rag Mountain and Hawksbill Summit Trail take you to elevated vantage points where you can immerse yourself in the breathtaking landscapes. Keep an eye out for wildlife as you explore the area. White-tailed deer, wild turkeys, and a variety of bird species are commonly seen, adding to the magic of the season.

To experience the peak of fall foliage along Skyline Drive and in the Shenandoah Valley, plan your visit for mid to late October. However, it’s advisable to check local foliage reports and forecasts, as the exact timing can vary based on weather conditions and elevation. Fall is a popular time to explore Skyline Drive and the Shenandoah Valley, so consider planning your visit in advance, especially if you plan to stay overnight.

Skyline Drive and the Shenandoah Valley offer a truly enchanting fall experience. With its vibrant foliage, sweeping vistas, and charming communities, this region invites travelers to revel in the rich tapestry of autumn’s colors. Whether you’re a leaf-peeping enthusiast, a nature lover, or someone seeking a peaceful escape, Skyline Drive and the Shenandoah Valley provide a front-row seat to the symphony of fall in all its splendor. So, pack your camera and favorite sweatshirt, and embark on a journey through Virginia’s canvas of fall beauty.

Unaweep Tabegauche Scenic and Historic Byway, Colorado

Read more about Fall Color Scenic Drives on our home page, nsbfoundation.com

Appalachian Byway of Ohio, Ohio

Boom or Bust National Scenic Byway, Louisiana

Iowa Scenic Byways

Lookout Mountain Parkway, Alabama

Paul Bunyan Scenic Byway, Minnesota

Rangeley Lakes National Scenic Byway, Maine

Sandhills Journey National Scenic Byway, Nebraska

Sheyenne River Valley National Scenic Byway, North Dakota

Superior National Forest Scenic Byway, Minnesota

White Pass Scenic Byway, Washington