So many things have been put on hold this year because of the coronavirus pandemic, but one activity that remains on the okay-with-the-proper-precautions list is a road trip. And what better time to hit the road than October/November—before the winter snow arrives and when the fall leaves are at their peak?
This year especially, it is crucial to plan ahead. Not only do hotels typically fill up fast during the fall season, but the coronavirus presents an added layer of complexity. Scoping out stop-offs in advance, ensuring an adequate supply of food and water and, of course, adhering to CDC guidelines are key to a safe and enjoyable journey.
Now, on to the fun stuff. Here are just a few of our top picks for a picturesque fall foliage tour (because, let’s face it—there is simply too much beautiful ground to cover in just one short article).
The Northeast: A Leaf Peeper’s Paradise
From the Delmarva Peninsula to the Lake Champlain region of Vermont, you’ll be hard-pressed to take a drive through the Northeast come fall and not encounter a collage of reds, greens, oranges and yellows. But to capture the best of the region and the season, it all depends on timing.
If you’re hitting the road in early to mid-October, you’ll want to head farther north (think: the northern parts of Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire).
Autumn Color © Alan P. Scherer Jr.
Mid-October, the Berkshires of Western Massachusetts, or the hills of Litchfield County, Connecticut, are guaranteed to put on a brilliant show of colors, too.
From mid-to-late October through early November, you’ll want to head a bit farther south, perhaps starting in New York’s Hudson Valley, then meandering through the North Fork of Long Island and, if you’re feeling ambitious, down to the Poconos by way of New Jersey and the Delaware Water Gap (reportedly, one of the best places to view fall foliage).
The Midwest: From the Great Lakes to the Mississippi
Midwesterners—Chicagoans, for the sake of a starting point—have a bounty of fall foliage destinations within reach by car, whether it be a trek to Wisconsin’s vibrant Door County or a shorter, mid-October jaunt to Starved Rock State Park. Of course, no discussion of the scenic Midwest would be complete without mention of the Great Lakes, along which there are so many fantastic fall color destinations to be seen.
Autumn Walk © Leonard Durbin
South Holland, Illinois
For the dogged road warrior and photographer, Enjoy Illinois outlines what looks to be a bucket list-worthy trip along Great River Road—which runs along the Mississippi River from Minnesota all the way down to Louisiana—complete with foliage, zip lining, open-air bars and more. Of course, you could just pick a segment closest to you; the aforementioned list includes nine towns for prime foliage views.
Heading South: Take a Drive Through the Blue Ridge Mountains
From the Blue Ridge Mountains to the Great Smoky Mountains and eight national forests in between, you simply can’t go wrong with a long and leisurely drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway—aka, America’s longest linear park. The ultimate scenic route might start in Virginia’s Roanoke Valley, then head down to Asheville, North Carolina, (and its many fall-inspired adventures from which to choose), then due west to Great Smoky Mountains National Park on the North Carolina/Tennessee border.
Autumn Lake Reflections © Gary Gatten
Looking to stay east? Keep south on the mountain route to Georgia, and be sure to make a stop at Chattahoochee National Forest just over the border. As with all seasonal excursions, timing is important, but plan for mid-to-late October, and you can expect to see some color as far south as the Peach State.
A Word on the West Coast
From Napa Valley to Lake Tahoe to Yosemite National Park, the West Coast has so much to offer in the way of scenic beauty. But at the present time, wildfires are wreaking havoc on the West, with more than 4 million acres destroyed in California to date. For that reason, we are sadly unable to recommend a scenic route for the West Coast, and our hearts go out to all those impacted by the devastating fires.
Jocko River © Gary Migues
Share the Fall Vibe on Your Art Gallery
Planning to hit the road for a much-needed photography outing this fall? Consider showcasing your best shots on Your Art Gallery, a first-of-its-kind online gallery for photographers of all skill levels to exhibit and sell their work. Visit www.yourartgallery.com to learn more and get started.