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The 6 Most Scenic Autumn Drives In America

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One advantage of driving for a living is the opportunity to explore expansive areas of the country and drive along some of the most beautiful highways. With the arrival of fall, leaves are changing and some highways have transformed into the most beautiful roads and landscapes dotted with fall foliage. This list of scenic roads was compiled based on reader studies from USA TODAY and Time periods for peak color variations differ from place to place and year to year, but the season generally falls somewhere between the beginning of September and the end of October. Most of these roads are also great places to take a break, hop out of the vehicle and go for a walk or a bicycle ride.

6. Blue Ridge Parkway, Virginia

The Blue Ridge Parkway is so long and goes through so many elevation changes that it doesn’t have just one foliage season—it has several. Almost any week in the fall might see somewhere along the Blue Ridge in peak color. The high elevation of the region supports some of the same species that grow up north, but look also for brilliantly yellow hickory and tulip poplar, especially in the southern end of the 469-mile-long route. For those who want to get off the paved road, there is plenty of camping and hiking.

5. Olympic Peninsula Loop Drive, Washington

The Olympic Peninsula is known for its lush evergreens, but there are pockets of bright fall color here, too. And just as impressive as its foliage is its autumnal animals are equally notable. Fall is the time to experience the bird migration, the storied salmon runs, and the bugle of huge Roosevelt elk. The 350-mile route winds through every landscape the Peninsula has to offer, from sea sides to high ridges.

4. Hocking Hills Scenic Byway, Ohio

Maples, sweetgum, dogwood, and oak give fall in Ohio a lovely variety. Hocking Hills also has caves, equestrian trails, paddling, and plenty of history to explore. This Scenic Byway is 26 miles long and a great way to explore the area, but visitors should definitely leave the road, too. Exciting options include balloon rides and a zip line.

3. Kancamagus Highway, New Hampshire

“The Kanc,” is not just a great way to take in some brilliant New England color; this 35 mile-long American Scenic Byway winds through the dramatic topography of the White Mountains National Forest. Fall arrives early because of the high elevation, usually in late September or early October.

2. Upper Delaware Scenic Byway, New York

This Scenic Byway takes its name not from the state of Delaware but from the mighty Delaware River. Along its 70 miles, the road passes hiking and fishing opportunities, shops and restaurants, art galleries and museums. In the fall, the views of forested hills turn red and yellow and orange.

1. M-22, Michigan

M-22 follows the shore of Lake Michigan 116 miles through wineries and galleries, and miles of beautiful trees. Yellow ashes, crimson black gum and sweet gum, and red and orange maples light up the countryside. The colorful display of leaves can last for two months straight.


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