As we once again bid farewell to summer months filled with back-to-back car events, we can now look forward to the fall foliage season and the changing palette of trees in a blazing bloom of color. It’s time to maximize your intake of color and heighten your senses. And no matter where you are, the way to cover the most ground—and take in the biggest eyeful of color—is behind the wheel. To give you ideas while you map out your driving route, here are some of our favorite fall color drives.
Finger Lakes Region – New York: As the name states, the Finger Lakes located in central New York fit the pattern of spindly fingers. Supplied with an extra finger, the region consists of 11 lakes: Canandaigua, Keuka, Seneca, Cayuga, Skaneateles, Owasco, Otisco, Honeoye, Canadice, Hemlock and Conesus— all formed by glaciers. The region covers over 9,000 square miles, but the most common drive in the area is the 175-mile loop starting and ending in Ithaca. You will pass extravagant natural gorges with cascading waterfalls. Allow yourself a few days to enjoy this trip past lovely lakefront homes, farms and wineries engulfed in the color of autumn.
Skyline Drive – Virginia: It’s a glorious 105-mile drive on the only public road in Shenandoah National Park. Weaving along the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia, Skyline Drive welcomes Cars, RVs and trailers, provided they can clear the 12-foot, eight-inch high Mary's Rock Tunnel along the route. If you don’t plan on any stops, the trip takes about three hours to complete. But the 75 scenic overlooks and stunning views of mountains, valleys, flowers and wildlife is worth savoring, so plan to take longer. It’s a slow-moving drive with 35 mph speed limits throughout the park to protect wildlife, and the drive is dotted with numerous campsites and visitor centers.
San Juan Skyway – Colorado: The San Juan Skyway is known as the “road to the sky” and takes visitors through the national forests of San Juan, Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison in Colorado. Being a 233-mile drive, it takes about five hours to complete, but allowing one or two days to maximize the experience of the area is highly recommended. The drive features steep cliffs, waterfalls, alpine forests, campgrounds and plenty of opportunities for outdoor activities. This drive also provides views of the San Juan Mountains, quaint towns and ancient Native American pueblo ruins.
Northern Michigan’s Coast: Starting in northern Michigan’s hot spot, Traverse City, this route features 250 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline, where fiery-hued maple and softly muted oak leaves stand out against green pine, fir, and spruce trees. Also making their presence known are charming coves, towering sand dunes and picturesque small towns. While traveling around the loop, lighthouses, hiking trails, breweries and wineries give reason to pause. If you prefer to make a weekend of your stay, campsites and hotels are abundant throughout the entire route.
Ricketts Glen State Park, Northeast Pennsylvania: This Pennsylvania state park rests on 13,050 acres in Columbia, Luzerne and Sullivan counties. Known for its old-growth forest, rock formations, and 24 named waterfalls found along kitchen creek, it is truly a sight to behold during the fall season. A favored route to take by locals and tourists alike, it is off Route 29 and Route 487 in northeast Pennsylvania. Wildlife is abundant with 64 wild mammal species and 75 types of birds recorded, so drive cautiously and prepared to be awed.