Best Fall Road Trips Across the US

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It’s a time-honored tradition to take a drive through the mountains and forests as they change into the golds, reds, and yellows of the season, and there are many spots across the country that have spectacular fall colors.
We’ve compiled a list of the best road trips across the US to take in the fall—not only for beautiful foliage, but also for picturesque small towns, farmland, lakes, and mountains.
Before you hit the road, be sure you’re prepared for any scenario. With Jerry on hand, you won’t only have access to great car insurance when you’re looking for new policies, you’ll also be able to sign up for roadside assistance—no matter who your carrier is.
Once that’s taken care of, all you have left to do is drive.
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A trip along the M-22 will feature the glittering waters of Lake Michigan on one side, and the beech and maple forests and golden crests of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore’s sand dunes on the other.
Not only will you enjoy incredible views along every mile, but you’ll also drive through small villages and towns known for their fall fruit production. Pick up some of the first apples, or last tomatoes, of the season along the way.

Tunnel of Trees—Michigan

A road leading through the Tunnel of Trees, Michigan, in the fall.
Tunnel of Trees, Michigan
If you’re looking for a shorter trip with maximum photo opportunities, you can’t do much better than the 16-mile stretch on Michigan’s M-119 known as the Tunnel of Trees. The tree canopy, which runs along Lake Michigan, is famous for its density—to the point where the sky is almost impossible to see through the bright crimson and yellow foliage.
There are also plenty of small-town staples along the way if you feel like stopping and getting some Instagram-worthy shots, including antique shops, rustic inns, and general stores.

Route 20—Galena, Illinois

A sunset falls over downtown Galena and its brick buildings. A clock hangs in the center.
Downtown Galena, IL
Route 20 is a long one—it takes you from New England to the Midwest across the Mississippi. But the stretch in Illinois—on either side of the small town of Galena—is a particular treat.
The region surrounding Galena is part of the Driftless Area and is full of rocky bluffs and rivers that weren’t stamped out by glaciers during the Ice Age. This means it has a much more diverse terrain than the majority of the Midwest, which was mostly flattened by ice. It’s a beautiful place to scope out autumn foliage.
The town of Galena—which has retained much of its 19th-century architecture—has plenty of charm of its own. Galena’s a great spot to take in some history, eat a meal, and maybe go on a ghost tour or two.

Hocking Hills State Park—Ohio

A short waterfall tumbles into blue water with a stone bridge overhead in Hocking Hills State Park, OH.
Hocking Hills State Park, OH
Nestled among its namesake hills in the southeast quadrant of Ohio is a relatively unknown state park. Hocking Hills State Park is worth a visit, whether you’re driving along its scenic byway or hiking on one of its many trails.
There are plenty of caves, waterfalls, covered bridges, and even scenic railways to add some extra flavor to the autumn foliage, which is—of course—in abundance.

Door County—Wisconsin

A red barn that is covered with names written in colorful paint in Door County, WI.
Anderson’s Barn, Door County, WI
Wisconsin’s Door County—on the state’s northern peninsula—is renowned for its autumn foliage, and for a good reason. With Green Bay on one side and Lake Michigan on the other, there is no wrong way to travel to get amazing coastal views alongside the brilliantly colored forests.
In addition, the county has several picturesque lighthouses, small villages, apple orchards, state parks, and wineries, so there’s no shortage of activities or photo opportunities.
Pro Tip There are over 300 miles of coastal roads in Door County, so pick a small portion for a day trip, or drive the whole stretch over a few days to get the most out of the area.
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New England

Lake Winnipesaukee Loop—New Hampshire

A firework bursts against a deep blue night sky over Lake Winnipesaukee with spectators watching around a bonfire.
Lake Winnipesaukee, NH
Check out not one, but two shimmering New Hampshire lakes, including Lake Winnipesaukee, the state’s biggest lake, and Squam Lake. Each lake is surrounded by autumn foliage and gentle, rolling hills.
The roadway, meanwhile, takes you around the edges of the lakes and beaches and through small New England towns, like Meredith and Wolfeboro, for shopping and dining with gorgeous lake views.

Farm Coast—Rhode Island and Massachusetts

True to its name, this scenic route takes you through picturesque New England farmland. This is a one-way trip, but it is less than 30 miles and will take you across two states. You’ll start in South Dartmouth, Mass., overlooking Apponagansett Bay. Then you’ll head west through sprawling vineyards and cornfields, before crossing over the Westport River.
You’ll cross through several small villages and towns, before you finish the journey in Tiverton, near Narragansett Bay.

Jacob’s Ladder Scenic Byway (Route 20) Loops—Massachusetts

A close-up view of a Massachusetts highway with yellow lane dividers and pine trees in the distance.
Route 20, MA
This trip puts you back on Route 20, but you’ll be detouring onto Route 8 through a variety of pastoral and mountain scenery, including the beautiful Berkshires. This route will also take you up one of the highest points in Massachusetts for some truly spectacular views.
You can also detour onto the Mohawk Trail—New England’s first scenic tour route—for a trip around the Berkshires.
Pro Tip The Mohawk Trail is a much more well-known choice, so there does tend to be more people/traffic on the route.

Evans Notch (Route 113)—Maine and New Hampshire

Rocks at the bottom of Basin Pond, Maine, seen through clear water with mountains bordering the pond on a cloudy day.
Basin Pond, ME
You’ll be starting and ending this trip in Maine, but you’ll skirt the border of New Hampshire along winding mountain roads throughout the drive. This trek has more twists and turns than many of the others listed here, but it’s well worth the extra effort.
Not only will you be rewarded with the red and gold foliage of birch, maple, and beech forests, but you’ll soar above the treelines to overlook the valley from above. Apart from the views, nearby trails will take you to scenic waterfalls and Basin Pond.

Vergennes to Montpelier—Vermont

The sun sets over pine trees and brick buildings in Montpelier, VT.
Montpelier, VT
Take a road trip through Green Mountains from Vergennes to Montpelier. This stretch is known as “a roller-coaster ride through the heart of Vermont.” Starting on Route 17, the journey begins through farmland posed against a mountainscape backdrop.
You’ll then drive through beautiful tree-lined roads up to a stop over the Appalachian Gap for sweeping views of the mountains and the valley. Along the way, you’ll cross the Mad River and stop through small towns like Waitsfield before arriving in Montpelier—the nation’s smallest capital city.
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The South

Blue Ridge Parkway—West Virginia and Virginia

Fall-colored trees reflect in dark green water along Blue Ridge Parkway, VA.
Blue Ridge Parkway, VA
The Blue Ridge Parkway winds along the stretch of the Appalachians that dips into the American South—offering 469 miles of quiet mountain road surrounded by dense forests.
Driving down the entire road is a trip unto itself, but the last 40 miles of it—through Jackson County in West Virginia—will take you to the road’s highest point, the [Richland Balsam Overlook], where you’ll be treated to spectacular views of the valley below.
On the Virginia end of the Parkway, you can travel through the state’s incredible Shenandoah Valley, which not only offers beautiful foliage, but also features corn mazes, apple orchards, and the exquisite natural wonders of the expansive Shenandoah National Park.
Pro Tip Take this trip in the early part of fall—the Parkway is closed in late fall through the winter.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

A broken down wooden fence in front of a corn field painted orange by a dramatic sunset in Tennessee.
Great Smoky Mountains, TN
Hop onto the Newfound Gap Road in Gatlinburg, Tennessee for this hour-long journey through some of the most diverse forestry in the region—a truly all-encompassing fall foliage experience.
Along the way, you’ll have a chance to get some of the best views of these diverse ecosystems from the top of Clingmans Dome’s observation tower, the highest point in Tennessee. A stop here means you’ll be treated to 360 degrees of valley vistas, and on particularly clear days, you’ll be able to see up to a hundred miles away.

Cherokee Foothills National Scenic Byway—South Carolina

Dry yellow grass and a one-story house surrounded by bare trees on the side of a South Carolina road.
Highway 11, SC
South Carolina’s Highway 11 takes you from the Georgia border up almost 120 miles through not only breathtaking fall foliage, but also rivers, waterfalls, lakes, orchards, and small country villages.
The road itself is also steeped in history, as it was the route used by the Cherokee who inhabited the area and by French and English fur traders. At one point, the road stops off at Cowpens National Battlefield—the site of where the Battle of Cowpens, a decisive Revolutionary War battle, was won by the American military.
Pro Tip There are plenty of fresh fruit stands along the route, but many of the quaint villages on the route offer up traditional Southern comfort food and coffee.
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Jerry roadside assistance

Isolated roads winding through glorious autumn foliage make for a great picture, but they don’t make for a great place to break down. Before you head out across the U.S., make sure you’ve got roadside assistance.
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