8 Spectacularly Scenic Road Trips for Enjoying Fall Foliage

You can find travel-worthy displays of color nestled in breathtaking natural surroundings across the U.S. These scenic byways are proof.

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A road trip is perhaps the epitome of the American vacation, regardless of the route you take. But a road trip through the nation’s most scenic and colorful fall foliage displays? That’s the epitome of an autumn American getaway.

The following eight drives — found in the Northeast, the Southwest and the mountain ranges in between — will immerse you in some of the best sites and experiences that the nation’s great outdoors offer this time of year. Most of them have earned a spot in the Federal Highway Administration’s National Scenic Byways Program. Others are state-designated scenic byways.

If you’re new to road trips, don’t be intimidated. It’s impossible to screw one up — it’s about the experience and quality time with family and friends, or even just yourself. Remembering to pack road-trip essentials will make for smoother travels, though.

If you’re short on time this autumn, don’t let that deter you. The following adventures can be pulled off in an afternoon, or savored for days. The shortest drive is 37 miles and the longest is 469 miles, although several can easily be extended if you’re looking for a longer vacation.

1. Cherohala Skyway — North Carolina and Tennessee

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The Federal Highway Administration highlights this national scenic byway’s “mile-high vistas and brilliant fall foliage.”

The Cherohala Skyway stretches for some 40 miles between the towns of Robbinsville, North Carolina, and Tellico Plains, Tennessee. Along the way, the byway winds through two national forests for which it’s named, the Cherokee and Nantahala.

The leaves start turning as early as September in higher elevations and continue through mid-November in lower elevations.

Autumn recreational opportunities along Cherohala Skyway include outdoor activities such as hiking, cycling and camping, thanks to moderate temperatures and little rainfall this time of year.


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