While New England is famous for its fall foliage, it isn’t the only region that is suitable for a beautiful autumnal road trip. Plus, if you’re based in Utah like I am, New England is a ways away! Fortunately, there are a number of scenic spots on the west coast perfect for a “leaf peeping” road trip.
Teton Scenic Byway – Idaho
This 69-mile route courses through southeast Idaho and features a mountain bike trail that runs along the byway. The best time to drive through Idaho is from late September through October, though for more exact dates of fall foliage, you should consult the Intermountain Region Forest Service. The route starts at Swan Valley and runs north towards the Targhee National Forest and Ashton.
Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area – Oregon
The Columbia River Highway is a stretch of I-84 that features over 80 miles of forests in vivid colors from mid-September to mid-October every year. There are plenty of outdoor adventures and activities along the way, from scenic viewing at the mountaintop Crown Point Vista House in Corbett to the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center and Museum in The Dalles. If outdoor adventures aren’t your fancy and you are simply looking for spectacular scenery, the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic area won’t disappoint you.
Beartooth Highway – Montana
Most of Beartooth Highway (United States HIghway 212) is located in northern Wyoming, but it connects the cities of Cooke City-Silver Gate and Red Lodge in southern Montana. The 68-mile byway is considered one of America’s best scenic drives and passes through the Custer, Shoshone, and Gallatin national forests. Bear in mind that roughly 50 miles of this road will be closed off for the winter starting in mid-October.
Mount Laguna – California
You can thank the high elevations of Mount Laguna for the lush forests of oak and cottonwood. The forest turns vivid orange and gold for a stunning view, and you can hike along the Sunset Trail before recharging at the Pine House Cafe. If you time your visit right, you might be able to visit the Mount Laguna Observatory for a night of stargazing, too.