It's never to early to start planning a road trip. Fall foliage makes this season one of the most beautiful times of the year. However, don't just gaze upon the autumn hues from your window; hike through brightly colored forests or fish along a fall shoreline at one of these scenic locations.
Fall foliage tours by road are the quintessential autumn vacation. Moreover, what better way to experience it than a camping vacation where the only things more dazzling than the fall colors are the scenic stars at night that take you through brilliant displays of nature.
Admire the annual fall colors aboard scenic rail excursions, picturesque lake cruises, and comprehensive sightseeing in each destination.
What Makes Leaves Change Colors
To understand why leaves turn from green to orange, red, yellow and brown, you first have to know why leaves are green. Chlorophyll, more like boreophyll, It all starts with photosynthesis and chlorophyll (maybe Billy Madison was wrong). Individually, leaves appear green, thanks to the millions of chlorophyll cells that generate during photosynthesis in the tree's chloroplasts.
Without all of that chlorophyll, leaves would always look like they do in autumn and not green.
The constant creation of chlorophyll masks other compounds in the leaves that would otherwise make them appear yellow and orange. In other words, those are the leaves' real colors. In fall, photosynthesis crawls and eventually stops due to the notable reduction in sunlight trees experience -- allowing the leaves to turn to their "natural" yellow, red and orange colors.
The type of tree will determine the colors you will see. You'll find red leaves on trees like red maples, scarlet oaks, sweet gums, sumacs, sourwoods, mountain ashes, and some sugar maples, according to UV. Some trees like hickories, tulip poplars, beeches, and birches have mainly orange, and fall leaves.
When the process finally ends, the trees will lock the connections to the leaves, an. As a result, the leaves turn brown, die, and fall to the ground as fertilizer for the growing season the following year.
So, if you missed out on fall foliage this year, let the leaves crunching under your shoes serve as a reminder: next year the process will happen all over again.
We suggest starting your road trip from the West to the East. You can accomplish the journey in a week with minimal stops; ten days would be ideal. If you are unable to complete the entire cross country trip and live close to a portion, jump on the route and get leaf peeping.
So without further adieu, the Gear To Get Out Fall Folliage Road Trip.
Columbia River Gorge, Oregon / Washington State
Home to over 50 waterfalls, the Columbia River Gorge located between Washington and Oregon, in its self impressive, but the fall months are the most exceptional times to visit. Throughout October and November, Mount Hood becomes a harmony of fall colors that are ideal for biking, hiking and taking the best selfie pictures you've ever made, JK. The dry summer has sadly created an atmosphere sensitive to wildfires, so be sure to check on potential threats, damage or closed areas with the National Forest Service.
Just say the name Aspen, and you think of its gorgeous aspen trees that turn the precise yellow-gold in the fall. Before the ski season starts, you can enjoy all kinds of outdoor activities to enjoy the magnificent views, and take in the scenery.
Taos, New Mexico
While most people correlate leaf peeking with the Northeast, people in the Southwest can also enjoy some changing colors. The southwestern scenery of New Mexico is a must-see any time of the year, but in the fall it gets interesting, The Enchanted Circle is one of America's most scenic drives: This 83-mile road connects the towns of Taos, Eagle Nest, Red River, and Questa, and contains some sensational views.
Ozark National Forest, Arkansas & Fayetteville
With more than one million acres of spectacular scenery, Ozark National Forest is HUGE. October is usually the best time to visit the forests of Arkansas when the fall foliage is at its peak. You can easily find yourself roaming through the gorgeous fall hues of orange, red, and gold. Plus there are plenty of springs, rivers, and breathtaking parks to photograph.
Lakes of the Ozarks, Missouri
The Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri has plenty of ways for leaf peepers to take in the fall display. Drive down Highway 65, take a narrated scenic cruise on the lake or hike, bike or walk one of the hundreds of miles of trails in the area.
Pocono Mountains, Pensylvania
With 127 species of indigenous trees, plants and shrubs, the Pocono Mountains are ablaze with hues of yellow, orange and red. Leaf peepers can hop in the car, ride a bike or go out for a jog, for a scenic trip along Route 507 near Lake Wallenpaupack. For an even more exciting adventure climb aboard a fall foliage train.
Let the dazzling hues of autumn and the beautiful scenery of the northeastern coastline capture your soul on this trip through New England.
Catskill Mountains, New York
The Catskill Mountains are practically the complete fall landscape. Once you've taken in the view, and gotten the best Instagram, the Hunter Mountain Octoberfest offers visitors weekends of live entertainment, great food, and German cultural activities. Check with Hunter Mountain for exact times and dates.
It's no wonder Stowe is called "Fall's Color Capital." With so many trees, bushes and plants turning varying shades of green, yellow, orange, red and brown from September through mid-October, it's an exciting place to hike, bike and ride. If the weather gets chilly, you can also take a scenic drive down the Mount Mansfield Auto Toll Road, or a beautiful ride up the Gondola and a Zipline down, AMAZING.
Bar Harbor, Maine
In mid-October, If you are looking to get your fill of salty sea air while seeing the gorgeous colors of autumn than Bar Harbor is a hotspot to go. There are not only stunning historic hotels to stay at in the area, but many visitors can also kayak, camp, fish, hike, and go bird and whale watching in Acadia National Park.