America’s Top Annual Turning of the Trees Scenic Drives

Your RV is the Perfect Way to Enjoy America’s Finest Fall Drives that Showcase the Annual Turning of the Trees.

Ask an RVer about their favorite spot to observe fall foliage and you can ignite fierce loyalties and passionate debate. Geography? Forestry? Where to begin?

Some praise New England’s thick maple groves, while others rave about the resplendent orchards of northwestern Michigan. One person admires Colorado’s gilded aspens; another sighs over the buttery glow of big-leaf maple and ash trees that thrive along Oregon’s Columbia River Gorge.

Throughout the year’s end, America is alive with fall color, from sea to shining sea — a graduated canopy of leafy pigment that begins creeping down from Canada as early as September in northern states and well into mid-November in southerly locations.

With a wide assortment of state-by-state websites that literally track the annual march of fall color through our favorite destinations, it’s easier than ever to plot an RV adventure to catch the autumn explosion at its peak performance.

And surely there’s no better way to absorb it all than through the windshield of your own RV. You set your own pace, follow your own impulses with intriguing side trips, and end the day enveloped in autumn’s fine amber light.

To streamline your research, we’ve been busy checking out the fall color scene – scouting for America’s finest fall drives. And what a trek it’s been!

Our findings? It’s impossible to narrow the suggestions down to an absolute “Best Tours” list.

With advance apologies that no list of this nature is ever complete, we submit a few suggestions for your own fall color adventures:

AMERICA’S TOP FALL DRIVES

Adirondack Park, New York

One of the largest wilderness areas east of the Mississippi, this park embraces 6 million acres of woodlands, mountains and streams – the perfect backdrop for luminous autumn scenery,

Follow the Prospect Mountain Veterans Memorial Highway, off I-87 at exit 21, for staggering views of three states: Vermont’s Green Mountains, and New York’s Adirondacks. A “view mobile” can even take you to the summit for towering views. Try a shoreline drive along Lake George, Brant Lake or Loon Lake. Check out the Pharaoh Wilderness, Dixon Forest and High Falls Gorge. If you have the time, take the short hike up Azure Mountain for a panoramic vista.

While you’re in the area, be sure to catch the Lake Placid Winter Olympic Museum. For information on scenic drives and camping in the area, visit: www.adirondacks.com/autumn-drives.html.

Blue Ridge Parkway, Virginia- North Carolina

One of America’s longest scenic drives offers just that — scenery, and then some. Rambling through the western edges of Virginia and North Carolina, the trek is capped by national parks on either end — Shenandoah and the Great Smoky Mountains — and crosses some of the highest mountain peaks in the Eastern United States.

There is no fee to use this 469-mile roadway, which runs through the Blue Ridge Mountains. You can catch the two-lane roadway off I-64 west of Charlottesville, Va., or just southwest of Waynesville, N.C.

October weekends tend to be among the busiest along the parkway. However, leaves ripen into autumnal hues deep into November, especially around Roanoke, Va., and Asheville, N.C. Overlooks along the way provide great views of rusty locust and flaming dogwood trees, as well as maple, tulip-poplar and sour-wood.

In North Carolina, visit Linville Falls for a valley view of white pine, hemlock, tulip trees and Fraser magnolias. Trails lead to canyon overlooks — a lovely view over a patchwork of rich fall color.

You’ll find online fall color reports posted weekly at www.virtualblueridge.com.

fall color leaves changingColumbia River Gorge, Oregon

The Columbia River is a liquid wonder; a massive byway that slides past famed forests littered with towering conifer and lacy ferns. But you may be surprised to stumble across vast stands of deciduous trees that hug the river, including big-leaf maples, Oregon ash and cottonwood groves.

Just east of Portland, I-84 parallels the massive Columbia Gorge, lending fine views of damp forests, tumbling waterfalls and gutsy windsurfers, battling the mighty Columbia. Catch the highway and amble east past the Mount Hood National Forest. Take time to stop at Crown Point State Park for a breathtaking overview of the Gorge, or stretch your legs at Multnomah Falls, which pounds down the side of Larch Mountain. Continue east past rich farmland rolling with orchards of apple, pear and cherries. On a clear day, you can catch a glimpse of Mount Hood.

Feel like an adventure? Take exit 35 west of Bonneville and explore the twisting journey along the historic Columbia River highway (Oregon highway 30), a route that will take you deep into the heart of fall color.

For more information on the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, visit www.fs.fed.us/r6/columbia.com

Green Mountain Highway,Vermont

Cool fall days bring a flurry of leaf-peepers to Vermont, along with an explosion of fall fairs, harvest suppers, and craft, food and farm festivals.

When it comes to fall color, Vermont is considered by many to be the heart of autumn action — an abundance of brilliant New England hardwoods regularly draws visitors from around the world to glimpse a forest tapestry woven in scarlet, saffron, russet, pumpkin and burnt umber hues.

The progression of color is meticulously tracked (www.foliage-vermont.com). And a drive along Green Mountain highway is considered The Classic Fall Tour, slicing vertically through the center of the state along Vermont Route 100, past dense woodlands and scenic mountain loops.

Drink in the beauty of the 350,000-acre Green Mountain National Forest. About halfway through the trip, take a detour into Gifford Woods State Park, a rolling forest knitting hardwoods and conifers. Further north, be sure and experience Elmore State Park, where you can hike up Mt. Elmore and climb an abandoned fire tower at the summit to study the fall spectacle.

For fall color reports in Eastern Region National Forests, see www.fs.fed.us/r9/conditions/fall_color/report

Arkansas Scenic 7 Byway

Arkansas’ most popular scenic byway passes through a kaleidoscope of dramatic geography. And fall catches the region in all its blazing glory.

From the West Gulf Coastal Plain through rolling pine forests and stream valleys carpeted with bottom-land hardwood forests around Camden and Arkadelphia, into the Ouachita Mountains, a natural hot springs, and ultimately, the Ozark Mountains.

Often cited as one of America’s top 10 scenic byways, this 320-mile trek spins through two national forests and one national park, sliding past nature preserves, waterfalls, forested mountain peaks and lakes that glow with the reflection of autumnal color.

Pick up Arkansas Highway 7 at historic Hot Springs to the south or nostalgic Harrison to the north. The journey cuts through a rolling carpet of short-leaf pines and hardwood trees in the Ouachita National Forest, where you can also find campsites. Veer off onto Arkansas Route 154 to take a driving tour through Holla Bend National Wildlife Refuge, or continue to Petit Jean State Park for panoramic views. Return to Arkansas Highway 7 and check out Mount Nebo State Park, off Arkansas Route 155. Hike to the 1,800-foot summit to drink in the views, or stop at Sunrise Point to watch the hang gliders on a golden fall day.

For more information, visit www.arkansas.com/things-to- do/scenicdrives/arkansas-scenic-7.asp.

Skyline Drive, Central Utah

For a more rustic, less-traditional experience, try Skyline Drive, a rocky, unsurfaced dirt road that winds across the scenic summit of the Wasatch Plateau in central Utah’s Manti-LaSal National Forest.

Granted, this road is rough in places; high-clearance four- wheel drive vehicles should tackle some sections. You may not wish to take a 45-foot diesel pusher up this gritty grade. But visitors rave about the open panoramic views, including the Great Basin, forested mountains and valleys, mile-deep canyons, and gentle alpine meadows. If attempting it in an RV sounds daunting, consider checking out the autumn scenery on an Off-highway Vehicle (OHV), horseback or mountain bike. Skyline Drive is said to be among America’s highest roads, with elevations that stretch 9,000 to 11,000 feet above sea level. In the autumn, it will take you spinning past oak and maple in the Wasatch Front foothills, past billion-year-old rock formations, and into forests of fir and golden aspen.

Know that roads between the communities in Sanpete and Castle valleys intersect the drive often, lending good access and egress. From the north, you can reach Skyline Drive by way of Utah Highway 50-6; enter the drive at Tucker Rest Stop, heading south into Fairview Canyon.

For more information, check www.go-utah.com.

 

 

Tags:
  • Share this post:
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • Digg

Leave a Reply

— required *

— required *