It is almost time to pull out the knit blankets, pumpkin decor, and apple cider—fall is on its way! The cooler weather means towns, forests, state and national parks, and scenic byways will be blanketed with the magnificent hues that characterize the season. Here are the best locations near TDS communities to see the red, orange, and yellow colors we all love.
Kebler Pass – Kebler Pass is home to the largest aspen grove in North America, making it a can’t-miss fall drive. It connects Crested Butte and Paonia through Gunnison National Forest. The road is unpaved, but drivable for 2WD vehicles. There are also plenty of spots to camp along the pass.
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore – There is no shortage of fall foliage in Michigan during this time of year. One of the best locations near the TDS communities in Upper Michigan is Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore where vibrant fall colors contrast with towering sandstone cliffs and the dazzling waters of Lake Superior below. Explore cliffs, beaches, lighthouses, waterfalls, inland lakes, and dunes on nearly 100 miles of hiking trails.
Port Huron to Port Austin – Michigan’s thumb is beautiful in summer, but when the cooler weather blows in and the leaves change, the area becomes truly magical. The 90-mile path from Port Huron north to Port Austin is an excellent day trip – or even weekend trip – in the fall. Lined with the charming towns of which Hallmark movies are made, you’ll find plenty of spots to stop, shop, and eat.
Itasca State Park – In the “land of 10,000 lakes,” fall colors are around nearly every corner. One of the best ways to enjoy the cooler weather and scenery is to spend the weekend in it. Itasca State Park, located in Park Rapids, is just the place. Covering 3,000 acres, this park is home to an abundance of wildlife and colorful, towering trees.
Kancamagus Highway – For the ultimate fall drive, take this 35-mile highway known to locals as “The Kank.” The views are breathtaking as you adventure along the twisty road through White Mountain National Forest ablaze with colors. There are several attractions along the way including the Albany Covered Bridge, Sabbaday Falls, and Cannon Mountain Aerial Tramway which takes visitors 4,800 feet to the summit of Cannon Mountain.
Natchez Trace State Park – Located in Wildersville, this Tennessee State Park has it all – hiking, horseback riding, paddling, boating, fishing, camping, archery, firing range, and even nearby space for ATV riding. For a relaxing fall afternoon, rent a kayak and enjoy the colorful scenery reflecting off Pin Oak Lake.
Cataloochee Valley – In the southeastern section of Great Smoky Mountains National Park lies this unique fall experience for wildlife enthusiasts. Cataloochee Valley is not only known for its historic buildings and gorgeous fall colors, but also its elk! Mid-September to mid-October is elk mating season, and park guests can witness the elks’ loud mating calls. If elks aren’t your thing, the valley offers plenty of camping, hiking, and finishing opportunities, too.
Smuggler’s Notch Pass – This narrow 18-mile pass takes you from Stowe to Jefferson through a vibrant fall wonderland that’s hard to beat. Parking areas along the scenic route allow for hiking, picnicking, and gazing at the stunning Vermont foliage. If you have time, explore the quaint New England town of Stowe. There, you can hike to Moss Glen Falls, ride the gondola, take a zipline tour, and more.
Quechee State Park – Home to Vermont’s deepest ravine, Quechee Gorge, this state park offers fantastic views all year. Lofty maple trees line the Ottauquechee River with 165-foot rocky walls on both sides. This stunning view becomes even more breathtaking when the leaves change color. You won’t want to miss this rainbow of color.
Lake Geneva – This small, Southern Wisconsin city is the ideal fall retreat. A 26-mile stroll around the lake yields plenty of fall colors. While in Lake Geneva, visit the local winery, go ziplining through the trees, visit an apple orchard, or explore the drive-through safari. Lake Geneva is also home to Big Foot Beach State Park if you want to plan a fall weekend camping trip.
Great River Road – As a National Scenic Byway, the Great River Road follows the Mississippi River, covering 3,000 miles through 10 states, including Wisconsin. Driving the route in the Badger State takes you through 33 river towns, capturing the beautiful scenery and cozy atmosphere of the season. A wealth of views and family activities make this road trip one for the ages.
By Hannah Drewieck