The leaves are changing.  The air is crisp.  It is now fall in the US, and it’s a wonderful time of year to observe some stunning landscapes throughout the country.  Here are 4 beautiful foliage drives to take in the fall and all of its colorful glory:

Aspen, CO

aspen
photo credit: http://www.earthporm.com/

Aspen, aptly named for the trees that populate its scenic forests, is a must see spot for foliage viewing. In late September, the aspen’s leave turn to gold, providing an unbelievable backdrop to some scenic vistas.  The Maroon Bells is the perfect place to visit for this foliage experience and is one of the most photographed locations in the US. In this peak season, be sure to plan in advance, as this site lies up Maroon Creek Road which has limited access for cars. Reserve a campsite so you can take your own car or take a shuttle bus from downtown Aspen. Either way, be prepared to see peaks covered in gold, reflecting down off of Maroon Lake.

The Berkshires, MA

photo credit: bachmansberkshires.com
photo credit: bachmansberkshires.com

Located in southwestern Massachusetts on the border of New York, The Berkshires is an iconic place to take in the fall colors. By the beginning of October, this area turns gold and red, looking more like a painting than a landscape. Try taking Rt. 2 along the Mohawk Trail or travel down Jacob’s Ladder Scenic Byway. If you do come the first week of October, check out the Fall Foliage Festival in Pittsfield which has a parade and a number of other events. Enjoy the quaint, rural side of New England while taking in nature’s beauty.

Vermont

photo credit: travellatte.net
photo credit: travellatte.net

When thinking of foliage, Vermont is one of the first places that comes to mind. Literally any part of Vermont can be an amazing place to see the leaves change.  Head central and check out the area surrounding Woodstock. Go to the western part of the state and see how beautiful the Green Mountain National Park looks in early October. Drive north and witness the colors turning around Lake Champlain and the city of Burlington. No matter where you go in Vermont, the spectacle will follow, just be sure to bring a camera and a map.

Great Smoky Mountains

More than a million tourists flock to view the fall foliage every October in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
photo credit: wtvr.com

Located in North Carolina and Tennessee, the Great Smoky Mountains are a staple for foliage viewing in the US. The Blue Ridge Parkway is the ideal way to check out this area, and is a drive worth taking whether it’s foliage season or not. When choosing a time to go, be sure to think of elevation, as the higher peaks in this range will change earlier than places that are a bit lower. Because of this, don’t expect to go for one perfect location, as many spots will be at different stages of change. Instead, take it all in and devote a day or two to trekking the entire parkway, a move you won’t regret.

Post by Pete McKeown, Contributor

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