Rainbow Routes: 14 Scenic Autumn Drives

Rainbow Routes: 14 Scenic Autumn Drives

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The blazing bloom of fall foliage season is now starting. The way to cover the most ground—and take in the biggest eyeful of color—is behind the wheel. Here are some of our favorite fall color drives.

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    Lake Michigan’s northeastern shores have charming coves, towering sand dunes, and tiny fishing towns. Drive along Grand Traverse Bay, where, in the fall, fiery-hued maple and oak leaves stand out against green pine, fir, and spruce trees.
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    This slice of the iconic Blue Ridge Parkway combines Virginia’s laid-back farmsteads with North Carolina’s Appalachian hardwood forests.
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    The northern coast of this still-wild, 5,000-square-mile peninsula is inhabited by elk, cranes, and sea otters.
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    Head east to the funky town of Eureka Springs, full of gingerbread houses and art galleries. U.S. Highway 62 and State Highway 21 then lead past spectacular hardwood forests on the way to the town of Jasper.
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    Head to Rockwood on the shores of Moosehead Lake and spend the night in Greenville. In the morning, drive beneath spectacular tree canopies on unpaved logging roads.
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    Drive on one-lane highways meandering through valleys and mountains painted glorious shades with yellow alder leaves, purplish-red pin cheery, and brilliant orange and red maple trees.
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    Start in Lake Placid and go northeast on Route 86 along the high cliffs of the Au Sable River to view the sugar maples, American beech, and yellow birch trees’ dazzling color display.
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    Head north on Highway 23 to Baraboo, where sumac and maple trees streak the hillsides, and twisted oak and wild hickory blaze orange and yellow along the river valleys.
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    Cruise along the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains from Front Royal, VA, to the Waynesboro-Charlottesville area, and ogle at the bright red Virginia creeper vines, yellow and orange hickories, and deep purple dogwoods.
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    You’ll experience the fiery yellows of American beech and birch and vibrant reds of mountain ash, pin cherry, and mountain maple. Take the 11-mile loop around Cades Cove, winding past foliage surrounded by waterfalls, streams, and panoramic views.
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    The country’s largest and most spectacular aspen grove delivers endless vistas of gold, orange, and crimson.
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    Head to California for blinding displays of yellow and orange aspens, golden willows, and crimson cottonwoods amid sapphire alpine lakes, gushing waterfalls, and snow-frosted 12,000-foot-high mountain peaks.
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