Who doesn't love fall? It means cozy sweater weather, the triumphant return of the Pumpkin Spice Latte, and (most importantly) the trees begin their slow descent into death, their leaves bursting into a inferno of vivid colors in one final blaze of glory. And Pumpkin Spice Lattes. Did I mention Pumpkin Spice Lattes? Anyways, since the gorgeous fall colors are so fleeting, knowing the optimal time to take a leaf-peeping cruise is key. Check out this handy map to figure out when the best time to take a trip is, and check out some of our all-time favorite fall drives!

fall colors map guide foliage leaves

Columbia River Gorge

Oregon's Columbia River Gorge is gorge-ous (sorry, I can't resist a bad pun) any time of the year, but it's outstanding in the fall. Head out from Portland in late October and cruise through the state's best autumn scenery. There are farms (especially check out the Boardman Tree Farm!) and arboretums along the way to give you the best up-close-and-person views of the fantastic foliage!

Finger Lakes

Take advantage of the fall beauty of New York's Adirondack Mountains and the Finger Lakes region before they get slammed with their notoriously snowy winter weather. There are tons of hidden gems across Upstate New York, like Watkins Glen State Park and the Eternal Flame Falls that light up with fall colors in early to mid October. 

Beartooth Scenic Byway

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In Montana and Wyoming, the trees on the Beartooth Scenic Byway's Alpine Alley start to show their true colors come early October. You'll cruise through forests, mountains and valleys and even dip into Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming along the way from Helena to Billings. Soak in all the fall beauty as you cruise along!

Mid-Mitten State

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The middle of October is the best time to check out the leaves in the middle of Michigan! Grab some pumpkins and apples at a farm, snap a few perfect photos at a covered bridge (may we suggest Fallasburg Covered Bridge, Pioneer Village & School?), and take a walk through one of the gorgeous parks along this route that loops around central Michigan-- seriously, it doesn't get more autumn-y than that! 

Blue Ridge Parkway

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This popular route goes between two National Parks, so you know it's gonna be stunning! The mountain roads provide excellent views of all of the fall forests along the route (and don't miss out on the scenery as seen from Skyline Drive and McAfee's Knob), which is at its prime in late October to early November.