This blog post was updated on October 5, 2018.
Some of the best fall getaways in September, October and November involve merely getting in the car, rolling down the windows and watching all of the fall colors come into view. Coupled with the crisp fall air and maybe even in a picnic basket in the back seat, autumn is one of the best times to take a weekend away and just drive. While New England often gets a great deal of the acclaim for autumnal colors and drives, the South has its fair share of stunning fall drives. If you find yourself in the U.S. South, these drives are ideal for a fall getaway.
The Blue Ridge Parkway: The big cheese of fall drives in the South is the Blue Ridge Parkway. Toted as “America’s Favorite Drive”, the Blue Ridge Parkway measures 469 miles north to south. The largest towns on the route include Asheville and Boone, North Carolina along with Roanoke, Virginia. Typically the colors on the ash, beech, red spruce, poplar and maple trees come out in full force at the middle of October. The long-range outlooks and rugged mountains make for ideal photo opportunities. As this is such a long southern drive, you can pick different parts of the parkway to travel to catch some fall colors regardless.
Pig Trail Scenic Byway: While neighboring Tennessee and nearby North Carolina tend to steal the fall foliage thunder, Arkansas affords its own drives with eye-popping hues. One of the most colorful drives in the fall in Arkansas is the Pig Trail Scenic Byway. The scenic route spans the Boston Mountains region of the Ozark Mountains. In the fall, the foliage forms a tunnel over the road for the ultimate fall drive. Set up in northwest Arkansas, the byway only covers 19 miles, making for a fine afternoon drive in the fall. In order to reach it, you can take Ark 23 from the south boundary of Ozark National Forest to the intersection with Ark 16 at Brashears.
Natchez Trace Parkway: Stretching across Tennessee, Alabama and Mississippi, the Natchez Trace Parkway offers a fine sampling of a trio of Southern states. The actual parkway connects Nashville, Tennessee with Natchez, Mississippi. The Tennessee stretch offers about 100 miles of road littered with maple, hickory, oak and other hardwood forests. The fall colors are usually out in full force mid to late October. The Natchez Trace Parkway provides fall color updates once the season kicks off to let you know where and when the leaves are changing.
Cherokee Foothills National Scenic Highway: If you find yourself in South Carolina in the fall, you will want to head to South Carolina’s northwest corner. The Cherokee Foothills National Scenic Highway covers over 110 miles of a two lane road. What makes this stretch perfect for fall is its abundance of orchards, villages and parks to explore. The highway affords mountain coves, sharp drops and plenty of waterfalls along with the occasional Revolutionary War site. You can reach the Cherokee Foothills National Scenic Highway by continuing on the southernmost peak of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
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