As the air turns crisp and summer slides into fall, forests and trees across the nation burst into a spectacular display of reds, coppers and golds. One of the best ways to take in the annual fall show is with a road trip.
So where to go?
Click through to discover some of America's best fall foliage drives.
Green Mountain Byway, Vermont
One of New England's most iconic fall-foliage drives snakes across the backbone of Vermont's Green Mountains along Route 100, or the Green Mountain Byway.
Though the road stretches some 100 miles north of the Massachusetts border, be sure to explore the byway between Stowe and Waterbury, an 11-mile stretch replete with covered bridges, rolling pastures, small towns, whitewashed church steeples and red barns.
If you need a break from leaf peeping, pay a visit to some of the attractions near the route, like the Ben & Jerry's ice-cream factory or the Vermont Ski and Snowboard Museum.
Kancamangus Highway, New Hampshire
One of New England's greatest fall foliage routes, the 34-mile Kancamangus Highway winds through the White Mountains between Lincoln and Conway. Plenty of overlooks and pull-offs dot the Kanc, as locals call it, and outdoor activities abound.
Be sure to stop at Loon Mountain, just east of Lincoln, and ride the gondola to the mountain's summit, where you can climb an observation tower for even more spectacular views.
Allow time for short hikes up popular and easy trails, like Lincoln Woods Trail and the Lovequist Loop Trail in the Rocky Gorge Scenic area.
Acadia National Park, Maine
Acadia National Park's deciduous forests reach their peak autumn colors in early- to mid-October, drawing visitors to the park's trails and mountain summits to enjoy jaw-dropping vistas.
For stunning views, drive to the summit of Cadillac Mountain, or make the relatively easy climb to the top of Beech Mountain, which rewards hikers with views all the way to the Atlantic Ocean.
One of the most popular fall routes is the 20-mile Park Loop Road that winds through the park, passing mountains, lakes, craggy shores and of course, colorful forests. The road offers pullouts at a number of scenic overlooks so drivers can pause to enjoy the autumn display.
To properly explore the autumn foliage of Massachusetts' Berkshire Mountains, drive the Mohawk Trail (Route 2) from Williamstown to the artsy enclave of North Adams. If possible, visit the funky town during its annual Fall Foliage Festival, and pop into the MASS MoCA contemporary art museum in the heart of town.
After leaving North Adams, detour up Route 8A North and cross the 160-foot-long Bissell Covered Bridge, a picturesque setting for photography buffs. Then return to the Mohawk Trail and stop at the scenic overlooks to soak in the views. Finally, be sure to check out Poet's Seat Tower in Greenfield, which offers great views.
Connecticut River Valley
Road trippers looking to enjoy Connecticut's fall colors should journey through the Lower Connecticut River Valley, exploring the area's most scenic stretch, Route 9.
The roadway leads through forests, orchards and historic towns. According to the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Middletown boasts one of America's most historic Main Streets.
Make time to stop in Essex and ride the Essex Steam Train, whose vintage rail cars take riders on a 12-mile journey past forests, meadows, farms and a waterfall. Tickets also include a riverboat ride along the Connecticut River, which offers more fall colors.
Skyline Drive, Virginia
Skyline Drive, the 105-mile stretch of Blue Ridge Parkway bisecting Virginia's Shenandoah National Park, is one of America's most stunning drives. Come fall, it's a beacon for road trippers seeking autumn colors.
Scenic overlooks dot the drive. Plan to stop often to soak in the autumn foliage. If you're visiting in mid-October, plan a detour to the Virginia Fall Foliage Festival Art Show in Waynesboro. Held annually, the festival features a gem and mineral show, craft shows, theater performances, a chili cook-off and car show.
Keep in mind that autumn is peak season for visitors and traffic on the byway can slow considerably, so allow for plenty of time for the trip.
Great Smoky Mountains, Tennessee
The changing colors in Great Smoky Mountains National Park grant visitors what is arguably the best viewing opportunity in the Southeast. Legions of travelers visit the park from mid-October through early November to appreciate the display.
To see some of the brightest fall foliage while avoiding the crowds around Cades Cove and Newfound Gap Roads, head to the park's higher elevations, driving along Clingmans Dome Road, the Blue Ridge Parkway or the Foothills Parkway. You can admire the reds, yellows and oranges of more than 100 tree species, including American beeches, yellow birches, hickories, mountain maples, sugar maples, scarlet oaks, sweetgums and red maples.
Tip: October is one of the park's busiest months, so be sure to book your accommodation in advance. While there are no cabins or motels inside the park, nearby Gatlinburg, Tenn. offers a number of options.
Kettle Moraine State Park, Wisconsin
The Midwest's deciduous forests can be spectacular spots for viewing fall foliage. One of the more colorful drives is the 115-mile Kettle Moraine Scenic Drive in Wisconsin's 50,000-acre Kettle Moraine State Park.
Maple, oak, birch and aspen trees fill the park's forest with an array of reds, golds and browns. Picnic areas, scenic overlooks and hiking trails fill the park. Many visitors hike the wooded trails to soak in the colorful display.
At the end of the drive, visit the Wade House, a mid-19th century stagecoach inn where you can see a rare, working water-powered mill. You can also tour the Wesley Jung Carriage Museum, home to Wisconsin's largest collection of hand- and horse-drawn carriages.
Upper Peninsula, Michigan
The hardwood forests of Michigan's Upper Peninsula grow inflamed with colors -- bronze, copper, blood red, orange -- as autumn descends on the region's 7 million acres. Yes, that's a lot of land to cover, but thankfully, it can be broken down into a few major scenic drives.
Highlights include a trip up Brockway Mountain, which grants spectacular views of Lake Superior, as well as stops at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, AuSable Lighthouse and the town of Newberry, where you can take a riverboat to Tahquamenon Falls, one of the largest waterfalls west of the Mississippi River.
Colorado's iconic aspen tree burns a deep, golden yellow come autumn, and it's best viewed from its namesake town. Late September and early October are the best times to see the colors; plan a road trip through the area's aspen-filled canyons and along the White River National Forest's service roads.
Other scenic routes include State Highway 82 through Independence Pass. Be sure to check out Maroon Bells mountains and their stunning reflection in Maroon Lake. Visit the Forest Service website for information on accessing the region.
Columbia River Gorge, Oregon
Indisputably the greatest route from which to appreciate the Northwest's fall foliage, the historic Columbia River Highway slices through the scenic Columbia River Gorge and grants drivers sprawling views of the region's big-leaf maple, cottonwood and Oregon ash trees.
The highway starts just east of Portland in Troutdale and offers multiple viewpoints with postcard-worthy panoramas of mountains and waterfalls. Highlights include the Portland Women's Forum State Scenic Viewpoint, and Crown Point, home to the Vista House, a memorial and observatory dedicated to Oregon's pioneers.
Next: The 30 Best Places to Watch the Sunset
Mammoth Lakes, California
Mammoth Lakes in California's Eastern Sierra is best known as a premier ski resort, but every year the area also yields incredibly colorful fall foliage. The colors tend to show early- to mid-October, when willows, cottonwoods and other trees explode in brilliant oranges and reds. Visitors frequently make the short drive around nearby June Lake to take in all of the colors and see them reflected in the water.
America's Best Fall-Foliage Road TripsDiscover routes bursting with autumn's brilliant colors