Fantastic Fall Foliage…and Where to Find It

“Leaf peepers” and “color spotters” will search for peak fall glory with camera in hand

This is starting out as a complicated season for leaf peepers.

Brasstown Bald, Georgia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

As the Northeast sweltered through record October heat, parts of the Rockies and northern Plains were buried under wildly early snow—and we drove through it from Great Falls to Billings. Late heat and early cold can stifle some of the most photo-worthy foliage, but large swaths of the country will soon be engulfed in the brilliant yellows, oranges, and reds ahead of the approaching winter.

Stowe Community Church, Vermont © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Forested areas host a variety of tree species. The evergreens shed leaves or needles gradually as their name suggests. The leaves of deciduous varieties change from green to yellow, orange, or red before letting go entirely.

Shenandoah National Park, Virginia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

During the summer, trees produce chlorophyll, the pigment that turns leaves green and allows trees to use light to make food sugars. At the same time, trees manufacture carotenoid, a yellow to orange pigment that is hidden by the green chlorophyll during the summer months. When the production of chlorophyll slows with the onset of fall, the carotenoid’s bright color can emerge. This yellow pigment also helps the leaf absorb different wavelengths of light that the green chlorophyll cannot.

Whitehall, New York © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Certain species begin to produce another pigment, anthocyanin, when the seasons begin to change. This is what turns forests red and orange. Anthocyanin is also responsible for the red, purple, black, and blue colors in certain foods high in antioxidants (think raspberries, purple cauliflower, and black rice). This crimson pigment allows trees to continue storing just a little more sugar and nitrogen to have on hand for the next year.

Cherohala Skyway, North Carolina © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Some areas of the country are more likely to experience those bright red and orange leaves than others. New England is a perennial fall destination because of its abundance of tree species contributing bright colors.

Goshen, Indiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The best color displays occur in forests that have a diversity of species and trees that have the tendency to turn red.

The progression of fall creates a wave of color across the country with grassy plains and farmlands in the Midwest drying up, and the trees of the East Coast rolling from green to yellow/orange/red to brown.

Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Leaf peepers prowl different parts of the country to find their own special spots for the best fall colors. An annual photo-foraging is like a Christmas present as leaf peppers run around the country unwrapping all these presents.

Bluegrass Country, Kentucky © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Dazzling colors can be seen in numerous regions outside New England. Wisconsin, Michigan, and Minnesota are great places to go with forests that blend bright yellow birch, beech, and aspen with red maple. Farther south, a mix of oak and hickory forests in Arkansas provides stunning views, especially at higher elevations in the Ozarks.

Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, New Mexico © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Even as far south as New Mexico, yellow oaks can be seen on mountainsides, along with sporadic flashes of red maples.

Near Brian Head, Utah © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Moving west, yellow dominates. Western U.S. forests are predominantly evergreen, where species of juniper, spruce, and fir are better adapted to the more extreme temperature and moisture shifts. The deciduous trees in the West, including aspens, tend to display strong yellows.

Cedar Breaks Scenic Byway, Utah © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

There are pockets of beautiful color all over the West but there aren’t a lot of people there. So the majesty can go unseen in some places.

When it comes to tracking down those optimal fall colors, some years can be good and some years can be poor.

Jacksonville, Oregon © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Moderate stress, such as changing seasonal temperatures and the amount of daylight, helps induce the onset of leaf-color change, but more severe stress can mute the vibrancy of autumn’s palette. Drought limits the ability of tree leaves to produce sugars which can also lead to early leaf drop.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

But this season is expected to be superb. In New England, low evening temperatures have helped jump-start the fall colors. This will eventually wave down the eastern United States, down through Appalachia and beyond.

Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

We wish you luck in your leaf-peeping endeavors. Don’t wait too long because before you know it, the best of fall foliage season will quickly pass only to find solace in pumpkins and corn mazes.

Worth Pondering…

October, baptize me with leaves! Swaddle me in corduroy and nurse me with split pea soup. October, tuck tiny candy bars in my pockets and carve my smile into a thousand pumpkins. O autumn! O teakettle! O grace!

―Rainbow Rowell, Attachments  

The 7 Most Scenic Drives in the Country to Add to Your Bucket List

Calling all leaf peepers!

Crisp air, apple cider pit stops, and of course, brilliant foliage—there’s truly no better time for a family road trip than the fall. But rather than stress over what to do when you get to your destination, why not make it about how you get there?

Whether you’re looking for a last-minute day trip or weekend adventure, these scenic highways and byways are all about the RV lifestyle and savoring your front-row view of the beautiful landscape. So pack up the RV for one of the below drives (organized from west to east) the family won’t forget.

Scenic Byway 12 © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Scenic Byway 12

Length: 124 miles | Region: West

Scenic Byway 12 © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Also known as “A Journey Through Time Scenic Byway,” this rugged Utah trail winds through rock-formation-rich Bryce Canyon and Capitol Reef national parks as well as the awe-inspiring Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, which is made up of plateaus and canyons the size of Delaware. Make sure to stop in Dixie National Forest for supreme views of the area from its 9,000-foot summit.

Red Rock Scenic Byway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Red Rock Scenic Byway

Length: 7.5 miles | Region: West

Red Rock Scenic Byway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Red Rock Scenic Byway winds through Sedona’s Red Rock Country, often called a “museum without walls.” Travelers are amazed by the high desert’s power, diversity, and sense of intimacy with nature. Inhabited for thousands of years, the stunning red rocks are alive with a timeless spirit that captivates and inspires.

Route 66 © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Route 66

Length: 2,448 miles | Region: West/Midwest

Route 66 © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

No list of road trips would be complete without this east-west stretch, which spans from Chicago to Los Angeles. While many parts of this route have been decommissioned, it’s still possible to travel provided you’re willing to ignore your phone’s GPS directions and rely on good ol’ analog maps. Early fall is the best time to attempt this drive, as the weather is calm and the summer crowds have dwindled.

Black Hills © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Highway 385

Length: 53 miles | Region: Midwest

Badlands National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

While this road nearly bisects the country, the most picturesque section is in the famed Black Hills and Badlands of western South Dakota. Fall is the most temperate time of year to visit, and it also happens to be breeding season for many of the larger wilder animals (so be on the lookout for bison, pronghorn, deer, and elk!).

Cherohala Skyway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Cherohala Skyway

Length: 43 miles | Region: Southeast

Cherohala Skyway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Skyway offers the cultural heritage of the Cherokee tribe and early settlers in a grand forest environment in the Appalachian Mountains. Enjoy mile-high vistas and brilliant fall foliage, as well as great hiking opportunities and picnic spots in magnificent and seldom-seen portions of the southern Appalachian National Forests.

Skyline Drive © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Skyline Drive

Length: 105 Miles | Region: Southeast

Skyline Drive © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

This lush drive through Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park is particularly popular during the last three weeks in October, when the Blue Ridge Mountains erupt in color. Leave room in your schedule for a hike: There are over 500 miles of trails, 100 of which are part of the great Appalachian Trail.

Route 100

Trapp Family Lodge © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Length: 90 miles | Region: Northeast

Ben & Jerry’s © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Nestled in the eastern edge of Vermont’s Green Mountains, this is the easiest drive of the bunch—it’s nearly a straight shot the whole way, running the entire vertical length of the state. Don’t miss your chance to tour the Ben & Jerry’s Factory in Waterbury or indulge in various maple-flavored goodies in Ludlow!

Worth Pondering…

Autumn . . . the year’s last loveliest smile.

—William Cullen Bryant

Utah’s Fishlake Scenic Byway Fall Foliage Amazes

See a kaleidoscope of fall colors along the scenic route to Fish Lake

The lure of fall foliage is no secret. Bursts of saturated yellow and fiery red demand your eye and call you to the open road.

With forecasting apps and digital foliage maps, terms like peaking and peeping are common language among RVers and other travelers with a craving for visual fall flavor.

Fish Lake Scenic Byway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Utah is an ideal place to see nature’s paintbrush at play. There are a number of native trees which create brilliant hues of red, orange, yellow, and purple. A cascade of color comes from canyon maple, quaking aspen, scrub oak, Douglas hawthorn, serviceberries, evergreens, and more—each turning in succession.

Fish Lake Scenic Byway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Utah’s wide array of forests, national parks, and scenic byways are located at different elevations and receive varying amounts of rainfall. This creates a multitude of peak viewing times throughout the state, so you can come early or late in the season and still spot breathtaking colors.

Explore the best drives for fall foliage paired with unexpected adventure. One such road is the scenic route to Fish Lake.

Fish Lake Scenic Byway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Fish Lake Scenic Byway (SR-25) bookends Fishlake National Forest, an often-missed oasis featuring three mountain ranges broken up by desert canyons. Fishlake National Forest is a paradise known for its beautiful aspen forests, scenic drives, trails, elk hunting, and mackinaw and rainbow trout fishing.

Fish Lake Scenic Byway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Fishlake Scenic Byway begins at the intersection of Highways 24 and 25. Like us, most travelers reach this intersection via Richfield on I-70. This approach from the northwest is a pleasant drive and deserves mention.

Fish Lake Scenic Byway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Highway 119 east from Richfield is a scenic route, starting out through pretty farmland then climbing into wild, open, undeveloped desert hills. It is 9 miles to the intersection with Highway 24. Angle to the right, signed for Fish Lake, Loa, and Capitol Reef. Highway 24 is very scenic, through mostly undeveloped public land, high-desert prairie covered with pinyon, juniper, and sagebrush. A few miles farther you reach the northern end of Koosharem Reservoir.

Fish Lake Scenic Byway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

At about mile 17 the road begins to climb into the foothills of the Fishlake Plateau. At just under mile 23 you reach the well-marked turnoff on the left for Highway 25, the proper start of the Fishlake Scenic Byway.

Fish Lake Scenic Byway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Fishlake byway, somewhat narrow but paved and well maintained, continues climbing and enters Fishlake National Forest 4 miles from the start of Highway 25. By this point you have completed most of the initial altitude gain on this drive. From here the road actually descends slightly to Fish Lake at mile 7. Dense stands of aspens make this drive especially attractive in the fall. At this elevation even summer nights are brisk, and the days are cool and pleasant.

Fish Lake © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The national forest’s prize jewel, Fish Lake, is known for its recreational bliss and yellow-blazen aspen forests. Seize the opportunity to see the leaves change on an aspen clone known as Pando, which is believed to be the heaviest organism ever found at nearly 13 million pounds. Pando is located about 1 mile southwest of Fish Lake on state Route 25.

Fish Lake © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Fish Lake, Utah’s largest natural mountain lake, lies in a down-faulted valley (technically known as a graben) at an elevation of 8,843 feet. The 5.5-mile-long lake is one of the most popular fishing resorts in the state, attracting as many as 7,000 visitors on summer weekends.

Fish Lake Scenic Byway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Across the lake, the long ridge of Mytoge Mountain forms the eastern limit of the Fish Lake basin. To the north, Mounts Marvine and Hilgard, both well over 11,000 feet, remain snowcapped for most of the summer.

Fish Lake Scenic Byway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The lake shore is dotted with three commercial resorts, two RV parks, three campgrounds, and numerous picnic areas and boat launches. At just under mile 8, note the large board locating the several campgrounds within the Fish Lake Recreation Area. Though camping is abundant, count on the campgrounds filling up quickly on summer weekends.

Fish Lake Scenic Byway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

There’s a full-scale National Forest Service brown-log-cabin resort development here, but it is on a low-key and fairly unobtrusive scale. Here you will find a gas station, general store, marina, RV park, cabin rentals, and even a laundry.

Fish Lake Scenic Byway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Worth Pondering…

A lake is the landscape’s most beautiful and expressive feature.

It is earth’s eye, looking into which, the beholder measures the depth of his own nature.

—Henry David Thoreau

Driving a Road through Beauty

Only the forest, streams, and wildlife occupy this wild country

A Road Through Beauty, the Cherohala Skyway’s 36 miles of scenic mountain views rival any scenic byway in the eastern United States.

Cherohala Skyway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Mountaintops, waterfalls, and waterways adorn this high country of eastern Tennessee and western North Carolina. The average trip over the Skyway takes 2 1/2-hours, if you just want to drive and view scenery. I would recommend setting aside the best part of the day to enjoy some of the bigger than life features the Cherohala Skyway and Unicoi Mountain Wilderness have to offer.

Cherohala Skyway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The elevations range from 900 feet above sea level at the Tellico River in Tennessee to over 5,400 feet above sea level at the Tennessee-North Carolina state line at Haw Knob.

Cherohala Skyway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Cherohala Skyway crosses through the Cherokee National Forest in Tennessee and the Nantahala National Forest in North Carolina. The name “Cherohala” comes from the names of the two National Forests: “Chero” from the Cherokee and “hala” from the Nantahala.

Cherohala Skyway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

In October 1996, the Cherohala Skyway was opened to the public at a cost of 100-million dollars offering access to the top of the world for far western North Carolina and far southeastern Tennessee.  For the first time Robbinsville, North Carolina and Tellico Plains, Tennessee became sister cities if you can call them that. Both towns are modest in size yet large in local history, newly connected by a ribbon of asphalt over a vast wilderness.

Cherohala Skyway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The official scenic Cherohala Skyway is 36-miles in length, with 15-miles in North Carolina and 21-miles in Tennessee, although actual distance between Robbinsville and Tellico Plains is roughly 50 miles of paved road. The 36-mile scenic byway connects TN 68 with NC 143. There are no services over the actual scenic highway except for public restrooms at three locations along the Cherohala Skyway.

Cherohala Skyway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

From heights nearing 6,000-feet, are views of the rugged rolling mountaintops of the Unaka Mountains with the Great Smoky Mountains to the northeast and the Tennessee River Valley to the west. What you will find along the route are lots of great mountain overlooks, camping areas, and numerous hiking trails leading off from the scenic byway. 

Cherohala Skyway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The mountain-and-valley scenery along the 36-mile stretch is spectacular. Mountain balds as they are called, crown the Unicoi Crest at the pinnacle of the Cherohala Skyway and are without doubt part of the great mystery of mountain creation itself. The Cherohala Skyway scenic overlooks have rightfully been compared to the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Newfound Gap Road through the Great Smoky Mountains.

Cherohala Skyway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

There are 29 trails along the Cherohala Skyway covering 150 miles. These trails offer long and short hikes to special locations of natural beauty and mystery. There are also 8 horseback trails totaling 31 miles for equestrians to explore from the saddle. 

Cherohala Skyway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

To reach the eastern gateway to the Cherohala Skyway, take NC 143 west from Robbinsville, for approximately 12-miles, signs will mark the way. At this point where highway NC 143 becomes the Cherohala Skyway, you can access Joyce Kilmer Road. A two-mile drive along this side-road will take you to the Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest and Slickrock Wilderness Area. The memorial forest is named after the poet and American patriot Joyce Kilmer who wrote the famous poem “Trees,” in 1913. 

Cherohala Skyway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Joyce Kilmer, while serving in France during World War I was killed in action and highly decorated for his heroism by the French government. The memorial forest is an old-growth forest of giant trees, some ranging over 100 feet tall, over 20 feet in circumference, and estimated to be over 400 years old. The memorial forest remains isolated deep within a large mountainous cove, unspoiled and preserved for posterity’s sake.

Cherohala Skyway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Due to its remote mountainous location, a logging company’s bankruptcy and just plain good luck, these giants of the mountain forest were saved from destruction, preserving their beauty for our enjoyment as well as the generations to come. 

This 3,800-acre woodland is an awe-inspiring experience that makes the Cherohala Skyway adventure unlike any other. Flowing through the heart of the memorial forest is the Little Santeetlah Creek, which is one of the main watersheds that feed the sky blue waters of Lake Santeetlah. Lake Santeetlah is one of the most beautiful lakes in all the North Carolina Mountains, mostly isolated and pristine.

Cherohala Skyway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Isolated in a wilderness land, adventurous souls come to appreciate the mountain country the Cherokee People’s ancestor called, “land of the noon day sun.”

Cherohala Skyway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

A journey across the Cherohala Skyway is an experience you’ll want to repeat often.

Cherohala Skyway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Worth Pondering…

I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast;
A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;
A tree that may in summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;
Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.

—Joyce Kilmer

24 Photos That Prove Fall Is the Best Season Ever

We are SO ready

We could be here all day talking about fall. When the air gets crisp and the leaves start to change colors, we’re filled with a special sort of joy that might even surpass our feelings about Christmas (okay, it’s a tie).

There are so many outings we can’t wait to do. Like going to the pumpkin farm and grabbing a gourd to carve. And don’t forget about apple picking—and apple pie! And pumpkin pie, for that matter. Or, sweet potato or pecan pie!

Great Smoky Mountains National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

But it’s not only the activities. The sheer beauty of autumn is a standout all on its own, which is why people travel far and wide for the best leaf peeping each year. And don’t forget your camera!

Seven Oaks Market near Grants Pass, Oregon © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

But if you can’t get away to a charming small town to see it for yourself, don’t worry. You can take a drive in the country or even just a stroll down a city street. But if you really need an autumn fix, then we suggest flipping through these photos. Trust us: They really do prove it’s the best season ever

Cedar Breaks National Monument © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Great Outdoors

Head east and take a hike in the Smoky Mountains. The stunning views will not let you down.

Pumpkin Perfection

Pumpkins, colorful leaves in the distance, and a beautiful blue sky in Oregon? Nope, a more perfect fall day doesn’t exist.

Warakusa, Indiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

One with Nature

Fall is the best time to take a break from life and immerse yourself in nature. Just look at this scene from Cedar Breaks National Monument in Utah and try to argue otherwise.

Goshen, Indiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Serenity in the Suburbs

Walk down a quiet suburban street lined with trees shedding their leaves. The beauty could inspire anyone to give up city living.

Amish Country Farm © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Autumnal Countryside

The crops may already be harvested, but there’s still plenty to behold on this Amish Country farm.

Cherohala Skyway, North Carolina © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Driving a Road through Beauty

Cherohala Skyway’s 36 miles of scenic mountain views rival any scenic byway in the eastern U. S.

Fish Lake Scenic Byway, Utah

Scenic Drive

Lush forests provide gorgeous views for long drives across the country.

Cowpens National Battlefield, South Carolina © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

South Carolina Has It All

Nothin’ could be finer than to be in Carolina

Okanagan Valley Wine Country © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Farewell My Summer Love

What better way to end an amazing summer than to dive into a wine country extravaganza?

Montpelier, Vermont © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Small Town Charm

The rich foliage beautifully complements Montpelier, Vermont’s many red and white buildings.

Okanagan Wine Country © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Colorful Vineyard

Rows of yellow, orange, and red vines make British Columbia’s Okanagan Wine Country look even more stunning.

A walk in the park near Penticton, British Columbia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Vibrant Fall Foliage

There’s nothing quite like a walk in the park during autumn.

Stephen C. Walker State Park, Georgia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Pretty Reflection

Who wouldn’t want to take an autumn canoe ride on this gorgeous river?

Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, New Mexico © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Early Fall Morning

The reflection in the water of this New Mexico landscape means double the fall foliage.

Oregon Wine Country © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Rolling Hills

These Oregon vineyards seem so serene in autumn.

Roosevelt State Park, Mississippi © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Crimson Trees

We could spend all day daydreaming in this magical forest filled with fall hues.

Lancasster County © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Fall Fields

Vibrant colors abound during autumn in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.

Along Skyline Drive © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Leaf Peeping

Discover fall colors on Skyline Drive as the Blue Ridge Mountains erupt in color

Cranes at sunrise prepare for flight © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Cranes at Sunrise

Autumn leaf color too at Bosque during the Crane Festival

Okefenokee © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Visual Marvels

At Okefenokee, the dark, coffee-colored tannic water is the base for a living jumble of pine, cypress, swamp, palmetto, peat bog, marsh, island, and sand ridge.

Icefields Parkway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Mountain Splendor

The Icefields Parkway winds through Rocky Mountain peaks, icefields, and vast sweeping valleys.

Pops of red © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Pops of Red

The Blue Ridge Parkway is arguably the country’s most beautiful drive.

Fish Lake © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Saturated Yellows of Quaking Aspens

Utah’s Fish Lake is known for its recreational bliss and yellow-blazed aspen forests.

Trapp Family Lodge © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Daydreaming of the European Alps

Take a Sound of Music history of Trapp Family Lodge in Vermont

Worth Pondering…

Autumn . . . the year’s last loveliest smile.

—William Cullen Bryant

We Found the South’s Best Fall Color

Fall is the perfect time of year to head to the South on an RV road trip

Our collection of breathtaking views might end the debate on the South’s most beautiful season.

Take a stroll through the golden leaves of autumn as we share the South’s best fall color.

Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest

Bernheim Forest © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Bernheim Arboretum in Clermont (about 30 miles south of Louisville, Kentucky) includes 15,625 acres of fields and forests, as well as over 40 miles of hiking trails that weave their way through the forest and a bike route that winds along the fall-color-filled Long Lick Creek.

Bernheim Forest © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Whether it’s hiking one of the many trails, fishing in Lake Nevin, enjoying public art, reading under a tree, or taking advantage of one of the many informative programs, Bernheim offers visitors unique opportunities to connect with nature.

New River Gorge

New River Gorge © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

New River Gorge National River in West Virginia is known for its white-water rafting, fishing, and hiking. A rugged, whitewater river flowing northward through deep canyons, the New River is among the oldest rivers on the continent.

New River Gorge © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The park encompasses over 70,000 acres of land along 53 miles of the New River, is rich in cultural and natural history, and offers an abundance of scenic and recreational opportunities. Hiking along the many park trails or biking along an old railroad grade, the visitor will be confronted with spectacular scenery.

New River Gorge © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The park provides visitors with an opportunity to learn more about the cultural history of the area and visit some of the historic sites within the park. There are many possibilities for extreme sports as well as a more relaxing experience.

Cades Cove Color

Cades Cove © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Spreading across 800 square miles of southern Appalachian Mountains in Tennessee and North Carolina, the nation’s most visited national park offers acres of fall color. One of the most popular places to see the leaves and wildlife (including white-tailed deer, wild turkeys, and black bears) is Cades Cove, a broad valley at the northwestern corner of the park near Townsend, Tennessee.

Autumn in the Bluegrass

Bluegrass Country © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

In Kentucky, the scenery ranges from the Appalachians in the east to the many beautiful lakes in the south and west. However, the area that most symbolizes the state is that of the central Bluegrass region. The gently rolling hills are lined with white and black fences where the thoroughbreds graze, defines this area. 

Bluegrass Country © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Its beauty is even more noticeable with the falling yellow and red leaves on a sunny autumn afternoon. It is a unique and special place with more than 400 horse farms dotting the region.

Shenandoah Valley

Shenandoah Valley © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

In the heart of Shenandoah Valley, Virginia, make a stop at Showalter’s Orchard, where visitors can stroll on more than 40 acres of land that overlook the Valley. The u-pick orchard grows more than 20 varieties of apples, some of which are turned into a sweet, fresh apple cider. Taste something stronger and buy a bottle of Old Hill Hard Cider.

The Blue Ridge Parkway

Blue Ridge Parkway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The winding Blue Ridge Parkway stretches 469 miles in the Appalachian Highlands. Drive the southern 40 mile section as it winds through Western North Carolina’s Jackson County. Be sure to stop at the parkway’s highest point, the Richland Balsam Overlook at 6,053 feet.

Bosque del Apache

Bosque del Apache © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Bosque del Apache stands out as one of the country’s most accessible and popular national wildlife preserves—for wildlife and human visitors alike—providing a seasonal home, November through March, for up to 12,000 sandhill cranes, 32,000 snow geese, and nearly 40,000 ducks.

Bosque del Apache © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Many thousands of bird watchers, photographers, and nature lovers from around the nation and beyond follow them here. And there’s no better time or way to appreciate all that the 57,000-acre refuge has to offer than attending the annual Festival of the Cranes, the week before Thanksgiving.

Bosque del Apache © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Worth Pondering…

I love the fall season. I love all the reds, gold, and browns, the slight chill in the air, and watching the geese fly south in a V.

5 Utah Scenic Byways for Leaf Peeping

Explore the best scenic drives in Utah for fall foliage paired with unexpected adventure

The lure of fall foliage is no secret. Bursts of saturated yellow and fiery red demand your eye and call you to the open road. With forecasting apps and digital foliage maps, terms like peaking and peeping are common language among RVers with a craving for visual fall flavor.

Fish Lake Scenic Byway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

But when it comes to Utah’s fall foliage, travelers pursue the leaf peeping road-less-traveled. Often overlooked for New England or the Smoky Mountains, Utah’s wide array of forests and state and national parks—each located at different elevations and receiving varying amounts of rainfall—make for a diverse foliage spectacle.

Patchway Parkway Scenic Byway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Utah’s geography creates a multitude of peak viewing times throughout the state, so you can come early or late in the season and still spot breathtaking colors courtesy of the canyon maples, quaking aspens, scrub oaks, Douglas hawthorns, serviceberries, and more.

Cedar Breaks Scenic Byway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

A good gauge is to assume that the colors begin in the highest elevations in mid-September and wrap in mid-October across most of the state. The season beckons for weekend drives on Utah’s scenic byways and taking in views as you make your way to the trailhead. Find something pumpkin flavored, fill your apple cider canteen, button up your flannels, and hit the open road for some awe inspiring leaf peeping.

Pair with the World’s Heaviest Organism: Fish Lake Scenic Byway (SR-25) and Beaver Canyon Scenic Byway (SR-153)

Fish Lake Scenic Byway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

These two scenic byways bookend Fishlake National Forest, an often-missed oasis that features three mountain ranges broken up by desert canyons.

Fish Lake Scenic Byway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Approaching from the east on Fish Lake Scenic Byway, you’ll pass the forest’s prize jewel, Fish Lake, which is known for its recreational bliss and yellow-blazen aspen forests. Seize the opportunity for a scenic drive in Utah to see the leaves change on an aspen clone known as Pando, which is believed to be the heaviest organism ever found at nearly 13 million pounds. Pando is located about 1 mile southwest of Fish Lake on State Route 25. If you want to pair your drive with mountain biking, hiking, camping, or fishing for eager-to-bite mackinaw and rainbow trout, make sure to add this spot your autumn itineraries bucket list.

Fish Lake © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

On the western side of the forest, the Beaver Canyon Scenic Byway climbs from the town of Beaver to a high point at Eagle Point Ski Resort. If you’re feeling adventurous and your clearance allows, continue the route on the unpaved Kimberly/Big John Scenic Backway over volcanic remnants that are now the 12,000-foot Tushar Mountains and down into the Sevier River Valley corridor.

Pair with a Miraculously Resilient Landscape: Utah’s Patchwork Parkway National Scenic Byway (SR-143), Markagunt High Plateau Scenic Byway (SR-14), and Cedar Breaks Scenic Byway (SR-148)

Patchway Parkway Scenic Byway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

This high-elevation and densely forested area of Southern Utah offers a particularly unique leaf peeping experience this fall. During June and July, a fire consumed 70,000 acres near the area of Brian Head, though the town and resort were fortunately saved. In many ways, the patches of charred backdrop make the contrast of the multitude of spared trees even more dramatic.

Patchway Parkway Scenic Byway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Yes, you will see fire damage along Utah’s Patchwork Parkway National Scenic Byway, but you will also see maples and aspens, golden and fiery red along your journey up to a 10,000-foot plateau. Remarkably, this area connects three scenic byways and features the outstanding Cedar Breaks National Monument—the topmost rise of the geological Grand Staircase.

Cedar Breaks Scenic Byway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Known as Southern Utah’s Fall Color Loop, begin your loop in Parowan at the start of Utah’s Patchwork Parkway National Scenic Byway (S.R. 143), weaving through a patchwork of historic towns, geological formations, wildlife habitat, and recreational opportunities. The pink cliffs of the Paunsaugunt Plateau glitter in the distance as an ancient lava field sprinkled with aspen trees line the road.

Cedar Breaks National Monument © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Continue as long as you like, but at some point turn (or make your way back to) the junction of S.R. 143 and S.R. 148, which becomes the Cedar Breaks Scenic Byway as you head south. Along this journey you will encounter the large, natural amphitheater of Cedar Breaks, which creates a supreme backdrop for fall leaves. To finish the loop, turn west back towards Cedar City at the junction of S.R. 14. You’re now on your third scenic byway: the Markagunt High Plateau Scenic Byway.

Worth Pondering…

Autumn . . . the year’s last loveliest smile.

—William Cullen Bryant

The Absolute Best Places to RV This October

October is one of the absolute best months for RV travel

October is here and that means Canadian Thanksgiving and Columbus Day weekend on the States side, trips to the countryside to enjoy the autumn leaves and spooky Halloween decorations, fall activities, and parties. Many campgrounds have amazing Halloween activities planned so if you’re looking for a unique experience, check out one of the parks to get your scare on!

Consider the following destinations where fewer crowds or special events make this the right time to go.

Here are five great places for RV travel in October 2019.

And be sure to catch up on all our recommendations for the best places to visit in July, August, and September. Also check out our recommendations from October 2018.

Crowley, Louisiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Louisiana

Louisianians can always find a reason to celebrate. Throughout the year, music, food, history, and holidays inspire more than 400 Louisiana festivals and events of all sizes occurring throughout the state and each one is an opportunity to #FeedYourSoul.

Home of Tabasco on Avery Island © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Tamales are toasted in Zwolle each October when the Zwolle Tamale Fiesta celebrates the Spanish and Native Amerian heritage. Still hungry? Head to LaPlace for the Andouille Festival, Crowley for the Rice Festival, and Bridge City for the Gumbo Festival, all held in October.

Longfellow-Evangeline State Historic Site © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Another hands-down favorite food item makes the festival roster at the NOLA Beignet Festival. Held early October, the Crescent City pays homage to the famous pillowy pastry while raising awareness for autism.

Ambrosia Bakery in Baton Rouge © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Another fall festival that celebrates Louisiana’s one-of-a-kind culture is the free, three-day Festivals Acadiens et Créoles in Lafayette’s Girard Park in mid-October. This is really three festivals in one, each celebrating a different aspect of Cajun and Creole culture.

Capitol Reef National Park, Utah

Capitol Reef National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Ask anyone to name Utah’s five National Parks, and odds are Capitol Reef is the one they forget among its arched-and-canyoned cousins. You should remember Capitol Reef for the Waterpocket Fold, a 100-mile wrinkle in the earth and a feature you won’t find elsewhere in the state.

Capitol Reef National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

It’s also been designated as a “Gold Tier” Dark Sky Park by the International Dark Sky Association, so camping here will yield some of the prettiest stars you’ve ever seen. At just over a million visitors last year, it offers much of the red rocks and striking geology of other Utah parks, without the crowds.

Texas Hill Country

Fredericksburg, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Austin is obviously great, but it’s also obviously saturated with hipsters. Hill County, on the other hand, is a whole other bag. Head a half-hour out of town and you’ll find yourself in the midst of true Texan quirk. Once you’ve put Austin in the rearview mirror, consider this area your next epic road trip.

Gruene Dance Hall © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Stop in the historic town of Gruene for live music and imbibin’ at Gruene Hall, which is pretty much everything you want from a Texas roadhouse. Fredericksburg is a bizarre little haven of German culture, complete with biergarten; after that, we say you whip out the inner tube and spend hours floating down Guadalupe River.

Enchanted Rock State Natural Area © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Cowboys, German beer fests, and lazy rivers, check—now it’s on to the 15 wineries along Fredericksburg Wine Road 290. To wrap it all up, head to Enchanted Rock State Natural Area to climb an ancient pink granite peak and survey all that you’ve just visited. 

New River Gorge, West Virginia

New River Gorge © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

For 364 days out of the year, West Virginians occupy their time with backwoods activities that sometimes involve eating squirrels (not that there’s anything wrong with that!). But one day in October—the aptly named Bridge Day—they toss themselves off a big-ass bridge overlooking the New River Gorge. It’s an event that draws about 80,000 extreme-sports enthusiasts and onlookers annually, but it’s only one of the reasons to experience the New River Gorge.

New River Gorge © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

See also the gorgeous views of a river winding around monolithic rock formations like Endless Wall and Junkyard Cliff. In terms of potential things you will ever see, the gorge is pretty spectacular.

Chattanooga, Tennessee

Lookout Mountain Incline Railway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Even though the town has been named the “Best Town EVER” by Outside Magazine twice, the indoor options here are becoming just as formidable as those out of doors. Plus, it doesn’t really seem that people are getting the message about how great this place is.

Chattanooga Choo-Choo © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Not only is the Tennessee Aquarium home to baby penguins, but the Tennessee Stillhouse literally got laws rewritten so it could become the first legal distillery in Chattanooga in over a century. And, the famous Chattanooga Choo Choo Hotel has reopened (after a $20 million renovation) with two restaurants, a live-music venue, and even a comedy club.

Worth Pondering…

Everything has its beauty but not everyone sees it.

—Confucius

Top 6 Insta-Worthy Fall Destinations

Don’t mourn the end of summer. Make a date with Mother Nature to ponder the stunning colors of fall foliage.

Fall is officially upon us, and if the copious amounts of pumpkin spice didn’t give you a hint, the cooler temperatures and shorter days just might.

But what most everyone looks forward to about fall is the beautiful window of color as the trees transition for winter. Warm hues of red, orange, and yellow become commonplace for a few weeks, creating a paradise for nature lovers and photographers alike.

Blue Ridge Parkway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

However, with a country as massive as the United States, it can be hard to pinpoint the best spots to visit, especially when the color clock is ticking fast. So here is a list of the top six Insta-worthy fall destinations in the US, going from west to east.

Bosque del Apache © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

But before you scroll down and view the list, here is a quick tip to game plan and see these beautiful fall destinations at the best times. Locations that are more northern and/or are in higher elevations tend to transition into color first and fastest.

The Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina

Blue Ridge Parkway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Blue Ridge Parkway, beginning south of the Great Smoky Mountains and located in the beautiful state of North Carolina, offers one of the most beautiful drives in the country. The road is not only beautiful in fall, but is a true engineering marvel. Stretches like the Blue Ridge “Aqueduct” were built to wind and tower above the trees, and offer a bird’s eye view to some of the most magical fall colors in the country.

Blue Ridge Parkway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Sourwoods, poplars, and maples offer every kind of red and crimson hue and are striking beautiful, especially in the morning, when the fog routinely covers the mountains, and swirls around these colorful trees. The Blue Ridge Parkway is a perfect southern Appalachian getaway and a world class fall destination for photographers and nature lovers alike.

Zion National Park, Utah

Zion National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Fall in Utah and the Southwest is one of the most unique you will ever experience. Most do not think about southern Utah as a fall foliage destination due to its desert landscape, but Zion is unique in that it has a thriving desert environment, fed by the powerful Virgin River, which creates a thriving oasis on its massive canyon floor.

Zion National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

In the fall, the thousands of cottonwoods that call the canyon floor home turn bright yellow and offer an incredible contrast to the massive orange, pink, and red sandstone walls and cliffs of Zion Canyon. It almost doesn’t seem real, but that colorful contrast at photo destinations like The Narrows and The Watchman are a marvel to photograph and will be at the top of your fall portfolio.

Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, New Mexico

Bosque del Apache © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

They don’t call New Mexico the “Land of Enchantment” for nothing. Bosque del Apache stands out as one of the country’s most accessible and popular national wildlife preserves—for wildlife and human visitors alike—providing a seasonal home, November through March, for up to 12,000 sandhill cranes, 32,000 snow geese, and nearly 40,000 ducks.

Bosque del Apache © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Many thousands of bird watchers, photographers, and nature lovers from around the US and beyond follow them here. And there’s no better time or way to appreciate all that the 57,000-acre refuge has to offer than attending the annual Festival of the Cranes, always held the week before Thanksgiving.

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee

Great Smoky Mountains © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

There is a reason why this region is home to one of the busiest national parks in the US. In fall, the Smoky Mountains truly shine, with some of the most vibrant fall colors you will see. A southern subsection of the Appalachian Range, the Smokies are home to some of the largest mountains in the eastern United States.

Great Smoky Mountains © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Summit destinations like Clingmans Dome, one of the park’s highest spots, is a perfect spot for sunrise and a purely fall experience you have to see to believe.

The Adirondacks, New York

Adirondack Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Adirondacks offer a fall escape with an outdoor playground that is the largest natural wilderness region in the eastern United States. In the fall, this area explodes with color, with bright reds, oranges, and yellows from the oak, maple, birch, and beech trees that grow in this region.

The Green Mountains, Vermont

Near Stowe, Vermont © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Vermont is known for its tasty maple syrup and beautiful Green Mountains that attract winter sport enthusiasts from around the world. But that combination of beautiful mountains and maple trees creates a mecca for fall color.

Morris Farms Sugarworks © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The deep reds and oranges in this area are truly remarkable, and if you take the Green Mountain Byway, from Waterbury to Stowe, you have the perfect opportunity to experience this state in its fall splendor, surrounded by charming farms and towns.

Worth Pondering…

Autumn . . . the year’s last loveliest smile.

—William Cullen Bryant

4 Summertime Spots to Visit… In the Fall

There is magic in the air as August turns into September and the splendor of autumn colors

There is a ripening of the season as fruit trees grow heavy with red apples; leaves turn golden to reveal a harvest of pumpkins, squash, tomatoes, and peppers in the field―and grape vines hang heavy with clusters of newly turned black and golden grapes.

Shenandoah National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Summer may be ending, but these four destinations are still basking in sunny bliss.

Although the ways fall color happens are scientific, describing fall color is not, and predicting it accurately—even for an arborist—is out of the question.

Fall foliage won’t wait and neither should you.

Shenandoah National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Skyline Drive and Shenandoah National Park, Virginia

A National Scenic Byway, Skyline Drive traverses Shenandoah National Park and affords outstanding vistas from 75 overlooks. Discover the fall colors by hiking trail, guided horseback ride, or at nearby attractions.

Skyline Drive © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

As Shenandoah is a 105-mile-long park, with elevations ranging from less than 1,000 feet to just over 4,050 feet, there is no single “peak” of color; rather there are lots of little peaks, bursts of color happening at different times in different places. The best park rangers can do, year after year, toward fall color prognostication for visitors trying to plan their autumn jaunts to Shenandoah, is to say this: the time most likely to be most colorful in this park is the middle of October. This is also Shenandoah’s busiest time, so plan accordingly.

Fish Lake Scenic Byway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Fishlake Scenic Byway and Fishlake National Forest, Utah

Fishlake National Forest boasts some beautiful scenic drives as well as mountain biking, hiking opportunities, and snowmobiling during the winter months. Its three mountain ranges and desert canyons are primarily located to the east of Interstate 15 and to the north and south of Interstate 70.

Fish Lake Scenic Byway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Fish Lake and the surrounding acres of recreational bliss are known for their beautiful aspen forests and rainbow trout. The high-alpine lake sits at about 8,800 feet above sea level and is surrounded by quaking aspens, which are brilliantly yellow and amber during the fall.

Fish Lake Scenic Byway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

It makes for a picturesque drive along Fishlake Scenic Byway (Highway 25) as you head from Highway 24 to the north edge of the lake. The route in total is 30 miles and can be driven in approximately two hours.

Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina and Virginia

Blue Ridge Parkway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Blue Ridge Parkway is so long and goes through so many elevation changes that it doesn’t have just one foliage season—it has many. Almost any week in the fall might see somewhere along the Blue Ridge in peak color.

Blue Ridge Parkway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The high elevation of the region supports some of the same species that grow up north, but look also for brilliantly yellow hickory and tulip poplar, especially in the southern end of the 469-mile-long route. For those who want to get off the paved road, there is plenty of camping and hiking.

Georgia State Parks

Vogel State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Fall color in North Georgia peaks in late October and early November. For the best vistas of the Chattahoochee National Forest arrayed in seasonal finery, hit the hiking or biking trails at Amicalola Falls, Cloudland Canyon, Black Rock Mountain, Fort Mountain, Moccasin Creek, Tallulah Gorge, Unicoi, or Vogel.

Brasstown Bald © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

At the state’s highest park, Black Rock Mountain, you can spy into Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia on a clear day. Visit Tallulah Gorge during the first three weekends of November, when Georgia Power performs its bi-annual dam release, and watch from the canyon’s rim as kayakers tackle a swollen river surrounded by fiery color.

Stephen C. Foster State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

If Thanksgiving approaches and you’ve procrastinated on leaf-ogling, ignore the Christmas commercials and bring the family for one last autumnal gasp. In state parks to the east, west, and south of Atlanta, especially F.D. Roosevelt, Sweetwater Creek, and Hard Labor Creek, fall arrives with equal splendor–just a few weeks later.

Worth Pondering…

Summer ends, and autumn comes, and he who would have it otherwise would have high tide always and a full moon every night.

—Hal Borland