While some parts of the country are still enjoying the tail-end of summer, the mercury’s beginning to dip in many regions and thoughts are turning from flip-flops and towels to sweaters and hiking boots. Fall is officially scheduled to begin on September 22, with more northerly and higher-elevation climes already starting to see the landscape take on the colors of fall. To celebrate all that is beautiful and inspirational about this seasonal transformation, here are nine scenic drives across the United States where the fall foliage is simply sublime.

Tell us in the comments section if you have any others to share (that is, if you’re willing to let us in on the secret)!

scenic fall drives
View of Jordan Pond in Acadia National Park (Maine Office of Tourism)

Where: Acadia National Park’s Park Loop Road in coastal Maine
What to Expect: The 27-mile Park Loop Road is Acadia’s signature thoroughfare and provides easy access to park highlights including Thunder Hole, Otter Cliffs, Jordan Pond and Cadillac Mountain. Be warned, however, that the secret’s out on this one so go early or on a weekday.
When to Go for Peak Foliage: Mid-October
Fall Foliage Information: www.mainefoliage.com

scenic fall drives: Hudson River Valley, New York
Virginia’s Blue Ridge Parkway in fall (Sarah Hauser/Virginia Tourism Corporation)

Where: Washington, D.C., to Shenandoah National Park’s Skyline Drive (Virginia)
What to Expect: Ascend to Shenandoah National Park’s Appalachian Mountains ridgeline and follow the Civilian Conservation Corps-era bends of 109-mile Skyline Drive as it winds to join the 469-mile Blue Ridge Parkway further south.
When to Go for Peak Foliage: Mid- to late October
Fall Foliage Information: www.dof.virginia.gov/fall/

Columbia Rover Gorge_Alejandro Rdguez-Flickr
An atmospheric fall day along Oregon’s Columbia River Gorge (Alejandro Rdguez/Flickr)

Where: Oregon’s Columbia River Gorge
What to Expect: Forget the hype around New England fall foliage: the Columbia River Gorge boasts some of the West Coast’s most epic leaf-peeping, along with vineyards, crashing waterfalls and adventure sports including hiking, kayaking and power-boating.
When to Go for Peak Foliage: Late October
Fall Foliage Information: oregonfallfoliage.wordpress.com

scenic fall drivces: Door County, Wisconsin
View of Wisconsin’s Peninsula State Park in fall (Wisconsin Department of Tourism)

Where: Highway 42 through Door County, Wisconsin
What to Expect: Enjoy state parks, hiking trails, lighthouses and a landscape that’s readying itself for the long winter as you drive the Door County peninsula that ends with sweeping views of Lake Michigan just past Gills Rock.
When to Go for Peak Foliage: Early to mid-October
Fall Foliage Information: www.travelwisconsin.com

scenic fall drives: Colorado
A high-mountain sunset adds to fall color near Edwards, Colorado (Matt Inden/Miles/Colorado Tourism)

Where: Resort-to-resort Rockies vistas between Copper Mountain and Aspen
What to Expect: Colorado gets a jump on many other regions of the country when the aspens turn in an early blaze of color that stands in marked contrast to the 13,000-plus-foot peaks framing the whole fiery show.
When to Go for Peak Foliage: Late September
Fall Foliage Information: www.colorado.com

scenic fall drives: Vermont
Fall reflections on Lake Elmore, Vermont (Vermont Tourism)

Where: Vermont’s Stowe-Montpelier-Lake Elmore loop
What to Expect: The quintessential New England leaf-peeping experience awaits—as will the traffic, at times—on a 56-mile circuit that will take you through the state capital, scenic valleys and more money shots than your camera’s SD card may be able to handle.
When to Go for Peak Foliage: Early to mid-October
Fall Foliage Information: www.vermont.com

scenic fall drives: Linn Cove Viaduct, North Carolina
Linn Cove Viaduct on the Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina (Matthew Blouir/Flickr

Where: Asheville, North Carolina, to the Blue Ridge Parkway’s Linn Cove Viaduct
What to Expect: This particular bend, milepost 304 along the snaking Blue Ridge Parkway, is possibly the scenic byway’s most snapped viewpoint—and with good reason, especially when the fall colors are popping in a blazing sea of oaks, maples and tulip poplars.
When to Go for Peak Foliage: Mid-October
Fall Foliage Information: blueridgemountainlife.com

scenic fall drives: New Hampshire
New Hampshire’s Swift River (Roger H. Goun/Flickr)

Where: Kancamagus Highway in New Hampshire’s White Mountains National Forest
What to Expect: A famed 35-mile section of New Hamsphire’s Route 112 running through White Mountain National Forest, the “Kanc” stands tall as one of the country’s most scenic stretches of asphalt. If you can, get out of the car to enjoy myriad hiking trails and places to drink in the autumnal show.
When to Go for Peak Foliage: Late September to early October
Fall Foliage Information: www.visitnh.gov

scenic fall drives: Hudson River Valley, New York
Bear Mountain Bridge in New York’s Hudson River Valley (Dave Overcash/Flickr)

Where: New York City to the Hudson River Valley and Bear Mountain State Park
What to Expect: Less than 50 miles from the Big Apple, transport yourself along the Palisades Interstate Parkway into a world of foliage-dappled mountains, river gorges and hidden vineyards.
When to Go for Peak Foliage: Late October
Fall Foliage Information: www.iloveny.com

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