One of the best things about motorcycle touring is experiencing an area with all of your senses. You hear, see, and feel more than you would from inside a windowed vehicle. At RoadRUNNER, we always feel more connected to an area after a bike tour. Fall is one of our favorite times of year to take motorcycle trips, since the temperatures are just right and there’s less of a chance for precipitation. Fall also graces us with a beautiful change of color as the trees and other foliage begin their transformation for winter. The sights and smells of fall make any ride that much more special.
Check out some of these great destinations to go on a spectacular fall motorcycle ride of your own.
Blue Ridge Mountains, North Carolina
The southern Appalachian Mountains are home to a whole slew of different trees that light up as summer comes to an end. Dogwood, sassafras, and maple trees are some of the most prominent and give vibrant displays of yellows, oranges, and reds.
Peak: Late October to early November
Route: The Blue Ridge Parkway runs 469 miles through North Carolina and Virginia and makes for a spectacular fall ride.
Ozark National Forest, Arkansas
Oak trees are predominant in the Ozark National Forest. Because there are so many varieties of oak, the colors range from bright yellows to dark reds. This area puts up one of nature’s greatest displays of color every year!
Route: Ozark Highlands Scenic Byway runs for 35 miles through a rugged section of the Boston Mountains regions of the Ozarks. Several rivers and streams begin in the area near the route, keeping the trees from experiencing drought that can result in lackluster colors in the fall.
Catskills, New York
The Catskills region of New York is filled with maple, birch, oak, and gum trees that all become absolutely stunning in October. There are plenty of riding options in this area too. Be sure to visit some of the local cideries when traveling through the Catskills in the fall.
Peak: Late September through early October
Route: SR 42 between Lexington and Shandaken is a 12-mile shortcut road nicknamed The Notch because of the way it slices through the mountains. The lighting in this area is unique even in the middle of the day because of the way the mountains and foliage bend the sunlight.
Aspen in the Colorado Rocky Mountains is known for its fall colors, specifically the—surprise, surprise—aspen trees which turn a bright yellow in September. Before ski season sets in, enjoy a late summer motorcycle ride to higher elevations to catch these colors.
Peak: Mid- to late September
Route: A great ride in this area is Independence Pass. The route is closed from October through May as snow begins to fall.
Hocking State Forest, Ohio
Fall colors might be one of Ohio’s best kept secrets, and Hocking State Forest is a testament to that. Blackgum, dogwood, maple, and oak trees are just a few of the most colorful in this area and give off beautiful flaming leaves in the fall.
Peak: Early October
Route: Hocking Hills Scenic Byway offers spectacular views of fall colors. This route is just over 26 miles long and passes by several Hocking Hills State Park sites with caves, hiking trails, and ancient ruins to explore.
Columbia River Gorge, Oregon
The Columbia River Gorge in Oregon is among the best places in the Pacific Northwest to view fall leaves. Here the fir, cottonwood, maple, ash, and twisted pines put on a valiant display of colors in late October and early November. There are also more than 50 waterfalls, so there’s plenty to explore on your ride through the Cascades.
Peak: Late October and early November
Route: The Columbia River Highway is a curvy road that brings you high into the Cascades on the Oregon side of the Columbia River Gorge. Stunning views line this road, so be sure to bring your camera.
Bar Harbor, Maine
If you want to experience the autumn scenery as well as the northeastern coast, head on over to Bar Harbor, ME, in October. From marshes and bays to lighthouses and lobsters, Maine’s coastline is sure to be an exciting (and tasty) ride. Maple, birch, oak, and gum trees give a spectacular show in early October.
Peak: Early October
Route: The Bold Coast National Scenic Byway stretches 125 miles past blueberry patches and fishing towns along Maine’s coast north and east of Bar Harbor.
Taos, New Mexico
The area near Taos, NM, isn’t a place many expect to be on a list of fall motorcycle tours, but it’s perhaps the prettiest season here. You can expect the aspen and oak trees flare up in brilliant fiery hues come October and November.
Peak: Mid-October to early November
Route: The Enchanted Circle is an 83-mile ride that connects the towns of Taos, Eagle Nest, Red River, and Questa. It consists of Hwy 38, 64, and 522, creating a circle with spectacular views that you don’t want to miss.
The Wisconsin Dells are rich in color in the fall, with oak, birch, dogwood, poplar, and maple trees that give a varied display of color from bright yellows to deep purples and reds. There is a lot of riding to be done in this area, as well as boat tours, river walks, and sightseeing in Devil’s Lake State Park.
Route: Levee Road, part of the Wisconsin Rustic Road 49 is a breathtaking ride through lush woodlands near the Wisconsin River.
The Berkshires are renowned for some of the best fall foliage in Massachusetts. Beginning in late September, you can enjoy the golds, reds, and even dark scarlet hues. Just be careful not to let your jaw drop so much it gets caught in your wheels!
Peak: Early October
Route: Jacob's Ladder Scenic Byway, located in Bash Bish Falls State Park, meanders for 35 miles through farms and meadows with a backdrop of mountain peaks.