Carpe Autumn! Four Fall Destinations & Drives

Tom Kaiser, Managing Editor
August 20, 2012
Filed under RV Blog

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It begins the first day that summer’s oppressive heat and humidity breaks — thoughts of fall, and all the places to visit during the most beautiful season of the year. Whether it’s the deserts of the Southwest or the rolling hills of the Northeast, the scenery of the entire United States is at its best during the post-summer bliss we call autumn.

For outdoor enthusiasts, weekend travelers and full-time RV explorers, it is also the time of year when the roads are less crowded, campground reservations are easier to come by and waiting lines at popular destinations are a breeze compared to the summertime crush.

The harbor in downtown Portland, Maine, makes for a great starting point for a trip up the coast.

With a focus on rural destinations, we’ve assembled a list of the four great destinations for your upcoming fall adventures.

Coastal Maine

There’s nothing more refreshing than vivid leaves, crashing waves, cool temperatures and a warm cup of creamy lobster bisque. For the quintessential, oceanic fall excursion, coastal Maine is packed with beautiful country drives, dramatic bridges, quaint towns with bustling harbors and exceptional seafood. Great drive: Follow I-295/US-1 northeast of Portland for a stunning view of Casco Bay and Georgetown Island on your way to Rockland and Bar Harbor.

Lookout Mountain — Chattanooga, TN

Just a few minutes southwest of downtown Chattanooga, Lookout Mountain consistently ranks as one of the most spectacular drives (and views) in the Appalachian Mountains. Attractions include Ruby Falls, Rock City and the Incline Highway, which is a great way to experience the best views without driving your own rig on the steep roads. Great drive: US-27 leads south of Chattanooga to the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park.

Bayfield, Wisconsin

The beautiful shore along Lake Superior just south of Bayfield, Wisconsin.

A coastal experience in the Upper Midwest, Bayfield is picturesque port town on the western shore of Lake Superior. While in town, stop in a fish market for some fresh trout, buy local berries from a stand, watch the boats inside a quaint coffee shop or browse the downtown shops and art galleries. There are many local wineries and apple orchards, and the annual Applefest (Oct. 5-7) is one of the best autumn festivals anywhere. Great drive: Take Highway 13 northwest to Old County Highway K Road, to Little Sand Bay Road for a beautiful Great Lake beach at Wisconsin’s northernmost point.

Willamette Valley, Oregon

A scene within Oregon's Willamette Valley - photo by pete4ducks

A stunning plain that runs north-to-south from Portland south to Eugene, Oregon’s Willamette Valley is known for its countless vineyards — more than 200 winemakers produce Pino Gris, Riesling and Pinot Noir. Being Oregon, the area is also known for its local produce, many farmer’s markets and regionally focused restaurants.  Key attractions include Green Peter Lake, the Harris and Hayden covered bridges and the art galleries of Salem. Great drive: Take highway 22 east of Salem through the Santiam State Forest, past Mount Jefferson to US-20 that leads into Bend — a great destination on the edge of the Deschutes National Forest.

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