Grab your girlfriends, your sisters, or your significant other because we’re going on a Fall Foliage Tour!
Going on a Fall Foliage Tour with your friends or family can be a real adventure, but it takes a little planning to make everything flow smoothly. Here are my top tips for planning and executing a fabulous Fall Foliage Tour!
Choose Your Fall Foliage Tour Place and Time
Unless you plan a fall leaf tour out of state in a different part of the country (or another country altogether), you probably know the general place and time of year to look for brilliant fall leaves. But just in case, you may want to go a little farther than your local area, here are some areas of the country known for their fall display of colorful leaves.
From Maine down to New York, this area is well-known for its fall leaf tours. Depending on the location, colors peak from mid-September through mid-October. The deciduous trees bring beautiful colors of red, yellow, orange, and purple.
Blue Ridge Parkway
The Blue Ridge Parkway runs through the states of Virginia and North Carolina. As in other prime leaf viewing states, one cannot expect to see peak fall color by going to one place on one day. However, when driving the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Shenandoah Parkway in northern Virginia there is at least one continuous route to follow. Generally speaking, the best fall color will develop from mid to late-October. You will likely have to make reservations for lodging more than a couple of months in advance in this area since it is so popular.
Colorado is known for its golden Aspens. They typically grow best in the mountains. Colors can range from light yellow to golden to orange. Colorful Aspens peak in September and the higher the Aspens on the mountain, the earlier the leaves peak. Last year I took a short fall foliage tour drive across the mountains from Estes Park to Grand Lake on the second Saturday of September. There were some small groups of Aspens with full color but many had not peaked yet. However, it just depends on the year and the weather. Here are some great places to see the gorgeous golden Aspens:
- Peak to Peak National Scenic Highway – close to Denver and the northern Front Range. The colors are outstanding on this drive. It’s an interesting drive past old ghost towns and places where people still pan for gold.
- Independence Pass – near Aspen. This is an amazing drive at any time of year. The pass is at over 12,000 feet and the views are exquisite. When the Aspen trees are at their peak color, the views are stunning.
- The Million Dollar Highway – In the San Juan Mountains of Southwest Colorado, this 25-mile stretch of Hwy 550 between Silverton and Ouray boasts some of the BEST colors in Colorado.
Oregon’s Columbia River Gorge and Mt. Hood
The fall foliage in the Columbia River Gorge and Mt. Hood areas is simply stunning. There is a loop of highway called the Mt. Hood Scenic Highway that extends about 146 miles. It includes Mt. Hood, the Columbia River Gorge, and the orchards of Hood River. Red, gold, and orange colors peak from late September into early October.
Since peak leaf seasons are dependent on location and weather, click here for a link that provides phone numbers in each state. You can call to get weekly fall foliage updates to see when the leaves will peak in the area you want to visit.
Choose Your Fall Foliage Tour Comrades
This can be an easy task or it can be VERY hard. In order to properly plan a fall leaf tour, you’ll need to make reservations for places to stay on your weekend or longer trip so you need firm commitments. Equally important is choosing people who not only want to go on a trip like this but CAN GET ALONG with everyone! You know your people, so you know what I’m talking about. Sticking to a small group of people who get along with each other is absolutely ESSENTIAL!. Whether it’s a group of friends, siblings, or just your significant other, they must be good travelers and easy to get along with.
Committing to a trip, even for a weekend, can be difficult for moms with kids in school. It’s not quite as difficult for us empty nesters but if friends or family members who want to go with you still work outside the home, they will have time constraints. Heck, there are so many fun festivals and activities during the fall months, YOU may have a difficult time committing to a specific time frame. The truth of the matter, though, is that the leaves won’t wait for you. They are going to be at their peak color during a small window of time. So getting a commitment from others who want to go is absolutely essential!
The best way to avoid people dropping out of the trip is to talk it up weeks to months ahead of time and gather all the “sales” materials you need to obtain a commitment, such as where you’re going and how much it will cost. Invite them over to your house for a summer dinner or lunch that you prepare and give them your “sales presentation.” Then give them a deadline to let you know if they want to make the trip with you about three months before the actual trip. If you plan to use a tour company you need to meet their expectation of advance deposits, etc. I know it sounds crazy but meeting ahead of time with potential fellow travelers can work if you set deadlines and follow up.
Choose Your Vehicle/Driver
Choosing how to travel, vehicle-wise, and choosing a driver if you’re taking a driving tour is super important. It all depends on whether your group plans a trip with a tour operator or chooses a DIY tour.
New England has tons of tour operators and choosing to travel with them by motorcoach, for example, frees everyone in your group to see the beautiful scenery along the route. Of course, there are train tours as well or simply driving when and where you want to go.
The Blue Ridge Parkway is best traveled by car. There are lots of places to stop along the way and staying overnight in one of these locations can be extra special! Exploring the small towns on the Parkway makes for an extraordinary DIY tour!
If you want to see the Aspens in Colorado, you can either drive OR take a train tour through the Rockies. Amtrak will take you from Denver to Grand Junction along the “Golden Way.” Or you could take the Durango to Silverton Narrow Gauge Railway train up through the San Juan Mountains where you’ll find a golden paradise.
A drive along the Columbia River Gorge takes you to sites like Multnomah Falls and Hood River. You can experience the fruit orchards around Hood River while you explore the gorgeous fall scenery all along the Gorge. You can base yourself in Portland or find a lovely cabin to rent somewhere along the Gorge. There is so much to see and do in this area that you won’t be disappointed even if you miss the peak leaf viewing time.
Choosing a Driver
If you decide to forego the bus and train tours and choose to drive through your chosen fall wonderland of leaves, you’ll need to choose a driver. Since you started all the talk about the trip, others may expect you to be the driver. If that’s ok with you, then go with it. However, there may be others in the group that are willing to drive or at least relieve the primary driver.
If someone in the group has never seen the beautiful leaves in your chosen place, it might be nice to allow that person not to be the one to drive. It’s important to have a vehicle large enough to accommodate everyone and their luggage, so the one with the small car may be eliminated as the primary driver.
Depending on how many are planning to go with you, there may one or two vehicles traveling. It’s a good idea to get together ahead of time to plan how many vehicles are traveling and who is going to drive them. Try to take everyone’s needs into consideration. If someone gets carsick in the back seat and offers to drive, that may be a great option. Be sure to talk it out with everyone getting their say. This makes for a more pleasant road trip ahead!
Choose Places to Stay Along the Way
While you’re making plans for your Fall Foliage Tour, be sure to make reservations along the way instead of trying to do it all in one day. You may pick a quaint town along the Blue Ridge Parkway, such as Blowing Rock, NC. If you’re taking a train tour through the Rockies, staying overnight in Glenwood Springs, CO can mean a soak in the local hot springs pools and a stay in a historic hotel. Whatever your group tends to like to do will determine where you choose to stay over. Make it an adventure and pick activities that you might not do otherwise!
Ready for a Fall Foliage Tour Adventure
You’ve chosen where you want to go for a Fall Foliage Tour Adventure, who is going with you, how you want to travel and who will drive if it’s a DIY tour, and places to stay along the way. You’ve planned well with everyone’s needs considered. All that’s left is to HIT THE ROAD for your amazing 2019 Fall Foliage Tour Adventure! Send me an email and let me know how your trip turns out! I’m dying to know where you go to view the leaves!
If you want to learn more about how to plan an amazing trip and receive extra tips and travel info, just subscribe to my emails and I’ll send you a FREE TRAVEL PLANNER. Just fill in the form below and you’ll get your freebie and my emails right away.
If you want to read more about travel just click the links below to read more of my posts! 1. https://adventuresbeyondthenest.com/explore-barcelona-3-days/ ; 2. https://adventuresbeyondthenest.com/natchitoches-christmas-festival-louisiana/
Subscribe and get your Free Travel Planner!
Subscribe to get your freebie and our latest content by email.