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Best motorcycle trips in the U.S. to see fall foliage

Added October 8, 2020
Autumn trees lining both sides of a road

The same motorcycle ride can be dramatically different depending on the time of year. Some of the most enjoyable times to get out and ride are when the seasons change. And one of the best opportunities of the year is upon us—riding amidst the stunning colors of autumn. We can bet you’re itching to get as many riding miles in as you can this year, so we’re here to share recommendations for some crisp fall foliage motorcycle trips.

Best foliage areas for long weekend motorcycle trips

If a freeform motorcycle tour is your style, consider traveling to regions where you can find several days’ worth of beautiful foliage. These areas offer a multitude of colorful drives, and you won’t need to follow a map to find them. Add to your autumn motorcycle adventure by checking out the local tourism and economic development groups in these scenic areas.

  • Upper Peninsula, Michigan
  • Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri
  • Eastern Shore, Maryland
  • Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin
  • Door County, Wisconsin
  • Columbia River Gorge, Oregon
  • Great River Bluffs, Minnesota

Best scenic motorcycle routes to enjoy fall foliage

These truly epic, well-known roads are enjoyable regardless of the season. But when autumn arrives and the tree colors start to change, rides on these routes are among the best of the best. Because these are popular routes and attract large numbers of visitors, they usually have some heavy traffic during peak fall color season. Consider traveling mid-week to enjoy less traffic. Some roads may have service and facility restrictions this year, so be sure to check ahead.

  • Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina and Virginia
  • Kancamagus Highway, New Hampshire
  • Great River Road, 10 states along the Mississippi River 
  • Logan Canyon Scenic Byway, Utah
  • Green Mountain Byway, Vermont
  • Enchanted Circle Scenic Byway, New Mexico
  • Natchez Trace Parkway, Alabama, Mississippi, and Tennessee

Best national parks and forests for autumn road trips

Our national parks and forests are home to some of the most scenic motorcycle rides. In addition to their colorful scenery in the fall, our parks offer recreational opportunities you can add to your riding experience. For example, camping is typically available and a great travel option during the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina and Tennessee
  • Shenandoah National Park, Virginia
  • Denali National Park, Alaska
  • Ozark National Forest, Arkansas
  • Glacier National Park, Montana
  • Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, Washington
  • Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

Best mountain ranges for viewing fall colors

To find motorcycle routes that combine thrilling roads with magnificent fall foliage, head to the mountains. When you drive along tree-lined mountain roads, you’ll ride through tunnels of crisp, colorful leaves. Along with curving roads and elevation changes, mountain rides offer scenic pull-offs where you can stop and enjoy the color changes around you.

  • Pocono Mountains, Pennsylvania
  • Catskill Mountains, New York
  • Green Mountains, Vermont
  • San Juan Mountains, Colorado
  • Adirondacks, New York
  • Black Hills, South Dakota
  • The Cascades, Oregon

Best towns known for fall foliage motorcycle rides

Are you seeking a single destination for your fall ride? One of the benefits of staying at one location for several days is eliminating the time and effort of packing and unpacking your cycle every day. You’re also able to enjoy other aspects of the town you’re in, like sampling seasonal cuisine at local restaurants. These communities are in prime fall foliage areas and are known for welcoming visitors.

  • Aspen, Colorado
  • Bar Harbor, Maine
  • Stowe, Vermont
  • North Conway, New Hampshire
  • Taos, New Mexico
  • Telluride, Colorado
  • Jackson, Wyoming

Many riders try to experience a new place each year. If you’re in pursuit of the perfect fall foliage ride, these 35 wonderful destinations across America are all worthy of a long-distance journey.

If staying local is your preference this season and none of the above locations are nearby, consider looking for state parks and national forests in your area. You don’t need to travel far to take a beautiful ride.

We all know this year presents special challenges for travel due to COVID-19. Before leaving for your fall adventure, be sure to follow local guidelines and research service changes for any places you plan visit.

Till next time, ride safe!

Related links:

Read through this resource to get an overview on planning a motorcycle trip during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Before you leave for your fall foliage motorcycle ride, make sure your bike is in ride ready shape.