11 scenic road trips to take across the US and Canada this Fall

Recently updated on August 13th, 2023 at 02:47 pm

With cooler temperatures and spectacular landscapes illuminated in red and gold foliage, the fall season is always one of the best times to enjoy the scenic road trips in the USA and Canada. And the upcoming fall season is set to be one of the best yet, with domestic travel becoming one of the biggest travel trends in North America. From the extraordinary autumn colours of Colorado and New England in the USA, to the scenic fall drives through Nova Scotia and the Canadian Rockies, here are some of the best scenic road trips to take across North America this fall.

GET INSPIRED BY: Autumn Colours

Kancamagus Highway, New Hampshire, USA

New Hampshire puts on an incredible show in fall and the 36-mile Kancamagus Highway is one of the best ways to see the state. Known as “The Kanc”, this American Scenic Byway takes you through the stunning White Mountain National Forest. Here, the birch, maples and alder trees become illuminated in red, gold and orange foliage in the fall. When you travel with Trafalgar, we’ll take you on a stunning journey along The Kanc before also taking a special drive down the historical Auto Road with a stage driver. You’ll hear stories and legends and get an insight into the natural wonder of Mount Washington.   

RELATED CONTENT: 6 most beautiful towns to visit in New England

Icefields Parkway, Alberta, Canada

The Canadian Rockies have got to be one of the most extraordinary places on earth, so it makes sense the Icefields Parkway is one of the most scenic road trips in North America. The drive takes you from Banff to Jasper, with spectacular views of glaciers, lakes, waterfalls and canyons all the way. There are plenty of incredible scenic stops including Bow Lake and the Columbia Icefields and we’ll take you along the Parkway to see the Athabasca Glacier and famous Lake Louise. While the Rockies are beautiful in any season, fall is particularly breathtaking as the blue waters and snowy mountains contrast against the red and gold foliage. 

GET INSPIRED BY: Spectacular Canadian Rockies

Colorado’s scenic highways, USA

Colorado has so many scenic fall road trips that we could never choose just one! We’ll take you driving along the Trail Ridge Road, a national scenic byway in the Rocky Mountain National Park, and the highest continuous paved highway in the US. You’ll cruise to the top of the Rockies across the Continental Divide and see the tallest peaks in Colorado. We’ll also drive the Peak to Peak Highway, the oldest scenic byway in Colorado with views of the Continental Divide. Next, we’ll take on the sheer red rock canyons of Rim Rock Drive to spot bighorn sheep and eagles amidst the vast plateau and grand monoliths of the Colorado National Monument.

We’ll switch up the scenery again with the San Juan Skyway Scenic Byway and a stop in Ouray, known as the “Switzerland of America”. From there, we’ll cruise the “Million Dollar Highway,” a designated All-American Byway and one of the most scenic road trips in the US with views over Coal Bank Summit, Red Mountain Pass and Molas Pass. With 25 scenic byways that are even more spectacular in autumn, Colorado is the perfect place for a fall roadtrip. 

GET INSPIRED BY: Welcome to Colorado

Cabot Trail, Nova Scotia, Canada

Located on Cape Breton Island, the Cabot Trail is undoubtedly one of the most scenic roadtrips in Canada. The trail is around 187 miles through the Cape Breton Highlands and we’ll take you there on our Canada trips. It’s so stunning you’ll be stopping constantly to take photos and soak up the ocean views and highland scenery… And it’s extra beautiful in fall as all shades of red, gold and yellow paint the old-growth trees. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for bald eagles, moose and whales in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

GET INSPIRED BY: Enchanting Canadian Maritimes

Oak Creek Canyon Scenic Drive, Arizona, USA

Oak Creek Canyon may be the smaller cousin of the Grand Canyon, but it’s just as beautiful… And you can take it all in with Trafalgar on the Oak Creek Canyon Scenic Drive. Located south of Flagstaff, this scenic drive takes you down a stunning series of switchbacks with rocky red cliffs, thick forests and crystal waters alon

g the way. Marvel at the beautiful scenery from your vehicle, or make some stops along the way at viewpoints, swimming holes, trails and picnic areas. Don’t forget to stop at Midgely Bridge where you’ll find some truly breathtaking views.

GET INSPIRED BY: Best of the Canyonlands

Sea to Sky Highway, British Columbia, Canada

Stretching from Vancouver to Whistler, the Sea to Sky Highway is one of the most scenic road trips in Canada. You can drive it in two hours, but you’ll want to take your time and enjoy all the wonders along the way. September is also one of the best times for this road trip as all the trails are open and the scenery is ablaze with bright fall colours. It all looks stunning next to the glacial mountain peaks and the amazing blue waters of Howe Sound, the southernmost fjord in North America.

Don’t forget to stop at Squamish, where you can take the Sea to Sky Gondola for incredible views of Howe Sound. Plus you can explore over 600 miles of hiking and biking trails. One of the best hikes is the Stawamus Chief with the Sea to Sky Highway passing below the trail. 

RELATED CONTENT: 9 epic things to do in Northern California

17-Mile Drive, California, USA

We’ll take you on a real California adventure down 17-Mile Drive, one of the most scenic road trips in the US. Stretching along the Monterey Peninsula on a private strip off Highway 1, the drive takes you between the coastal towns of Carmel and Pacific Grove. You’ll marvel at the sun-kissed Pacific Coastline as you pass by the beaches, cliffs, golf courses and mansions and the Del Monte forests of the exclusive Pebble Beach golf community. Keep your eyes peeled for harbour seals and spot the famous Spyglass Hill and Cypress Point golf courses. And don’t miss the iconic Lone Cypress! At the end of the day, be sure to slow down to take in the glorious sunset over the Pacific. 

Trans-Canada Highway, Canada

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Got a lot of spare time up your sleeve this fall? Why not take on the Trans-Canada Highway? Spanning around 5,000 miles from Victoria, British Columbia to St. John’s, Newfoundland, this is the longest national highway in the world. You’ll marvel at the changing landscapes as you cruise across Canada and it’s especially beautiful in fall… Plus there are fewer travellers in the fall shoulder season. Plan at least three weeks for this great Canadian road trip so you have time to see all the amazing sights.

The High Road to Taos Scenic Byway, New Mexico, USA

The High Road to Taos is an incredible drive for both nature lovers and history buffs. When you travel with Trafalgar, we’ll start in Taos, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the only living Native American community. You’ll meet a local Taos Pueblo member and explore the historical landmarks, before heading out on the High Road. You’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time as you pass by the authentic architecture of Old Spain. And you won’t want to blink as you marvel at the desert landscapes, soaring mountains and forested badlands. Your road trip will end in Santa Fe, where you’ll have time to explore the unique and artistic city influenced by Native American, Spanish and Old West cultures.

GET INSPIRED BY: Colourful trails of the Southwest

New England’s scenic roads, USA

If you want to see the best fall scenery, you can’t miss New England. The state is famed for its extraordinary landscapes and you can see it all on the scenic fall drives. We’ll take you along the Mohawk Trail, the first designated scenic drive in New England and an early colonial and Native American trade route. We’ll also cruise along the Freedom Trail dotted with history from the American Revolution. You’ll even stop by Lexington and Concord where “the shot heard around the world” was fired. We’ll also visit Old Sturbridge Village, a living museum showcasing life in rural New England in the early 19th century. And don’t miss the Marine Coast Drive, where the forests and mountains light up in red and gold before melting into the rugged cliffs and beaches along the coast. 

RELATED CONTENT: 12 untapped locations to explore in New York State

Backroads of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, USA

Looking to escape the cities this fall? Join us on a journey with a Local Specialist through the rural backroads of Pennsylvania’s Lancaster County. Our scenic drive will take you deep into the Amish community who live much the same way as their ancestors did 200 years ago. You’ll even spend the night in the heart of Amish country in one of our historic Stays with Stories and enjoy a delicious dinner and whoopie pies for dessert. Then take off the next morning for a scenic road trip across Pennsylvania’s rural landscapes to New York State.

Planning for an iconic 2022 trip? Request the latest Trafalgar brochure and start dreaming

GET INSPIRED BY: East Coast USA and Canada

What are your favourite scenic road trips in the US and Canada? Let us know in the comments below…

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