October Road Trip: Where to Travel in October


The leaves are changing and there’s a crisp feel in the air.  It can only mean one thing: it’s time for an October road trip!  If you’re wondering where to travel in October, there are plenty of great options.  These are easy destinations for an October road trip, selected from TakeMyTrip.com’s best driving destinations.

October Road Trip: Leaf-Peeping in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula

Sandwiched in between Lake Michigan and Lake Superior, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan doesn’t have any big cities, but it does have a whole lot of trees.  A well-timed visit will allow you to see those forests explode with fall colors.  You can use cities like Marquette and Houghton as your base, and then explore the Keweenaw Peninsula with a hike up Sugarloaf Mountain or Bare Bluff, or drive out to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.  If the leaves aren’t turning yet along the waterfront, head inland and check out places like the Covered Road to Freda or Canyon Falls.

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Detroit, Milwaukee, Chicago, and Minneapolis all provide big airports and relatively cheap flights, but none of them are very close to Michigan’s upper peninsula.  Green Bay, Wisconsin, or Duluth, Minnesota will get you closer to the U.P. for this October road trip, but you’ll still need to do some driving.

Why it’s the best time:

The autumn leaves can be magical in the Upper Peninsula during October.  Even if you miss the peak of color by a week or so, you’ll still get to enjoy some chilly temperatures while hiking and driving around some beautiful scenery.


October Road Trip: Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque

You won’t find a lot of fall colors in the trees around Albuquerque, but you will find plenty of colors floating in the air in October.  Albuquerque is home to a festival that’s unlike anything you’ve ever experienced.  During early October, hundreds of hot-air balloons take to the sky during Balloon Fiesta.

It’s hard to explain why this annual event is so awe-inspiring.  Maybe you’re thinking, “hot air balloons, okay, what’s the big deal?”  And you might not get it until you experience it for yourself.  Balloon Fiesta allows you to walk right up to balloon teams as they fire their burners and launch their aircraft.  Some balloons are made into special shapes — everything from bees to cows, to Darth Vader’s helmet.  If conditions are right, hundreds lift off at the same time, filling the sky.  And at night, tethered balloons are fired up, for a Glowdeo.  And yes, you can take a ride in a hot air balloon.

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Albuquerque, of course, would be the logical place to start and end this October road trip.  Be aware, though, that flights, rental cars, and accommodations are more expensive around the time of Balloon Fiesta.  As an alternative, you could fly into Denver and see some fall leaves on the drive down.  Or, fly into Phoenix or Amarillo and enjoy a drive on Route 66 as you make your way to Albuquerque.

Why it’s the best time:

You can see hot-air balloons frequently throughout the year in Albuquerque, but there are only two weekends out of the year when you can see hundreds of them.  Just be sure to spend several days in Albuquerque — don’t put all of your eggs into the basket of one single day, since inclement weather can sometimes cause events to be canceled.


October Road Trip: Fall Colors in the Canadian Maritimes

One of the most scenic drives in North America only gets better when the leaves start to change.  The Cabot Trail in Nova Scotia should be on your October road trip list.  This loop road circles around the northern end of the Appalachian Mountains just before they plunge into the North Atlantic.  Be sure to hike a few trails, including the Acadian Trail and the famous Skyline Trail.

Since the Cabot Trail is a long way from anything, you’ll need to add a few more road trip destinations along the way.  Include historic Halifax in your journey, and if you decide to drive up from the U.S., spend some time in New Brunswick as well.  I found some great fall leaves in Miramichi, at French Fort Cove Park.

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You could fly into Halifax, Nova Scotia or Fredericton, New Brunswick.  Both are decent-sized cities with international flights.  But, if you’re coming from the U.S., flying into Canada will probably be more expensive than flying into Portland, Maine or Boston, Massachusetts.  You’ll spend some extra money and extra time driving up, but you’ll see plenty of beautiful New England scenery along the way.

Why it’s the best time:

It’s all about the leaves.  Spring and summer last for months, but you can only see the spectacular fall foliage for a few weeks out of the year.  Keep in mind that inland forests will change color before those near the water — so if you’re not seeing any color near the coast, head inland.


October Road Trip: New England

I’m not revealing any big secrets here.  New England is a great place to go to see the leaves change in Autumn.  You’re probably going to find some great color shows no matter where you go in Maine, Vermont, and New Hampshire, but here are a few suggestions.  Take a drive up scenic Route 100 in Vermont, and climb Mount Mansfield near Stowe. In New Hampshire, check out the Kancamagus Highway and the Frankenstein Cliff Trail in Crawford Notch.  Maine offers great colors along the Airline Highway and at Acadia National Park.

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There are airports all over New England that provide great starting points for an October road trip around the northeast.  Boston, Manchester, New Hampshire, Portland, Maine, and Burlington, Vermont are all good options.  You could even drive up from New York City or Philadelphia if you don’t mind the extra drive.

Why it’s the best time:

You’ll have some flexibility in finding the very best fall colors in New England during October.  Areas closer to the coast, further south, and at lower elevations will see the best colors during the second half of the month, while areas further north, inland, and at higher elevations will provide brilliant colors earlier. If you’re really early, head into northern Maine; really late, Acadia National Park might be a good choice.


Start your search for an October getaway right now! Pick a state to begin:

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