Eight excellent fall drives

Even though summer is usually better known as “road trip season,” we think that autumn offers the best driving conditions of the year. If you can find an afternoon where the air is cool and crisp, the sky is deep blue, and the foliage is ablaze with reds and oranges and yellows — well, that’s just a perfect time to fire up the engine of a DriveShare vehicle and take to the open road. 

We’ve paired eight epic autumn drives with eight cool DriveShare cars available for rent around the country. Here’s where we’ll be day-tripping before leaf-peeping season is in the rearview mirror:

Michigan

Motor M22 in Darrell’s 1966 Chevy Corvair

Fall Drive Corvair

Michigan’s legendary state road M22 takes you over 100 miles up and around Leelanau County in the state’s “pinky finger.” It’s one of Michigan’s most famously scenic areas known nationwide for sand dunes, rolling hills and lush forests … plus a winery or three. It’s also regularly been named one of the best autumn road trips in the nation (not that we’re biased as a Traverse City-based organization). 

Autumn is an amazing time to roll back the roof of the convertible for one of the final times of the year and let your hair blow in the wind as you cruise from lighthouse to beach to orchard. This sleek convertible will shine with a blue nearly as deep as the waters of Grand Traverse Bay and Lake Michigan that crash ashore just a few feet off the side of the road … or hundreds of feet below you as you climb the sandy bluffs near Sleeping Bear. 

Maine

Back Roads, Coastlines and Covered Bridges in Katrina’s 1974 MG

Fall Drive MG
Photo: Wikipedia commons

When many picture a true fall foliage road trip, they think of the roaring colors of a New England treeline popping out against the deep blue-grey of the churning Atlantic, preferably while savoring a deliciously rich lobster roll while leaning on the hood of your car at a roadside stand. While the ocean has its appeal, Maine’s got millions of square miles of forest to explore, and plenty of back roads to take to get there. 

When you pick up this zippy little mid-70s droptop MG from Katrina in Winterport, you’ll have Bar Harbor beckoning to the east, the towns of Brunswick and Lewiston to the Southwest and all the lakes and covered bridges of rural Maine to the north – we’d carve a route to visit the nearby Robyville Covered Bridge (the state’s only shingle-covered bridge!) to the Lowes Bridge crossing the Piscataquis River followed by a trip up and down Rte 6 to check out the little lakeside towns along Moosehead Lake, but you really can’t go wrong no matter what direction you head. 

Colorado

An Autumn Drive at Altitude: Drive to Aspen in Jay’s 1978 Chevy K5 Blazer

Fall drive Blazer

When was the last time you saw hundreds of miles of fall foliage stretch out before you from nearly two miles above sea level? The 82-mile drive between Copper Harbor and Aspen will take you through ghost towns, resort areas, high-altitude lakes and some amazing fall foliage views from well over 9,000 feet of altitude. 

This route gets extended by a few more miles by grabbing this vintage ride from Denver. Head through the foothills as you get acclimated to the way this stylish-yet-rugged 4×4 drives with a removable top pulling in the mountain air behind you. Crank the stereo, hit the gas and indulge your inner cowboy through Gold Rush towns, epic peaks and dramatic valleys. 

Oregon

Choose Your Own Pac-NW Adventure in Marc’s 2017 Tesla Model S

Fall drive Tesla
Photo: Martin Gyorgyfalvy

The Portland area is rich with scenic byways where you’re curtained on either side with autumnal splendor – it’s just up to you which ones you’ll cruise today. Do you head to the Cascade Lakes or the West Cascades? Up Mt. Hood around the state’s tallest peak? Towards Crater Lake or out to the misty coastline?

No matter which direction you choose, sometimes you just want to set up a special drive in something sleek, comfortable and packed with bells and whistles. That’s why we’d opt for this tech-heavy Tesla. Don’t worry about finding a gas station (your range of nearly 300 miles will get you out and back just fine); just tap in some directions on the 19” screen, slide open the glass sunroof and listen to nothing more than the air rushing by as you cut silently across the blacktop.

Virginia

Blue Ridge Mountain views in Phil’s 1965 Ford Mustang

Fall Drive Mustang

The best way to ride the sky — on wheels — is by taking the historic and twisty 105-mile Skyline Drive along Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Roadside flowers bloom all season long, even in the fall, further complimenting the vast colors that illuminate the tree lines. The captivating route takes travelers through forests, tunnels, along rivers and along mountains. It runs the entire length of the Shenandoah National Park, home to wildlife large and small.

There are several cars for rent on DriveShare just for the occasion, but imagine the roar of a 1965 Ford Mustang‘s exhaust echoing through the woodlands – it’s music to our ears. Giving it the pony car a quick blip of the throttle when you find yourself driving through tunnels will surely amp up your smiles per mile.

Tennesee

Engulf yourself in nature’s beauty with Norman’s 1973 Ford Bronco

Fall Drive Bronco

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one is the most visited national parks, and it is an obvious choice for some quality scenic fall driving. More than 100 species of trees offer jaw-dropping colors during early October through early November, and with 800 miles of scenic roads and hiking trails, it is easy to spend several days engulfed in the park’s beauty.

Cades Cove is one of the most popular destinations in the Great Smokies. A Ford Bronco rented from DriveShare is the perfect pairing for your scenic driving tour through the Cades Cove loop. Depending on traffic, the driving can take two to four hours on the one-lane paved road. Choosing to go topless with the Bronco will widen your horizons as you take in the broad, verdant valley surrounded by mountains.

Washington

Head to the Olympic Peninsula in Leann’s 1965 Porsche Roadster

fall drive Porsche

After a hot summer, the fall foliage in Washington displays vibrant, eye-dazzling hues. October is prime time for fall colors at the Olympic Peninsula. Before the drive, head to Lynwood just 25-minutes North of Seattle and pick up Leann’s classic Porsche Roadster to enhance your adventure. Driving with the top-down will allow you to take in the crisp fresh air, but if you prefer, you can ride with the top up, too.

The route around the shorelines to the Olympic National Park is a journey worth much more than the cost of gas. The Olympic National Park provides an amazing variety of natural sights: forests, mountains, lakes and coastal areas. Experience breathtaking colors of red, orange and yellow from maple, ash and aspen trees. This 350-mile route is still very wild and mostly untouched by man. Unique inhibitors include elk, cranes and sea otters, and Hurricane Ridge gives you breathtaking views of the Glacier Mountains without even exiting the car.

Montana

From Missoula to Glacier National Park in Gordon’s 1970 Oldsmobile Cutlass

Fall drive

Going-to-the-Sun Road is a dream fall drive, and Glacier National Park is one of the best places to witness larch trees displaying their bright golden hues interlaced with evergreens against the immense snow-covered peaks of the Continental Divide. Mix in some maple, aspen, birch, cottonwood and huckleberry then add in the local wildlife — elk, mountain goats, bighorn sheep and bears — and you have yourself an exceptionally dramatic autumn scene.

There are plenty of sights to see on the way to the Glacier National Park from picking up the perfect car for the cruise – a 1970 Oldsmobile Cutlass convertible in red to match the autumn vibes. At the center of the Flathead Indian Reservation, learn about bison in Montana and see these majestic creatures on their18,000-plus acre refuge, the National Bison Range along Hwy. 212 in Moiese. Also on the way is Flathead Lake, the largest natural freshwater lake west of the Mississippi. With 13 recreation sites and multiple state parks, it’s the perfect place to enjoy Montana on the water. At the Glacier National Park’s front door is Downtown Kalispell, where you can get a taste of Western heritage with locally owned ships, restaurants, galleries and more.


Want to learn how to rent a DriveShare car near you? Create your DriveShare account and get ready to hit the road in the car of your dreams. Interested in more awesome drives? Check out last seasons our Top Seven Summer Drives as they will also make for an excellent fall drive.

5 Comments

    1. Hey George, You are right! New Jersey is home to a lot of beautiful fall-driving roads. You could go coastal and take Ocean Drive from Ocean City to North Wildwood or take a drive right on the New Jersey and Pennsylvania border through the old farm country on Old Mine Road. There you will have a beautiful 40-mile drive filled with colors, curves, and historical sites. Old Mine Road begins just outside of Montague and ends around Interstate 80. Thank you for your input and happy motoring!

  1. I always do the Skyline Drive trip described in the Virginia tour above. I do it several times a year because I live nearby. It gets very busy in the fall, especially on weekends so go during the week. If you’re up for a longer trip, the 469 mile Blue Ridge Parkway continues on right after Skyline Drive and ends at Cherokee, NC at the entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains national Park. You can make a week-long trip of it and never touch an Interstate. I’ve also done the Michigan, Maine and Tennessee trips described above as well.

    I already have the perfect car for a fall road trip – a 2000 Boxster S – so I won’t be taking advantage of DriveShare this year – maybe if I decide on a West Coast trip in the future.

  2. Eastern North Carolina need to et some weekend tours for SSR Fanatics….
    beautiful country towns in the Eastern Part for sure..same with Coastal SC

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