Explore America / Explore The Outdoors

5 Tips for a Perfect Leaf Peeping Road Trip

Recently I shared my 5 tips for a perfect leaf peeping road trip with multiple television stations from Denver to San Antonio. The fall foliage is peaking in the Rockies and New England, From Maine to Colorado to Texas, there’s plenty of leaf peeping season left. My favorite fall foliage map to check for partial color, peak and past peak across the country is smokymountain.com.

*Be Road Trip Ready – Have full tank of gas, water, snacks, and a stay healthy kit. Mine includes hand sanitizer, wipes, face coverings and disposal gloves. Pack a picnic for a wonderful day drive. 


*Take a Road Less Traveled – Research your route.  Look for alternative drives to popular ones. In Colorado, Guanella Pass, Independence Pass and Trail Ridge Road are extremely popular fall drives. I drove Highway 24 between Leadville and Minturn on my way to and from Vail. It’s a scenic drive with tons of history. You cross the Continental Divide on Tennessee Pass and get a history lesson on the U.S. Army’s 10th Mountain Division. They were alpine soldiers, or ski troopers, during World War II. I also recently drove Dunton Road off of Highway 145 in the San Juan Mountains. It was filled with color on a dirt and in places rough road off of the popular San Juan Skyway.

*Drive at Off Times – Go leaf peeping mid-week or take an early Sunday morning to avoid crowds.

*Find some Fall Fun – Gazing at leaves is nice, but add in some activities for a full day of fun.  Go fly fishing, biking, hiking, or make an education stop like Betty Ford Alpine Gardens in Vail. They’re the highest botanical gardens in North America. On a scenic drive, stop at the pull-offs with historic markers or other signs. You’ll learn something on your leaf peeping adventure. On the trail or on the road, watch for wildlife. Fall is a great time to see animals as they are more active preparing for winter or in the fall rut season. Keep your distance.

*Go with a Guide – The best way to get away from crowds and find secret stashes of color is to go with a guide. In Vail I went with Paragon Guides on a “Lunch with a Llama” hike and had a ball. It was a unique and memorial experience, plus we found tons of color.