These road trips are worth every drop of gas thanks to magnificent views of mountain ranges, rolling hills, rocky escarpments, and, of course, the mighty Hudson. Plan a perfect day by hitting on of 12 pretty drives—and while mother nature doesn’t always follow a calendar, we pinpointed when foliage should be at its peak!
John Boyd Thacher State Park
Where: Route 157 (Thacher Park Road) in Voorheesville ➔ 3.5 miles
Best foliage view: The Overlook, peak is mid-October
Why it’s great: “Thacher State Park is the ultimate destination for leaf peepers in Albany County. The scenic overlook has stunning panoramic views across the Hudson-Mohawk Valleys and the Adirondack and Green Mountains,” says Michelle Ancona at Discover Albany.
Taconic State Park to Bash Bish Falls State Park
Where: Route 344 in Copake Falls to Falls Road in Mt. Washington, Massachusetts ➔ 2 miles
Best foliage views: Copake and Bash Bish waterfalls, peak is late October
Why it’s great: This a two-for-one special: Trees bursting with color and two breathtaking waterfalls within minutes of each other? Unheard of!
Where: Pawling to Wassaic via Route 22 ➔ 18.7 miles
Best foliage views: Along the Appalachian Trail and Swamp River, peak is early November
Why it’s great: “The entire stretch of Route 22 north from Pawling toward Millerton and beyond is a fantastic drive year-round. This route is nestled in the Harlem Valley, with beautiful views of farms such as the Harlem Valley Homestead, the Ten Mile River, and the Taconic and Berkshire mountains,” says Melaine Rottkamp, president and CEO of Dutchess Tourism, Inc.
Millbrook to Amenia
Where: Route 44 ➔ 10 miles
Best foliage views: Amenia Scenic Overlook, peak is early November
Why it’s great: “This overlook features magnificent views of Silo Ridge Field Club Golf Course and three states, offering a dazzling array of color during peak foliage. After cruising down the mile-long ‘S’ curve, head out to Four Brothers Drive-In in Amenia for retro charm,” says Rottkamp
Where: Leeds to Windham ➔ 22 miles
Best foliage views: Five State Lookout, Acra, peak is mid-October
Why it’s great: “Located on an unassuming pull-off on your way to Windham, there are views of the White Mountains in New Hampshire, the Green Mountains in Vermont, the Berkshires in Massachusetts, plus the Helderberg range in New York and the Connecticut Valley, all from one vantage point. It’s a great place to catch the sunset as well,” says Rebecca Northrup, a representative of Greatnortherncatskills.com.
Old Storm King Highway
Where: Route 218, West Point to Cornwall-on-Hudson ➔ 4 miles
Best foliage views: Pullout after marker 1076, peak is late October
Why it’s great: “This drive circles Storm King Mountain—the birthplace of the ecological movement in the U.S—and offers beautiful views of the Hudson River,” says Amanda Dana, director of Orange County Tourism and Film.
Route 97 and Upper Delaware Scenic Byway
Where: Port Jervis to Narrowsburg ➔ 34.5 miles
Best foliage views: The Hawk’s Nest, Sparrowbush, peak is late October
Why it’s great: “This unique highway follows the Delaware River, connecting the railroad city of Port Jervis to the bluestone village of Hancock—a snake-like portion in Sparrowbush has been featured in many car ads!” says Dana.
Where: Cold Spring to Carmel ➔ 19 miles
Best foliage views: Fahnestock State Park, peak is late October
Why it’s great: “Route 301 offers a stunning drive across the county. From the hills of Carmel in the east to Philipstown on the Hudson River in the west, you’ll see beautiful vistas and reservoirs,” says Tracey Walsh, director of Putnam County Tourism.
Perkins Memorial Drive
Where: Bear Mountain State Park ➔ 3.5 miles
Best foliage views: Perkins Memorial Tower, peak is early November
Why it’s great: “Perkins Memorial Drive stands at the summit of Bear Mountain State Park—about 1,300 feet above the Hudson River. It features spectacular views of Tallman Mountain State Park, the Hudson Highlands, and Harriman State Park,” says Jennifer Profenna of Rockland County Tourism.
Seven Lakes Drive
Where: Harriman State Park ➔ 17.9 miles
Best foliage views: Any of the seven lakes! Peak is early November
Why it’s great: “Seven Lakes Drive runs through Harriman State Park from Sloatsburg to Bear Mountain State Park, passing by seven lakes—including Sebago, Tiorati, and Askoti—making it excellent for fall foliage viewing,” says Profenna.
Catskills Scenic Byway
Where: Route 28, Shokan to Andes ➔ 52 miles
Best foliage views: Slide Mountain (between Boiceville and Shandaken), peak is mid-to late-October
Why it’s great: “This Catskills experience offers mountain scenery, waterways, rolling farmland, and more. The views along this byway have inspired artists, writers, and tourists for decades!” says Northrup.
Shawangunk Mountain Scenic Byway
Where: Routes 44 and 55 ➔ 88 miles
Best foliage views: Northern Loop overlooks, peak is mid-to late-October
Why it’s great: “The Shawangunk Mountains was noted by the Nature Conservancy as one of ‘Earth’s Last Great Places.’ The byway encircles the northern Gunks and travels through the Rondout and Wallkill valleys, linking communities and forming a distinct region of the state with its own special character,” says Natalie Michael, deputy director of Ulster County Tourism.