• Maria

Best Scenic Drives & Rides for Leaf-Peeping

Updated: Sep 27, 2021

Fall is finally here and you know what that means... time for the leaf-peeping to begin!

Fall Foliage
Beginning of Fall Foliage | September 21, 2021

As sad as I am that summer flew by, I'm definitely ready for sweater weather, apple picking, pumpkin spice things, and of course, all the beautiful foliage coming our way.

Lucky for us (and you) we live in one of the most beautiful places in the world with access to so many different ways to view the beautiful fall foliage. Whether you want to drive yourself down the highway or relax on a scenic train ride, there are so many options to satisfy your leaf-peeping needs.

Below are a few of my favorite ways to enjoy the foliage all season long.

Kancamagus Highway

Route 112

If you frequent the Lincoln area, you've definitely either heard of or have driven on the Kancamagus Highway.

Called the Kanc for short, this route is one of the most famous highways in New Hampshire. It's also consistently recognized as one of the most scenic highways in the US, and it's not hard to tell why.

Connecting the towns of Lincoln and North Conway, you'll get stunning views of the White Mountains from various lookout points along the route. To get there, you'll head east on main street in Lincoln, drive right past Loon Mountain and just keep going straight. The lookout points will pop up as you continue down the road, be sure to stop and visit them all!

Franconia Notch

I-93 North

Take a right out of our main parking lot and just keep going straight. In about 5 minutes you'll pop out right in the heart of the Franconia Notch.

Turn your leaf-peeping excursion into a full Franconia Notch exploration by stopping at one (or all) of the many attractions on this route. You'll see the Basin, Boise Rock, the Old Man of the Mountain Memorial Site and Echo Lake, all of which are really interesting and will add a little something extra to your journey.

Elevate (literally) your foliage views by taking a quick hike up Artists Bluff for views like the one pictured above.

Mount Washington Auto Road & Cog Railway

Auto Road | The Cog

For the adventurers who are looking to do some serious leaf-peeping, Mount Washington is for you.

Mount Washington
Photo Courtesy of mountwashington.org

Drive yourself all the way up the tallest mountain in the Northeast and enjoy the foliage from 6,288 feet high.

Or turn this scenic drive into a scenic ride and take The Cog to the summit instead.

Mount Washington Cog
Photo Courtesy of mwvblog.wordpress.com

Whatever you decide to do, you'll be met with sweeping views of the Mount Washington Valley and beyond.

Plus, to get to Mount Washington, you'll have to drive through the Franconia Notch and up Route 3, so you'll get some bonus scenery along the way.

Conway Scenic Railroad

Book your journey here

The Conway Scenic Railroad has foliage views like none other. And the best part? You aren't driving, so all your focus can go to your beautiful surroundings, rather than the road.

You'll cover 50-60 scenic miles on this 5-5.5 hour train ride through the beautiful Crawford Notch on a path that you can't get to by car.

To get to Conway you'll have to drive over the Kancamagus Highway, so you could stop at some lookout points along the way and have a day full of awesome views!

Loon Mountain Gondola Skyride

Tickets available here

Have you ever been to the top of Loon Mountain when there wasn't any snow on the ground? If not, you're missing out!

Loon Mountain Gondola
Photo Courtesy of loonmtn.com

Ascend on this 1.3 mile ride to the summit of Loon Mountain for spectacular views of the surrounding White Mountains. From there, you can access their observation tower and summit amphitheater for even more views of the beautiful foliage.

Whether you decide to take a scenic ride or drive yourself through the beautiful North Country, you will not be disappointed with a leaf-peeping trip to the White Mountains!


Have you driven on these scenic routes before? Which one is your favorite? Let us know!

Follow us on Instagram and Facebook @IHResortNH and tag us in your favorite fall photos.

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