6 Reasons Why You Should Road Trip In The Fall

Road trips aren't just for the summer.

By: Jake Young
November 10, 2015

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With cooler temperatures rolling in and the days growing ever shorter as fall starts to turn to winter, we can't help but miss those long days of summer. There is no reason to mourn the loss of summer, though - along with the crisp air and brilliantly colored foliage, fall brings you one of the best seasons for an adventure road trip. So pack up the car and get out of town!

Scenic Drive Up To Grand Targhee Ski Resort | Photo: Josh Packer

Scenic Drive Up To Grand Targhee Ski Resort | Photo: Josh Packer

1. Fewer Tourists

Labor Day is the unofficial end of the summer to many. People take their two-week vacation culminating in this weekend and school districts often resume classes the following week. What does this mean? Tourist season is over. Many locations that are usually overrun by tourists (Yosemite, Zion, Lake Louise orLake Moraine) become much less populated and easily accessible. No more parking lot quests, random people in your iconic landscape photos or crowded trails. It’s a perfect time to experience these beautiful places with much more peace and quiet.

2. Meet the Locals

Now that many of the tourists are gone, the locals come out to play. There is usually not as much work for seasonal workers and many use this time to experience the beautiful places that they live in. This is a great time to learn about the secret spots in many areas or hangout with fellow adventurers who are veterans in the area.

Explore Big Mountain Pass | Photo: Lindsay Daniels

Explore Big Mountain Pass | Photo: Lindsay Daniels

3. No Bugs

Nothing can ruin a camping trip or hike like getting swarmed by vicious mosquitos. Consistent temperatures under 50 degrees or a frost will usually completely wipe out mosquitos in an area. Most northern states and Canada will become clear of mosquitos late August and middle latitudes by September. This means no nasty bug spray and no bites.

4. Fall Colors

Perhaps one of the greatest benefits of traveling in the fall is the stunning foliage. This colorful phase of photosynthesis provides ample photography opportunities and can totally transform familiar areas. These colors can develop in late September in the northern latitudes and will manifest themselves throughout October. For extended trips, it is advised to travel south with the changing of the colors. Many places also have local flare that requires a small amount of research. For example, the Larch, a conifer that loses its needles, turns a brilliant yellow in late September in the Canadian Rockies.

Drive Kebler Pass For Fall Colors | Photo: Whitney James

Drive Kebler Pass For Fall Colors | Photo: Whitney James

5. Cooler Temperatures

Fall brings clearer skies and cooler temperatures. Autumn is a perfect time to test your new layers or shells before the winter season starts or wear that flannel that was too warm for summer. The shoulder season can have spurts of inclement weather, where the risk of non-performing gear is very small. Its also time to fire up the woodstove or bring hot chocolate on your favorite hikes as the coziness of fall sets in.

6. Permits are easier to obtain and can be free

Many areas that are heavily permitted (Lake O’Hara, Mt. Whitney, Zion Narrows) are often much easier to access in the off-season. Not only are there less people vying for permits, cancellations are much more likely due to weather other circumstances. Some places like Berg Lake in British Columbia actually stop charging for backcountry permits as the summer season ends.

Catch Fall Colors On The West Side Of RMNP | Photo: Kyle Colby

Catch Fall Colors On The West Side Of RMNP | Photo: Kyle Colby

Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph.