Skip to main content

You Need to Take These Scenic California Drives to See Fall Colors

You Need to Take These Scenic California Drives to See Fall Colors

Discover California's autumn splendor with scenic drives showcasing vibrant fall foliage. Explore hidden leaf-peeping gems now. Team


2 min read

October 30, 2023

California, with its long coastline, majestic mountains, and iconic landmarks, is undoubtedly a haven for tourists. While most equate the Golden State with sun-soaked beaches and summer vacations, many remain unaware of the breathtaking fall colors it offers. Come autumn, parts of California turn into a vivid tableau of rusts, yellows, and reds, rivalling the traditional fall foliage destinations of the East Coast. For the best leaf-peeping experience, here are some scenic drives in California that you must take to see the dazzling display of fall colors.

Eastern Sierra - June Lake Loop

Located near Mammoth Lakes, the June Lake Loop is a 16-mile loop that is arguably one of the most scenic drives in California during fall. The aspen trees here turn a brilliant gold, contrasting beautifully with the evergreens and the shimmering blue waters of June Lake. For a mesmerizing experience, plan your visit during mid-October, when the colors are at their peak.

For the mountain terrain lovers the June Lake Loop is a beautiful drive.

Gold Country - Highway 49

Named after the 1849 Gold Rush, Highway 49 winds through California's historic Gold Country. As fall approaches, this route transforms, with oak trees exhibiting deep reds and yellows. Visit towns like Nevada City and Sutter Creek, which not only display a vibrant fall palette but also offer a glimpse into California's rich history.

Napa Valley - Silverado Trail

While Napa Valley is globally renowned for its wines, it’s also a lesser-known hotspot for autumnal hues. Drive down the Silverado Trail during fall, and you'll be treated to a medley of golden vineyards, set against the backdrop of rolling hills. The experience becomes even more enchanting when combined with a stop at one of the many amazing restaurants in the area.

The Silverado Trail is the main road that takes you along Napa's many vineyards.

Shasta Cascade - Plumas County

Plumas County, located in the northeastern part of California, is a hidden gem when it comes to fall foliage. The Feather River Scenic Byway, in particular, offers a picturesque drive. Towering cottonwoods and aspens turn golden, providing a striking contrast to the rugged landscape of the Shasta Cascade region.

Yosemite National Park

No list of scenic drives in California would be complete without mentioning Yosemite National Park. While the park is a year-round destination, there's something uniquely enchanting about Yosemite in the fall. The dogwoods, oaks, and maples don a vibrant cloak of reds and yellows, and the crisp autumn air only adds to the allure. The drive towards the park's Tunnel View offers unparalleled views of the valley, framed with the shimmering colors of fall.

California boasts many national parks including the massive Yosemite National Park.

Big Sur Coast - Highway 1

While Big Sur is more often associated with its dramatic cliffs and the blue expanse of the Pacific Ocean, the drive along Highway 1 during fall presents a different spectacle. The hillsides get draped in autumn hues, providing a colorful contrast to the turquoise waters. Stop at various overlooks to soak in the breathtaking panorama of sea and foliage.

Santa Cruz Mountains

Less than an hour's drive from the bustling tech city of San Jose, the Santa Cruz Mountains promise a serene escape, especially during the fall. Drive along Skyline Boulevard, and you'll encounter dense redwood forests interspersed with patches of bright orange and red, especially from maples and oaks.

In conclusion, California is not just about summer beach fun or the glamour of Hollywood. When fall arrives, parts of this diverse state turn into an artist's palette, showcasing an array of vivid colors. Whether you’re a photographer, nature enthusiast, or just someone looking for a serene drive, California's fall foliage won't disappoint. So, pack your bags, fuel up your car, and embark on a mesmerizing journey through California’s autumnal beauty.

Recomended businesses

Show me
Recommended Businesses near

Discover the best of California. Our recommended businesses are top-quality and are committed to their communities.

Need help with a home improvement project? Get a free quote today!

Enter Your Zip Code

Enter Your Zip Code

RELATED Articles

Discover More

fueled by the power of California love
We're committed to helping you discover the places, people and businesses that make our state Golden. Our online publication, updated daily, brings you all the content you need to live your California dreams. And that's just the beginning…
Purpose section
Purpose section