Make the most of what’s left of autumn’s awesome glory with these decidedly nature-focused trips.
The weather may be getting chillier, but that’s hardly reason to pack away your adventure gear. In fact, when the mercury plunges, that’s actually an ideal time to hit the road to catch a few thrills before the last of the leaves have fallen. To make the most of the remaining season, make plans to take part in these cool autumn adventures across America.
Rio Chama Wild and Scenic River, New Mexico
It’s called the “Land of Enchantment” for a reason. Just north of Abiquiú, New Mexico, the Chama River Canyon cuts through high desert buttes turfed with juniper, pinon and cholla. Along the river in late autumn, the cottonwood groves flare to a fleeting and brilliant yellow. Drive eleven miles up the canyon on Forest Road 151 for the best free campsites, just two miles shy of a Benedictine Abbey in the desert (where the monks grow their own hops for Monk’s Ale brews!). Surprisingly, you’ll have few neighbors in autumn, though skies are sunny and still comfortable through November. Relax by the water or climb off-trail to the mesas overlooking the Rio Chama for a bird’s-eye view of this desert enchantment. (http://www.blm.gov/nm/st/en/prog/recreation/taos/rio_chama_wsr.html)
Yosemite National Park, CA
Yosemite’s oaks and dogwoods bare their true colors in autumn, one of the best times of year to visit the iconic park. Crowds have thinned, and the air has cooled, which makes for an ideal time to bike along Yosemite Valley’s 12 miles of paved bike paths. Pedal from Curry Village to Mirror Lake or Happy Isles and beneath the immense walls of El Capitan, or, for a longer ride, take to the main road out of the Valley toward Tuolumne Meadows. (http://www.nps.gov/yose/index.htm)
Great Allegheny Passage, MD and PA
The Great Allegheny Passage, built along abandoned rail beds, winds 141 picturesque miles through the forests of western Maryland and southwestern Pennsylvania along the Youghiogheny and Casselman Rivers. Closed to motorized traffic, with a speed limit of 15 mph, this path begs to be ridden through Mid-Atlantic autumn glory. Make a day or a week of it, staying in towns along the way. (http://www.atatrail.org/)
Acadia National Park, ME
Acadia National Park explodes with effulgent red, yellow, and orange fall colors each October. The best way to peep the leaves: hike up 1,530-foot Cadillac Mountain for long views, or ride a horse over 45 miles of rustic carriage roads. If you’re looking for a bigger rush amid the burgeoning autumn colors, rock climb routes rated up to 5.12 at 60-foot Otter Cliffs overlooking the sea. (http://www.nps.gov/acad/index.htm)