Destination West - The White River National Forest
Western Colorado becomes seas of sparkling gold that cover the mountains as the aspen trees turn from summer green. Within the 2.3 million acres which include ten mountain peaks you will find the ability to hunt, fish, camp, hike and rock climb. One of the most popular sites (and most photographed in the United States) within the forest is the Maroon Bells of Aspen. Nearby day trips well worth the time include the historic towns of Redstone and Marble and the Rifle Falls State Park.
If you take I-70 west through Kansas I recommend setting Hays or Colby as your stop for the night destination point. I also recommend taking along a book written just for this trip. “Driving across Kansas” by Ted T. Cable & Wayne A. Maley tells the history of Kansas in mile marker increments. St. Fidelis Church, better known as “The Cathedral of the Plains” is located in Victoria, KS just east of Hays. The church was built in 1911 and is open to the public daily.
For a memorable and scenic lunch experience I recommend stopping in Idaho Springs just west of Denver. This Gold Rush mining town has a fantastic historic downtown filled with local shops and dining choices. If you’re looking to take a stab at a little gold panning, you’ll have no trouble finding supplies.
Destination East - Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
Northern Michigan and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula become a picture perfect rainbow of color as the states hardwoods turn their leaves from green to yellow, orange, and red. Though peak color has passed for the most northern regions of the state there is sure to be some beautiful scenes along the way. The Lake Superior lakeshore is filled with giant sandstone cliffs and offers hiking/walking trails as well as camping.
Whether you take a southern or northern route the foliage from central Missouri all the way through Illinois is picture worthy. If you do take the northern route I highly recommend lunch at O’Griffs Irish Grill and Brewhouse in one of Quincy, Illinois’ historic downtown areas. Just outside of the Grill is the October 13th, 1858 site of the sixth Lincoln-Douglas debate.
On the topic of history, a favorite destination from far and wide is Greenfield Village and the Henry Ford Museum. The 80 acre village is a well lain collection of historical experiences and buildings including the Noah Webster home moved from New Haven, Connecticut where the first Webster Dictionary was written.
Heading north on 75, Christmas enthusiast will love the town of Frankenmuth, Michigan is a must stop. Here you will find Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland which is as large as one and half football fields with the feel of a giant museum full of themed displays, except everything is for sale
On the way (at least somewhat directionally) to Pictured Rocks it is well worth the time to spend at least a day at Mackinac Island (Pronounced “mackinaw”). The island was occupied by French Missionaries in the late 1600’s and by the late 1700’s became a Fort of British occupation. Most of the island became America’s second National Park after Yellowstone. Today that acreage is a Michigan State Park. If you have heard of this Island and wonder if it is true that no cars are allowed you are correct! In an effort to freeze history in time only bicycles, horse drawn carriages and shoes are allowed methods of travel.
Destination Day Trip - Ozark National Scenic Riverways
A little closer to home, the Ozark National Scenic Riverways are not only a scenic destination but an invitation to adventure. Canoeing, camping, hiking, bicycling and discovering caves are all just some of the ways to experience the Ozarks any time of year. Along the river the primary color will be yellow as Sycamores leaves turn in Mid-October. Adventuring beyond the river will add reds and oranges from Birch, Maples, Oaks and Hawthorns as well as extend your fall color viewing as these trees peak nearer to the end of October.
Missouri is filled with wonderful little historic towns, so choosing which ones to stop at on the way might be best accomplished by throwing a dart at a map. Just in case that won’t work for you here are a few suggestions.
Any stop along Missouri’s Wine Country is a sure bet for a fun day in a beautiful fall setting. Many of these towns will have fall festivals including the Hermann Oktoberfest that runs every weekend during the entire month of October. Keep in mind though getting a room in town this late in the year might be impossible. Hermann’s bed and breakfast lodging is often fully booked by February.
Last stop before jumping into that Ozark adventure is the Laura Ingalls Wilder Home in Mansfield. There are two homes on the property, the first being the farm home the Wilders lived in after moving to Mansfield in 1894. The second being a home Laura’s daughter Rose had built for her in 1928. Laura wrote the “Little House on the Prairie” books in both homes. She and Almanzo missed living in the little farmhouse and later moved back to live out the rest of their years.
So, wherever the road may take you may it be safe, fun and colorful!
Blog by Audrey Elder - Past2PresentResearch.com