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Most dazzling fall foliage spots for truckers

In FreightWaves survey, truckers ranked their favorite places to see colorful leaves

Fall officially began Wednesday afternoon in the continental U.S., ushering in the season of football, fun and foliage. For truckers on the road, it’s a chance to enjoy the beauty of the leaves changing colors across the country. In a FreightWaves Twitter survey, this is how they ranked the following four places that feature some of the best fall foliage in the country.

Great Smoky Mountains

Truckers said the Great Smoky Mountains straddling the Tennessee-North Carolina border is the best place to see fall foliage, receiving 53% of the votes. The spectacular foliage often features eye-popping fiery yellows and vibrant reds, especially along U.S highways 321 and 441 in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Colors in this area usually peak around mid-October, according to the fall foliage prediction map from smokymountains.com.

Fall foliage in the Great Smoky Mountains. (Photo: Jerry Jaynes/Flickr)

Michigan’s Gold Coast

In the fall, Michigan’s 300-mile western shoreline, known as the Gold Coast, offers fiery-hued maple and oak leaves against green pine, fir and spruce trees. The drive on Interstates 94 and 196, as well as U.S. Highway 31, has dazzled many truckers. They gave this region 29% of the votes in our survey. Colors typically peak at Grand Traverse Bay in the northern end of the Gold Coast around late September, peaking in the southern end at the Michigan-Indiana border around mid-October.

Fall foliage in northern Michigan. (Photo: ishootmi/Instagram)

Ozark Mountains

There’s no doubt that truckers will find vibrant fall foliage in the Ozarks, which mostly span southern Missouri and northern Arkansas. However, they also stretch into small sections of northeastern Oklahoma and far southeastern Kansas. The broad range of signature autumn colors blankets the region in breathtaking beauty and usually peaks in late October or early November. Interstates 40 and 49 are the major lanes running through the region. The Ozarks received 12% of the votes in the FreightWaves survey.

Fall foliage in the Ozark National Forest. (Photo: Arkansas Department of Parks & Tourism)

Olympic Peninsula

Last, but not least, the Olympic Peninsula in Washington provides striking fall foliage backdrops across its 3,600 square miles. That’s about 10 times the size of Dallas. Bright reds, oranges and yellows typically peak around mid-October, creating stunning views along U.S. Highway 101, as well as several state routes. The Olympic Peninsula, which received 6% of the votes in the FreightWaves survey, is a large arm of land in western Washington that lies across Puget Sound from Seattle and contains Olympic National Park. It’s bounded on the west by the Pacific Ocean, the north by the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the east by Hood Canal.

Fall foliage in the Olympic Peninsula. (Photo: reverie_rambler/Flickr)

One driver commented about the fall beauty of the Interstate 80 corridor in Pennsylvania, in addition to Interstate 70 through the Colorado Rockies.

Click here for more FreightWaves articles by Nick Austin.

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Nick Austin

Nick is a meteorologist with 20 years of forecasting and broadcasting experience. He was nominated for a Midsouth Emmy for his coverage during a 2008 western Tennessee tornado outbreak. He received his Bachelor of Science in Meteorology from Florida State University, as well as a Bachelor of Science in Management from the Georgia Tech. Nick is a member of the American Meteorological Society and National Weather Association. As a member of the weather team at WBBJ-TV in Jackson, Tennessee, Nick was nominated for a Mid-South Emmy for live coverage of a major tornado outbreak in February 2008. As part of the weather team at WRCB-TV in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Nick shared the Chattanooga Times-Free Press Best of the Best award for “Best Weather Team” eight consecutive years.