Skip to main content

Fall Foliage Road Trip

The Ultimate Fall Road Trip Itinerary

New Hampshire's Top Spots for Seeing Fall Colors

This fall, travel photographer Kelsey Johnson (heykelseyj) explored across New Hampshire chasing and photographing brilliant fall colors! She’s compiled all of her favorite leaf-peeping spots around the state into one ultimate road trip itinerary.

Keep reading to learn everything you need to know in order to plan your own New Hampshire autumn adventure!

How to Get There

Fly into either Manchester-Boston Regional Airport - your closest option - or Boston Logan International Airport, which is less than an hour away from the New Hampshire border. Rent a car for your trip as many leaf-peeping locations are fairly rural.

Book your accommodations as early as possible before prices start to go up. However, you can also car camp, which is a great option if you're ok with some chilly nights (temps can drop down into the 30's). There are quite a few campgrounds around the state parks, and you can also find free campsites online, using sites like Free Campsites or iOverlander.
 
When it comes to chasing fall colors, timing is everything. Exactly when fall colors "peak" (aka are at their most colorful) changes a bit each year, but the approximate time frame for New Hampshire is almost always early to mid October. Be sure to keep checking Visit New Hampshire's Foliage Tracker and Foliage Reports to estimate when the colors will be at their best!

One Week Trip Itinerary

I arranged this itinerary based on where fall colors usually peak first up north, then eventually heading down south where they peak later on. This itinerary packs a ton of locations and activities into a short amount of time, so I highly recommend completing this route over the course of 10 days to two weeks in order to get the most out of your trip!

Day 1

Fly into Boston or Manchester, and rent a car, then kick off your trip with a four-hour drive! Make your way to the northernmost part of New Hampshire: The Great North Woods.
Head to Dixville Notch State Park for some ultimate early season leaf-peeping. I recommend hiking Table Rock Trail to get the best view, but be mindful of the steep drop offs at the top!

Day 2

As the leaves change, book it down to the White Mountains. I recommend spending the most time in this area as it is my absolute favorite place in the world for seeing fall colors! Arrive in Franconia Notch State Park and do a quick hike for sunset. There are tons of hikes in the area depending on your skill level, but Mount Pemigewasset is a great one to get an amazing view!  FYI Littleton is a town nearby that's a good stop off to get WiFi and a bite to eat.

Day 3

Catch sunrise at a classic spot, Artist's Bluff, for a great view of Echo Lake. Then head over to Flume Gorge for an easy walk through some gorgeous fall colors (get there early to beat the rush).  If you aren't too tired yet, go hike Falling Waters Trail in the afternoon, and see not one, but three gorgeous waterfalls!

Day 4

Give your legs a rest day today and go for a scenic drive instead! Cut through the White Mountains and drive the gorgeous Kancamagus Highway. Be sure to leave plenty of time for all the scenic stop-offs along the way.  After the drive, you'll arrive in the adorable mountain town of North Conway. Explore around town for the afternoon, or you can also rent canoes and kayaks nearby if you want to get out on the water!

Day 5

Head up to Crawford Notch State Park for another incredibly scenic drive and some great hikes! Once again, take your time driving through the park to explore backroads and pull over at all the scenic spots. My favorite hike in the area is Mount Willard, which provides an amazing vista over the valley.

Day 6

Head south down to Lake Winnipesaukee. This lake is absolutely massive and is a great area for exploring and leaf-peeping! Spend the afternoon strolling around the charming town of Meredith, then stay overnight in a cabin on the lake for a relaxing New England experience.

Day 7

Drive around the lake in the AM for some final scenic views, then head back to the airport and make your way home after seeing some incredible New Hampshire fall foliage!

More Info

For more detailed information to help plan your autumn trip, check out the rest of the fall planning section. There is a lot of helpful info including more trip ideas, things to do, where to stay, and how to navigate this beautiful state!
 

9 Spots to Capture Fall Color in the Dartmouth-Lake Sunapee Region

Late October is a great time to leaf peep in the Dartmouth/Lake Sunapee Region! This route highlights 9 spots to capture the autumn glow.

Learn More

7 Stops to Spot Fall Around the Lakes Region

If it's vibrant foliage you're seeking, look no further than the Lakes Region. Here are 7 out of the way spots that are sure to wow this season!

Learn More

10 Fall Foliage Stops in NH’s Great North Woods and White Mountains

Leaf peeping in the White Mountains or Great North Woods? Here are 10 scenic and colorful spots you won't want to miss!
Learn More

7 NH Cideries to Visit This Fall

With NH’s official state beverage being apple cider, it’s no surprise that hard cider has gained in popularity over the years. Here are 7 cideries to get your autumn off to a delicious start!
Learn More

5 Classic Fall Experiences

It’s not fall in NH until you’ve plucked a juicy apple right from the tree, sipped locally-made cider or gotten lost in a corn maze! Check out these must-do, classic autumn adventures.
Learn More

New Hampshire Corn Mazes

Challenge your family and friends to navigating a corn maze this fall in NH. Corn mazes are a fun fall tradition and you may just find yourself lost for an afternoon.
Learn More

Northern NH Guide to Apple Picking

Apple picking in NH is fall must-do. Here are 5 orchards in the northern part of the state that are not only chock-full of delicious fruit, but boast stunning views in some of the state's most scenic spots.
Learn More

Southern NH Guide to Apple Picking

Take a bite out of fall in New Hampshire this year! Here’s your guide to apple picking at locations across the southern portion of the state.
Learn More

7 Perfect Leaf Peeping Hikes

Fresh fall air. Panoramic views. Peaks that stretch to the sky all streaked in a brilliant masterpiece of oranges, reds and golds. This isn’t your average autumn experience.

 

Learn More

7 Scenic Foliage Drives

Explore epic leaf-peeping routes this fall in NH. These 7 scenic drives are packed with quaint country villages, covered bridges, and a bounty of colorful canopies.    
Learn More

8 Unique Ways to Experience Foliage

Autumn is a beautiful time to visit NH. This fall take in the foliage from a different view. Here’s 8 unique ways to experience fall’s breath-taking beauty.    
Learn More

6 Foliage Photo Opps in the Merrimack Valley Region

Take a late fall road trip around the Merrimack Valley Region, where beautiful foliage tends to hang on until the end of October.
Learn More

5 Stops to Spot Seasonal Sights in the Monadnock Region

Make a trip to the Monadnock Region to see some stunning fall scenery framing some cool spots for photo opps.
Learn More

5 Fall Photo Opps in the White Mountains

The White Mountains Region is always a favorite spot for leaf peeping. Check out this route that takes you off the beaten path!
Learn More

Haunted Adventures

Prepare to be scared this Halloween in New Hampshire. Spooky adventures are our specialty and here’s your warning these five frights are not for the faint of heart. 
Learn More