Looking to turn over a new leaf on your annual fall foliage excursion? Trade in subdued "oohs" and "ahs" from the passenger seat for "wows!" and "holy cows!" by signing-up for an action-packed leaf-peeping adventure.
Each of these fall travel adventures selected by the ShermansTravel team is bound to give you a one-of-a-kind perspective on the bold waves of crimson, fiery-orange and golden hues that sweep the country at this time of year.
Read on to discover five exhilarating alternatives to jumping in a fresh pile of crispy leaves! (Or, for those of you who prefer a more traditional means of taking in the fall season's splendors, check out our Top 10 Fall Foliage Destinations.)
Looking for even more adrenaline-pumping action this autumn? Then you'll enjoy our full list of fall foliage adventures on ShermansTravel.com.
Post Labor Day, the deciduous trees of California's <a href="http://www.yosemitepark.com/" target="_hplink">Yosemite National Park</a> are not alone in experiencing a lovely transformation – temperatures become pleasantly cool (with subtle hints of Indian summer), the mosquitoes vanish, and the hordes of summer visitors disappear, leaving the park more reminiscent of a sanctuary than a frenzied tourist attraction. One of the best ways to experience the splendor of fall foliage travel here is by renting a bike from a park kiosk and pedaling over 12 miles of paved paths along the flat floor of the breathtaking Yosemite Valley. <em>Photo: Flickr/bumeister1</em>
Strap on your boots and saddle up - autumn is the perfect time of year to explore Wyoming's stunning wilderness. Local wranglers, like those at <a href="http://www.dryridge.com/" target="_hplink">Dry Ridge Outfitters</a>, offer a variety of guided horseback riding trips that last anywhere from an hour to several days out on the trails. Prime fall foliage travel season is mid-September to mid-October, when Grand Teton National Park is flush with red-gold aspens and golden cottonwoods, set against a brilliant blue sky. Back at ground level, keep your eyes open for moose, elk, and the occasional bear, too. <em>Photo: Flickr/brainholsclaw</em>
For a bird’s-eye view of autumn’s changing hues, the sky's the limit on the foliage you'll see from aboard a hot air balloon out of Asheville, North Carolina. <a href="http://www.ashevillehotairballoons.com/" target="_hplink">Asheville Hot Air Balloons</a> will have you soaring to a leaf-peeper's cloud nine some 500 to 2,000 feet above Pisgah National Forest and the Great Smoky Mountains – the latter of which boasts the superlative foliage of the Blue Ridge Parkway, one of America’s premier scenic drives for fall foliage travel adventures. One-hour flights depart daily at sunrise. <em>Photo: Ashville Hot Air Balloons/Greg West</em>
The thrills of riding Mt. Washington’s <a href="http://www.thecog.com/" target="_hplink">Cog Railway</a> haven't lost any steam since the locomotive first began ascending New England's highest peak in 1869. As much a New Hampshire rite of passage as leaf-peeping, the 3-hour journey is the best way to appreciate the region's fiery fall plumage. Admire nature's handiwork up close (maple reds, beech bronzes, birch lemon-yellows) as you chug up the 3.1-mile trestle, then cap off the fall foliage travel adventure by experiencing the full tour de force of the autumnal palette from the 6,288-foot summit, where the views encompass four states, Quebec, and the Atlantic Ocean. <em>Photo: The Mount Washington Cog Railway</em>
Autumn in New York's Hudson River Valley is a sight to behold – and there are few better vantage points from which to take it all in then dangling from a rock face on the Shawangunks – affectionately dubbed “The Gunks” – range, some 90 miles north of Manhattan. A magnet for adrenaline junkies, this revered rock-climbing mecca is scalable by first-timers and expert climbers alike with the professional guidance of outfits like New Paltz-based <a href="http://www.alpinendeavors.com/" target="_hplink">Alpine Endeavors</a>. Stay the weekend at the historic Mohonk Mountain House and you can also round out your fall foliage travel by visiting one of several nearby harvest festivals kicking off in October. <em>Photo: iStock</em>
Follow Shermans Travel on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ShermansTravel