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Note: All travel is subject to frequently changing governmental restrictions—please check federal, state and local advisories before scheduling trips.

In case you put a previous vacation on hold this year, autumn is the perfect time to hit the road. Crowds are relatively scarce, the air is cool and crisp, and landscapes are blanketed in gorgeous arrays of autumn color. For us adventure seekers—the bikers, hikers, surfers, paddlers and trail runners—it’s time to cram one more adventure in before the first snow flies. So pack your favorite gear for these five adventure-filled road trips to take this Fall.

RELATED: The ultimate Southwest National Parks road trip

Surf along Hwy 101

Add surfing in Oregon and Washington to your to-do list this Fall. Just be ready for 45 degree waters and exchanging board shorts for a thick wetsuit and booties.

Fuel up in Seattle with handcrafted donuts and espresso from Half & Half Doughnut Co., then link up with Highway 101 in Olympia for a stunningly beautiful cruise around the Olympic Peninsula.

When you reach Forks, rent a board and sign up for lessons at La Push Surf Adventures. If you have your gear, head straight for La Push and a sheltered cove 16 miles away on Highway 110. From here, it’s south to Westport where waves at Westhaven State Park and near the marina at The Groins call for a two-day stay. Restaurants line the marina and trendy Loge Westport makes the perfect surf camp. After crossing into Oregon, easygoing Seaside is your next stop. The oceanfront promenade is ideal for a stroll and Seaside Cove offers nice right-handers. Fifteen miles south of Cannon Beach, a short path through old-growth forest brings you to Short Sand Beach, a coastal dreamscape and surfing hotspot in Oswald West State Park. If time is running out, finish this surf trip in Newport 2.5 hours farther south. Ossies Surf Shop lies right off Highway 101 and Agate Beach is across the street. Fairly consistent waves offer everything from slow and small for beginners to double overheads for charging pros. Spend the night in cozy comfort at Ocean House Bed and Breakfast on Agate Beach; unwind in the evening around the outdoor fire pit and enjoy ocean views. Breakfast is included.

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Bike the Black Hills Loop

Western South Dakota’s 6,000 miles of trails make the Black Hills a mountain biking paradise with pleasant autumn days delivering excellent conditions for all riders.

Start this three-day adventure in Rapid City. Grab breakfast at Black Hills Bagels, but eat fast because Finding Nemo, an epic 10-mile single track loop with tough climbs and rhythmic flow is 20 minutes away. From here, link up with Highways 44, 385 and 16 for a 30-mile drive south to Mount Rushmore. Next, wind your way along Highway 16A to reach Iron Mountain Trail, a relaxing 2-mile ride under colorful canopies of aspen and birch. End your day with burgers at Black Hills Burger & Bun in Custer, rest up at the Bavarian Inn Black Hills.

Day two’s riding might be the best in the Hills. The Paha Sapa Trail‘s steep climbs are challenging, but repay riders with magical backcountry views of the Needles. Rest along the rocks of Sylvan Lake, then return along the same 8-mile trail. From here, the 56-mile drive to Deadwood on Highway 385 passes Crazy Horse Memorial. A room at Hickok’s Hotel & Suites puts you close to the final day’s action.

In the morning, a mellow ride along the George S. Mickelson Trail awaits. Purchase a $4 trail pass, then peddle a part of this former rail line to stretch your legs. The trip ends 15 miles away in tranquil Spearfish. Hang with local riders at Rushmore Bikes, then begin your ascent of Crow Peak, a fun 3-mile single track that winds around the west side of the mountain before rocky switchbacks lead to celebratory summit photo-ops.

Hike the Northeast

Need a Northeast weekend adventure? Look no further than Maine where incredible fall colors and plenty of trails leading to panoramic views await.

No road trip in Maine is complete without visiting Acadia National Park, so start this hiker’s road trip with the South Bubble Mountain and Jordan Pond Loop. This 1.4-mile trail offers tight sections and sheer climbs to a rocky summit with views of Jordan Pond. Next, scramble and cliff walk your way 1,000 feet to Champlain Mountain’s summit on the Precipice Trail, a dangerous but exhilarating hike. A 72-mile drive on Highway 1 to Camden means globally inspired dishes at Fresh & Co. Fire pits and spacious rooms at Whitehall make for a relaxing stay.

In the morning, a refreshing mile-long trail in Camden Hills State Park delivers mid-coast Maine views atop 780-foot Mount Battie. Climb the old stone viewing tower to see the vibrant foliage and Penobscot Bay. To end the weekend, confirm a boat shuttle (your unique access to the Mount Kineo hike), then make the four-hour drive to Mount Kineo State Park. Here, a moderate 6-mile loop offers rewarding views of Moosehead Lake, colorful treetops and soaring peregrine falcons.

Paddle the Great River Road

Canoe and kayak your way through Minnesota and Wisconsin during this weekend road trip along Highway 61.

Your paddling adventure starts in historic Wabasha, Minnesota. Explore remote forest canopies and hidden channels on the Mississippi River during Broken Paddle Guiding‘s Flooded Forest Tour, or beach your kayak in time for sunset and enjoy a drink on their popular Sunset Tour. For a peaceful stay and tasty morning meal, drive to Winona’s beautiful Alexander Mansion Bed and Breakfast. If you’ve woken to a crisp morning, head over to Mugby Junction Coffee for some delicious java. From there, make your way to Latsch Island Beach and launch a paddling expedition around Latsch Island to experience floodplain forests, wildlife and an unusual floating-home community. If you prefer a few hours on the water in Wisconsin, take your coffee to go and drive 20-minutes to Trempealeau and Perrot State Park. Here, rent gear from the state park headquarters, then paddle the 3.4-mile Voyageurs Loop and enjoy canopied waterways, marshy terrain and plenty of wildlife like otters and beavers.

Running in the Southwest

Plan this 300-mile road trip from Sedona to Las Vegas for late fall when temps become more runner friendly.

More than 200 miles of trails, high-desert scrub, red sandstone and a stay at Sedona Real Inn & Suites make Sedona an excellent place to start this runner’s escape. Whether you decide to carb load before or after any outdoor fun, locally owned Famous Pizza & Beer is your go-to while in town. As for running trails, warming up on the Mescal Mountain Loop is as good a start as any. This 4.8-mile slickrock run combines three trails and circles Mescal Mountain, a gigantic red sandstone butte. Add a runnable 70-foot tall natural bridge for extra fun. Looking to put more miles on those shoes the following day? Tackle the Hangover Loop, an 8.5-mile trek that includes slickrock, steep climbs, and cliffside hugging trails. On your way to Vegas, stop for lunch at world-famous Delgadillo’s Snow Cap on old Route 66 in Seligman. Don’t party too hard when you get to town. You’ll need the energy for epic runs around the outskirts of Sin City, including 5-mile Turtlehead Peak and 11.8-mile Grand Circle Loop to the 17-mile, point-to-point Bonanza Trail for one heck of a finish.


Tagged: Arizona, Las Vegas, Midwest, Minnesota, National Parks, New England, Southwest

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