After witnessing a spectacular Sunrise at the summit of Cadillac Mountain in Maine, USA, it was time to experience the fall colors that Acadia is famous for. The best way to do so is by driving on the 27 mile Park Loop Road, which connects the park’s lakes, mountains, forests, and rocky shores, and provides easy access to many stunning views. The road is open from mid-April through November, but a small section is open year-round.
Since we had the yearly pass for all the National Parks in the US, we didn’t have to pay any entry fees (otherwise, a pass can be obtained for $25 per vehicle and is valid for a week). As soon as you enter the park, you can imagine why Acadia is a must-visit during autumn. The fall colors there were not at their peak yet, but were still fabulous to have anybody exclaiming ‘what more!’
There are many pull-off observation points and one should stop at them to see why they are famous for…a leisure trip definitely is a huge plus if you really want to enjoy the bliss of nature! If you are short of time, I would definitely recommend enjoying the following:
Sand Beach: Just walk along the spectacular azure water, or take a swim! The beach is flanked by mountains on 3 sides and we walked from end-to-end against this lovely backdrop. The clouds that were hovering around in the morning provided for a mystical experience!Thunder Hole: A small crack in the cave along the shoreline where waves crash into the hole. The ideal time to witness the road of air and water is when the tide is midway between high and low. Since you can’t time it perfectly, just enjoy whenever you are there!Otter Cliff: There are many cliffs in there…Otter cliff is a famous one! I went further up on a few ledges to enjoy the sound of waves and inhale in the pristine surroundings.Even if you keep driving along, there are many viewpoints where you could just park the car along the road and enjoy the beauty of nature. I especially liked the views of the Frenchman Bay in the distance!
P.S. During our trip, I found a fascination for smelling the colored leaves but, unfortunately, they don’t smell any different when they are undergoing the color change.
Even though I’ve been to the highest peak of North-Eastern United States a couple of times, I can’t put down my feelings in words. Just the thrill of driving through the curvy and (mostly) narrow roads is enough, and imagine adding nature’s beauty alongside it! Well, such was our experience this time, primarily because we were there during the peak of color change.
After buying the tickets at the base, we were on our way to drive about 8 miles to the summit through the Mt Washington Auto Road. There are designated stops every once in a while where one can park the car (stopping is recommended though as it lets the engine cool off) and just get lost in the beauty!
I hardly miss the changes in scenery; else, I wouldn’t have enjoyed these stunning landscapes!The place is famous for skiing during the winter time, and one can see those paths in the distance from the top. Well, October is actually the time when snowfall starts for the season, so make sure the road is open before you even head to the area. It is better to check their website for daily updates during or around the winter time.The summit is nothing short of being at the top of the world literally – the entire White Mountains area of New Hampshire is visible right below us. There are trails too at the peak…actually, one can hike also all the way to the top from the base – yes, some are that crazy!
There are a couple of structures at the top proving history of the place, and also on early visitors. There is a shop too where you can buy souvenirs. We always purchase at least one at the places we visit. If we were to put all the magnets we have on the fridge, I guess we would run out of space already 🙂
Enjoy yourself to the fresh air of ever gorgeous landscapes. If you feel tired, there is a cafe shop too, with enough to fill the stomach (paid, of course – not pricey though!).As mentioned in the previous post, you can plan to take cog railway also to the top (instead of your car). It can be taken one or both ways, though we never experienced it. Here’s how it looks though – a toy train from the far off!You would need a couple of hours at least to spend a decent time there and explore the summit. We must have spent about 3 hours before starting the downward journey. Needless to say, I stopped at many places, again! There was not much traffic on the roads, giving me enough time for my clicks and experiments.There is nothing compared to the beauty of the fall, it is as if the entire world around us has been painted in different shades of magnificent colors!
Mount Washington (highest peak in the Northeastern United States) enthralled me the first time we were there a couple of years back. So, I always wanted to go back and enjoy its unparalleled beauty once again…and autumn provides for a perfect time to witness the stunning landscapes the region offers.
But before I write about our 2nd excursion to its summit, let me give a glimpse of how gorgeous the base looked. We were on our way from the hotel in North Conway to the base of the peak.I must specifically mention I have never seen such a picture-perfect scenery anywhere else (yet). The multi-colored trees, white and blue skies, mist atop the mountains playing hide-and-seek, the river stream below – all take our breath away!
We just parked our car (free parking) in a large open lot and enjoyed for about an hour before buying our tickets to head up to the summit.Here’s the entrance to the summit just a few feet away. The road to the summit is formally called Mount Washington Auto Road.You might feel like you have seen the best nature has to offer by just being there, but imagine seeing all this from the elevation – I will cover that in my next post on New Hampshire.
- We had to pay $29 for the car and myself and $9 for the wife as fees ($7 for kids of 5-12 yrs of age) to drive to the summit.
- If you are traveling in winters, chances are the road might be closed because of weather. I suggest visiting their site for current information.
- One can also take the Cog Train to have a different experience. Though we didn’t take it, I will show how the train looks in my next post. Details on the same can be found here.
Ever since I went to Lake Tahoe early last year, I have been sort of obsessed with lakes! Lake Tahoe was so mesmerizing that I wish I encounter such sights every time I am at a lake. Just to put things into context, here’s one such view of lake tahoe captured at the incline village in Nevada.So, during our trip to Vermont, I made sure we go to its soothing Lake Champlain. Though most of the natural freshwater lake likes in the United States, a part of it extends across the border into Canada too.
After we were done with soaking-in the beauty of Mt Mansfield (by driving to its summit) in Stowe, we still had half a day left, just perfect to explore Lake Champlain in the town of Burlington and experience the Sunset there. However, before reaching Burlington, we made sure to stop at the famous Ben and Jerry’s and enjoy its premium ice-cream. Actually, we are guilty of driving a cool half-an-hour from Stowe for 3 days to have their mouthwatering favors!
We even took their factory tour which is priced at a reasonable $4 per person and lasts about half-an-hour, followed by tasting one of their flavors for free. You would easily need 2-3 hours if you plan to tour and buy ice-cream…there are long queues for each. Or you can buy from the above van parked just outside, which carries limited flavors but is not open always!
They have a gift shop too, where one can chose from a plethora of souvenirs.The place provides for some fun too…Saru makes sure she doesn’t skip through such sights, and I make sure to capture her 🙂Having spent a couple of hours at the ice-cream factory, we drove half-an-hour further to the west to reach the waterfront of Burlington. The boardwalk there is pretty nice and long, something I have not seen much in my travels so far. Though it was cloudy that day, the lake had spectacular beauty!Another aspect of this boardwalk is that it has swings, (again) something i’ve never seen so far! One can also take a ferry for the Sunset, though we chose to indulge in our own merry-making.Even though the Sunset was not that spectacular, it still was a memorable visit. Moreover, both Ben and Jerry’s and the Lake provided a variety to the fall colors that we had been seeing for the last 2 days.With this, I finish off the trip to Stowe in Vermont…the next day we headed east to North Conway in New Hampshire (about 1.5 hours drive) after experiencing the gondola ride up Mt Mansfield, which i’ve already covered.
Having experienced it all, Stowe is undoubtedly one of the best destinations for fall colors! We stayed at the Mountaineer Inn there and had a pleasant experience. Here’s an early morning shot from the balcony of our room.
To contrast with my last post on driving up Mount Mansfield in Stowe, Vermont, I am going to add our gondola experience first (will come back to visiting Lake Champlain the previous day in next post).
Even though we had driven up Mt Mansfield, Gondola sky ride up the same mountain is a different experience altogether. Even if the ticket appears expensive at $28 per person (round-tip), it is still all worth it! Partly because you would get to experience the magnificence of fall colors while zipping over them, and you might get lucky with seeing some bears too!
While still at the bottom, at the Stowe Mountain Resort from where the gondola starts, I couldn’t help admire the beauty of mountain with contrasting aspects – of colors and snow at the summit – all this while the sun was gleaming over just a stretch of trees!The majestic gondola cars are newly renovated and they are picturesque in their own right. Now, you might be tempted to think the gondola just takes you the distance you see below; however, the ride is actually thrice this distance…and it takes about 15 minutes to reach the top. The slow up-move makes you feel as if you are going all the way to heaven!On reaching the top, we were welcomed by a thick blanket of clouds and freezing temperature. It was even difficult for us to be out in the cold, let alone follow the trails up there. However, there is a souvenir shop and a restaurant right where you get off the gondola, enough to spend some cozy time.
Mt Mansfield is one of the three spots in Vermont where true alpine tundra survives from the Ice Ages.However crazy it might sound, we saw some people doing zip-lining all the way back to the base. Guess, adventures have no bound! You can even chose to trek down…at your own risk 🙂
The very next morning after we had an amazing time at the Kent Pond while driving North US 100, we were staring at the highest mountain in Vermont – Mount Mansfield. Though the public forums didn’t mention much about driving up 4,393 feet to the summit (they normally talk about taking the Gondola ride up through the Stowe Mountain Resort, which we also took next day), I found it to be a pleasant drive. Maybe because we were the first ones to be there, thus having the road to ourselves!
As soon as the gate to the toll road opened up at 9am, we paid the price – $22 for the vehicle and driver and an additional $7 for Saru – and started the drive uphill, which was steep at times. Being fall season, every few minutes I had to stop to capture the amazing scenery. It was cloudy, and with the foliage colors all around, it was quite a sight to behold! One also gets stunning views of Lake Champlain (we went there later that day) and Adirondack Mountains on the way up the zig zag road to the summit ridge.Once at the top, it was freezing up there (we were warned about it at the gate itself). There are many trails one can take up there, and we did walk about quarter-a-mile. However, poor visibility called for an early return. Instead, we thought of enjoying more spots on the way back down the mountain while the traffic was still less. By then the sun also had started peeking through the clouds and some panoramic views looked much better because of the glaring contrast in falls colors.If you ask me was the drive worth it, I would emphatically say Yes…especially because of the colors all around! It might not have been that great a drive if there was just greenery out there. Though you would get similar views by taking the gondola to the summit (will write about it in another post), the experiences differ as you are more up-close-and-personal with nature while driving!
A couple of years back we spent 3 days in New Hampshire (NH) to see the best colors of nature during fall.
NH is famous for its picturesque beauty, along with the states of Vermont and Maine – primarily because they lie up North and get cold weather early on (starting late September or early October). Nature lovers also visit Virginia (especially Shenandoah valley), but then most of the mountains lie in the North and the beauty there is just unparalleled! In fact, Stowe in Vermont, North Conway in NH, and Acadia National Park in Maine have found their place among one of the top places to visit during fall in many prominent ratings.
During our trip earlier, we were lucky enough to hit some spots when the colors were at their peak, showing the fantastic hues of bright gold, brown, crimson, red, orange, yellow, and others in between. One such place is Kancamagus Highway. You can just drive around and stop at places you feel give you the best of sights. Here are a few shots from our outing:
We didn’t cover a whole lot of places back then but did visit Franconia Notch State Park, Flume Gorge, Lost River Reservation and a couple of other places I wrote about earlier – Lakes Region and Mount Washington.
I always had a strong urge to go back, and now I look forward to covering Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine in the 9-day trip starting this Friday. I especially made sure I spend a couple of days each in Stowe, North Conway, and Acadia National Park 🙂