(CNN) — The United States is a car-obsessed nation, and a road trip feels like a natural right to many.
With gas prices slipping from their dizzying early summer highs and other people wary of taking their chances with the air travel system, the road trip opportunities are looking pretty darn good this fall.
In no particular order, here are seven amazing scenic drives scattered across the continental United States where you can enjoy the fall colors and more. Some are known; others are a bit under the radar.
Blue Ridge Parkway: Virginia and North Carolina
This magnificent winding road meanders through the Blue Ridge Mountains. It begins in Virginia and continues southwest into North Carolina, and the total length is 469 miles (755 kilometers).
• Admission is free and open 24 hours a day, except when parts are closed due to weather or landslides.
• It is devoid of any commercial clutter – no billboards or shops in sight. Just cars, the road and nature.
• You don’t have to do the whole thing unless you want a really big trip; just carve out a portion and go with it.
A lookout on the Blue Ridge Parkway offers scenic fall views near Asheville, North Carolina.
Craig Zerbe/Adobe Stock
Peak to Peak Scenic Byway: Colorado
And at a number of natural sites along the way, you may spend more time out of your vehicle than in it:
Covered Bridges Scenic Byway: Iowa
America’s heartland is sometimes overlooked, but it also has its fair share of beautiful drives.
Made famous by the 1992 novel The Bridges of Madison County and the subsequent 1995 film, its 82-mile route focuses not only on covered bridges, but also scenic natural, historical and cultural sites, said O’Riley.
Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway: Oregon
Its 66 miles (106 kilometers) pass by several lakes in the central Cascade Mountains.
“This route is known not only for the scenery it offers, but for the sheer number of adventures to be found along the way,” said Kenney.
She said colors are at their most vibrant there in mid-October, but because of the hot, dry summer, they could peak earlier this year.
Natchez Trace Parkway: Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee
Tennessee Highway 96 as seen from the Double Arch Bridge on the Natchez Trace Parkway near the town of Franklin.
Take the entire Parkway and enjoy two very different cities at the start and end points. Little Natchez, Mississippi is known for its historic homes overlooking the Mississippi River. The metropolitan city of Nashville has evolved from a country music haven into a diverse entertainment destination.
Hocking Hills Scenic Byway: Ohio
Hey oh great Ohio for your 25 miles (40 kilometers) beautiful road southeast of Columbus.
Rangeley Lakes Scenic Byway: Maine
The Rangeley Lake Scenic Byway is an excellent fall Maine drive with lots of pretty spots.
Dilip Patel/Adobe Stock
AAA gives a warm endorsement to this approximately 50-mile (80-kilometer) route in inland Maine—near the New Hampshire/Canada border.