Photo credit: Jordan Finnerty
Best Electric Scenic Drives to See Fall Foliages
By Emie-Claude Lamoureux
This summer, we kicked off our first electric vehicle (EV) road trip, which took place in Quebec; recommended farm-to-table restaurants; highlighted Indigenous historic sites to tour; and showcased spectacular national parks in North America to explore, all of which accessible in zero-emission vehicles. With the days of summer behind us, it’s time for fall EV road trips.
That’s right. The peak season for brilliant tapestries of gorgeous golds and rusty reds is here. Travel with your EV where autumn leaves mingle with lush landscapes: have your best scarf at the ready, fill up your reusable cup with hot cocoa, and prepare for an adventure of extreme natural beauty. Let us show you the way to colourful fall destinations; to take in views from the coziness of your EV, or choose to venture out on beautiful walking trails.
The Historic Columbia River Highway
The Historic Columbia River Highway is a 120 km scenic route in the U.S. state of Oregon. Since its construction between 1913 and 1922 along the Columbia River—which acts as a natural border between the states of Oregon and Washington—this route delivers a nonstop highlight reel of tumultuous waterfalls, white rapids and bubbling streams.
Nearly half of Oregon’s 61 million acres of land is forested, comprising an incredible array of tree species, all with their own artistic take on fall foliage. This includes oaks and red alders, ash and poplar trees, large populations of maple, western larch, and patches of trembling aspen.
Electric Scenic Drives in Oregon
The Historic Columbia River Highway is between Troutdale and The Dalles, two towns that provide charging stations from several networks such as Blink, eVgo and Volta. Another option would be to drive along the Columbia River on Interstate 84 where several public charging stations have been installed. These include level 2 and level 3 stations, operated by various charging networks, including Electrify America, Tesla, Webasto and more.
Waterton Lakes National Park
Waterton Lakes is a spectacular national park located in southwestern Alberta. Not only is it recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, but also an International Peace Park and a Biosphere Reserve. A unique place where the prairies reach up to touch the mountains, it gives a countryside scenery of tan and golden hues during Autumn. For an electric scenic drive, take the Red Rock Canyon Parkway, a 9 km circuit that winds through the Blakiston Valley. This route offers vast sweeping views of colourful wildflowers and grasslands, as nature weaves one of her most spectacular seasonal sights.
As the smallest of the Canadian Rocky Mountain parks, it provides easy access by EV or on foot for hikers. Such a small area also gives plenty of opportunities for animals and humans to roam together as one among an exceptionally diverse flora.
Electric Scenic Drive in Waterton Lakes Park
A fast-charging station provided by the FLO network is located directly in the waterfront village of Waterton. Want to explore more of the great North American outdoors with your EV? Read our issue Journey to Eight National Parks in North America with Your Electric Car for inspiration!
When thinking of the perfect places to witness spectacular fall foliage, California isn’t typically the first name to spring to mind. However, when the hills change colours, one of the best places to see the fiery fall colors is directly in the vineyards. For EV drivers who have never seen the leaves of a vine go from yellow to gold; from orange to bright purple; it’s a breathtaking sight.
The Silverado Trail is always a great route to take to admire the vineyard foliage against the backdrop of the Napa River. As for wine production, the vineyards are some of the best wines in the world – made even better by fabulous guesthouses, restaurants and vintages.
Electric Scenic Drive in Napa Valley
Several choices of level 2 and level 3 charging stations are accessible throughout the Silverado Trail, operated by various networks such as ChargePoint, SemaCharge, Sun Country Highway, Tesla and more. For a unique experience that will allow you to harmonize the love of wine with a show of fall foliage, consider plugging your EV at one of the level 2 charging stations in the town of Napa itself and reserve a seat on the Napa Valley Wine Train.
Arrowhead Provincial Park
Not far from Algonquin Park, located in the forest region of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence, Arrowhead Provincial Park, another provincial park, is a real eye-catcher in the fall. The rich nature and 15 km of trails inspire visitors to go hiking and explore some of the remains of 1970’s homesteads.
While this 1,237-hectare nature park is best known for its winter sports activities, there are still plenty of opportunities to watch the autumn leaves transition from green to shades of golds, oranges, ochres and vibrant reds.
Electric Scenic Drive in Arrowhead Park
Arrowhead Provincial Park is located approximately 10 km from the city of Huntsville, where level 2 and level 3 charging stations can be found. The charging networks on site include Ivy, Tesla and more. Want to explore more of the great North American outdoors with your EV? Read our issue Journey to Eight National Parks in North America with Your Electric Car for inspiration!
Visually, Aspen is a true natural masterpiece. It’s no wonder renowned singer John Denver made it his home, drawing inspiration from Aspen’s beauty to write Rocky Mountain High in 1972. This mountainous town, where 1% of the country skis annually, turns into an explosion of oranges and yellows among the evergreens trees during the fall.
The word Aspen is a common name for some tree species, such as the trembling aspen. True to its name, Aspen has plenty of trees to see and is one of the best electric scenic drives to see fall foliage.
Electric Scenic Drive in Aspen
As the first city in Colorado to provide electricity to all of its population in 1887, one can expect a well-developed charging infrastructure. Indeed, level 2 and level 3 stations are available 24 hours in Aspen. ChargePoint is one of the main networks on the territory, but there are still other options.
Mont-Tremblant National Park
There are many ways to see the fall foliage in Quebec, but as a start, we suggest you head toward Mont-Tremblant National Park. In autumn, the region’s dense boreal forest promises a colourful mix of evergreen and aspen trees; birches and willows, and rowan trees. Larches, one of the most common trees in the boreal biome, also change colour, splashing a distinctive yellow tint to fall forests.
The area is famed to host several sporting events throughout the year and offers great opportunities for activities like hiking, ziplining and cycling. At just under 3,000 feet, Mont-Tremblant is one of the highest peaks in the Laurentians. Are you a thrill-seeker? At the entrance of the Mont-Tremblant National Park, there is a Via Ferrata that guarantees a breathtaking sight in the autumn!
Electric Scenic Drives in Mont-Tremblant
There is no shortage of charging stations in Mont-Tremblant National Park. Several have also been installed directly in the city of Mont-Tremblant itself and its surroundings. The following networks can be found: FLO, Circuit électrique, Tesla and many more. Want to explore more of the great North American outdoors with your EV? Read our issue Journey to Eight National Parks in North America with Your Electric Car for inspiration!
The Upper Peninsula
Michigan’s Upper Peninsula boasts an incredible 7 million-acre forest; more than 100 different tree species, and views of the vivid blue waters of Lake Superior. As an EV driver, there are over 20 forested State Parks to choose from, all of which are home to many species, including ash and sycamore trees, larch and beech trees, birch & aspen trees as well as oak and maple trees. The neighboring Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park is well-known as a prime area to observe moose, beavers and white-tailed deer along Lake Superior.
Highway 2 to Interstate 75, over the Mackinac Bridge and down the Gold Coast, is a spectacular drive when the leaves of maple and oak blaze bright colours against green firs, spruces and pines. This 160 km route includes charming coves, tiny fishing villages and dizzying dunes.
Electric Scenic Drives in Michigan's Upper Peninsula
Fundy National Park
New Brunswick, Canada
High tides, 25 hiking trails—amounting to 100 km of footpaths—and unspoiled forests await you in Fundy National Park. Located in the province of New Brunswick, on the east coast of Canada, it offers a view of the Nova Scotia coastline as well.
If you would prefer to drive through the park, take the Fundy Trail Parkway. This scenic coastal drive runs along the top of the cliffs, right above the world’s highest tides, and crosses the last coastal wilderness area between Florida and Labrador, making it one of the best places to view wildlife during fall. Its territory is also famous for being home to two of the oldest red pines in the Atlantic—both over 300 years old!
Electric Scenic Drive in Fundy Park
Fundy National Park is located northeast of Saint John, a city that provides several charging stations. Another option would be to charge your EV in the city of Sussex at one of its level 2 or level 3 stations. Want to explore more of the great North American outdoors with your EV? Read our issue Journey to Eight National Parks in North America with Your Electric Car for inspiration!
This 170-kilometer stretch of highway in northern Virginia winds through Shenandoah National Park. With waterfalls, spectacular views and quiet wooded areas, you have plenty of choices to venture out to walk and hike the Skyline Drive Scenic Trail or have a quiet family picnic.
Skyline Drive features nearly 75 mountain and forest vantage points offering leaf scenes of colorful American sweetgum, sumacs, sassafras, scarlet oaks and red maples. An impressive fall array that results in a brilliant mix of reds and yellows that stretches for miles.
Electric Scenic Drive in Virginia
Much progress has been made in terms of new charging station installations in the state of Virginia. Today, there are level 2 and level 3 charging stations available for local and tourist EV drivers.
Nova Scotia, Canada
Cape Breton, part of the province of Nova Scotia, is the 18th largest island in Canada. Its geography is very varied, including plateaus, promontories and glacial valleys, as well as mountains and, yes, forests! The northern part of the island is home to the Cape Breton Highlands National Park, which contains many species of pines and spruces, while their deciduous trees include birches, beeches, maples and oaks.
In the fall, the poplar leaves turn a brilliant yellow, adding sunny colours among the red and orange leaves of maple and oak trees. To see more of the spectacular fall foliage, visit Beulach Ban Falls in the Aspy Valley.
Electric Scenic Drive in Cape Breton
New York, U.S.
Nestled in the Adirondack Mountains, Lake Placid is part of the Tri-Lakes region in Essex County, New York. The area, much of which is now a park, is the southernmost part of the Eastern forest-boreal transition ecoregion, encompassing pine, spruce and hardwood trees. Almost 60% of the Adirondack Park is covered in northern hardwood forests.
The territory is home to several tree species, from sugar maple to white ash, from American beech to yellow birch, from maple to ash trees, all contribute to creating a beautiful blend of colours. There are 13 electric scenic drives to choose from, but the most popular trails to see fall foliage are found at the Adirondack Park mountain peaks.
Electric Scenic Drives in Lake Placid
Vermont is renowned for its forests. After all, they did earn the state’s iconic Green Mountains title, so it should come as no surprise that there are many great places to view the fall foliage in Vermont. Ludlow, in the Okemo Valley, is one of those places. Although often overlooked for the Green Mountain route, Okemo Mountain offers 360-degree views of the Green Mountains and valley. Ludlow is surrounded by top-notch views: the scenic 100 Byway will take you to Coolidge State Park and President Calvin Coolidge State Historic Site with their mountain views.
The area shares similarities with the forests of the Adirondacks and Cape Breton, which means the fall colors are a magnificent blend of reds, oranges and yellows, thanks to the mix of trees like maples, birches and poplars.