Autumn Roads in the Bluegrass State

Scenic wonders and crisp air are waiting for you in Kentucky

Kentucky is known for its bourbon and horse racing. While those are fantastic reasons to travel to the Bluegrass State, there is much more to see and do. This state is full of recreational opportunities and natural wonders. If you are looking for places to explore this fall, you need to hit the road with these scenic drives. 

Rosemary Clooney mural in Maysville, KY / Chris Breeze / Flickr

Route 10 Country Tour

Looking to hit the country roads? Start in Alexandria and head down 53 miles of untouched nature. As you travel along the countryside, you will truly feel like you have traveled back in time. Route 10 is filled with rural farms and small towns along this stretch of road. The winding road is perfect for exploring any time in the year, but it is gorgeous in the autumn season with the trees changing throughout the Ohio River valley. Once you hit Maysville, you will want to stop for a look around the town. This community was once a stop on the Underground Railroad, and you can see plenty of historical buildings lining the downtown area. Make sure to visit the Maysville Murals which depict the history of the town and Kentucky. 

Nada Tunnel, Red River Gorge Scenic Byway /

Red River Gorge Scenic Byway

Located within the Daniel Boone National Forest, you will want to hit the Red River Gorge Scenic Byway. Most visitors start in the town of Stanton and continue for 47 miles to Zachariah. This byway is a perfect place to see some of the best natural wonders in the state with its unique stone formations, native animal life, and wilderness areas. One of the main attractions are the natural arches that curve across the roadway. If you want to set out on foot, the Clifty Wilderness and Red River areas are ideal places to stop and hike the trails. In the Clifty area, there are over 12,646 acres of stone arches, rock shelters, stream valleys, and forested slopes to explore. The Red River region comes to life as the colors change from bright greens to yellows and reds in the valley.

Haystack Rock Red River Gorge / Steve Sellers / Flickr

While you are in the Stanton area, don’t miss the opportunity to see the historic Nada Tunnel. This 900-foot former railway tunnel is often called the “Gateway to Red River Gorge” as it connects the Red River Gorge to the Daniel Boone National Forest. The Sky Bridge is another stop in Stanton. The natural stone arch resembles a bridge, and many photographers gather to snap a picture of this unique formation. 

Church of The Ascension-Episcopal / Eric E. Whisman / Facebook

Elk Creek Winery Loop

Kentucky might have gained fame for its bourbon production, but you shouldn’t sleep on their vineyards. If you are looking for some of the best wines in the region, you need to start in Louisville. This 153-mile drive will travel along the rolling hills and sleepy towns of the Bluegrass State. While this is a scenic tour, you will have to pay attention to the various sharp curves along the way. The loop winds you past the capital of Frankfort where you can see several examples of the historic architecture, including the Church of the Ascension Episcopal Church.

Elk Creek Vineyards / Facebook

Enjoy a crisp fall day with a glass of wine. At Elk Creek Vineyards in Owenton, you can book a room at the lodge, grab a bottle of wine at the gift shop, or enjoy a delicious meal at their restaurant.  The winery offers tours every day except Monday, and you can even grab a quick bite at the on-site cafe or enjoy live music performances on the weekends. 

Old Frankfort Pike /

Big Lick Loop

For over 230 miles, you can explore the region near Carrollton. This rural part of the state features two scenic routes between that town and Big Lick Hollow near New Haven. While you are on the trail at Big Lick, you can see plenty of panoramic views of the area and the North Fork River.

The Rabbit Hash General Store / Facebook

This route offers the best views of rural America as it passes along the Ohio River. You will travel through small towns with quaint stores and family-owned restaurants. While this road is often desolate, it is a favorite spot for motorcycle groups. There are plenty of places to stop and enjoy the autumn scenery, especially the Rabbit Hash General Store in the town with the same name. 

Kentucky Ridge State Forest /

State Route 92

If you want to see the best fall colors in the state, take a drive to Williamsburg. With this short drive, you will travel across the foothills of the state and into the Kentucky Ridge State Forest. While the ride is relatively short at 38 miles, there are few amenities and gas stations along the way, so it is advised to stock up before you head out. Many travelers stop off at Pineville and take the hike up Pine Mountain to see the rock formation known as Chained Rock. With the backdrop of autumn reds, oranges, and yellows, you can snap a spectacular picture of this natural rock structure. 

Kentucky Museum, Bowling Green / Facebook

Duncan Hines Scenic Byway

The birthplace of the cake legend, Duncan Hines, also contains a spectacular scenic byway. Start your journey in Bowling Green and travel to some pretty exciting places along the way.  The Kentucky Museum in the city is the perfect place to learn about the history, art, and culture of the state. Don’t forget to stop by the birthplace and former home office of the legendary Duncan Hines. Yes, he was a real person that perfected the box cake mix and was the author of the book, “Adventures in Good Eating.” He even published a series of travel guides as well.

Mammoth Cave National Park / Facebook

When you are in the Green River Valley, you’ll want to make a stop at the Mammoth Cave State Park with its 400 miles of underground tunnels and canyons. As you wind back into Bowling Green, head off to the National Corvette Museum to see where these famous cars roll off the assembly line. 

If you are looking for a relaxing fall drive, why not head to the Bluegrass State? From historical towns to vineyard visits, there are plenty of things to keep you entertained on a chilly autumn day. 

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