Trip tracker

As fall flickers into the ever-decreasing daylight in Alaska, we have a brief window to witness nature's color changes. This is a great excuse to vacation in many parts of the Lower 48, where the season lasts a little longer. Enjoy autumn's brilliant foliage change, and stave off the creep of winter's invading chill, at least for a week or two.

Yellow poplars, scarlet dogwoods, orange maples and golden hickories dot the landscape of Alabama during the fall months. Colors are at their brightest in late October and early November. From the Food and Wine Trail to the Covered Bridge Trail, you'll find picture perfect spots to view to glorious scenery.

From Missouri to Arkansas, the Ozark Mountains provide some of the most colorful foliage in the U.S. Look for back roads, where rambling streams and old farms make for a truly romantic and scenic drive. Keep your GPS or iPhone handy so you don't stress out about directions and enjoy the ride.

Peppered with charming bed-and-breakfasts and country inns, Vermont has become a favorite for leaf lovers. The incredible color season begins in mid-September and lasts through October. And sample the local maple syrup for a full autumn experience.

The Columbia River Gorge in Oregon is less than an hour's drive from Portland. The river canyon runs through the Cascade Mountains and provides spectacular views of waterfalls and dazzling flora in blazes of reds, oranges and yellows.

Trip Tracker is compiled by Joy Guest. Is there a vacation or excursion that interests you? E-mail or comment online at