Last year, I told you where to find beautiful fall colors! With leaves stopping chlorophyll production, it’s easier to see the brown tannins, purple and deep-reds from anthocyanins, as well as yellow and oranges from carotenoids. While last time I focused primarily on walks through the trees, this year, I’m here to tell you where you can get spectacular views without leaving your car!
Brown County State Park – Just east of Bloomington and about an hour south of downtown Indianapolis, enter the park off IN-46. This is probably the place I visit most often. Not all of the road names are easily identifiable from maps, but they are all paved and wide enough for traffic in both directions. The two main entrances, West Gatehouse and North Gatehouse are around the corner from one another on IN-46. The West Gatehouse is closer to Bloomington and the North Gatehouse is closer to I-65.
Hoosier National Forest – Right next door to Brown County State Park is the Hoosier National Forest. You’ll add about 50 miles to your drive if you tack on the rest of the HNF, but I highly recommend it. Tower Ridge Rd. is the main connector between IN-446 in the west and IN-135 on the east side of the forest.
Indiana Historic Byways – A little further from Indy, there’s a 2nd section of Hoosier National Forest that you can drive through if you follow IN-37 south from Paoli to the Indiana-Kentucky border. Otherwise, enjoy the 25 or so mile drive on US-50 between Shoals and Bedford, which is part of Indiana’s Historic Pathways North Spur.
Metamora – East of Shelbyville, take US-52 east. (Or from I-74 in Batesville, take IN-229 north to US-52.) And once you get into Brookville, go south on St Mary’s Rd. or Blue Creek Rd. through the colors until you reach I-74.
Northeast side – For a more urban drive, starting from the busy Noblesville intersection of Greenfield Avenue and Allisonville Road, I recommend traveling south on Allisonville near the White River. You can follow it all the way down to where it ends in Indianapolis near the State Fairgrounds and then turn left at Binford. Take Binford all the way back up to I-69 to go back to Noblesville or detour right when you hit 56th Street and travel east to the next light, which is Emerson. Turn left on Emerson and as you travel North, it turns into Fall Creek Rd., which was on last year’s list. From north on Fall Creek Rd., you can drive through fall colors all the way up to Fishers. There are two ways to do this, either going northeast over Geist Reservoir and up to Olio Rd. or detouring more directly north by veering left onto Mud Creek Rd. which turns into Cumberland Rd. at the 96th St roundabout.
Parke County – It’s a no-brainer to include this one again. Considered the “Covered Bridge Capital of the World,” this year’s peak of tourism will be between October 14th and the 23rd, which are the annual festival’s dates. Whether you go during those dates or not, I still recommend following any or all of the planned map routes to see the 31 bridges.
Shades and Turkey Run – Between Terre Haute and Lafayette, is a beautiful stretch of land on either side of Sugar Creek that includes both Shades State Park and it’s more popular sister, Turkey Run State Park. The easiest way to navigate this one is to just set out from one of these parks and GPS your way to the entrance of the other. If that’s too high tech for you, the two roads you’ll need to get from one park to the other are Narrows Rd. and High Bridge Rd.
Trader’s Point – I’m recommending this one again this year. On the westside of I-465, get off at 56th St. and head west to Eagle Creek Pkwy. Go north, twisting and turning your way through the colors until you pass under I-65 and reach Lafayette Rd. Turn north and follow that up to W 86th. St. Head due east to Moore Rd. then go north past Traders Point Creamery until you hit W 96th St on your right before the road curves to the left. Take W 96th St. east until you go under I-465 and hit Zionsville Rd. which you can take south until you reach W 86th St. where you can get back onto the highway.
Can’t wait for the colors to actually change so you can go? Keep your eye on the leaf cam in Brown County and if you still want to learn more about fall colors, you can start with the US Forest Service.