Elsah, Illinois - Fall Colors (Photo Credit: The Alton Regional CVB, Photographer: Bill Ash)
by , SmarterTravel Staff
Editor's Note: This story was originally published on September 25, 2008. To see the most recent SmarterTravel articles on related topics, please click on any of the following links: Alton, Arkansas, Asheville, Aspen, camping, Colorado, Connecticut, destination, Eugene, fall, hiking, Illinois, Kate Hamman, Litchfield, mountain, North Carolina, Oregon, Ozark, road trip, romantic travel, seasonality, shoulder season, state park, Vail, weekend getaways.


Celebrating Fall-O-Ween for the past five years, Illinois is an ideal place to enjoy autumn. The leaves start turning in early September and continue throughout the fall, and you can keep an eye on their progress through the Illinois Tourism website. The state features six scenic driving tours for the best fall foliage views, including one along the historic Route 66.

The Meeting of the Great Rivers Road is one route in particular worth driving. Running along the Mississippi River, and converging with the Missouri and Illinois Rivers, the road takes you along forested river bluffs where the colorful hand of Mother Nature is at its most brilliant. You'll encounter a wide range of deciduous trees, including Spanish needle, cottonwood, goldenrod, and black walnut.


Alton makes a great jumping off point, and you can find foliage packages starting at $125 per night. You can also print an Autumn Adventure Guide, which features suggestions for best places to hike, drive, tour, and picnic.

If you'd rather stay closer to Chicago, or take one of the other scenic tours, there are a slew of activities to choose from all over the state. Be sure to keep an eye on events taking place throughout the season.

Do you have a favorite spot for leaf-peeping that I missed? Please sign up on our wiki, and share your ideas for the best places to witness fall foliage.

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