Those living in Southern Indiana know the region has some of the best drives for discovering beautiful fall foliage. According to Derek Walsh, Wesselman Woods Nature Preserve’s director of natural resources and research, peak left color already is upon us and is expected to last through around Nov. 6.
Now, a new survey interviewing 3,000 people and completed by Gunther Volkswagen in Coconut Creek, Florida, reveals and ranks America’s top 140 drives, of which three are routes close to Evansville. What can you expect on the rambling roads — besides the lovely fall foliage? Read on to find out.
Ohio River Scenic Byway
Ranked 117th on the list, this route covers 302 miles of scenic roadway, including through Evansville. Locally, Wesselman Woods offers nearly 200 acres of virgin old-growth forest, with white oak, shagbark hickory, blue beech, and more turning spectacular shades of red, orange, and yellow. Wetlands such as at Eagle Slough, Howell, and Posey County’s Twin Swamps, display bald cypress trees amid publicly accessible hiking trails.
Further east on this drive, you can expect a range of activity highlights, including everything from dining above sweeping river vistas at The Overlook Restaurant in Leavenworth to going underground at Marengo Cave and Squire Boone Caverns. But perhaps the best thing about the route is its stunning views of the river amid historic towns, which by fall become dressed to the nines in autumn hues, contrasting nicely with the blue of the Ohio River.
Brown County State Park Tour
It’s hard to top Brown County when it comes to natural beauty. Ranked 128th on the list, Brown County is known for its scenic vistas. Every fall, this park draws leaf-peepers from all over. In fact, in the early 20th century it attracted the likes of Impressionist painter T.C. Steele, who loved Brown County so much he built his studio (now a preserved museum) among its rolling hills. In the park, not only can bike enthusiasts take advantage of new mountain bike trails on the hills, but visitors also can indulge in the scenic overlooks with the Seven Vista Challenge. For adventurous spirits, visit Hard Truth Distilling, which sits on 325 wooded acres in Nashville and offers booze-themed amusement park-live activities in Brown County’s picturesque hills. Brown County State Park is 146 miles northeast from Evansville.
Indiana’s Historic Pathways
Ranked 88th, this route has some of the best history sites tucked among fall foliage. The George Rogers Clark Homesite in Clarksville is tucked under sycamores, sugar maples, and little leaf lindens, while the nearby Falls of the Ohio State Park is complete with fossil beds to view. Historic homes include the Hillforest Victorian House Museum in Aurora or Culbertson Mansion State Historic Site in New Albany, both perfectly preserved. In fall, these spaces become alive with hardwood forest leaves racking up brilliant autumn colors. The route is 250 miles long. At a little over an hour’s drive away, Washington is the Historic Pathways town closest to Evansville.