For many people, road trips offer an escape from everyday life, but for Roger Trombley and Shimul Bhuva, the open road is an extension of their office. The couple works at Ford as engineers, and occasionally they're able to enjoy a major perk of the job: taking a bucket list road trip in a Ford vehicle—all in the name of research, of course.
"Shimul and I have both always loved to take road trips. I particularly love the sense of adventure and exploration that comes with hitting the road. When you fly, you tend to miss so many amazing sites," Trombley tells us. He and Bhuva are part of Ford's Mother of All Road Trips (MOART) team, a collective of engineers who log millions of miles testing new vehicles. Trombley designs the algorithms in collision mitigation systems, and these road trips allow him to test the features in real life—and explore some pretty unbelievable national parks and cities at the same time.
When asked about their top road trip recommendation, the duo was divided. "Driving through Maine and Acadia National Park are my favorites," Trombley admits. "It was so unique compared to anywhere else that we have driven because it’s an archipelago—the landscape was dotted with little islands as far as the eye could see." Bhuva, though, is a fan of the West Coast. She notes, "Driving through and seeing Zion, the Grand Canyon, Death Valley, and pretty much anywhere in Arizona has always been my favorite."
As the weather cools and the leaves start to quiver, we called on the couple and broader MOART team to share the most unforgettable fall road trips in the U.S. Trust us; after looking at these photos, you'll want to forgo flying altogether.
Acadia National Park
East coasters should add Maine (or anywhere in New England) to their list if they want to see fall foliage in all its brilliance. "The drive through Maine and into Acadia National Park was very picturesque," Trombley says. "Bar Harbor is a lovely town just outside of the national park and makes a wonderful place to vacation." He also recommends walking along the sandbar to Bar Island, which you can access only during low tide when the sand is exposed. "Time your walk to the island carefully, so you don't get stranded for six hours!" he warns.
Blue Ridge Parkway
Fall is the best time of year to tick this bucket list road trip off your list, the duo agrees. "America's longest linear park that runs from Virginia to North Carolina is a fantastic drive with gorgeous colors throughout," they tell us. "Just at the end of the drive is Boone, North Carolina, which is a really cool college town in a spot you wouldn't quite expect." Don't forget to pack your camera—this is one scenic route you'll want to remember for years to come.
The five-and-a-half-hour drive up to Tahquamenon Falls in Michigan's Upper Peninsula is beautiful during any season, the duo notes, but it's particularly breathtaking in the fall. "It is fascinating to see the waterfall break through the blanket of fall foliage surrounding it. The unique rusty-brown appearance of the water comes from the tannic acid of the decaying cedar leaves in the water," Bhuva explains.
Mohonk Mountain House
Mohonk Mountain House might only be a two-hour drive from Manhattan, but you'll feel worlds away from the bustle of city life. "Nestled along the Hudson River in the Catskills, Mohonk Mountain House is a turn-of-the-19th-century Victorian castle offering incredible views," Bhuva explains. "This well-known stop has also doubled as a backdrop for many movies."
"On the very first MOART drive back in 2004, we took a drive through the mountains north of San Francisco into Marin County and the foliage was amazing, especially as you drive across the bridge and head toward the Marin Headlands," Trombley suggests.
Be sure to stop in Sausalito, too. The town is just a short drive from San Francisco, and the scenery is truly breathtaking. It's a historic fishing town that now houses extremely talented artists. You can't lose by taking a little detour here.