Fall is go time. Sunny, crisp days and aromatic leaf piles inspire dogs to leap into the season. Why not follow their lead on a leaf-peeping adventure built for two?
Black Hills, South Dakota
In the fall, the Black Hills are all about yellow — the shimmering gold of aspen, birch and oak. Avoid crowded and dog-restricted destinations such as Mount Rushmore in the south, and head north to Spearfish Canyon, a scenic byway with 1,000-foot limestone cliffs and waterfalls for you and miles of pine-scented trail for your buddy. The Old West–style Spearfish Canyon Lodge welcomes dogs and offers several excellent hikes just steps from your room, including a short walk to the lovely Roughlock Falls, setting for the final winter camp scene in Dances with Wolves. spfcanyon.com
Eastern Upper Peninsula, Michigan
Orange hillsides reflected in midnightblue water, picturesque lighthouses and moose are among the autumnal highlights of the Eastern Upper Peninsula. Make a loop to Sault Ste. Marie and Drummond Island from your base on Mackinac Island. At the confluence of Lake Huron and Lake Michigan, this tiny isle harkens back to an era when leaves were the big show. There are no cars, just walking, cycling and carriage rides (dogs permitted). Treat your pup to a classic Great Lakes lodge experience at Mission Point Resort, where the huge front lawn provides a great runway for diving into Lake Huron. missionpoint.com
White Mountains, New Hampshire
Crimson? Check. Burnt orange? Check. Deep purple? Check. Brooks, falls, covered bridges? Check, check, check. Savor a quintessential New England autumn, plus craggy, mossy peaks and plenty of hiking trails for sniffing and stretching, on a loop through the White Mountains in north-central New Hampshire. Then kick back in Rollover Rose, Little Fala or another of the dog-inspired rooms at the Lazy Dog Inn. Housed in an 1845 farmhouse in Chocorua, this seriously dog-loving bed and breakfast (which offers dog daycare and a fenced, off-leash play area) welcomes all shapes, sizes and breeds. lazydoginn.com
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Hocking Hills, Ohio
Crisp, short days set the lush deciduous forests of southeast Ohio ablaze. There’s plenty to admire from the car, but hit the trails to discover hollows, caves, cliffs, waterfalls and strange rock formations tucked here and there. Include a side trip to the nationally acclaimed scenic drive from Marietta to Woodsfield, which passes through the Monroe Lake Wildlife Area. Be sure your dog’s recall is sharp — wild turkeys, red foxes and beavers will be out enjoying the shoulder season too. Dog-friendly cabins and cottages are available through Old Man’s Cave Chalets. Or, check out Beagle Hill Lodge, a Beagle-themed five-bedroom rental with canine murals. Oldmanscavechalets.com 4seasonshideaways.com (Look for Beagle Hill in the Rentals drop-down menu)
Taos, New Mexico
Aspens and cottonwoods shimmer a little brighter at the crisp, high altitudes of Taos and the Sangre de Cristo mountains. Bag the best roadside vistas on the Enchanted Circle Scenic Byway or earn your views with hikes in the Rio Grande Gorge’s Wild Rivers Recreation Area, where dogs can snuffle absolutely ancient piñon and juniper trees. Many Taos inns, resorts, spas and B&Bs — including Taos Adobe and Stars — have at least a couple of rooms set aside for guests with furry friends. Plus, the city boasts more than its fair share of pet-friendly patio eateries. Be sure to stop by the Stray Arts Gallery, where sales of previously owned art benefit the nonprofit Stray Hearts Animal Shelter. Taosadobe.com
Cascade Mountains, Washington
Get a hawk’s-eye view and savor the full sweep of an alpine autumn aboard the dog-friendly Mount Rainier Gondola at Crystal Mountain Resort, about an hour and a half southeast of Seattle. This no-sweat, 2,500-foot ascent gives you a knockout view of the iconic, snow-covered dome of Mount Rainier. Hike down to take in the mountain’s meadows and lakes and marmots. Nearby, Alta Crystal Resort offers dog-friendly suites and easy access to National Forest trails. altacrystalresort.com