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Autumn Drives in Indiana

Fall is perhaps the most popular season for group travel, and it’s an especially good time to explore the back roads of Indiana.

Though it doesn’t make headlines the way that New England and the Smoky Mountains do, autumn in Indiana is a beautiful time of year. The state’s highways and local roads wind through mountains, foothills and wooded plains that come alive with autumn color, and the smaller cities and towns that travelers encounter along the way have color all their own.

Southeast Indiana boasts a trio of charming small towns overlooking the Ohio River and the Louisville, Kentucky, skyline. In the Southwest, forested mountains hide a pair of first-class resorts and numerous historic churches. And Brown County is home to the state’s largest and most scenic state park, as well as a distinctive arts village.

Groups will find 30 covered bridges and surrounding scenery on a driving tour through Parke County near the Illinois border. And in the northern reaches of the state, Indiana’s Amish Country offers a blend of nature, culture, cuisine and history.

Southeast Indiana

Just across the Ohio River from Louisville, a trio of towns in Clark and Floyd counties offer a number of ways to enjoy classic Indiana charm. Groups touring Jeffersonville, Clarksville and New Albany in the fall will find outdoor beauty, history and entertainment throughout the area.

Among the most impressive natural sites in the area is Falls of the Ohio State Park, which sits directly across the river from Louisville and marks the only natural falls on the river’s 981 miles. A newly renovated interpretive center at the site introduces visitors to the natural and human history of the area, and groups can take ranger-led hikes to see fossil beds at the site.

In New Albany, visitors will find a quaint downtown area with eclectic shops and an up-and-coming farm-to-table dining scene. The city is also home to the Culbertson Mansion State Historical Site, which preserves the 1860s home of one of the state’s wealthiest businessmen.

Brown County

There may not be a more beautiful sight in Indiana than the fall color in Brown County State Park. At more than 15,000 densely wooded acres, it is the largest state park in Indiana and welcomes more than 1.3 million visitors annually. Options range from scenic drives to guided hikes, horseback rides and more adventurous activities. Overnight accommodations are available in park lodges.

For an interesting spin on fall sightseeing in the park, groups can arrange to take scenic drives through the park in a caravan of souped-up MINI Cooper cars usually used on the road course at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway through a company called Miles Ahead.

Many groups that visit Brown County make time to explore Nashville, an idyllic arts village full of one-of-a-kind shops and artists’ studios. The village makes a great place to turn travelers loose to shop and explore. And the Nashville House, a hotel and restaurant founded in 1859, is one of the best places in the state to sample a Hoosier staple: fried biscuits with apple butter.

Brian Jewell

Brian Jewell is the executive editor of The Group Travel Leader. In more than a decade of travel journalism he has visited 48 states and 25 foreign countries.