Fall season is my favorite time of the year, as I'm sure many others share the same sentiment. The crisp and cool weather invites leaf-peeping fanatics outside, signaling that the time has come for fall colors to shine through. Starting Labor Day weekend, leaf peepers (people who travel to embrace fall foliage) from all over the country will embark on new adventures to chase the ever-changing colors of nature. And if you're one of those fanatics like me, did you know that there's a fall foliage map for you to find those places?
Courtesy of SmokyMountains.com, you can decide where you want to travel to catch the peak colors of autumn with this fall foliage prediction map. The map shows a grid of the United States filled in with colors ranging from green to auburn. Those colors sit on a scale that you can refer back to on the side of the map, representing no change in fall foliage to past peak fall foliage. According to the map, you can start catching peak fall foliage in late September right up until mid-November depending on where you go. Just move the slider at the bottom of the map to see how and where the leaves change all over the US as we head into this fall season.
Fall Foliage Prediction Map
David Angotti, the founder of SmokyMountains.com, is a statistical expert whose experience as an airline transport pilot helped him fully understand weather patterns while equipping him in meteorological tools. Just like your everyday meteorological forecasts, although his leaf predictions might not ever be meticulously accurate, his 10-year experience of publishing fall foliage reports has proven that his algorithms have been extremely close. He said, "Due to the complexity of applying a humongous, multi-faceted dataset, we have historically published our map annually without mid-season updates. However, for the first time ever, we plan to release a mid-season update in late September. By applying the mid-season update, we believe the accuracy and usefulness of the tool will be increased."
So before I dive into some of the best places to behold the stunning color gradients of the season, let me explain what you would be witnessing while doing so.
Why Do Leaves Change Colors in the Fall?
The science is pretty simple, as laid out by Angotti. As summer turns into fall, the constant creation of Chlorophyll slows down, meaning that leaves slowly stop turning sunlight into glucose. The leaves stop retaining the green color we normally see all year round, allowing for the true color of the leaf to appear. Thus, the color change we witness in the fall is actually the beginning of the death of those leaves.
But as sad as that may seem, it's actually quite interesting and beautiful to know that as the leaves die and fall off their respective trees, our Earth actually recycles them by using their decomposing vessels to replenish the soil with their leftover nutrients. So as the seasons change over and over again, we get to witness the beautiful cycle of the lives of leaves, basking in all the colors they have to offer. So what are some of the best places to hit to satisfy your itch for fall foliage? Grab your pumpkin spice latte and get ready to figure out where you should plan the ultimate fall getaway.
Where Should I Go to Behold Fall Foliage?
According Angotti's map, the leaves start showing color changes at end of August up north in places including Wyoming, Utah, and Colorado. By mid-September, the color changes will spread across the north in places including Wisconsin, Michigan, New York, New Hampshire, and Maine, and into the south at the top of Arizona and New Mexico. But here's where this map becomes extremely useful. By the time we get to the third week of October, you'll see that while you have near peak fall foliage in the upper midwest near Tennessee and on the East Coast near North Carolina, places in the northeast in the New England area near Vermont will have already been past peak.
The website is not only provides a fall foliage prediction map, but it also includes coloring sheets for the kids and a list of the top fall leaf-peeping spots in every state. They said, "Each year, our customer service team fields hundreds of questions about where to view fall foliage. This year we are releasing a vetted list of the top places to view fall foliage in all 50 states. The list, which identifies well over 100 fall viewing spots, is sure to be a valuable resource for leaf peepers!"
So as long as you time it right, whether you decide to take a road trip, hike a national park, or check out your local state park, you can essentially find the best display of fall colors anywhere within the US.
Have you ever gone leaf-peeping and traveled to find the most beautiful places during autumn? Share your adventures with us on our Wide Open Roads Facebook!
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