The days are growing shorter and cooler, which means the time has finally come: Autumn is just weeks away, and our scenery is about to get a whole lot more majestic. Thankfully, there’s a helpful map that can help you track down the best time to experience the changes in fall foliage in your state to make sure you don’t miss it and help you plan some cool weather hikes, especially if you’re a family of leaf peepers, or even just casual foliage enjoyers.
Leaf peeping, after all, is a fun activity that parents and kids can turn into a yearly tradition. (Some people — like employees at NASA — even do it from outer space.) It’s a term to describe traveling to forests or countryside where you can see a lot of Deciduous trees during the autumn season and watch the green leaves turn into bright and beautiful oranges, reds, and yellows. You can engage in activities while you take in the changing sights, and there are many options, from hiking to scenic driving, picnics or camping adventures, or downing apple cider donuts.
But if you’re not a seasoned leaf peeper and you just want to know when, exactly, fall colors will hit your state, this fall foliage map from SmokyMountains.com, updated annually, is here to help. After all, not all states hit the fall season at the same time — leaves will turn much sooner in the season in Vermont than, say, Georgia.
SmokyMountains.com has done extensive research for the rest of us, so there’s less guessing game on what time is best to be able to catch the changing leaves. The experts there use “a refined data model that depends on a combination of factors, including historical temperature and precipitation, forecast temperature and precipitation, the type of tree known to be prominent in that geographic region, the historical trends in that area, and user data.” Whew! That’s a lot.
The experts then created an interactive map that helps narrow down the best time to see the bright trees based on where you live (or where you’ll be visiting).
Although the predictions aren’t 100% accurate, they’re still a great reading on when leaves will start to turn where you are.
To use the map, set the “slider” on the bottom of the tool to a particular week. As you move the slider to the right, you can see the data-supported predicted progression over time. The colors are straightforward: green means green, and brown means past-peak. Everything in between is a part of that beautiful fall change.
So what states will peak first? It’s predicted that the fall foliage in Vermont will begin its peak around Oct. 9-13; in Tennessee, it will peak from Oct. 23-27; peak season for New York is also from Oct. 9-13; and Oregon will peak a little later, from Oct. 23 to Nov. 6.
If you’re looking forward to leaf peeping and ready to start your planning, the full maps can be found on SmokyMountains.com.