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It’s almost leaf-peeping season! When do the leaves start to change? Find out when fall foliage starts, how long fall foliage lasts, and where to go to see the best fall foliage colors.
When do Fall Leaves Change Color
Leaves can change their color from as early as mid-September all the way through early November. Typically, the second and third week of October are the peak times, but it shifts depending on where you live and your local weather conditions.
Foliage starts to change in the northern-tier states out West and in the Midwest by late September. By October 4, the leaves in some areas will be past their prime.
Much of New England as well as the Pacific Northwest will be at or near peak fall color by October 11.
A little further south in the Blue Ridge Mountains, it looks like mid-October is your best bet.
Fall Foliage Color Map
Below is an animated map showing the progression of fall colors across the U.S. based on foliage reports from Almanac readers. Of course, past results do not necessarily indicate what will happen in this year, but it should give you a fairly good idea of how fall leaves typically progress.
Where Do the Fall Leaves Change Color
Here are some of the best places to see fall foliage in the United States. Perhaps some of these destinations are near you! We welcome your tips on other great places to see fall’s colors. Please comment below.
Acadia National Park, Maine
Ozark Mountains, Arkansas
Adirondack and Catskill Mountains, New York
Traverse City, Michigan
Black Hills, South Dakota
Blue Ridge Parkway, Virginia and North Carolina
Kancamagus Highway, White Mountains, New Hampshire
Pere Marquette State Park, Illinois
Blue Ridge Parkway, Virginia
Connecticut River Valley, S.E. Connecticut
Logan Canyon Scenic Byway, Utah
Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio
Buckhorn Lake State Park, Kentucky
Vogel State Park and Chattahoochee National Forest, Georgia
Door County, Wisconsin
Green Mountain Byway, Vermont
Gatlinburg & Smoky Mountains, Tennessee
The Berkshires, Massachusetts
Taos, New Mexico
What is Fall Foliage?
“Foliage” simply refers to the leaves of a tree or plant. “Fall,” of course, refers to the Autumnal Equinox when the day length shortens (marking toward the shortest day of the year: the Winter Solstice_.
“Fall foliage” is the time when the leaves start changing colors from green to beautiful shades of red, orange and yellow. However, here are a couple surprises:
Those vivid leave colors are actually hidden underneath the green all along! As sunlight decreases and cold increases, tree growth slows and and the production of green chlorophyll in their leaves begins to slow, revealing fall leaves’ brilliant yellow, orange, and red.
Not all tree leaves change color. It’s “deciduous trees” (oak, birch, beech) with broadleaves that show off those gorgeous reds, yellows, oranges, and even purples.