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Fall Foliage Color Map: When Do Fall Leaves Change in Your Area? | The Old Farmer's Almanac

Fall Foliage Color Map: When is Peak Foliage?

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When Do the Fall Leaf Colors Change?

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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.  

Animated Map for 2019 Foliage Reports

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.

  1. Acadia National Park, Maine
  2. Ozark National Forest in Arkansas
  3. Massapequa Reserve, upstate New York
  4. Traverse City, Michigan
  5. Black Hills, South Dakota
  6. Blue Ridge Parkway, Virginia and North Carolina
  7. Kancamagus Highway, New Hampshire
  8. Pere Marquette State Park, Illinois
  9. Skyline Drive .Blue Ridge Mountains, Virgina
  10. Jackson, Wyoming
  11. Connecticut River Valley, S.E. Connecticut
  12. Logan Canyon Scenic Byway, Utah
  13. Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio
  14. Buckhorn Lake State Park, Kentucky
  15. Vogel State Park and Chattahoochee National Forest, Georgia

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

Want to read more about fall leaves? Check out this article: Why Do Leaves Change Color? 

Oak leaves in fall

How Weather Affects Leaf Color

Another important part of leaf-peeping is knowing the right time to go! For the best experience, not only should leaves be near their peak colors, but the weather should be agreeable, too. 

  • Avoid rainy, windy days, when the leaves (and you) will be soggy. Strong wind in late fall can even result in prematurely bare trees, so keep that in mind while planning.
  • Some say that a lightly overcast day actually improves the colors of the leaves, making them pop against the somber skies. 
  • Others prefer to bask in autumn’s brilliance under blue skies and full sun—and we can’t say we blame them!

Now you’re ready to get out there and enjoy the fall colors. Leave your own leaf-peeping tips in the comments!

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