Fall vacations are a popular choice as people visit destinations to witness one event: the change of seasons.
While most of the U.S. is transformed by Mother Nature’s hand as the kaleidoscope of colors paint the landscape in breathtaking hues, the timing in each state is different. And the timing of peak colors can vary from year to year, too.
For those planning a trip around this event, there’s nothing more disappointing than to find most of the leaves have fallen and you’ve missed it.
When and Where to See the Colors
Until now it’s been difficult to know, with any certainty, the best time to see the most brilliant fall colors, but now thanks to smokymountains.com, the guesswork has been replaced by a map that tell us when colors start to change, when colors have partially changed, are near peak, exactly when and where to catch colors at their best, and when they’ve past their peak.
The season starts in states like Idaho, New Mexico, Colorado, the Great Lakes area, and the Northeast in early September. By mid-September, the Rockies and the Northeast are already changing considerably with some areas at their peak a week later.
Peak season for seeing fall colors this year starts in early October in the Rockies, northern Minnesota, and parts of the Northeast this year, with colors changing everywhere, too, except for the Southern states.
By the middle of October, parts of Midwest offer the most vibrant colors, while the South begins the color change. By the end of October, the South offers brilliant color (including southern California).
One week makes a big difference when it comes to fall colors. By the week of October 10th, some states will have already passed the peak season.
If you really want to see fall colors at their best, it is better to go too early than too late. Once the peak has passed, colors start to dull from oranges, yellows and red, to dark gold and brown hues and when seasonal winds or storms come along, you may see more bare branches than leaves.
To be sure you don’t miss the fall colors on your trip, use the Fall Foliage Prediction Map available at smokymountains.com.