It’s hard to admit that summer wraps in just two weeks. Fall is around the corner, bringing with it a parade of flannel, seasonal hard ciders, and pumpkin-spiced everything. It also signals the annual turning of the foliage throughout the U.S. “Leaf-peeping” has never sounded sexy. For most of us, it recalls convoys of tour buses packed with blue-haired, camera-clutching senior citizens cruising the highways of New England in search of the perfect “peep.”
There’s no denying, however, that it’s the best time of year to head outdoors. The weather is perfect, the crowds begin to thin out, and nature explodes in one last, brilliant photogenic fireworks display before the arrival of winter. But that display is mercilessly brief. If you take your peeping seriously — if you’re the kind of outdoorsman who plans ahead — it’s important to know when and where the leaves will turn.
Despite the climate change “hoax,” average annual temperatures throughout the U.S. have continued to climb in the last few decades. This year was no different. Higher temperatures around the Atlantic will translate to a later start to this year’s peak foliage. Much of the country will see the most dazzling colors in the first two weeks of October. For this year’s complete fall foliage forecast, we look once again to SmokyMountains.com’s annual fall foliage prediction map.
Believe it or not, the leaves have already begun to turn in some parts of northern Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine. For 2019, the foliage should peak throughout all six New England states at the end of September into the first week of October. The best colors are often found in Vermont and the White Mountains of New Hampshire, where the forest is rich with oak, sugar maple, and alder trees. Especially in the fall, it’s not hard to find a patch of brilliantly exploding nature all to yourself. Pack your hiking boots and kayak, head north on I-91 or I-93, and drop off the interstate at any reasonably interesting exit.
The best, most brilliant fall foliage in the U.S. is found closest to the Canadian border. In the Midwest, that means heading to northern Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. The North Shore of Lake Superior in Minnesota is another great bet with scarlet, birch, and yellow aspen blanketing the terrain in every direction. In the state’s Brainerd Lakes region, you’re likely to catch a fantastic display of oak, aspen, birch, and maple. For 2019, foliage in the Midwest is expected to peak around early October, with colors fading fast by the middle of the month.
Leaf-peeping in The Rocky Mountains is more fleeting, unpredictable, and dramatic than anywhere in the U.S. Coupled with spectacular natural scenery, those same reasons also make it the most rewarding destination. This year, the best colors should be on display around October 5. The peak window is extremely brief here and typically lasts only a week. With its long list of incredible state and national parks, Colorado is an ideal choice. Check out Aspen or Telluride where the mountain’s free, eight-mile gondola ride takes visitors over a stunning blanket of quaking golden aspen.
- Plan a trip to see some incredible fall foliage: 7 stellar spots across the U.S.
- A guide to Indiana Dunes National Park: Where to visit, what to do, and more
- Inside Big Bend National Park: Where Mountains Meet Desert in Texas
- The Most Exhilarating Fall Foliage Experiences in the United States
- Atlanta Travel Guide: Where To Stay, What To Eat, and More