Adulthood is a funny, funny thing. During the autumns of your youth, the fall season was likely centered around consuming maximal candy corn and traipsing around the neighborhood in an itchy polyester costume. And then suddenly—just like that—you find yourself wielding binoculars while seeking out peak season foliage and saying things like "My, what a marvelous maple." It happens to the best of us, which is why our friends at the Smoky Mountains National Park have made it easier than ever to enjoy this season's splendor courtesy of this highly useful map of peak fall foliage. The tool, which offers a week-by-week look at the changing-leaves landscape, is 10 years in the making:
"In 2013, potential visitors to the region began asking questions about when the leaves would be most brilliant," says site founder Dave Angotti. "What started as a fun side-project quickly became one of the best fall resources in the country." Tens of millions of people now use the map—which, for the record, canvasses the whole United States, not just the Smokies—to plan trips, weddings, and, of course, their fall Instagram content.
So how'd that little side project come about? It turns out David is a statistical expert who also who worked as an Airline Transport Pilot. As the latter, he was highly trained in using meteorological tools. These weather sources, predictive tools, and the brand's existing data from previous years are the backbone of the 2023 fall leaf map, which also now allows for real-time leaf reports from users. "These reports have helped us identify both strengths and weaknesses in the previous model and we were able to refine it using the end-user data on top of our usual data points," says David. "This year, we are adding the ability for end-users to submit photos in their fall foliage report. We might even share some of these photos on our social media periodically throughout the fall season!" (Psst: Don't forget to tag @countrylivingmag, too!)
Head on over to the site for the week-by-week breakdown (not to mention a refresher course on terms like chlorophyll and anthocyanin), or scroll on down for an abbreviated guide to what's happening where.
According to the site, which was updated on August 28th, here's a look of when some of the more popular leaf-peeping destinations will reach their peak.
For Tennessee Fall Foliage:
Tennessee is expected to peak in mid-October from October 23rd-27th with the lower elevations in mid November. Insider Tip: Brittney Mendez, who handles Public Relations for SmokyMountains.com, says she prefers to experience the region's fall foliage by hiking Mt. Leconte or Charlies Bunion. "These two hikes in particular offer high summit views of the mountains that allow you to view fall foliage in a new way without the crowds," she says. "I also highly suggest visiting Anakeesta for the chair lift and skywalk. It is in a more tourist-y part of town, but there's a reason why it is so popular." Whatever you do, she says you should follow it up with a hot tea at the Wild Plum Tea Room.
For Vermont Fall Foliage:
Fall foliage here should peak around early October with the ultimate peak being around October 9th-13th. Though, you may be able to catch some beautiful colors in the southern part of the state through late October. (By the way, don't miss our comprehensive guide to Stowe, VT, in the latest issue of Country Living magazine!)
For Washington Fall Foliage:
In Washington State, you can expect to see the leaves begin changing around the end of September with their peak between October 9th-13th. The end of peak is around late October.
For New York Fall Foliage:
Minimal peak season in New York starts (in the northern part of the state) around late-September and lasts until about October 7th. Peak season is from October 9th-13th. It starts to go past peak in mid-October.
For Maine Fall Foliage:
In the northern half of Maine, you can expect near peak fall color around October 2nd. For the ultimate peak, it should start around October 9th-13th. Maine will reach past peak around mid-October.
For Maryland Fall Foliage:
In mid October of this year, Maine begins to change into its vibrant yellow colors, with the ultimate peak being around October 23rd until the 27th. It goes past its peak in early November.
For New Hampshire Fall Foliage:
Upper New Hampshire starts to peak around early October, but the majority of counties can expect the peak to appear around the second week of October. Expect the best colors at their peak between October 2nd-6th (in the northern half) and October 9th-13th (in the southern portion).
For Rhode Island Fall Foliage:
Expect the leaves in Rhode Island to peak in early-October around October 9th and last until October 20th. You can see the dwindle past its peak in later October.
For North Carolina Fall Foliage:
The leaves begin changing in North Carolina around early to mid-October, but you can expect peak color in most of the state between October 23rd until around the 30th.
For Oregon Fall Foliage:
The leaves start to minimally peak around October 9th, with the full displays of color around mid to late-October like October 23rd-Nov 6th.
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