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2019 Travel Guide to Fall Foliage in the United States

TravelPulse logo TravelPulse 9/21/2019 Janeen Christoff
a view of a mountain: Lokking down over the south end of Woodstock Vermont during the peak of fall foliage season © Eric_Urquhart / iStock / Getty Images Plus Lokking down over the south end of Woodstock Vermont during the peak of fall foliage season

Fall is rapidly approaching, and while the official kick-off date for fall is September 23, peak leaf-peeping won’t be in full effect until late October.

National Weather Service forecasts indicate that autumn colors will be late (but still great) again this year on both the east and west coasts due to above-average temperatures this month. However, the middle of the country remains on track.

The best color changes occur when there are longer, cooler nights, which slow chlorophyll. Higher than average temperatures mean a later fall foliage season. This year, forests are healthy from loads of rainfall in the spring and summer which means trees are healthy and full of leaf. Beyond a slight delay in color changes, the forecast looks bright.

Travelers are beginning to report some color changes in parts of Connecticut and New York as the nights are already cooling off.

New England

Travelers headed to the Northeastern part of the country are spoiled for choice when it comes to colorful landscapes. The White Mountains in New Hampshire, New York’s Catskills and Adirondacks and the bucolic Vermont countryside all beckon leaf-peepers.

However, Connecticut stands out among the bunch, known for having one of the longest fall foliage seasons in the region. This year is on track to

"Connecticut is poised to have a brilliant fall foliage season," said Christopher Martin, state forester, Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. "Connecticut enjoys a greater diversity of trees than its Northern neighbors; that means more fall colors on display for a longer period of time—typically through mid-November."

Use the state’s fall foliage finder to plan your leaf-peeping break.

Southeast

While New England remains one of the most popular places to observe fall foliage, the Southeast also draws in crowds, particularly to Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The range forms part of the North Carolina-Tennessee border and is awash in color during the autumn months. Peak times to plan a visit to catch the changing leaves is between mid-October to early November.

The park puts out a comprehensive fall foliage map that details the best times for leaf-peeping in the Southeast and around the country.

Asheville, North Carolina, is just a two-hour drive from Great Smoky Mountain National Park and is also a popular place for leaf-peeping. The Asheville Convention and Visitors Bureau offers a Fall Guide and Color Report that covers useful tips for color seekers.

Midwest

In the Midwest, Colorado has a lot to offer travelers seeking the fall-foliage experience. The state is predicting an amazing show this season due to the combination of high snowfall, a wet spring and frequent summer rains.

In Keystone, leaves are already showing signs of a golden hue. Top places to see the changing leaves include Rocky Mountain National Park, a drive along the Peak to Peak Highway, Aspen, San Juan Skyway, Cottonwood Lake and more.

West Coast

In the West, one of your best bets for stellar leaf-peeping is Oregon. Foliage maps indicate that the second week of October is one of the best times to plan a visit.

California also offers ample opportunity to see changing colors. In the Eastern Sierra, changing trees paint the region a yellow hue and the best time to visit this year is also around mid-October.

Travelers can drive the Tioga Pass or the Sonora Pass, visit Mammoth Lakes, the June Lake Loop, Lundy Canyon and more.

Leaves in the Loop is a new fall festival in June Lake that celebrates the gorgeous colors of the season from October 18-20, 2019. Enjoy photography and painting classes, contests, a downtown history tour, and “Taste of the Town” restaurant sampling.

Related video: Fall foliage maps to help you find the best leaves [via Buzz60]

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