Fall would not be complete without warm apple cider, pumpkin carving, and of course, leaf-peeping all the beautiful foliage. From September to November, you can find travelers hitting the road to view the vibrant hues as the leaves change colors. Predicting when the leaf colors will be at their peak is tricky, as Mother Nature has a mind of her own. We have some leaf-peeping tips just in time for sweater weather to help you make the most out of your autumn adventures.
1. Pick Where to Go
Many people associate leaf-peeping (or watching the leaves changing) with weekend getaways to New England, but there is gorgeous foliage all over the country. The Southeast and Midwest are great destinations for people planning travel later in the season.
If you do decide to take your autumn adventure to New England, choose one of the tried-and-true foliage routes. Kancamagus Highway in New Hampshire or Massachusetts’ Mount Greylock Scenic Byway are some local favorites.
2. Time it Right
It’s nearly impossible to know precisely when the foliage will be at its peak, but each region does follow a general pattern. Peak foliage can hit the northernmost states and some sections of the Midwest as early as late September, whereas peak season in the south is not until November.
Pick your travel dates based off of your destination. Research the average peak before you go, and do so in advance. Hotels frequently book up during prime leaf-peeping weekends.
If you’re planning to stay local for your leaf-peeping, be sure to watch the forecast to find the best time to go sight-seeing. Weather conditions will play a significant role in the leaf colors. Unusually warm weather will lower the intensity of the colors. For the most vibrant hues, nights need to be cool and crisp, but not freezing.
3. Stay Flexible
As we’ve mentioned, seeing the best of the foliage can be tricky, but if you plan to stay mobile you will have better luck. Taking a road trip is one of the best ways to maximize your flexibility. After all, Leaf-peeping is an activity about going out and hunting for the best foliage views!
New England is such a popular leaf-peeping destination because of how easy it is to drive around. It is only about a half-day drive from Northern Maine down to Connecticut. If you have your heart set on one location, you may be setting yourself up for disappointment if the leaves haven’t changed colors yet.
4. Listen to the Experts
Leaf-peeping has become such a hobby that it has created a community around the autumnal pastime. There are apps and blogs dedicated to providing crowdsourced foliage reports throughout the season. Many regions also have local hashtags that you can use to share your leaf-peeping finds!
5. Make the Most of the Season
Though the goal may be to see Mother Nature’s annual stunning display of colors, take some time to celebrate the season. Aim for a fall-themed trip, rather than focusing on just the leaves, so you don’t end up disappointed if you miss the peak season. Get lost in a corn maze, drink at an Oktoberfest celebration, or take a hayride through a pumpkin patch. If you don’t see the leaf display you were hoping for, there is always next year!