Fall Foliage Map

Filed Under: Fall

Ready to start leaf peeping this fall? Before you plan your fall foliage road trip, get the peak forecast from our partners at weathertrends360.

See weathertrends360’s recommendations for the best regions to see autumn’s spectacular color show this year.

Check out Travel's Best Fall Foliage Road Trips for 2013.

Northeast Region
The Northeast boasts some of the most breathtaking fall foliage displays around, and this will be an excellent year to catch a glimpse of the deciduous forests’ brilliant leaf colors. Favorable weather from mid-spring through summer in much of the Northeast set the stage for healthy tree growth, with a warm and wet mid- to late spring and a warm, but not blazing hot, summer.

As summer waned, warm days and cool nights became the predominant weather pattern in the Northeast along with below-normal rainfall. This weather pattern is set to continue through the peak of the fall foliage and is conducive to a burst of dazzling leaf color. The best fall foliage in the Northeast will extend from New York State down through the Appalachians, including most of Pennsylvania and northern sections of New Jersey.

When to Go: To catch the dazzling splash of color in the Northeast, the best time to visit is late September for higher elevations and areas farther north, while lower elevations and locations to the south will be best viewed in early October.
Mid-Atlantic Region
Favorable spring and summer weather conditions in the Northeast extended down into the Mid-Atlantic region, setting this stretch of the country up for an excellent leaf-peeping season as well. The best fall color will appear along the spine of the Appalachians from early to mid-October, as warm days and cool, but not freezing, nights and dry weather encourage the development of the bright red, orange and yellow pigments that are synonymous with the changing of the season.

A scenic ride down Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park will be a must this year, as the tree-lined roads and scenic overviews will offer some of the most exhilarating views of foliage anywhere in America this year.

When to Go: The brilliant array of color extends down into the Mid-Atlantic in early October for higher elevations and mid-October in lower elevations. Areas closer to the coast typically peak around mid-October.
Midwest Region
While the Midwest region will not offer nearly as widespread or as brilliant a view of the fall foliage as the Northeast or Mid-Atlantic, there will still be some decent leaf peeping in the Upper Midwest. Trees began sprouting leaves during a cooler and wetter than normal spring in the Midwest, which was disadvantageous for leaf growth.

The weather turned more favorable in the summer, with near normal temperatures and sufficient rainfall in the Upper Midwest. The southern fringes of the region, however, suffered from cooler than normal conditions.

Hot weather in late summer and into early fall, along with a growing drought in the western half of the Midwest, has placed fall foliage in jeopardy, with southern areas expected to show poor color this year. However, the Upper Midwest will offer some opportunities for leaf-peepers.

When to Go: Early October will be the best time to head to the Upper Midwest for some leaf-peeping; southern parts of the region will peak toward mid-October with somewhat duller color.
Western Region
Hot weather from spring through late summer has put the Western region at risk of a humdrum and short fall foliage season. Drought conditions cause dull leaf colors, with many leaves shriveling up and turning brown instead of the bright hues expected this time of year; a hot and dry spring and summer have led to the development of drought conditions from the Southwest, through much of Oregon, Idaho and far western Montana.

Late summer and early autumn have yielded very heavy rainfall in the Northwest, but that’s not favorable for leaf colors, either. When it comes to rain, leaves have a bit of a Goldilocks-complex, with too much or too little rainfall both adversely affecting the foliage. Unfortunately, for West Coast leaf-peepers, this year’s fall foliage will be disappointing. For better leaf viewing, a trip to the Rocky Mountains will be warranted as good foliage is expected there.

When to Go: The peak of the season in the western region typically occurs from mid- to late October. However, this year many areas may peak closer to mid-October due to drought and a hot summer. For the brighter foliage in the Rockies, plan a trip a little bit earlier in October or even early September for the highest elevations.

About the Author

Weathertrends360 specializes in creating accurate long-term weather forecasts. The meteorologists use a historical weather database of 6.4 million locations around the world, combined with their in-depth understanding of the many climate cycles that affect weather patterns, to accurately predict the weather for the coming year. Their forecasts are now available for free at weathertrends360.com.

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