Millions of people each year look forward to the magnificent colors on display in autumn. Fall offers irreplaceable views, whether you’re atop a mountain ridge or thick in the folds of a forest. In addition, the crackle of leaves underfoot and the earthy smell of the soil tempts the senses even more.
Some advance planning can help make fall foliage trips that much more enjoyable and awe-inspiring.
Peak viewing times
Areas of the northern-most latitude will start to show color earlier than more southern areas. Generally speaking, the leaf-viewing season begins in late September and runs through early November for much of North America. Peak times for viewing depend on areas of travel and time of year. For large swaths of Canada and the United States, plan trips for late-September to mid-October. The Weather Channel offers maps and charts at weather.com/maps/fall-foliage for the peak times for many areas of the U.S.
Pick your destination
Anywhere with deciduous trees provides the opportunity to witness blazing autumn color. During leaf-peeping season, travelers can go coast to coast and see awesome vistas. Some regions are particularly known for their leaf displays. New York’s Catskill and Adirondack regions are prime spots for visitors in the autumn. Those who live further north will find that leaves in Vermont are such an attraction that routes are published indicating where to enjoy the best views. Further south, Central and Eastern Virginia peak in late October. And don’t forget the shores of the Great Lakes, which are awash in reds, oranges and yellows by mid-September. The travel resource Frommer’s offers more leaf-peeping locales to visit.
Pack the right gear
While most people are not without a smartphone that can capture amazing high-resolution imagery, serious leaf photographers may want to take out their prized camera equipment for leaf-peeping excursions. Also bring along a map or a GPS-enabled device so you can explore back roads and areas off the beaten path more readily.
There are plenty of apps that can help with foliage-finding adventures, so a phone is a handy tool. When packing, also bring along hiking boots, comfortable layered clothing and any equipment you’d normally take for an afternoon in the great outdoors.
Another idea is to hit the ATM machine prior to the visit. Many smaller towns and their local shops may not take credit cards, so it’s best to have cash on hand for food and souvenirs.
Extend the day
Make leaf-peeping part of a larger series of events for the day. Scope out vineyards where you can sample local wines or plan trips around orchards, where you can come home with beautiful photos as well as fresh-picked apples and pumpkins. You may find a county fair or street festival while exploring.