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Start Planning Your Autumn Trip With This Peak Leaf Color Forecast Map

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If you’re planning an outdoor adventure that lines up with the best displays of fall foliage, here’s when leaves will begin to transform in 2023 across the United States.



Organizing a trip to witness the perfect fall foliage is no easy feat. If you go too early, there won’t be much of the brilliant red and orange hues associated with autumn. On the other hand, if you’re too late, all you’ll find are brown leaves dying on their branches.

To help travelers take in the best display of colors, SmokyMountains.com just published its 2023 Fall Foliage Prediction Map. This map uses data from NOAA’s National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration as well as historical information so that visitors can plan their trips around the peak times for viewing fantastic displays of fall foliage throughout the continental U.S.

The Weather Channel anticipates temperatures to be higher than average for most of the West and southern regions of the United States, likely resulting in a delayed foliage season. However, their forecast predicts that the northern tier of the country will experience near-average temperatures throughout September, October, and November, which should allow for an on-time arrival of fall’s leafy colors.

It is possible that summer heat will linger into early fall in parts of the South, while the North and East of the US can expect temps more representative of the autumn season.

Take advantage of this interactive fall color map to plan your autumn road trip, which provides the best opportunity for you to view leaves near peak, at peak, and past peak throughout the season. Move the slider on the bottom of the map to see what locations you should visit during specific weeks in 2023, whether it’s admiring the red sugar maples in Tennessee or the golden aspens in Colorado. Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good; start planning your trip with this tool today.

The 2023 Fall Foliage Map is the ideal guide to plan trips for peak color. Though not 100% accurate, it helps travelers time their journeys accordingly. Photo: Smokeymountains.com

Fall foliage is expected to start to peak in the northern parts of New York state around late-September and last until about Oct. 7. Further down, New York will see peak foliage from about Oct. 9 through Oct. 13.

By October 9, Michigan and other prime leaf-peeping states will peak, but by October 16 many of those leaves will be past their peak. Timing is key. Photo: Smokeymountains.com

The peak of leaf-changing season is expected to hit along the East Coast in states like Vermont on Oct. 9 to Oct. 13 (though there may be some variation in southern parts of the state). The same can be anticipated for Maine and Washington during those dates as well. Those who want to maximize their foliage-viewing should plan a trip further south: North Carolina’s colors won’t reach their peak until Oct. 23 until Oct. 30.

The SmokyMountains.com website produces an annual fall foliage map, but they’re ramping up their efforts this year. By 2023, people who send in a fall foliage report can also add photos to enhance the accuracy of future maps.


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