It’s now September, and that means cooler temperatures, pumpkin spice everything, and the beginning of the best season of all: fall. And with fall comes nature’s most colorful show–the changing of the leaves.
While the fall doesn’t begin in the western hemisphere until Thursday, September 22 and the season technically runs until December 21 there’s an optimal time for viewing the explosions of reds, oranges, and yellows that make up fall foliage.
This optimal viewing time depends on the latitude of the area you reside in. Those farther north will see the explosion of colors first, while those farthest south will see them last. But to make things easy, SmokyMountains.com has updated its interactive fall foliage map for 2022. Use the slider at the bottom of the map to select a date and you’ll see a U.S. color-coded to the progressive changing of the leaves.
What you’re looking for is peak conditions–the time when colors are at their most spectacular. Those peak conditions are represented by the maroon coloring on the map. Here’s when areas of the U.S. are estimated to be at their peak:
- October 10 to 24: Washington, Montana, North Dakota, Wisconsin, Michigan, New York, Vermont, Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Delaware, New Jersey.
- October 24 to 31: Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Ohio, Virginia, West Virginia,
- October 31 to November 7: California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, New Mexico, North Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee.
- November 7 to 21: Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida.
Keep in mind the above dates are just estimates for peak fall foliage and some states will slide into two peak time frames, but they give you a ballpark for when it’s time to pull on a comfy sweater and lace up some hiking boots to go out and enjoy the fall colors.