There's a lot to love about fall, but there's nothing quite like admiring the leaves when they change color, turning from bright greens into rich, gorgeous reds, yellows, and oranges. And luckily, figuring out the best time to see fall foliage is made pretty easy for us thanks to the folks over at SmokyMountains.com. Every year, the site, which has information on everything you'd want to know about visiting the Smoky Mountains, releases an interactive map which shows users the peak times for seeing fall foliage all across the country — and since the 2016 map has just been released, now would be a good time to start planning your foliage viewing trips.
When it comes to enjoying autumn, a lot of fall activities depend heavily on what part of the country you're from. In my home in New England, for example, it is basically full-on fall festivities including apple picking, carving pumpkins, and baking pies 24/7. We're also home to some really gorgeous trees, which means we get some really Instagram worthy shots of the leaves changing colors.
And that's where this map comes in. While it can't promise to be 100 percent accurate — it's an estimation, after all, not a future-telling device — it promises a pretty good indication of when and where you're likely to see peak color, and offers some scientific explanations about why leaves change colors at all, to boot.
So: When is the best time to see the fall foliage in your area? You can head on over to SmokyMountains.com to play with the full interactive map — but for the short version, here's approximately when each region of the country can expect to see the most beautiful leaves:
1. The Midwest: Oct. 14
According to SmokyMountains.com's map, there is a lot of variation in the Midwest when it comes to when the leaves will actually peak. While some parts of the Midwest are past their peak by the time Oct. 14 rolls around, many others will just be starting theirs. For this reason, it might be worth doing a little extra research on the peak times for your exact state.
2. New England: Oct. 7 - Oct. 14
If you're looking to visit the home of the Salem Witch Trials and go pumpkin and apple picking, you'll probably want to find yourself in New England this Fall. And if you check out New England the weeks of Oct. 7 and 14, you'll likely catch some beautiful foliage, too, according to the SmokyMountains.com.
3. The West Coast: Oct. 21
If you're aiming to head out West, you may want to schedule your visit for the week of Oct. 21. Some parts of the West Coast will be in peak bloom, while others will be about to peak, so be sure to monitor this closely as the days approach!
4. The South: Oct. 28
If you're looking to enjoy some Southern hospitality, why not head South the week of Oct. 28 and catch some of the glorious fall foliage while you're at it?
5. The Very Far South: Nov. 4
And last but certainly not least, when the rest of the country is past its peak, Florida and Texas will be in their prime fall colors. If you miss the boat on admiring the fall foliage pretty much everywhere else, you might as well head down to Texas and get some BBQ while you're at it, right?