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Plan Your Socially Distanced Fall Getaway With This Peak Foliage Prediction Map

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Now’s the time to start planning your socially distanced outdoor fall adventures.

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Now’s the time to start planning your socially distanced outdoor fall adventures.

If you want your cabin rental or hiking trip to coincide with peak foliage near you, here’s when leaves will change color across the United States in 2020.

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Planning a leaf-peeping trip to coincide perfectly with peak fall colors is a difficult task. If you go too early, you’ll see more green than orange and red. Too late? You might risk being greeted by a forest full of brown leaves. To help avoid these disappointing scenarios, SmokyMountains.com released its 2020 fall foliage prediction map for the continental United States. 

Even though Weather.com forecasts above-average temperatures throughout the U.S. this fall, it doesn’t appear that peak fall foliage will be delayed this year. To make sure your timing is right, use this online tool to help you schedule your autumn getaway whether you plan on seeing the sugar maples turn red in Tennessee or the aspens go for gold in Colorado.

Using historical data and forecast information from the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration, SmokyMountains.com created an algorithm to predict the timing of peak fall foliage in 2020. 

“The predictive fall leaf map helps potential travelers, photographers, and leaf peepers determine the precise future date that the leaves will peak in each area of the continental United States,” data scientist Wes Melton said in a statement. 

While no weather prediction tool can be 100 percent accurate, this interactive fall color map shows you the best opportunities for when and where leaves will be near peak, at peak, and past peak this year as you move the slider at the bottom of the map between weeks throughout the season.

Late September is when leaves begin to hit peak colors in some states.

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By September 21, 2020, the map shows that parts of Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Montana, Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, New Hampshire, Maine, and Vermont will be at or near peak fall foliage, which is typical for peak timing. By October 5, the leaves in most parts of those prime leaf-peeping states will be past their peak—a reminder that timing is everything.

Much of New England will be at peak fall color by mid-October 2020.

If you’re looking for the best time to grab your weekender bag and see peak fall foliage in New York’s Hudson River Valley or Catskill Mountains, you’ll want to schedule your trip upstate for the week of October 12 when the map says the lower half of the state will reach its peak fall color.

Going leaf peeping in the Pacific Northwest? The week of October 12 is also when the fall colors will be at or near peak in Washington State and the northern parts of Oregon. For those hoping to rent a Blue Ridge Mountain cabin during the peak foliage window in western North Carolina and Virginia, it looks like mid-October is also your best bet, according to the map. 

To see when the fall foliage near you (or your favorite autumn destination) will change this year, visit the map at SmokyMountains.com.

This article originally appeared online in September 2018; it was updated on September 18, 2019, and again on September 1, 2020, to include current information.

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