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Wednesday, September 22 will mark the first day of fall 2021, but travelers throughout the United States will be able to spot vibrant autumn colors in the days before and after.
Although barely removed from Labor Day, fall foliage seekers can already find near-peak conditions in northern parts of Minnesota and Colorado, southwest Montana and portions of northwest Wyoming, based on SmokyMountains.com's annual interactive fall foliage forecast map.
By September 20, the Rocky Mountains will be at or approaching peak, as will portions of northern Michigan, Wisconsin, Vermont, New Hampshire and eastern West Virginia. Fall colors should be at their best in many of these places by September 27 with leaves becoming patchy or experiencing partial color changes in much of New England, the Rust Belt, Appalachia and the Pacific Northwest by this time. Inland areas of northern California and northern Arizona and New Mexico will also see significant fall foliage by the end of September.
According to this year's forecast, most areas of the Rockies, northern Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan will already be past peak by October 4. The same goes for northern Vermont and New Hampshire and eastern West Virginia. Fall foliage should be peaking in most areas of New York, southern Minnesota and Wisconsin, eastern Colorado, eastern Washington and northern Idaho and much of Appalachia by October 11.
In the Great Smoky Mountains of North Carolina and Tennessee, leaves are expected to change at higher elevations sometime in mid-October, with red, orange and yellow foliage moving into lower elevations through mid-November.
UNC Asheville Professor and Department Chair of Biology Jonathan Horton, Ph.D predicts that the Blue Ridge Mountains may start seeing color at the highest elevations by mid to late September. In Asheville, North Carolina and lower elevations, colors will peak throughout October and even into November, depending on the conditions. Appalachian State University Biology Professor and "fall color expert" Dr. Howard Neufeld notes that warmer fall temperatures in this region could lead to a slightly delayed color change.
On or around October 18, the fall colors will be at or nearing their very best in many states, including California, Nevada, North Dakota, South Dakota, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Nebraska, Kentucky, Tennessee, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia and South Carolina, among others. Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas will see peak fall foliage by October 25, according to the experts.
Most of the nation will be well past peak by Halloween, but visitors to Southern California and Arizona, as well as Texas and the coastal regions of the Southeast, could still see awesome colors as late as early November.
Since leaf predictions will never be 100 percent accurate, travelers should be sure to utilize SmokyMountains.com's 2021 foliage forecast map for the best idea of what to expect when in their destination. The Farmers' Almanac is also a great tool for leaf peepers to find the most accurate dates for their state.
A Maryland native and wanderer who has lived across the U.S. from North Carolina to SoCal, Patrick Clarke graduated from Towson...
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